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1 in 100 adults in prison in USA
Old 03-24-2008, 10:32 AM   #1
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1 in 100 adults in prison in USA

I was flipping channels and landed on cspan - being a dork I lingered and found a panel on the US economy discussing the current state and the unemployment rate. The professor discussed in her talk the fact that the unemployment rate does not include people who are in the prison system and people who are in the army (who I'm guessing she means are unemployed once they leave?).

Although I've known for a long time that the rate of african american men in prison went from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 in my life time - the overall rate is also rather high.

1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says | Science Blog

With each federal prisoner costing an average of $23k per year- we are all paying a crap load to finance this system - seems broken to me and what are the consequences to the country - economically - civically - socially?

Given the statistics - here are my questions:
1) do you know someone who has been in the system - for what and how long
2) what were the consequences for them economically after they got out
3) did they go back in
4) do you support redirecting the $ into education, mental health, rehab and other support services to help ameliorate the conditions that may feed people into the system
5) what other policy changes do you see are needed?

just curious...
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:38 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed View Post
I was flipping channels and landed on cspan - being a dork I lingered and found a panel on the US economy discussing the current state and the unemployment rate. The professor discussed in her talk the fact that the unemployment rate does not include people who are in the prison system and people who are in the army (who I'm guessing she means are unemployed once they leave?).

Although I've known for a long time that the rate of african american men in prison went from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 in my life time - the overall rate is also rather high.

1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says | Science Blog

With each federal prisoner costing an average of $23k per year- we are all paying a crap load to finance this system - seems broken to me and what are the consequences to the country - economically - civically - socially?

Given the statistics - here are my questions:
1) do you know someone who has been in the system - for what and how long
2) what were the consequences for them economically after they got out
3) did they go back in
4) do you support redirecting the $ into education, mental health, rehab and other support services to help ameliorate the conditions that may feed people into the system
5) what other policy changes do you see are needed?

just curious...
I think it would be cheaper to offer them a $1 M reward for bin laden's head, then paradrop them in the mountains between pakistan and afghanistan. More than likely most would not make it out alive, a few heroin addicts will find a new supply and never leave, and maybe just maybe they can terrorize the terroists.

I would do that for anyone on death row anyway... then make a sport out of it- maybe put vegas odds on the whole thing, and tax the gambling winnings the same way we do with the lottery.

seriously, though, I think the system we have is good enough. I think if anything more people should be in prison, so increasing capacity and law enforcement is more important the changing the infrastructure of the system.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:44 AM   #3
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And yet, there are still sexual predators, serial DUI's, and all sorts of other miscreants out there that should be in prison.
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:34 PM   #4
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I saw this statistic in print, too. Pretty sad state of affairs. As A854321 said, what about all the ones that didn't get caught? My sister-in-law's brother-in-law was a bad biker type and had an affair with his 15-16 yr-old step-daughter (it was consenual). Allegedly also offered up beer & pot for parties (not dealing). Wife was pi$$ed, got a prosecuter trying to make a name for himself, and the guy got 25 years. Has served over 20 years, and might get parole a couple years early. No previous record and was over 45 when he went in. Think how much money could have been saved if he was on house arrest, reported to parole officer twice a week, etc.
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Old 03-24-2008, 01:27 PM   #5
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We have the highest incarceration rate in the world per DOJ:

The number of prisoners held in 211 countries is reported. Over 9 million people are incarcerated, with almost 50% held in the U.S., Russia, and China. The U.S. has the highest prison population rate of 714 per 100,000 of its national population, well above Russia with a rate of 532 per 100,000. Rates of 150 per 100,000 or below are experienced by 58% of the countries reviewed. Accession Number: 020631

The reason is the war on drugs (see that thread). We need this about as much as we need Bush's War.
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Old 03-24-2008, 01:31 PM   #6
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5) what other policy changes do you see are needed?
Unless Americans are way worse behaving than others, we shouldn't have so many people in prison. Other democratic countries do not have such a high % incarcerated.

A good start would be to forget about the war on dope.

It might help too if "children" that are adults in every way except the calendar were allowed to choose their sex partners, and those partners didn't have to be frightened of going to jail. I don't know what age this would be, but it isn't eighteen.

How come people were allowed to marry in their mid-teens generations ago, but now even though they pass through puberty much earlier they are "children", and jail bait?

Ha
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:24 PM   #7
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Think how much money could have been saved if he was on house arrest, reported to parole officer twice a week, etc.
Here's how much:

<<June 6, 2006 — In fiscal year 2005, it cost $23,431.92 to keep someone incarcerated in a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility and $20,843.78 to keep a federal inmate incarcerated in a community correction center.

For the same 12-month period ending September 30, 2005, it cost $3,450 for a federal offender to be supervised by probation officers.>>

ie - a LOT!
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:43 PM   #8
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I think there is more to the story. I know for a fact that most of the people in Asia are afraid of going to prison, because prison is really prison. On the other hand, it seems that many prisoners in the US are (were) not actually afraid of prison, because its not so bad...it is just part of the risk of doing the crime, whatever that crime is. It is therefore not a deterrent. I think we should make our prison system more strict and more of a deterrent, and make it known what prison will entail for those incarcerated...then I think crime of all kinds would begin to slow, and prison overcrowding would therefore not be the problem it is today. In our world, I firmly believe we coddle prisoners too much (I have a friend who is a guard/sargent, and he would say the same thing, only stronger), believing that if we are too strict we are mistreating them and damaging their pride. I'm certainly not saying we should have "cruel and unusual" punishment...but prison should be punishment, not coddling, not babysitting.
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:48 PM   #9
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exercise bikes

I think every prisoner should have an exercise bike with a generator attached to it. They should be required to produce enough electricity to sell to pay for their incarceration. Produce any extra and they can spend it on cigarettes. That way we can get some money back on the tax money given to tobacco farmers. Kill two birds with one stone.
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:29 PM   #10
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I believe Americans are less respectfully of authority/laws than most other countries with a more homogeneous make up. The good news is we produce more than a share of entrepreneurs, and pioneers, the bad news is we also produce more than our share of criminals.

Its worth noting that going hand-in-hand with a rising prison population, is 30 years of a dropping crime rate. The violent crimes rate is in many places less than 1/2 the rate it was in the 1970s.

I think the drug was is pretty much a failure, but I really don't have a better solution.
As for the cost, 23K is a lot to keep somebody in prison, but a person with a $200/day crack/cocaine/ heroin addiction probably needs to steal $500 a day worth of property/cash/credits card to support their habit. That adds up to $180K a year.
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:32 PM   #11
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And yet, there are still sexual predators, serial DUI's, and all sorts of other miscreants out there that should be in prison.
No one has ever accused the legislatures or the judiciary of common sense. If someone is killed by a serial murderer or a serial DUI, are they any less dead? Do their families grieve any less? But look at the disparities in sentencing.

For those who complain about the costs of incarceration, consider the costs of not incarcerating. While they are in prison/jail they are not:

1. Running up your insurance premiums for theft or uninsured motorist coverage.
2. Stealing from you, your family and friends.
3. Stealing from your company.
4. Endangering you, your family and friends.

Sheesh. These people are in prison for a reason. They are not nice people. You don't want them in your neighborhood. Only $25K a year to keep them away? Hey, for me it's a bargain at twice the price.
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:35 PM   #12
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Wow, those are some surprising and interesting stats. Since Canada is probably more similar societally to the U.S. than any other country I checked on the numbers here. We are at 110 incarcerated per 100,000 people. I'm sure that we've got just as many idiots as the U.S., and according to what I heard, our streets are at least as safe as in the States. So what gives?

I wonder if the answer to the huge disparity is partly due to the much tighter gun control measures here.

Our police are far more lax with simple possession of marijuana than in the U.S.

Our gov't tends to be more left wing and as such we end up with lighter sentences sometimes.

Privately owned prisons don't exist in Canada, so there is really no opportunity for the entrepreneurial prison owners to lobby for tougher laws to keep their prisons full at the expense of taxpayers.

No matter what the reason, I would think that it would be a big burden on the tax system to keep that many people locked up. Hopefully this will be an area where savings can be found without endangering the public to help pay for the health care reforms that I believe will soon come.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:20 PM   #13
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Privately owned prisons don't exist in Canada, so there is really no opportunity for the entrepreneurial prison owners to lobby for tougher laws to keep their prisons full at the expense of taxpayers.
I believe, that!, right there, is a BIG factor, that the US would have nearly 7 x's the number of prisoners as does Canada. IIRC, the number was 80% of our prisoners are non-violent offenders. It would be interesting to follow the money trail & learn who is behind & profitting from all these proprietary prisons.

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many prisoners in the US are (were) not actually afraid of prison, because its not so bad.
Have you seen any of the programs on TV about prisons? OMG! They are literally hell holes. The majority of prisoners are mentally ill & get little if any treatment. They turn into animals. Really. I can't even imagine the ill effects this has on those guards who work in these places. I'm sure not all prisons are such bad places, but if that sort of inhumane treatment was the norm across the board, we would be in even more danger when they eventually are released, imo. I just can't think that racheting up the "hard" prison time is going to solve the criminal behavior & mind set.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:51 PM   #14
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Wow, those are some surprising and interesting stats. Since Canada is probably more similar societally to the U.S. than any other country I checked on the numbers here. We are at 110 incarcerated per 100,000 people. I'm sure that we've got just as many idiots as the U.S., and according to what I heard, our streets are at least as safe as in the States. So what gives?

I wonder if the answer to the huge disparity is partly due to the much tighter gun control measures here.
A decade or so ago Ted Koppel had Nightline special in which he compared
the crime rates of Vancouver and Seattle. At the time the two cities were quite similar in unemployment rates, income, population, demographics and of course climate, but Seattle had roughly 2.5x higher crime rate. First, he looked at murder rates using guns sure enought Seattle were a lot higher, but gun ownership rates weren't that different, and Seattle gun laws were fairly tough. Then he looked at murders by stabbing, strangling etc and sure enough Seattle had 2-3x the rate of Vancouver. The differences weren't as great in property crimes but still there were more crimes committed in Seattle.

The way I see it the British slapped a bunch of taxes on the colonies. The southern colonies reacted by starting a war, the north colonies remained loyal. We fought like hell for independence, 90 years latter they Brits finally threw the Canadians out (just teasing). I think there is behaviorial differences between countries and the US is more rebellious/violent than most places.
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:39 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by bright eyed View Post
Given the statistics - here are my questions:
1) do you know someone who has been in the system - for what and how long
2) what were the consequences for them economically after they got out
3) did they go back in
4) do you support redirecting the $ into education, mental health, rehab and other support services to help ameliorate the conditions that may feed people into the system
5) what other policy changes do you see are needed?
1. My dad's boss killed his wife outside our home. He's still in prison.
My friend started a rock band and they all went to prison for 11+ years for selling some nasty drugs to minors.
An old friend got busted for cocaine. I can't remember what his sentence was, but he's out now.

2. The guy who did cocaine got kicked out of the Navy and is making $30/hour as an electrician.

3. Not that I know of. This is more a case of they haven't been caught vs. not doing it again.

4&5. There are evil people who do evil things, without consideration of cost, consequence, or conscience. Money is not the problem. Thinking everyone can be reformed is the problem. There is no cure that wouldn't put the innocent man in prison sometimes, and that's the crux of the problem and why we have so many loop holes and laws that allow so many horrible people to get cycled through the system time and again. What's the saying? "Rather all the guilty go free than to convict an innocent man?" Something like that?
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:22 PM   #16
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I think every prisoner should have an exercise bike with a generator attached to it. They should be required to produce enough electricity to sell to pay for their incarceration. Produce any extra and they can spend it on cigarettes. That way we can get some money back on the tax money given to tobacco farmers. Kill two birds with one stone.
Kill two birds with one stone----yes, but actually there's a chance for three should subject inmate develop cancer from the smokes he bought by generating excess electricity..
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:37 PM   #17
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I can't find the study now, but I recently read about the amazing cost to society of a single unincarcerated criminal. Some of the criminals studied were "nonviolent" (burglary is a nonviolent crime, but that's little consolation when you come home and find someone has stolen your stuff), but even so a lot of these folks are very busy, committing several crimes per week.

$25K is truly a bargain in some cases. And, jail should not be fun. It should be safe, but that's about it.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:50 PM   #18
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Having lived in several democratic countries, I believe that there are a few reasons why there are more people in prison here than in any other country (and I don't think it's because people are worse than in other countries):

1) the war on drug... and on prostitution. Many western coutries have now laws that either make it legal or at least a minor offense to possess or consume small amounts of "light" drugs like Marijana. Same with prostitution. In many countries, the police will just look the other way for minor offenses.

2) Police presence. When I moved to the US, I was astonished at the number of police cars patrolling the place. In my opinion, if you commit a crime, you will have a much smaller chance to escape prosecution here than in most other countries.

3) Sentencing is much tougher here than in most other countries. For identical crimes, people stay in jail much longer here, I believe. Plus when you commit one crime, you could be charged with multiple offenses (both at the Federal and State level) which means that some people could easily face 200+ years in jail (which always sounds very optimistic to me) for a crime that's not even a capital crime.

4) More stringent laws. There is far less tolerance towards "petty" crimes in America than in other countries I lived in. In many countries, cheating on your taxes for example is somewhat of a national sport. I would not even dream to attempt it here. I would not even allow someone using drugs in my car or my house. And there is no way I am going to test the DUI limits either. It's just too dangerous and the consequences are just too serious.

So, IMHO, you could legitimately argue that there are too many people in American jails, or not enough in other countries'... It depends on your sensitivity towards crime.
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Old 03-25-2008, 12:26 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by bright eyed View Post
Given the statistics - here are my questions:
1) do you know someone who has been in the system - for what and how long
2) what were the consequences for them economically after they got out
3) did they go back in
4) do you support redirecting the $ into education, mental health, rehab and other support services to help ameliorate the conditions that may feed people into the system
5) what other policy changes do you see are needed?
1) no
2) n/a
3) n/a
4/5) No I believe that rehabilitation is not working (with a recid rate of 50% within 3 years). We need harsher prisions and tougher sentences. Make prision a place to be feared.
How's this for an idea. Outsource serial prisioners (3 time losers) to China or Russia.
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Old 03-25-2008, 11:33 AM   #20
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It depends on your sensitivity towards crime.
And often on how you define "crime"...
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