Bars of the Helpless


icon_digg10 It’s become a depressingly predictable event. Every few months, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a branch of the US Department of Justice, releases new figures showing that the US prison and jail population has grown yet again and has reached a new all-time high. The latest statistics, released last week, show that as of June 30, 2008, more than 2.3 million people were behind bars in this country — an increase of almost 20 percent just since 2000. This gives the United States an incarceration rate of 762 per 100,000 residents – the highest rate in the world, dwarfing those of other democracies like Great Britain (152 per 100,000), Canada (116), and Japan (63).

The aforementioned is quoted from an article appearing within the Huffington Post, entitled: “Prison Nation” and authored by David C. Fathi.  This ever increasing prison population demands immediate action as to “why” our country is producing so many incarcerated individuals within our society and “how” can prevent this increasing trend of penalized peoples.

Mr. Fathi’s article also sites:

Of course incarceration doesn’t affect everyone equally. Black men in the United States are 6.6 times more likely than white men to be incarcerated. More than 10 percent of all black males ages 25 to 39 were in prison or jail as of June 30, 2008. And a 2006 BJS study showed that prisons and jails have become the new asylums, with more than half of all prisoners suffering from mental health problems like major depression and psychotic disorders.

It wasn’t always like this. For much of the 20th century, the US incarceration rate remained fairly stable. It began to climb sharply in the late 1970s, as a result of policy changes like mandatory minimum sentencing and the widespread abolition of parole. In the 1980s and 1990s, the “war on drugs” and “three strikes” laws fueled further growth. More people were going to prison, and staying there for longer periods of time. By 2004, the incarcerated population was six times what it had been in 1972.

Contrary to popular belief, the growing prison population has little or nothing to do with an increase in crime. In fact, crime rates fell steadily between 1991 and 2006, eventually reaching levels not seen since the 1960s. Yet the incarceration rate increased by more than 50 percent in that same period. It’s clear, then, that political choice, not crime, has given the United States its massive prison and jail population.

As you can read, our past political environment seems to account for these numbers and hopefully will begin to decrease once attention is directed by our President to these alarming statistics.

Our dysfunctional criminal justice system has been a long time in the making, and no one should have any illusions that it will be fixed overnight. But a National Criminal Justice Commission would be an important first step toward ending our shameful status as the world’s leading prison nation.

The following video presents Janet Reno, former Attorney General in the Clinton Administration presenting her views on concerns within our present day legal system.

Janet Reno: Improving the Legal System

Update 22 April 09:

Living A Life Sentence
from CBSNews.com

Over the years who knows how many Americans have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, even executed? And even when the mistake is realized and the exonerated are released, what then?

Report: Fewer Blacks in Prison for Drugs
from ABC News: Home Page

Quarter-century old trend has reversed with number of white prisoners rising.

Update 26 Apr 09:

As Census Nears, How to Count Inmates Is Debated
from Wash Post – World News by Keith B. Richburg

NEW YORK — Elizabeth O’C. Little , a Republican state senator, represents a rural Upstate district larger in square miles than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. But more than 13,500 of her constituents are not living there by choice, they could not vote for her if they wanted to, and most will…

Update 29 Apr 09:

Congress Asked, More Slack For Crack?
from CBSNews.com

The Obama Administration wants Congress to lower mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine possession. The idea is to eliminate the disparity in prison sentences between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine.

Update 04 May 09:

Not The End Of The Affair
from CBSNews.com

Nineteen years after a man was convicted on a capital murder case, it was revealed that the judge had been having an affair with the prosecutor.


1 Response to “Bars of the Helpless”

  1. 1 notscarenews
    April 21, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    I have to make it public. It’s suppose to be secret, however most people in Austin, Tx knows about it. The police department has machine that can read your mind. A machine that can read someone’s mind will be used to violate EVERYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!! It can also change the way you feel. Sexual impulses, anger, and paranoia are all feelings they can induce to you at their fingertips. This means it can cause a girl or boy to feel sexual, and get raped thinking they wanted to. Its like a drug. This is just one of the many crimes they commit with this machine RIGHT NOW!!!! They are using it right now to spy on their citizens RIGHT NOW!!! People will be spied on in there homes, without a warrant. (this means someone will be able to watch you during sex without your knowledge.) There are a lot of people all over the United States knowing about this machine. The police department is able to use it to spy on people in their own home. During interrogation they keep a person dazed, confused and not sound of mind to cohersed them into making certain statements. This is a violation of these people’s constitutional rights. Start thinking about how the government has given the police department a weapon to commit not only one of the biggest civil and constitutional rights violations of all time, but to commit war crimes such as rape, brainwashing, and toturing people without the victim’s knowledge. I know it is hard to believe, however if you happen to know someone in the police department who cares for you enough, just ask if they have a machine that can read and control people’s mind. After that, I would also like people to think about how we are able to get the government to stop letting the police department violate the people’s civil and constitutional rights, and committing war crimes against there own citizens. Major media companies have knowledge of this, but are not willing to broadcast it. People need to find out and talk about this issue.

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