• #16
    We still imprison more citizens than other country on Earth. "The US incarceration rate is 743 per 100,000 of national population. In comparison, Rwanda had the second highest, at 595 per 100,000." So the shrinking incarceration rate in the US still puts us above every other country, nothing to be proud of. I also wonder if this article took into account the growing number of inmates in privatized prisons.
  • #19
    Then again other countries just kill the criminals, indefinitely detain off the books or stone women for being raped. This country is not perfect but comparisons to countries that still have genocide you my friend can do much better than this in a argument. Decriminalization of victemless crimes is a good start.
  • #24
    "Decriminalization of victimless crimes is a good start."
    I completely agree with that statement but even if you want take third world countries out of the equation and just compare the US to other industrialized countries, we still have the highest incarceration rates.
  • #29
    @jpcash Exactly. China alone executed OVER 2,000 people in 2012 and those are the ones you hear about. When you read that the following countries haven't permitted guns in private hands in scores of years, and yet they have gun homicide rates greater than the US's, that's telling you murders are being carried out privately by armed police, army, etc. personnel in those countries. Because even though a few guns here and there may have escaped destruction in those countries, where is the ammo for them coming from in totalitarian countries? Cuba gun homicide rate 5.0 per 100,000. North Korea gun homicide rate 15.1 per 100,000.
  • #32
    @happyhedon our human rights rating is also one of the top. I agree we need to decrease prison populations but there is a line we need to tread carefully we cannot release people who are a danger to their self or others. So we have a catch 22 here victimless crimes I am on board but crimes with victims I am not.
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  • #2
    Yes, but it is an outside looking in view and does not touch the realities of day to day prison life, which can be very cruel and inhuman with repeated civil rights violations of inmates.

    There is unjustified punishment on top of justified punishment and that should never be.

    The prison system does not and cannot protect the inmates from each other and from the guards. It makes for hardened criminals released into society and for lifers who rule the prisons with all matter of abuse in conjunction with guards who trade considerations with these lifers, in exchange for some semblance of order, however cruel, among the inmates.

    The beast prison system is badly broken and in its belly.
  • #7
    @WMCOL "It makes for hardened criminals..."

    I call prisons "higher education for criminals". Their knowledge of how to commit more and worse crimes increases each year they are in.
  • #10
    And the inmate separation methods used fail to keep one class away from another because it is manipulated by the inmates. The only inmates who get some semblance of real protection are the very wealthy criminals who end up in a cushy federal prison separated from hardened violent criminals. Still no cakewalk but better than state prisons and most federal ones.
  • #13
    @WMCOL True. Prison violence is not on the decline. Even at the Federal level, only the white-collar criminals (larceny, fraud, embezzlement, etc.) have better conditions.
  • #21
    ." It makes for hardened criminals released into society"

    I disagree, people, adults that is, don't change more than a degree or two from the child who moved out of mom and dads house.
    Most were set and programed long before they entered the prison system.
    And, as an ex-CO in Florida, I can't tell you I always thought or felt that inmates had more power in the prison than us CO's did.
    Hell they would file a complant on an officer if he farted in their cell, or if he bumled into an inmate.
    The CO was then under investigation, investigators come down from Tallahassee go over complaints, read reports, and "interrogate" the officer.
  • #22
    Have a cousin and several friends in the CO jobs. They all tell me most contraband comes in either through the CO's directly or because they look the other way. Their feeling of control is tedious as they are always outnumbered and must rely on a certain amount of earned respect. I hear of inmate fights and death over who gets a certain man as their lover. CO's cannot protect every inmate all the time. And yes those already programmed learn new tricks in prison that make them more menacing to society when they get out. Rehab in prison is a joke, although it is available but privilege can be taken away through no fault of inmate it is taken away from. Better separation of inmates based on status is needed. A drug use conviction should not be exposed to violent crime convictions at any point in system. Of course that is more expense but pays off on the end to society.
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  • #83
    I like that one "Don't Break The Law". Who's law are we talking about anyway? When an ordinary citizen breaks the law and gets caught, he is sentenced and does time. When Mr. Obama repeatedly breaks the law nothing happens. There are a lot of people in the prison "SYSTEM" that have done nothing wrong at all. And after they are in that system it destroys their life completely. And who makes that mistake good for them? NOBODY!
    It don't matter if you are innocent or not! Once a con always a con!
  • #23
    There's really nothing to disagree with if the Professor's facts are solid. He's citing facts for the most part. Where he advocates for reforms in the system, who can argue with that, in the case of private prisons especially. The problem is at the front of the system, though, where the rich and beautiful often escape imprisonment. Remember the recent 'Affluenza' case where 'Richie Rich's ' sociopathic personality was blamed on his family's wealth and their spoiling him? Remember the 'LaBabe LaFave' case? Too darned pretty to go to jail? There's a good song in there somewhere!: "Too weak to fight, too big to fail, too darned pretty to go to jail!", lol.
  • #109
    "Too weak to fight, too big to fail, too darned pretty to go to jail!"

    I like that!!!!!!

    Sounds like a Curtis blow rap.

    And as a side note, I would NOT want to go to jail.

    Crappy food, crappy life style, just plain CRAPPY.
  • #18
    To me, this didn't seem like an op-ed. No particular opinion about it all was put forth but it did contain a lot of interesting and useful facts.
  • #28
    The thing about marijuana convictions is they appear to be small infractions, but they often leave people stuck in situations where you have to pay fines miraculously while not driving. Of course, if you talk to people in regional jails, over half of them are there for drug possession or driving while suspended resulting from drug possession charges. Once you are stuck in this cycle of fines, suspended license (not being able to pay your bills), it becomes a downward spiral. Having a couple of marijuana/driving charges on your record automatically eliminates half of the career opportunities in America, just because of the hypocritical way people view certain drugs.

    Marijuana doesn't send people to prison directly, but I guarantee legalization would have negative effect on prison populations in the long term.
  • #12
    The laws need changing not so much for the number sent to prison but to curb the corruption in the legal system, from the courthouse to law enforcement.
  • #46
    Well written and I agree with all the data presented. The only part that I would change is the wording of myth #4, my wife is black, she is an American, a black American, not African-American, she has never even been to Africa, she is no more African-American than I am Irish-American, I am a full blooded American with Irish ancestors, but I was born right here in the good ol USA. Everyone in this country has a linage that would include ethnic diversity whether they are willing to admit it or not, even the ignorant assed white skinheads would be shocked if they actually knew who their ancestors where.
  • #20
    It was an interesting article but I would like to see a little more evidence of the assertions of the writer.

    The most effective function of a prison is to separate predatory offenders from the rest of society. Efforts at rehabilitation have not been shown to be very effective. An ex-felon still has a lot of hoops to jump through if the goal is to reintegrate him into society. Perhaps that is good, or bad for that matter, but it is for another thread.
  • #40

    Education, job training, psychological counseling, anger management, etc. They were not shown to be effective in reducing the rate of return to prison.
  • #42
    @gammler - I think that rehab services would be more effective if more than 15% of prisoners received them AND the services were better than mere 12-step programs and GED's... When it comes to mental health services, they are even scarcer even though half of all prisoners have a serious mental illness.
  • #44
    @gammler No matter what the rehab in prison, many re-offenders are due to the fact they can't find a job when they return to society. You have to admit the "trust factor" in our society has shrunk overall. Plus, the biggest factor is showing up on time. How do you teach discipline to people who may have never known it in their lives?
  • #48
    @GVJaneAz - Well said... I believe in inmates keeping busy learning new skills, but above all, a new work ethic. They should have routines everyday that include taking responsibility for themselves and others.

    This whole notion of making them sit on a hard cot and stare at bare grey walls for 5-10 years is creating worse problems for society than the crime that initially put the person in jail.

    And you are correct about some people never learning what a disciplined life is... no one to teach them, and then no one wanting to give them a chance once they re-enter society...
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  • #97
    Drug laws that when looked at made whole inner cities drug free zone while the 'burbs were not.(heavier penalties)streaking as a felony,"public" urination as a sex crime,strict liability.
  • #98

    alright...Now you have to ask yourself...who makes the laws in these cities?
    Most large cities, that have so called inner cities, are usually always ran be the democrats.
    I suggest you start there.
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  • #30
    They are there for a reason not because they were boy scouts and were caught helping an old lady across the street. They are not meant to be vacation spots. If it's true that prisons harden prisoners then those that are not into the system better take a hard look at it and decide if that's where they want to end up. No sympathy form me.
  • #4
    Overall, the trend is good. But,. while the population are falling in most States, the USA still has the highest incarceration rate (prisoners per 100k population) in the world, much larger than China or Cuba and larger even than Russia. Many prisons are still overcrowded. Less use of mandatory sentencing is not across the board and many States still use the "three strikes" system. Depending on the level of security and other factors (such as use of private prison management companies), it costs between $25 -$45k per year. More community policing, sentencing reform, and greater reliance on restitutive justice will help to shrink our prison populations below that of other industrialized countries. We also need to let our law enforcement agencies decrease employment through attrition and stop militarizing them.
  • #14
    @viniketa both Russia and China, asking with several other nations treat prisoners like prisoners, not country club guests. Sheriff Joe tries in Arizona. Treat them like prisoners, maker it uncomfortable, and then maybe they will try harder not to go back.
  • #15
    @ahsum99ss Have you ever visited someone inside a Texas prison? Most prisons are really not that comfortable. Besides, comfort isn't the issue. Length of time served is most highly correlated with recidivism (going back in over and over).
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  • #116
    "Also, marijuana legalization proposals tend to include new stiff criminal penalties for selling to minors and driving while impaired, which could certainly result in as many people going to prison under legalization and do now under marijuana prohibition. Wherever the country ends up on the question of marijuana legalization will thus make little or no difference to the size of our prison population."
  • #89
    Keith Humphreys doesn't apparently know a damn thing. the prison situation is out of control in the untied states. this website is a fucking joke.
  • #27
    And yet it is still true that are for a country that prizes human rights we incarcerate more of our citizens that any other h Eric country and are building walls rather than making friends.
  • #31
    Or the right's. The debate about prison releases is often discussed in California with dire hand-wringing from the right about all those criminals looting and plundering their way through suburbia. Seems like that may be a bit of an exaggeration.
  • #111
    On the good side .. since there aren't many jobs and since so many people are dead broke, its no use trying to rob anyone, for their pockets will be empty and if their pockets are empty their Piggy Banks back home are empty and if their piggy banks back home are empty then their Atm Accounts are empty so hell criminals simply find new way to entertain themselves, for robbing someone is no longer very lucrative! The newest fad for these sportsters is the Knockout Game, and since so many cops eat so many donuts and get fat and they can't run fast enough to catch up with these bandits that contributes to the shrinking of prison populations, as does all else above written!
  • #110
    I can not believe this guy actually said that Black crime gets more media attentions. That is the absolutely the biggest lie of the century. The Liberal media plays up every white on black crime story there is & they bury any black on white story.
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