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  • #4
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    The United States has the highest number of incarcerated people in the industrialized world. The majority are NOT violent offenders. The prison population should be be reserved for those who are a danger to society. This has become an industry that wouldn't be as huge as it is if it weren't for the fact that taxpayers are footing the bill.
  • #22
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    Yes, and the bills are expensive. It makes no sense to imprison people for property crimes. Our system should use more restitutive justice.
  • #25
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    @viniketa

    I agree, but creative justice takes thought. It's so much easier to through people in jail than come up with a punishment that actually serves society and makes the offender pay back for his crime.
  • #45
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    Since the penalties for producing and smuggling drugs do not include the execution of the drug cartel leadership and rank and file, the money that can be earned will always be worth the risk. It's our own sense of justice and legal system that has caused the failure of the WAR ON DRUGS. Since we consider ourselves too CIVILIZED to use the death penalty and assassinations to eliminate this plague, the people who have no compunction against using death and the threat of death to ensure the enslavement of a considerable number of Americans will continue.

    A number of years ago, some Mexican friends, that I met on a sojourn in Baja Mexico, opened my eyes to the fact that with all our laws, more than any other country in the world, in the area of violence, the result is that we really have none and the streets of LA, at least during this time period, were more dangerous than those of Tijuana. Where I was staying at the time, a town called Playa Rosita, just south of Tijuana, no one locked their doors at any time, because nothing was ever stolen.
  • #54
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    @viniketa Agreed. Unfortunately, often neither is the case. I was the victim of embezzlement by an employees. The employee plead guilty, was ordered by the court to probation and restitution, violated that probation several times (once a gun crime), and eventually was cut loose from probation because he was, in the words of the so-called "victim's advocate", "a troublemaker"....and he never paid me a DIME of restitution. I was never informed of any of his further court appearances, or his release, until after the fact. No authority would admit that he was turned loose if he promised to move out of state..but that's exactly what he did once he was released by the court. At this point, since courts refuse to make criminals pay restitution, my opinion is that every single person who steals money from anyone should do hard time busting rocks on the road crew, rain or shine.
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  • #29
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    I think its wrong to hinge this on one thing. It really comes down to which reason(s) you believe to be the most applicable:
    1) Dramatic rise in poverty, urban blight, and desperation
    2) Glorification of drug dealing in movies, TV and the hip-hop community
    3) Less jobs available ( complex point with many angles)
    4) Privatized prison system: paid off judges, bonus-incentived' cops
    5) Bankrupt towns, cities due to corporate/political corruption
    6) Rise in population
    7) Unfair sentencing and racism
    8) Lack of programs to deal with addiction, societal re-integration, employer discrimination.
  • #40
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    That's very true. The war on drugs did increase prison populations, but the drug offender population is now only a small portion of the prison population. The war on drugs did increase the number of minorities being stopped and searched and finding any drugs or paraphernalia gave probable cause to search cars, homes, etc. So, it also led to more arrests for other types of crimes, particularly property crimes.

    Racially tinged justice administration doesn't help. Lots of research showing non-whites are convicted higher rates and get longer sentences for the same crimes than whites.
  • #58
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    I'm with you pretty solid on 1 though 5, with some debate on 1, and the "paid off judges" thing in 4. Judges, for instance, appear to have bought into the idea that they are part of the income stream for the government who pays their salary, rather than actual judges of the law. 6 through 8 definitely have some merit in my opinion, but are more debatable.
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  • #13
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    The war on drugs is probably the worst law that affected the youth and black population in this countries history. A smart action now would have the president use his famous pen to pardon all of those convicted of use or possession to sell small amounts of all drugs. The only people of the drug class that would remain in prison were those that were also convicted of other crimes or major drug dealers. At the same time federal law should be changed so that use of any drug or transactions of any kind between consenting adults be legal. Crime should be limited to direct or threatened harm to another individual.
  • #28
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    not that simple. because our legal system is such a mess, how many minor drug convictions are actually plea deals by lazy prosecutors to snitches or someone else who committed a more serious crime but were only sentenced for the lesser drug charges due to expediency.
  • #31
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    @TRex84 That right there really pisses me off. They take a habitual thief, burglar, thug, and somebody who is creating victims and turn them loose in exchange for a drug case, and most of those are people who wouldn't hurt anyone in anyway.
  • #46
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    In Colorado, where pot is "legal", it's against the law to sell it on the street. You can "gift" up to 1 ounce (wink wink), but if you sell it, you're committing a crime.
  • #47
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    @TRex84 The only thing that counts here is the crime they were sentenced for. That the prosecutor may have plea bargained a mass murder down to possession with intent to sell means the guy in prison is only legally guilty of the possession charge.
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  • #9
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    1984. More in line with need than anything else. After the population started in 1971 the states had filled their prisons to overcapacity. It was seen as a solution that would not bust their budgets.
  • #11
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    @fraps
    "More in line with need than anything"...the drug war is the catalyst that ushered in locking people up for profit... That's when numbers started really spiking
  • #12
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    @Food4thoughts
    and dont forget the paythatmagistrate trademark and paycopstimeandahalfforallcourt appearancesalongwitharrestquot abonuses.
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  • #43
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    Solve the latter? Seriously? How many years and how many dollars spent on the "war on poverty"? With miniscule progress at best? It's a very good idea that won't ever happen.
  • #99
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    @joyshusband Kind of hard to have 'progress' when the only discussion is about what is ok to cut and what military and prison programs we can put in its place.
  • #102
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    @AceLuby When it comes to cutting, start with waste, fraud, abuse and tax breaks and subsidies for rich people. I never once suggested building up the military, obviously we can trim some there. As long as people commit crimes (like my best friend who's serving life w/o parole), we need prisons.
  • #110
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    @joyshusband Sure, show me the waste, fraud, and abuse; then show me a solution that solves the problem without unintended consequences and I'm 100% on board. Unfortunately those tend to be cover words for 'let's cut domestic programs for poor people and minorities'.
  • #114
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    @AceLuby Stop giving $ to companies like Solyndra that go bankrupt almost immediately. Paying for military equipment our military says we don't need (waste). Enforce irs tax laws fairly (government workers alone owe billions in back taxes). Small businesses paying workers under the table (not paying taxes). Workers getting paid under table (not paying taxes). Look at some of the $ our government doles out for useless research (saw recently where a grant was given to a university to stuck duck penises, what the f for?). Many duplicative programs waste money. Good enough to start?
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  • #60
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    "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
    H. L. Mencken
    Question authority is perhaps the best advice ever given.
  • #27
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    Well, the article preaches to the choir. The "War on Drugs" has created a class of people with criminal records now who weren't criminals to begin with.
  • #42
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    Once one has a felony arrest on record, your life choices go down considerable. Once one has a felony conviction, even more.
  • #95
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    @gammler Thank you. Another point, this felony trap also contributes to increased recidivism (going back in over and over), keeping our prison population high. There is very little the gov't can do about this except to change some of their own rules on housing and food assistance for felons, which should be done, especially for first-time felons. The big task is changing the attitudes of private sector landlords and employers.
  • #125
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    @viniketa What ever happened to the concept of "pay your debt to society?" If you are forever labeled an outlaw, how can you ever be able to re-enter society as a contributing member?
  • #127
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    The fact that an individual has been a guest of the State for a period of time doesn't mean that the felony has disappeared. It just means that the ex-convict hasn't been able to commit them for awhile. Would you hire a bookkeeper who has been convicted of embezzlement? The convict has forfeited his right to trust.

    Trust has to be EARNED. After awhile the effects of the felony wither away. Then the debt is paid.
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  • #55
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    Lets not forget privatized prison .... Corporate Greed and certain individuals in the justice system getting money under the table for filling those prisons!
  • #59
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    It'd be nice if we could get liberals to look at a chart that shows the decline of public education in America since the creation of the Dept of Education in 1979.
  • #133
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    You'd have to have some evidence linking these two events. If I specialized in education, I'd do the research. Have any friends who do research on the education system?
  • #198
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    Naw, nothing to do with it. The real reason for the decline, is removing lead from toothpaste tubes, removing asbestos from buildings, and the the FDA preventing the manufacture and sale of "Mecurochrome". The lack of DDT and chlordane may also have contributed to the decline, but I can't find the documentation to verify it.
    [sarc. off]
  • #50
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    Could this have anything to do with the fact that, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, in 1970 there were roughly 4,000,000 illegal immigrants in the country and today there are over 25,000,000?

    Does anyone know what % of the prison population is in for a felony since that eliminates the small drug use? What % of the prison population are illegals or children of illegals? What % are in for violent crime versus non-violent? Just wondering if anyone has a source or sources for the information rather than simply what we believe to be true?
  • #56
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    Thanks. According to your source:
    Federal marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 11,630
    State marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 33,186
    Total federal and state marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 44,816

    So of the roughly 1.4 million in prison in 2004, about 3% were in for marijuana.

    I also like the quote "The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses."

    Apparently our answer is to make drugs easier to get, which will help more people become dependent on and abusing drugs. How stupid is that?
  • #62
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    FLBeaver: I do not have the statistics on your theory, but there is a human rights group watching the situation on incarcerated illegal immigrants in AZ and TX that are being detained in privately owned, tax payer funded jails. This may be one reason the immigration issue hasn't been addressed yet? Think of the cost of something like this. Think of the injustice to the taxpayers and the people being 'detained'.--- There are probably many reasons besides the war on drugs for the
  • #65
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    I agree. And based on the stats provided by GedankPol, marijuana crimes only account for 3% of the incarcerations. To me, there is a big difference between a marijuana conviction and a meth conviction. It seems when some folks hear "drug offenses" they assume most are for small amounts of marijuana when the facts suggest that drug offenses are for real drug crimes, not a small amount of pot.
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  • #131
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    At least in CA. the sentencing is over the top. Especially the three strikes law. Double jeporesy used to be illegal but now a person gets more time for something they already did time for?????
  • #108
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    This so called war on drugs is a farce. With the technology we have today, we could stop 90% of the drugs coming into this country if we wanted to but there is too much big money being reinvested in major city economy.
  • #88
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    One could just as easily argue that the graph shows that "jump" occurred shortly after the implementation of LBJ's 'great society" welfare programs......
  • #128
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    On the contrary. According to the graph, a slight drop occurred during the years immediately after LBJ's programs began. The steady upticks didn't start until 1975.
  • #211
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    @Denizen_Kate Considering it takes a few years for the results to start showing from new programs, the statement still holds true. Those upticks could just have easily been due to a decade of welfare programs as it was the "war on drugs".
  • #51
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    Drugs have played the biggest roles not only in those directly involved in drug trafficking but also from those who commit crimes to obtain drugs or finance a life style they can't have by working. Add to that the large illegal immigrant population which seems to become involved in crimes because they can't live here legally. That underground society that pays no taxes yet burdens the society safety net in almost every way.
  • #20
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    Sadly, the chart tells us that our prison system is now a mental institution...Our mentally ill were kicked unto the streets of America in the early 70's and the chart goes up accordingly. The decision to close down mental hospitals was not a good one, as we now have many tragedies and heartaches as proof.
  • #230
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    I have been fascinated by the number of felons that now exist in our country. These are folks that have done the time for the crime and yet are punished the rest of their lives. Not something the Constitution intended. Rights are lost while doing time.
    If one is imprisoned under bad law, one cannot change the law because they have no voice. They are taxed without representation. They can't even get a voice to vote out the bad elected judges that imprisoned them.
    I have talked to many folks running for higher offices about this and there is apprehension to fix this. I think it's because a lot of power will be lost at all levels of government the least of which is the local revenue generation via the courts.
  • #130
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    While Politix may argue that the chart shows that the war on drugs is responsible for the increase in prison populations, this is simply not so.

    There could be many causes for the increase and the war on drugs could be just a coincidence.

    I'm not arguing the issue one way or the other, I'm just pointing out that this chart shows nothing conclusive. In college, many many years ago, in my first statistics class the required textbook was titled "How to lie with statistics". This chart and the accompanying article are an excellent example of how to do so.

    So, while you're arguing about how evil the war on drugs is or is not, remember that the chart doesn't prove or disprove anything.
  • #96
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    Makes sense why they imprison and then have to let go because of suits over overcrowding. Catch and release. And love the ones who talk about the numbers incarcerated. We are a fairly large country population-wise....so guess who is number two percentage wise? Seychelles. Prisoners per 100,000 population is 709. We are 716/100,000 as of October 2012. Russia at number 8 is 484/100.000.

    "In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States," Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in "Democracy in America." No more....
  • #94
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    Prohibition is still not working.

    Interesting thread due to the fact that Democrats aren't blaming Republicans and Republicans aren't blaming the Democrats....because they both support the failed policy. But after decades, you still cannot get a Democrat or Republican in Washington to propose legalizing pot. But when was the last time Washington voted to give more freedom to the people and or less power to Washington?
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