The United States locks up more people than any country in the world, by a comfortable margin. CBS reports that a London School of Economics study indicates the war on drugs is to blame:
CHICAGO (CBS) — A new report by the London School of Economics concludes that the war on drugs “has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage” and points to the enormously high incarceration rate in the United States as evidence that it is time for a new strategy.
By a wide margin, the United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world, and many of those prisoners are doing time for drug offenses.
The war on drugs was a farce from the very beginning, of course, but it never was about drugs, or correction, or rehabilitation. Quite simply, it is politically and monetarily lucrative. While the article mentions race, I have to add a few points. First, here is some idea of the total numbers:
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. At year-end 2009, it was 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2011 – about 0.94% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at year-end 2011 were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2011 – about 2.9% of adults in the U.S. resident population.
In addition, there were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010.
Although debtor's prisons no longer exist in the United States, residents of some U.S. states can still be incarcerated for debt as of 2014.
According to a 2014 report by Human Rights Watch, "tough-on-crime" laws adopted since the 1980s have filled U.S. prisons with mostly nonviolent offenders.
• The number of women in prison increased by 646% between 1980 and 2010, rising from 15,118 to
112,797.1,2 Including women in local jails, more than 205,000 women are now incarcerated.
o The number of women in prison increased at nearly 1.5 times the rate of men (646% versus
By the way, Tennessee just passed a law to lock up women, if they think (don’t really have to know for sure) that the woman used drugs during her pregnancy. Doctors associations (several) advised against this, because it will lead to less prenatal care, but Tennessee ignored that
The prison rape stats were also released today:
Administrators of adult correctional facilities reported
8,763 allegations of sexual victimization in 2011, a
statistically significant increase over the 8,404 allegations
reported in 2010 and 7,855 in 2009.
The jail inmate numbers were also released. Jail is some of the hardest time anyone can do, and yet, the jails have become prisons- warehouses for nonviolent drug offenders, the mentally ill, detainees who have not been convicted, immigrants and people awaiting sentencing. Jail used to be jail, actually, but it isn’t anymore:
After a peak in the number of inmates confined
in county and city jails at midyear 2008
(785,533), the jail population was significantly
lower by midyear 2013 (731,208) (figure 1, table 1).
However, the estimated decline between midyear 2012
and 2013 was not statistically significant. California’s
jails experienced an increase of about 12,000 inmates
since midyear 2011.
On the mentally ill:
Mentally ill people were routinely confined to prisons and jails until the early 19th century, when the practice was deemed inhumane and problematic, and they were hospitalized instead. But following a series of exposés on the “abysmal” conditions of those psychiatric hospitals, many were closed by the 1970s.
In prisons and jails today, mentally ill prisoners are often victimized or sent to solitary confinement, and they attempt suicide at disproportionate rates, according to the report.
It is appalling how the mentally ill are treated. I have witnessed it and written about it, but it only seems to have become worse, not better:
Mentally Ill Men Allege ‘Shocking’ Isolation in Mass. Prison Hospital Lawsuit
Peter Minich’s condition has deteriorated since spending 6,300 hours in solitary confinement, according to his mother, Joanne Minich
There are so, so many, and it has been going on for so long.
The next number from today is on executions:
Prisoners Executed”: Here’s the press release and Excel spreadsheet. From 1977 to 2013, Texas accounted for 508 out of 1,356 executions nationwide (37.5%). The states with the next most executions were Virginia (110), Oklahoma (108), Florida (81), Missouri (70), Alabama (56), Georgia (53), Ohio (52), and North and South Carolina at 43 apiece. Notably, while Texas continues to have the most executions annually of any state, the overall trend from 1977 to 2013 in Texas and nationally track pretty closely.
Also in the news today: Portland police arrested and handcuffed a 9-year-old girl.
I want to also address the crime labs. The situation is completely out of control. As one who was convicted of a DUI, with no drugs and no alcohol detected in the blood, a conviction that was upheld on appeal (no bad driving whatsoever) with the court “[noting] that there were no drugs or alcohol in the blood,” I have researched how this could possibly happen. In my case, the crime lab analyst lied about the testing process, lied about the request to test, and then posed as an ‘expert’ in medicine and delivered one hundred percent fact-free testimony under oath.
In the process of looking at my case more in depth, I have concluded that our crime labs are fundamentally flawed, and the analysts working in them (not all, but enough for me to write about it) are part of an unregulated, arrogant, incompetent, voodoo ‘science’ culture. I feel fortunate that I am not a dead person, convicted of a murder I did not commit. The crime labs are self-governed, with no oversight or accountability whatsoever, and they are part of law enforcement and an arm of the prosecution. And the problem is, the group that self-governs the labs will also shape DUI and driving laws and policy. We are already seeing that with per se laws, so-called DRE ‘experts’ and a huge push for more and more creative ways to find something, anything in the urine, the hair, the blood…and if all else fails, they will lie under oath. Corrupt practices are their bread and butter.
At this point, I believe the crime labs should be closed. Every single one of them. When it comes to toxicology, these tests need to be turned over to a CLIA-regulated lab. More on that in another post.