The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘prison reform

How about cage-free people?

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A cock and a hen roosting together.
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US land of the free: 2,131,180 prisoners

I wonder at the oddness of it.

We in the USA prefer the eggs of cage-free chickens. Yet we cage more people than any other nation.

I guess we think cages bad for chickens but useful for humans.

At caging the latter, we are certainly the world’s most prolific:

clipped from www.nytimes.com
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. […]

“Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”

This series of articles examines commonplace aspects of the American justice system that are actually unique in the world.

Previous Articles in the Series »

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Now, surely most people in prison are not there because they’re dangerous. Violent crimes are only a small fraction of jail-meriting offenses here. So most prisoners are not locked up to protect the rest of us.

We must have locked them up, then, because we thought it good for them.

But we’re sure it makes chickens worse.

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American Drug War Economics – Vol.1

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Marijuana
Image by warrantedarrest via Flickr

When I was a college kid in the 1970s, buying pot was easier than buying cigarettes (though, to be honest, I don’t remember ever buying either!)

Probably, it hasn’t changed. But here’s what has:  I didn’t know of one single person who’d gone to prison over it.  It’s a whole lot easier to end up in prison today.

Kids,  just like kids of my generation, act like kids.  But “get tough” laws are on the books now.  They rip kids’ futures away, and give them instead a bed in the most violent, gang-dominated, drug-permeated neighborhoods in America:  our prisons.

When they get out, they’re marked. Getting a job is tough.  Getting scholarships is nearly impossible (“get-tough” legislators having pre-wired the FAFSA to identify criminal records), so education is almost out of the question.  Careers that require certifications are mostly closed. The options they had planned for are gone.

Visitors entrance to Utah State Prison's Wasat...
Image via Wikipedia

For all that, what have we, as a society, gained? Nada.

These horrific laws, easily passed and rarely opposed (what politician wants to be labeled “soft on drugs“?), which incarcerate many of our best and brightest and then leave them with few non-poverty options, have utterly failed to reduce drug use. And they have cost us a fortune.

Meanwhile, your legislators are looking for more billions to build more prisons because this juggernaut crushes kids by the thousands every single day.  No other nation imprisons as many of its own as we do in “the land of the free.”

It will continue until we stop it.  And, since lots of people make lots of money keeping things just the way they are, it won’t stop easily.

But here’s one place—of many—to begin.

American Drug War Economics – Volume 1
Ending drug prohibition and focusing on addiction as a sickness, like alcohol and prescription drugs, could save the U.S. economy and millions of lives. Please pass this video on to as many people as you can. We need your help to end the Drug War.http://www.americandrugwar.com, http://www.sacredcow.com, http://www.sacredcowstore.com; Produced by Kevin Booth and Ryan Kaye
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Let’s get started.


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