Private Prisons: The Injustice League

Check out the interesting article, “Private Prisons: The Injustice League,” by Online private-prison-profitParalegal Programs at www.online-paralegal-programs.com , providing some interesting information on what’s happening with our private prisons systems in line with our recent blog, “The Exceptional World of US Prisons.”

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The Exceptional World of U.S. Prisons

Guest Contributor, Dr. Marshall Carter-Tripp provides some interesting perspective and important information considering our current prison system as it compares to such countries as Russia and Iran.  You may be surprised.

 America4796934n “Exceptionalism” is being celebrated by American politicians, who express amazement that the rest of the world doesn’t understand how exceptional we are.  Sadly, the rest of the world may well understand this, but from a different perspective than the one adopted by our politicians, and most of the news media. Continue reading

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Made in the USA – The Prison Industry and Its Profits

4796934The prison population has grown nearly-exponentially in the last few decades, and the US now holds 25% of the world’s prison population, yet has only 5% of the world’s population. The incarceration rate per capita is far higher than any other industrialized nation.  According to the World Prison Population list, the United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 743 per 100,000 of the national population. The next closest is Rwanda at 595. Why is this?  Is there something about US society that produces such massive numbers of criminals, or is something else going on?  Former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia tried to ask this question, by establishing a commission to recommend changes to the criminal justice system, only to see his efforts blocked in the Senate, despite widespread support from law enforcement groups as well as civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU. Continue reading

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The War on Drugs–Going Forward

This is the last of a multi-part series on illegal drugs and their impact on our society with a special emphasis on the US-Mexico border region, exploring how we got here, what are the economic and social impacts of our policies, and exploring alternatives to our current policies going forward.

Illustration by Victor Juhasz, Rolling Stones Magazine, Dec 2012

Illustration by Victor Juhasz, Rolling Stones Magazine, Dec 2012

This past November much of our attention was riveted on the election of a new President along with the other political contests up for grabs for our national, state, and local representatives.  Almost as a side event was the decision by the electorates of the states of Washington and Colorado to legalize and regulate the use of small amounts of marijuana for personal recreation.  For the first time since the early part of the last century state law made it legal for individuals to use marijuana subject only to the same kind of restrictions and regulations that have been applied to alcohol or tobacco, including taxation, abuse (DUI) and age restrictions for use.  The US Department of Justice officials were quick to point out that federal law still classified marijuana as an illicit narcotic, use or possession of which was subject to federal criminal prosecution.  Is this the tipping point, allowing the personal use/possession of marijuana, or simply an aberration in the decades-long war on drugs where the feds will simply step in and squash any attempts to legalize these drugs?  So far the feds have not really taken any action one way or another but there has been no visible change in the enforcement program, including the prosecution of medical marijuana patients. Continue reading

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War on Drugs–At Whatever Cost?

This is the second of a multi-part series on illegal drugs and their impact on our society with a special emphasis on the US-Mexico border region, exploring how we got here, what are the economic and social impacts of our policies, and exploring alternatives to our current policies going forward.

The first article of this series explored the history of the War on Drugs going back more than a century where we described how our government officials (local, state and federal) changed our policies and subsequent regulations and laws to view drugs and drug abuse.  This was not done through the lens of a social problem with social solutions but rather as a criminal problem to be resolved primarily through a criminal justice approach.  These changes often occurred with obvious racial and/or economic bias supported in whole or in part by misinformation and sensationalism promoted by self-serving media (the Hearst Publications) and newly created state/federal agencies, e.g. the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.  This latter agency went after marijuana (a non-narcotic drug) with propaganda efforts such as the movie “Reefer Madness”–the butt of many jokes among teens and young adults in later years.  While initially a focus of limited federal and state funding, renewed interest in drugs and drug abuse in the early 70’s with President Nixon’s declared “War on Drugs” has led to an estimated $1 trillion cost to the taxpayers in pursuing this strategy over the past 40 years (!).  We will discuss some of these costs from a purely economic point of view and later look at them from a social cost perspective which has a more significant impact on our society and culture, although it is less easily and objectively analyzed. Continue reading

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