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Old 12-09-2010, 09:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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kill the poor

every once in a while i find information that puts class war american style into a certain perspective. this morning's installment started here:


Quote:
There are roughly 2.3 million people in jails and prisons in America, more than any country in the world.

The United States has 756 people in jail per 100,000 people. No other country has more than 700, and only two are over 600 Russia (629) and Rwanda (604).

Of the 2.3 million people in American jails, 806,000 are black males. African-Americans--males and females--make up .6 percent of the entire world's population, but African-American males--alone--make up 8 percent of the entire world's prison population. I know there are people who think some kind of demon culture could create a world where a group that makes up roughly one in 200 citizens of the world, comprises one in 12 of its prisoners. But I kind of doubt it.

One final thought: If you released every black male in prison, our prison population would stand at 1.5 million, leaving us, still, with the second largest prison population in the world. Only China--a country with four times as many people--would have more (and barely--1.57 million). Russia would be a distant third with 890,000.
Hoodlums - Ta-Nehisi Coates - National - The Atlantic


just in case you don't believe this and want the data in an easy to access form:

ICPS :School of Law :King's College London : World Prison Brief : King's College London


meanwhile, england is moving away from some of the more draconian conservative "ideas" for addressing the consequences of their degenerate views on social policy---abandoning mandatory sentencing, expanding judicial discretion, etc.:

Latest news on the criminal justice system, sentencing policy, prisons and life after jail | Society | guardian.co.uk


what this looks like is a criminalization of class conflict, a decision taken by conservatives while in power to make criminal courts less flexible, expand the range of actionable crimes and essentially use the prison system as a mechanism for siphoning off the social tensions created by their emphasis on military keynesian policies combined with a massive transfer of wealth away from 80% of the population.

what i can't figure out is why on earth anyone imagines that these outcomes are ok.

oops (posted by mistake)...

i suppose this comes to a basic philosophical question though.

do you see these rather shocking numbers concerning prison population as a reflection of neo-liberal (conservative in the states) social policy?

conversely, do you think that a more even distribution of wealth would impact upon these numbers?
or is it more a matter of smaller initiatives like, say, dismantling mandatory sentencing?

why don't more people hear about the incarceration rate more of the time?
have you noticed that when this issue pops momentarily into the "free" press, it does so around issues of prison overcrowding, which is typically presented without much context?

this is obviously a broad topic---maybe things can be narrowed or refined or questions posed or changed if the discussion takes hold...
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Last edited by roachboy; 12-09-2010 at 10:05 AM..
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
— Ayn Rand

But i'm sure that Rand is nothing more than a Libertarian crackpot.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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well, she's big on vapor and short on specifics.

to wit (from the short piece quoted above):

Quote:
Of the 2.3 million people in American jails, 806,000 are black males. African-Americans--males and females--make up .6 percent of the entire world's population, but African-American males--alone--make up 8 percent of the entire world's prison population. I know there are people who think some kind of demon culture could create a world where a group that makes up roughly one in 200 citizens of the world, comprises one in 12 of its prisoners. But I kind of doubt it.
so that'd mean....something else is going on and not some vague mean state vs. Individuals who pretend to themselves that they're autonomous, yes?
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roachboy View Post
well, she's big on vapor and short on specifics.

to wit (from the short piece quoted above):



so that'd mean....something else is going on and not some vague mean state vs. Individuals who pretend to themselves that they're autonomous, yes?
you can boil it down to a race war or class war if you choose. I don't think the government really cares. Personally, my Libertarian view see's it at African Americans seem to be more inclined to pursue personal freedom over other ethnicities, therefore the government must stamp that out.
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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well, there's a bunch of other ways to see this. one is that the problem is that law has been fashioned that disproportionately criminalizes activities that poorer african-american communities would be likely to engage in--such as operating in the informal economies around drugs. there's a ton of sociological data available that correlates imploded infrastructure, lack of conventional economic opportunities etc. with participation in these economies.

another would be to see in these numbers an effect of class in the distribution of access to legal counsel---but on that i don't have information that would let me go too far in correlating convictions rates with reliance on public defenders or self-representation. intuitively it makes sense, but that's it.

or you can see this as part of deliberate choices--cutting back on the redistribution of wealth for social purposes, including the amelioration of class differences---has exacerbated those differences. one index of this is an explosion in the rates of people who are incarcerated. the correlation is that making more rigid existing criminal law and in the fashioning of new laws etc, the prison system has been integrated by the right as a mechanism that allows from management of class tensions--which are exacerbated by their skewed policies that favor military contractor profits and tax breaks for the wealthy while talking some nebulous populist line that keeps the poujadiste voting block in line.

and this is not to even start talking about socio-economic and addiction factors that explain recidivism rates. this is a long-term study by the florida prison administration on these rates. it's kinda depressing...

http://www.dc.state.fl.us/secretary/...ivismStudy.pdf
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Last edited by roachboy; 12-09-2010 at 12:43 PM..
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm not sure where you're going with the title, unless your implying imprisonment leads to a quicker death. Which it likely does or at least increases the odds of an early death.

I have couple of theories on the subject of race/inmate population/poverty. The first being what I can only call unintentional racism. I use the word unintentional loosely here. The majority or judges are Caucasian, the majority of inmates are not. It seems hard to believe there's not relation there.

My second theory is drug offenses. I looked for the stats, but was unable to find anything in the time I have right now. I'll look further later. But if I recall, a large percentage of minority prisoners are serving time for minor drug offenses. Possession of Mary J, high on the list. My theory here comes from experience on the streets of L.A.. My Latino and African descent friends have no problem lighting up a blunt standing on a street corner or out in someones front yard. They were far more open about their drug use than my Caucasian friends. Leading to more arrests. Which then lead to more imprisonment due to the factor above. A poor black guy is much more likely to go to prison for having an dime bag, than a white middle class kid with the same thing. I have no stats to back that up, just the experience.

In looking for BOJ statistics I came across this:

BOP: Quick Facts

Oct. 30, 2010 inmate population update. It appears to be Federal prison only. What I found interesting was the reverse population by race.

Inmates By Race
White: 121,155 (57.7 %)
Black: 81,653 (38.9 %)
Native American: 3,766 (1.8 %)
Asian: 3,574 (1.7 %)

At a glance, it appears local/state racism, may in fact be a leading contributor to the racial bias in prisons. And could suggest, as I have above, without the minor drug offenses, the populations would be much more equal.

I'll add more to this later when I have the time.


..
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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just as an explanation, the thread title references the classic dead kennedys song:

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Old 12-09-2010, 10:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Maybe things are easier in prison than being poor on the streets.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASU2003 View Post
Maybe things are easier in prison than being poor on the streets.
This is a solution for some poor and homeless already - they keep on doing (small?) crimes, so that they can get back in, where it's much cozier.

Wikipedia informs me that Finnish prisons are one of the least crowded in Europe. Also the American and Russian prisons are ten times more populated compared to ours. The romani people are a minority group in total Finnish population, yet they also are bigger group in prisons. Accurate information is not available, because it's forbidden to keep count based on ethnicity.
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roachboy View Post
just as an explanation, the thread title references the classic dead kennedys song:

YouTube - Dead Kennedys - Kill the poor
lol. I checked this thread out just to see if someone had posted that already.
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