Thursday, June 11, 2009

Data points…

…from Senator Webb, with my emphasis...
• The United States has 5% of the world’s population, yet possesses 25% of the world’s prison population;
• More than 2.38 million Americans are now in prison, and another 5 million remain on probation or parole. That amounts to 1 in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release;
• Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980, up from 41,000 to 500,000 in 2008; and
• 60% of offenders are arrested for non-violent offensives–many driven by mental illness or drug addiction.
Seems pretty clear that the road to prison reform starts with surrender in the war on (some) drugs. It also seems pretty plain that the road to economic health, especially for many state and local governments, starts with cutting prison costs.

Or maybe Americans are just too high to care.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Terry Parkhurs said...

About six weeks ago, reports started appearing in newspaper Op/ed columns and "world news" sections, as well as web sites, that the legalization of marijuana and hashish might occur in the near future. The impetus was not only the cost of imprisoning so many people, for non-violent crimes, but the potential for tax revenue.

If you can imagine marijuana cigarettes being sold at your local grocery store - the clerk asks for ID, just as is done for tobacco now - or, in air tight baggies at a liquor store, you can also imagine all the tax revenue that would raise.

But the stories of that happening have largely disappeared. Meanwhile, we're getting more stories of big drug busts on places such as Capitol Hill in Seattle. Maybe it's no coincidence. Maybe someone in the DEA saw the writing on the wall and said, "Let's get some busts going. Otherwise, we're going to loose our damn jobs."

As the late, great Frank Zappa once said, in another context, "What can you expect from a nation founded by Puritans?"

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Terry Parkhurst said...

Just a correction to the misspelling of my own last name. That's what you get when you post not only when you're getting ready to turn in, but in great haste.

11:24 PM  

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