Monday, March 8, 2010

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Read this article:

By Cedric Dean
Did you know since the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget increased from $220 million in 1986 to $5.4 billion in 2008.

You are white and you think you aren't racist, right? So did consider this:

We whites hope that the reason so many blacks are in prison is just because so many blacks committed crimes. Of course, we admit that police do racial profiling, and that a black man who does the same crime is more likely to be charged, convicted, and given a longer sentence.

But consider this. What if blacks in the USA, for whatever reasons (past discrimination, bad welfare policies which encouraged the creation of fatherless children, past slavery), are statistically more likely to throw a punch, join a gang, or sell drugs? This is not a racist observation on its own, but what is racist is our response: then throw them all in prison!

Why is that racist? Because we are doing the wrong thing: overcriminalizing (so, possession of a small amount of pot is not a civil offense, but a horrid crime, and throwing a punch for someone insulting your mother is a very serious crime when it might just be what the fellow had coming...) and, particularly, over-imprisoning. Many small criminals could be dealt with through various kinds of intervention and supervision far short of a penitentiary. But we don't do that. Instead, we shove the black race behind bars.

Simple solution, right? If it was that high of percentage of whites who were behind bars, we would find a new solution. Ergo, its racist intent or racist neglect (it isn't whites, so who cares attitude) that causes whites to let so many blacks rot in prison.

Shame on the whites in the USA, and shame on me, for I have been a part of this process.

Prisoners now ripped off by charging them excessively for phone calls

Correctional facilities in the USA are charging prisoners for phone calls up to 60% in excess of the cost of the call, and pocketing the money! These are prisoners who have almost no resources and are lucky if they even know someone who wants a phone call from them.

The price of over-punishment: The story of a 40 year old woman

Our punishments are often so harsh that people end up bitter, lost, without resources, and with NOTHING TO LOSE. How easy it would be to return to a life of crime...and maybe they weren't career criminals to start with!

Read this true story about a girl who had 22 grams of cocaine - just as thousands of executives and Hollywood stars have done - and then served 18 years in prison for it. Now she is 40 years old and no one wants to hire an "ex-felon" - yet how many of the business owners who won't hire this women have done worse?

You could show you care about a human - write to the "least of these" - a prisoner

"Are you looking to write someone in prison, but you're not sure what to do? It's simple. No signup is required. Just click the Search or Browse button above and find someone that interests you. At the top of that page, click the Contact Inmate button. Write a letter, get an envelope and a stamp, and send it off."

I think we underestimate our own evil. Tomorrow any of us might answer our mobile while driving and crash into a dozen schoolchildren. We could then be a prisoner, too.

What about truly evil prisoners? First, beware to not give personal information if you should not. Second, really evil people are still people - there are hundreds of good arguments to show them some love and mercy. Are love and mercy now dirty words?

I am actually sad that Prison Voices says that it discriminates against various prisoner categories. I hope that even the very worst prisoner gets some pen pals, and, by some miracle, is healed at least somewhat.

I may not be a Christian, but I do believe in a lot the ideals of Jesus.

Word for word from Jailhouselawyer's Blog (see link on the right)

Tough on crime? Jail's not the answer

Locking up more people is a populist ploy that doesn't cut crime. We would focus on rigorous community sentences instead

Chris Huhne

You wouldn't run the NHS without testing the effectiveness of drugs. No sane economist would let you run the economy without elaborate modelling to test fiscal and monetary policies. It should be a given that important matters of public policy are based on evidence and research, rather than political whim. Why, then, is the field of criminal justice uniquely and scandalously divorced from this obvious rule?

Share your ideas on how to set the prisoners free

What do we need to do or say so that the world rapidly decreases its rate of imprisonment, reforms the justice system (to focus on restitution and restoration), reduces sentences dramatically and sets many prisoners free?

Please share your ideas.

Meanwhile, consider:

Prison was partly justified, hundreds of years ago, when whipping and other means were used as punishment, as a better means because it was more harmful, more deterrent, more painful, more torturous and more demeaning than the corporal and other punishments then used (though there are obvious exceptions). Our ancestors understood that locking up humans for days (or weeks or months) like animals is cruel, but most of our ancestors were just cruel, so they didn't care. We are no better, overall, just more ignorant.

Prison removes countless rights that need not be removed.

We remove more and more rights from prisoners because we are judgmental and vindictive hypocrites who do not realize what double standards we have. Let's say that someday we improve technology so that everything that was ever done suddenly can be seen and proven in a court of law. Who could escape prison? Here are some laws you might have broken:

Did you ever drive in a dangerous manner? That is a crime. Distracted? On the mobile? In a heated argument? Over-tired? Inebriated? On drugs? Let's just put you in prison for a month for every occurrence. Some of us would get 100,000 years in prison. At any time our negligence could have resulted in multiple deaths. Is it just LUCK that makes you better than those in prison for vehicular homicide? YES.

Did you ever watch The Blue Lagoon or any other films like it, or read books like it? For today people are thrown in prison for YEARS for looking at images more innocent than that. Tom Sawyer, rated G, from 1972, is one of hundreds of pedo films (lets not discuss Sleepers!). For every movie or book like that, a year for all of you if you watched one just one time, another year if you possessed it, five years if you sold it at a garage sale to someone else, and so on. Those would be lenient sentences compared to the ex-teacher who got 200 years for ONLY possession (no direct harm to anyone, no molestation, no rape, only looking with his eyes at forbidden pics). If those of you around age 40 plus could remember every movie like American Beauty or The Prince of Tides (you pedos watched a rape), then you'd realize you could get 100 or more years in prison, if you cooperate and plead guilty.

In some jurisdictions, own 5 grams of a drug and you go to prison a minimum of five years. Ever try drugs? And alcohol is a drug almost as bad as almost any other drug, and much worse than many.

Ever download a movie, photo or song in violation of copyright law? Ever record anything in violation of copyright? Some of you would get 1,000 years if we could know of all of your offences.

Oh, how we rejoice that people get no mercy, but how different our tune if we are the accused!

Charles Saline

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Solitary is Torture - we haven't outlawed torture - we glory in it!


Set the prisoners free!

I have the not-so-radical belief that the modern prison system is far more cruel and less effective than traditional punishments or new alternatives.

The most dangerous murderers and serial offenders should be banished (or executed) for the sake of the rest of us. But even there, let them live somewhat normal lives, with enough invasion of their privacy to prevent escape and prevent them from masterminding crime. Let them be able so socialize, work, marry and so on. Would this be insufficient punishment? For murder, I agree, but I say we should execute most murderers. But our current prison system is not really deterrent enough, for it is very hard to deter crime. A better approach, given that many do not wish to execute, is to minimize the danger to others and maximize the possibility of rehabilitation.

Our current approach is despicable. Let's consider the worst offenders. We treat them with utmost hostility, with utmost hatred and disdain. We maximize our cruelty toward them, minimize their dignity and privacy, put them in tiny cells and isolate them so they may go insane, sometimes expose them to other hardened criminals so they have to fight to defend themselves, and so on. We pretend that this rehabilitates, but what it does, instead, is ruin men.
Lesser offenders are often treated just as badly, and the list of effects upon prisoners is far longer than this. Even lesser offenders tend to be in prison long enough to lose their outside relationships, lose their job, lose their reputation, lose their desire to succeed by normal means, lose their desire, if any, to conform, lose their love for their fellow man (if they had it), lose their home, and so on. Replacing these things is a new social network of hardened criminals full of criminal motivations, plans and ideas. How anyone imprisoned manages to be rehabilitated is beyond my imagination.

Just one of many ideas is to relocate some offenders to a more controlled community where they can live a semi-normal life, work to make restitution for their victims, and lose some of their privacy to prevent them from committing crimes during their rehabilitation. The goals of the offender should include saving enough money to relocate, learning skills, and obtaining employment or a living outside the controlled community.

The criminal record system alone is cruel enough to ruin many. With a conviction alone, some people are unable to continue in marriage, or raise their kids, or obtain employment.6

Our hatred of offenders is so great that we tend to oppose any rehabilitation efforts as "too soft". Thus, we spend immense sums of money to be cruel to people, thereby losing their contribution to the world and instead helping them down the road of crime, which then costs us more and causes us to hate them more.

This vicious cycle can be broken in the lives of many. Instead, overcome evil with good.