More Democracy, More Incarceration

The devastating mix of politics and crime policy

Last year the U.S. prison population declined for the first time in a generation. That's good news, but it doesn't begin to offset the damage done by a 30-year incarceration binge that has made America far and away the democratic world's leader in putting people behind bars.

The numbers are staggering. In 1970 one in 400 American adults was behind bars or on parole. As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it's one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. According to the King's College World Prison Population List (PDF), the U.S. is home to 5 percent of the world's population but nearly a fourth of its prisoners. Judging by these official numbers, America's incarceration rate leads the developed world by a large margin, although it's doubtful that authoritarian regimes such as China's are providing accurate data, especially about political prisoners. But among liberal democracies, the competition isn't even close: As of 2008, the U.S. incarceration rate was 756 per 100,000 people, compared to 288 for Latvia, 153 for England and Wales, 96 for France, and 63 for Denmark.

America's soaring prison population has spawned much debate over issues such as the wisdom of mandatory minimum sentences, the financial burden that prisons impose on states struggling with budget shortfalls, and the degree to which incarceration explains the dramatic drop in crime during the last 20 years. But the United States has never had such a high percentage of its citizens behind bars, and we really have no idea what long-term effects the tough-on-crime policies of the last few decades will have. During the next decade, for example, we will start to see the release of nonviolent drug offenders hit with the draconian prison sentences Congress established in the 1980s. It isn't hard to see how locking a drug offender up with violent criminals for two decades and then releasing him into the population as a convicted felon might portend some bad results.

There are other problems. We have a record number of women behind bars, many of them pregnant or mothers of small children. This is a trend state governments aren't handling well. The prison population is aging, a problem made worse by policies like abolishing parole. Since Virginia lawmakers abolished parole in 1995, The Washington Post reported in September, the number of prisoners over 50 in the state's correctional system has increased fourfold. If our prison habit is expensive now, just wait until taxpayers are covering medical care as the front end of the prison boom enters its golden years. (Interestingly, prison doesn't seem to significantly shorten life spans; black men actually live longer in prison than they do outside.)

There may be lingering, intergenerational problems too. While income inequality rises and falls, America has always boasted healthy economic mobility—the ability of earners in lower income brackets to move up in a relatively short period of time. But the authors of a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study published in the social science journal Daedelus argue that mass incarceration may be crippling mobility. Sociologists Bruce Western of Harvard and Becky Pettit of the University of Washington write that the handicap associated with a criminal record and time in prison can linger for decades, affecting not just felons themselves but their families, social networks, and neighborhoods as well.

Western and Pettit note that high school dropouts without felony records do substantially better than high school dropouts who have done time. Perhaps that's not surprising; we'd expect that committing a felony would limit one's earning potential, and some might even welcome that effect as part of the punishment. But Western and Pettit argue that it's actual incarceration, not the felony record, that's most limiting. Long-term incarceration severs old social networks, instead fostering new networks with other criminals. Child support obligations accumulate while men are incarcerated, hitting them with debt upon release that limits their ability to establish themselves financially. If the aim of the correctional system is to stunt offenders for life, we're doing fine. If it's to integrate them back into society after they've done their time, we're coming up short.

Most worrisome is the effect on the children of incarcerated parents and the potential for an intergenerational "stickiness" in the lower income brackets. In 1985, Western and Pettit note, one in every 125 American children had a parent behind bars. Today it's one in 28. For black children, it's one in nine, a fourfold increase during the last 25 years. While we have yet to see any long-term studies on the income mobility of convicts' children, it seems safe to say having a parent behind bars can't help. Sons of incarcerated parents are five times more likely to be suspended from school, and about half of incarcerated parents were the primary income earners for their kids. These facts suggest that children of incarcerated parents are not just unlikely to achieve upward economic mobility; they are also prime candidates to become second-generation inhabitants of the correctional system.

How to reverse or ameliorate the damage already done is a debate we'll be having for decades. But there is one change that could at least stop the bleeding: less democracy. As New York Times reporter Adam Liptak pointed out in a 2008 article, America's soaring incarceration rate may be largely due to the fact that we have one of the most politicized criminal justice systems in the developed world. In most states, judges and prosecutors are elected, making them more susceptible to slogan-based crime policy and an electorate driven by often irrational fear. While the crime rate has fallen dramatically since the early 1990s, polls consistently show that the public still thinks crime is getting worse.

In response to these fears, legislators have increasingly eroded the discretion of prosecutors and judges (already subject to political pressures) in charging defendants and imposing sentences. Under the theory that more punishment is always better, lawmakers have imposed mandatory minimum sentences, made parole and probation more difficult, and decreed that mere possession of drugs above a certain quantity is automatically treated as distribution. The democratic demand for such policies may be clearest in California, where it is relatively easy to pass legislation through ballot initiatives. Such initiatives have led to some of the toughest crime policies in the country—and nearly twice as many prisoners as the state's prisons are supposed to hold.

The good news is that these issues are finally getting some attention, and there's some evidence that public opinion on crime and punishment may finally be shifting. If that's true, the key will be using that momentum to not only change bad laws but to add institutional reforms that better insulate the criminal justice system from politics.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  • ||

    The prison problem wouldn't be so bad if we stopped locking up the Tommy Chongs in America for having a water pipe and start reserving our prison space for murderers, rapists and terrorists. You know, actual criminals.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    If he is in jail, it's because he is an actual criminal. Whenever I read Balko I just mutter to myself, "Man, this guy is sooo soft on crime."

    What you both fail to recognize is that the reason crime has fallen so much is that we get people who live a *criminal* lifestyle off the streets. If he's willing to break the law to get high, who's to say what else he'll do?

    We're all safer when these types of people are in jail, where they're no danger to free society.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    And if we're having trouble finding room for all the prisoners, the obvious solution is to build more prisons. Or to contract out the work to private firms who can do it more cheaply, efficiently and safely than government can (not having to hire union labor is a big money save).

  • ||

    Now that's some quality trolling.

  • ||

    Weak troll is weak.

  • ||

    What you both fail to recognize is that the reason crime has fallen so much is that we get people who live a *criminal* lifestyle off the streets.

    Nope, it is almost purely demographics. Men between the ages of 17 and 28 commit something like 1/3rd of all violent crime. The reason that crime has been going down for a couple of decades is that there is a smaller percentage of young men in our aging population.

  • Obama||

    What color are those men????

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Well, obviously if one is a criminal one is, in all likelihood, going to start to live that lifestyle before the age of 28. And to get arrested and incarcerated at some point thereafter. The reason the number of younger offenders is higher is because we are taking the criminals off the streets.

  • Botox Porcupine||

    You are not very smart, Mike the Grouch.

    1.) "If he is in jail, it's because he is an actual criminal"

    Google the Innocence Project. 'Nuff said.

    2.)"If he's willing to break the law to get high, who's to say what else he'll do?"

    Just like people who have been arrested for drunken driving are willing to commit rape, right? Or people who speed on residential roads are willing to ritualistically massacre preschool children.

    3.) "We're all safer when these types of people are in jail, where they're no danger to free society."

    Because a guy who does drugs in his basement is so fucking dangerous. He might overdose! Thus...killing...himself...and nobody else. Hmm. You must be a very fearful person, sir.

    That's just to start. By the way, do you find it at all questionable that the private prison industry lobbies Congress for longer mandated sentences? Do you see ANY financial incentive there?

  • Mike the Grouch||

    I don't need to be smart. I vote Republican.

  • Jason||

    You know, that was a lot of work just for that one joke.

    Troll gets B for effort and D for effect. It would be an F for effect but you got a little chuckle.

  • ||

    or it could be that these people you call criminal types recognize that no one has the right to tell them what to do in their personal lives.

    Following your logic there are certain people who have rights that others do not, and those rights including telling people how to conduct their lives. Obviously then the people being told what to do not have the same rights as everyone else, and as such are allowed to be ruled over by the first group.

    Plantation owner in a former life by any chance? I mean of course those people were so bad that when they thought they had a right not to be ruled over by one group, others made sure the "law" said they were wrong.

  • ||

    "What you both fail to recognize is that the reason crime has fallen so much is that we get people who live a *criminal* lifestyle off the streets. If he's willing to break the law to get high, who's to say what else he'll do?"

    I hope to catch you J-walking one day. That way, I can feel justified when someone murders you for something you MIGHT have done.

  • Cheech||

    Free pot for everyone!

  • The Warden||

    How are we going to help the economy if our men can't make a profit off of incarceration? A lot of guards are going to lose their pensions and jobs. Think about their children.

    Throwing Americans in cages is big business and without the help of judges and cops, not to mention our fine citizens, death squads would roam the country side. Save the economy, prosecute victim-less crimes.

  • ||

    Its not just incarceration. An awful lot of decent jobs require a background check, which a shocking number of people can't pass because we have criminalized every single fucking thing in this country.

    If you're an ordinary person from the bottom couple of quintiles of income, the odds are pretty high that you have some kind of penny-ante arrest/conviction, which will permanently impair your job prospects and consign you to the burger-flipping job ghetto forevermore.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    There's something to be said for instituting Germany's system of purging convictions. I forget the details, but the gist is if you go for a certain number of years after release without committing any more illegal acts, your record is purged and it's like you never committed the crime in the first place. It's designed to let people restart their lives and not be consigned to being punished for something forever.

  • elizabeth fritzl||

    Like daddy!!

  • ||

    She was Austrian. Wrong country, numb-nuts.

  • ||

    That's probably going too far. You get into situations where people can be prosecuted for talking about someone's "purged" record.

    We just have too many laws. Fix that, instead of giving the government yet another one to hide behind.

    And while you're at it, let employers make their own decisions about who to hire or dismiss. I suspect that many small business owners wouldn't care about a minor crime in someone's past. Unfortunately we have laws that make them responsible for that person's behavior, so they're required to be paranoid.

  • ||

    +1.

    I suspect that many small business owners wouldn't care about a minor crime in someone's past

    Or, for that matter, about the presence of detectable levels of non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in an employee's precious bodily fluids.

  • ||

    I've heard/read that a lot of employers use an arrest record--regardless of whether there was a conviction--as one way to pare down the huge stack of resumes they get for each open job. The feeling is you have to narrow it down one way or another and they just don't want to take that kind of risk.

  • ||

    If that's the way an employer decides to perform a hiring search, fine. That sort of approach should not be a matter of mandated policy though.

  • BoogaFrito||

    It's against the law to ask about someone's arrest record on an application or job interview (employers are only allowed to ask about convictions). To do otherwise is grounds for a lawsuit.

    I would ask for a citation next time someone you know insists employers are discriminating based on arrests all willy-nilly like.

  • ||

    Some states allow the use of arrest records, but an employer may not automatically exclude individuals from employment based on their arrest record. When an arrest record is used, it is only appropriate for an employer to use arrest records in a hiring decision when:

    1.The arrest is recent;
    2.It is likely the applicant committed the crime; and
    3.There is a relationship between the position and the reason for arrest (For example, you were arrested for theft and applying for a cashier position)

  • ||

    If that's true, the key will be using that momentum to not only change bad laws but to add institutional reforms that better insulate the criminal justice system from politics.


    As soon as the next tragedy involving an attractive white woman, a cop, a child, a college student, a teacher or a fuckin' kitten hits the papers, new laws with draconian sentencing requirements will be proposed and passed with bipartisan get tough on crime support.

    These laws will then be misused by district attorneys trying to move up the government food chain by getting their face on the 5 O'clock Action News as they prosecute thirteen year olds for acting like thirteen year olds.

    Fer cryin' out loud, when was the the last time "using a computer in the commission of a crime" wasn't tacked on to the list of charges?

    Americans are a bunch of sniveling cowards demanding that Mommy (government) protect them from any menace, real or imaginable.

  • ||

    Spot on.

    Do you feel better now for getting that off your chest?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yes, that was a nice rant.

  • Alan||

    Nice rant, indeed.

    I demand that our government do something about our greatest menace: our government.

    Can a government commit suicide? Please?!

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Not legally; apparently there's a legitimate government interest in forcing people to live.

  • ||

    Fuck it, I'll see what I can do.
    Scalpel, please..

  • ||

    The problem is we have created a system that is difficult to get out of. There are a lot of people out there who are not particularly intelligent and don't have a very good impulse control and don't really understand the concept of cause and effect very well. But they are not dangerous really to anyone but themselves. You think I am kidding. But I am not. Talk to any public defender and this describes about 50% of their clients.

    So we have these people who in the past before the explosion of laws and the justice system may have gotten in trouble once in a while but generally out of trouble. In 40 years we have created a system that these sorts of people can never escape. Do one thing wrong and you at least end up on probation. That means drug testing. That means you start off as one thing and because you are stupid and don't control yourself very well, you end up a drug offender and in jail. Then as RC points out, you can't get a job because of your background. Then you end up with no future and in more trouble. We never give anyone a second chance in this society.

    Worse still, thanks to petty drug laws, domestic violence must arrest laws, mandatory insurance and car registration, traffic ticketing that acts like a taxing agent for the government, we create tons and tons of ways for dumb, or unlucky and otherwise fairly harmless people to get snagged in the web. Meanwile, actual violent criminals are unlikely to be caught and if they are caught unlikely to serve their entire sentences because the jails are overcrowded with the people I am talking about.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Meanwile, actual violent criminals are unlikely to be caught and if they are caught unlikely to serve their entire sentences because the jails are overcrowded with the people I am talking about."

    I sometimes wonder if this is by design.

    Violent crime rates are so low that if violent criminals were removed from society the levels would drop even more.

    In the face of very low rates of violent crime, law enforcement and courts would have trouble justifying their budgets and tactics.

    This creates an incentive to return violent criminals to the street in the perverse hope they will do more harm.

  • ||

    I think everyone in America should have to spend a day at a big city or even a medium sized city district criminal court. What they would see would shock them. You would see a few real violent criminals. But a lot more just messed up or stupid people getting completely rolled by the system.

  • ||

    Ever been in court and coincidentally seen someone you know taking the heat? I had to go to Town Court once for driver's ed, and one of the defendants happened to be the son of a guy who umpired a lot of games for the summer baseball league my dad ran. The kid got busted for dope, of course.

    I was pretty young at the time, but I was less embarrassed or surprised than I was just sad, thinking about that family dealing with that shit.

  • ||

    I did an internship in law school for a country juvenile DA's office. Most depressing five months of my life. God, did I feel bad for some of the parents and most of the kids.

  • Cyto||

    I can vouch for this. Several years ago I had to deal with a ticket for an expired tag. Since I had no attorney I had to wait until the end of the session with all the other people who didn't pay their tribute to the Bar. I was sitting very close to the DA and could hear all of the negotiations with the attorneys. Several repeat-offender drunk drivers were plead out to lesser offenses. On guy who put an entire family in the ICU on his 5th DUI arrest plea-bargained his way into "failure to yield" he got alcohol counseling and agreed to pay restitution. This in a state with permanent license revocation and 1 year in jail for a second offense.

    Later a young college girl, unrepresented by counsel and facing her first DUI charge (stemming from a roadblock - no accident) went up to see the DA. Even though he could see that she didn't understand that she could ask for a PD or a continuance to obtain counsel, he bullied her into accepting a guilty plea ("you did it, right? You were drinking, you drove - you have to plead guilty") She said, "OK", clearly not understanding what the consequences of this would be. He took her before the judge and they entered the plea. The judge ordered 30 days in jail and a 1 year suspended license and off she went in handcuffs and tears. Not even one of those "turn yourself in at the end of the month" deals. She was only 21 and I don't think she even told her parents what was happening - probably too afraid and embarrassed. I guess they figured it out when she didn't show up for a couple of days and called the police. Or maybe she wrote them a letter from jail.

    Yeah, I learned a thing or two that day.

  • ||

    And as a general rule the only lower creature than a DA is a judge. Judges are almost always power mad assholes. No judge with a lick of compassion or common sense would have let the case you describe happen. But sadly, there are almost no such judges.

  • sarcasmic||

    "pay their tribute to the Bar"

    That's about it.

    I had an OUI a while back and in this state since first offense doesn't get jail you don't have access to a public pretender.
    I was found guilty by reason of not being able to afford a defense.

    A friend of mine just got popped with his fourth OUI...

    payed four thousand dollars to a defense attorney who is personal friends with the DA...

    case dismissed.

  • sarcasmic||

    In addition, there is no revenue in prosecuting rapists and murderers.

    It's not like they can confiscate their property for crimes against society.

    They can only do that for crimes against The State.

  • ||

    I see your point, but if things were your way, we'd have a lower chance of seeing Lindsay Lohan spiral down so low that she'll probably be doing donkey shows in TJ in 3 years.

  • ||

    Lohan is a great example. She drank and drove. Okay. She deserves to be punished. Fine her and make her do a few days in jail and be done with it. Instead, they stick her on probation. And now we are spending how much time and money because she of course failed her drug tests which really has nothing to do with her original crime. If they found her drinking and driving again, fine, throw the book at her. But what is the point of putting her in a probation system she and testing her for drugs?

  • sarcasmic||

    The people conducting the testing get paid, the drug counselors get paid, the makers of the monitoring devices get paid, the probation officer gets paid, the lawyers of course get paid, without her being put on probation and getting tested for drugs none of those people would get paid.

    It's a real life practical application of the Broken Window Fallacy.

  • ||

    Sadly you are correct. And none of those things has ever helped a single person. All they have ever done is provide and excuse to throw someone in jail. It is not like they succeeded and getting her to quit drugs or live her life differently. The whole thing is not only a waste of money but also a cargo cult.

  • sarcasmic||

    "And none of those things has ever helped a single person."

    There are many drug testers, counselors, device makers, probation officers, jailers and lawyers who would disagree.

    Oh wait! You meant the people going through the system?

    Well, if they're not being helped then it must be their own fault.
    The drug testers, counselors, device makers, probation officers, jailers and lawyers have the best of intentions.

    It's all for the children you know.

    *smash*

    There goes another window.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I was watching lockup raw last night and they had a woman who fit your description. Obviously low IQ, sweet disposition has been a prostitute all her life(not attractive enough to make any real money at it), in and out of jail. Some guy asked her to hook him up with some crack. She took him to get some, got busted, and is now locked up. She starts talking about her daughter and starts sobbing and it's like WTF. She's just trying to survive. How is her incarceration helping anyone?

  • ||

    In a just society, we wouldn't be locking that woman up. As it is, the justice system is this giant machine that just chews people like that up.

  • ||

    As a former public defender, I would say your first paragraph describes about 95% of the people I respresented, not 50%. Otherwise, you are dead on.

  • ||

    "There are a lot of people out there who are not particularly intelligent and don't have a very good impulse control and don't really understand the concept of cause and effect very well... In 40 years we have created a system that these sorts of people can never escape."

    The early 20th century eugenicists would've considered this a feature, not a bug.

    Of course the modern hard left has sworn off that whole eugenics thing, and would never implement policies which have the effect of keeping an entire class of citizens at an educational, social, and political disadvantage. Never.

  • Federal Man||

    So what if we at the government imprison you, there is nothing wrong with us putting you in jail for breaking our laws. It is only immoral if one of you non-government person arrests and imprisons someone; that is called kidnapping.

    Only we have, and only we should have this power.

    http://youareproperty.blogspot.....ality.html

  • ||

    Thank the Gods for jury nullification.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought attempted jury nullification resulted in jail time for contempt of court.

  • Alan||

    You have to be smart enough to never SAY its jury nullification.

    "Sure, you have three police officers, eight family members, thirty-three friends, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that all swear they saw this man smoking dope, but I need some EVIDENCE."

  • Esteban||

    Umm well, we do have a thing called 'trials' whereby a case is made for the guilt of a defendant is tested with evidence (or this is how it's supposed to work) and decided by a (supposedly) impartial judge or jury. For all its flaws, it's ridiculous to compare the criminal justice system to private citizens kidnapping people.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Not when you throw in repeated arrests without successful prosecutions and things like civil forfeiture. Those basically amount to arresting people to punish them (without the benefit of a trial) and stealing their stuff.

  • Whoops||

    you forgot to log out of your troll name. Unless somehow you manage to hold both the ideas you espouse earlier in this thread and the previous one. That would be an almost unparalleled victory for doublespeak.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    I believe in punishing the guilty as long as they were tried and convicted in a court of law first. How is that doublespeak?

    The system is fair. You even get to vote for the people who make the laws.

    BTW, I resent being called a troll. Parody and satire are art forms. I can't help if some people believe what they read.

  • Kevin||

    I think we should break all windows, everywhere. Just smash them where ever you see them. It's an economic stimulus policy.

  • Derp||

    I just wanted to point out that this was a very clever comment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....ken_window

    You've made my morning, sir.

  • creech||

    "We never give anyone a second chance in this society."

    However, Michael Vick comes immediately to mind. But then politicians should never be given a second chance - whether is was dating a
    witch in high school, showing up at a Halloween party in a non-pc costume, having your friends joke you are now a Marxist, playing a prank in college, or being an historical re-enactor.

  • Gregory Goldmacher||

    Isn't the private prison industry a big lobbying group?

  • AFSME||

    They ain't nothin'.

  • zoltan||

    The entire prison industry, private and public, is a huge lobby.

  • MBurns||

    All I can say is--Wow! Another great article. Can't believe this shit. Thankful for social media. Excellent work, Radley.

  • The Great Society||

    "In 1985, Western and Pettit note, one in every 125 American children had a parent behind bars. Today it's one in 28. For black children, it's one in nine, a fourfold increase during the last 25 years."

    Thank you LBJ!

  • Nanny State||

    Hmmm -- what else has increased during the past 25 years? Consumption of corn syrup, that's what! Coincidence? I think not!

  • PeeDub||

    What's more natural than corn??

  • M. Simon||

    Holes.

  • Eliott Spitzer||

    Oddly, most of those laws don't seem to apply if your connected.

  • Tim Geithner||

    What's wrong with that?

  • cynical||

    Not less democracy, just fewer elections. Unless a situation requires expertise and the voters are capable of detecting it, elections are a terrible method of filling positions in a democracy. Random assignment would be much better for council/parliament type positions. For other positions where a single person has more power, a small number of candidates (say, 8) could be drawn at random, and then voters could choose among them.

  • Esteban||

    Why not just have the experts do everything for us stupid people? We'll have a technocrat's paradise.

  • cynical||

    What exactly is that in response to?

  • Esteban||

    To your cynicism about democracy and elections. I took it a step further.

  • ||

    Yeah, nothing says "technocracy" like random selection of candidates.

    Also, our current system is definitely providing us with a steady stream of competent, fair-minded officials concerned only with justice and effective governance.

  • cynical||

    It's not cynicism about democracy, it's cynicism about elections as a tool of democracy. Arguably, random selection would be more democratic, since any citizen could possibly have access to real power, rather than power being limited to a clique of professional, partisan, well-connected politicians. The Athenian democracy originally used allotment to select officeholders, and we still use it for juries, so it isn't a ludicrous concept.

    Conservatives should like it since "ordinary Americans" will have more power, and it comes with term limits by default. Hell, progressives should like it too -- if you're poor or a minority or whatever, you aren't shut out of the process. If your group represents 20% of the electoral, than on average, 20% of public officials should come from your group.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Why should representation be proportional? Why should a small number of people get to decide much of anything that has massive effects on the larger population? 20% representation doesn't do much good if the other 80% all decide to eat your lunch for you.

  • cynical||

    "Why should representation be proportional?"

    Why shouldn't it? Political and legal equality is one of the cornerstones of liberal democracy, and representation tends to follow from that, absent other disqualifications like age variances or criminal records.

    "Why should a small number of people get to decide much of anything that has massive effects on the larger population?"

    Isn't that the status quo? Do you think elections truly empower the people that vote in them? I'm just trying to nudge the system toward serving the public interest rather than special interests.

    "20% representation doesn't do much good if the other 80% all decide to eat your lunch for you"

    Maybe, but your chances are better than with 0% representation.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    "Maybe, but your chances are better than with 0% representation."

    Not if the rules state that you must abide the decision of the majority no matter how much it harms you.

    In fact, 20% representation in such a case can be worse than being obviously shut out because it lulls people into thinking they have a meaningful voice in the process when, in fact, their voice means nothing.

  • ||

    Something tells me that your random pool of candidates would be a lot less random than you think.

    Frankly I'm less worried about the people we elect than the people we aren't allowed to elect. No one at the EPA or the FCC or the IRS ever ran for their office, and yet they have vast authority and volumes of pseudo-laws they usually get to write for themselves.

  • johnl||

    Citizens shouldn't have to vote for judges, coroners, sheriffs, treasurers, and such. It's too much trouble to try to learn about all those people. Let county supervisors appoint those offices. Then I can take it out on one supervisor when one of these other functionaries messes up.

  • Cyto||

    Vote for me for President and I will immediately pardon everyone serving time for victimless crimes such as drug possession, prostitution and gambling - at all levels, federal state and local.

    If every family member and friend of someone currently serving time or with record were to show up and vote for me, I'd have a reasonable shot at winning on that platform. Even funnier, if I were elected I would actually follow through on that pledge. Heck, I'd even let the people know up front that I'd do so knowing that many of the people let out by my program would end up committing crimes - even rape and murder. Yep, even knowing that I could still live with myself...

  • Cray Gibson||

    We're never going to put a serious dent in our prison population unless we attack it's true root, poverty. It doesn't matter if you legalize drugs as you'll just be putting drug dealers out of business who will then turn to property crime. Other western countries don't have our crime problems because their governments typically provide things like healthcare and make colleges extremely affordable (if not free). And I wonder what the wealth distribution in those countries looks like? IDK maybe if we become like China and start executing people for heroin trafficking we can scare the poor back into their places.

    You just have to admit, these people's problem has little to do with drugs and almost everything to do with their socio-economic status. I'm 21 and so far have more friends my own age that have went to prison than have gone to college. Somehow I doubt the fact that we all grew up in trailer parks is entirely coincidental.

    I know I'm going to get bombarded for this post but oh well.

  • ||

    You are going to get bombarded because you are a moron. Property crimes and other violent crimes besides murder are higher in Europe than they are in the US. You are much more likely to be mugged in London than New York. That fact alone destroys your thesis.

    The stupid is strong with you. Go forth my son.

  • Cray Gibson||

    Talk about a fucking straw man. But I'll bite.

    I did a bit of googling and couldn't find many reliable statistics but it appears the only European country that is higher in certain categories than the US would be the UK. But in what way is that relevant to my previous post? Maybe sentences for property crime is lower than for drug crime there. "UK has higher crime rates > therefore criminal activity is not a result of poverty whatsoever" hurr.

    So it's a complete coincidence that most of those incarcerated in the US are disproportionately minorities and have a tendency to come from impoverished areas?

  • ||

    "But in what way is that relevant to my previous post?"

    Because if a European style welfare state reduced crime, crime in the UK, especially property crime would be lower. But in fact it is higher.

    And yes, minorities are unfairly affected by the drug laws. And if we legalized drugs, a lot fewer minorities would be in jail. But not according to your post. You seem to think they would find other crimes to commit in lieu of drugs, which is a giant pile of crap.

  • ||

    Didn't see anyone say that crime is not a result of poverty in some respects. But your thesis is that if only we had a social welfare state on par with Europe, our crime rate would decrease. That is demonstrably untrue.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, it is mostly chronic recipients of welfare here in the EU, who commit most of the violent crime. From gang activity through domestic violence up to murder.

    Idle hands are devil's best tool.

    Please, do not try to pontificate about Europe, the USA and poverty unless you know both of the continents intimately. I can show you so ugly places in France or Italy that you won't find in the U.S.

  • sarcasmic||

    Did you know that the poor in this country live better than the average European?

    Oh wait! You're talking about health care and college, right?

    In countries with socialized medicine you only go to the hospital if you are dying.
    None of this silly American crap of going to the doc for the sniffles or a knife wound that isn't showing obvious signs of infection or sepsis.
    And you'll get service that is comparable to the local BMV.
    While it's true that many of these countries pay for college, that's only if you study what they determine you should study.
    Choice? Ha! You're too stupid for that!

    What happens in this country if someone lacks the skills and knowledge to produce value more than minimum wage for a potential employer?
    Can they sell their labor for less?
    No! They're a criminal if they do that!

    And you wonder why they're in poverty.

  • Cray Gibson||

    My god you spouted a whole bunch of bullshit without a single source.

    And just to refute one of your points as I don't want to waste more time than I already am here. You mean to tell me Swedes don't go to the doctor if they need anti-biotics for their strep throat?

    Ok and just one more because I'm in a good mood. I've talked to quite a few Europeans before, mostly over the internet, and not once did they ever imply that they their careers were chosen for them via the government.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was thinking specifically of my chef from Germany when I was in cooking school.

    He thought it was a joke that Americans were trying to become more European.

    He was grateful to have escaped to a land of opportunity and freedom of choice.

    That was twenty years ago btw.

    As far as sources go, it is easier to disparage a source than an idea.
    Sources are human and fallible.
    Someone can be a complete asshole loser but still be right. Being an asshole loser doesn't make them wrong.
    However, being consistently wrong can make someone an asshole loser.

    Learn the difference and you may unlearn your youthful liberalism.

  • sarcasmic||

    My chef told us a story of when he was in chef school (his only "choice" unless he was going to pay out of pocket) when a guy let a fillet knife slip and go several inches into his gut. He put a bandaid on and moved continued working. As it turns out he didn't hit any vitals and it didn't get infected. Had it worsened he would have gone to the hospital.

    That's normal with socialized medicine.

  • sarcasmic||

    "You mean to tell me Swedes don't go to the doctor if they need anti-biotics for their strep throat?"

    When did I say strep? I said the sniffles.
    Full blown strep is quite a bit more than the sniffles.

    "and not once did they ever imply that they their careers were chosen for them via the government"

    If you want to go for free you study what they determine you should study. That's assuming they determined you're college material.

    Either your friends were happy with the choice that was made for them or they had access to other resources.

  • Cray Gibson||

    You didn't say the sniffles, you said Europeans only go to the hospital when they're dying: "In countries with socialized medicine you only go to the hospital if you are dying". That's just ludicrous.

    And again, unless you have proof that European countries dictate which courses their citizens are allowed to study, please stop saying that.

    And please stop trying to pick a fight with me. I stated my opinion, and you stated yours.

  • ||

    When I took German in college (here in the US), our textbook, which had a lot of information about life in the then-West Germany, mentioned a policy (I forget the name) in which the German government would decide which jobs would be in demand in the future, and then set limits on the number of students in each field in universities based on those figures.
    The professor, who was herself German, confirmed that this was in fact the law there. If the government thought more electronic engineers would be needed, the raised the number of places for engineering students. If they thought fewer would be needed, they reduced the number of students permitted.
    As far as I'm aware, this system is still in place.

  • ||

    I'll give you points for being partially correct. But I will have to subtract some for totally missing the point. As someone who recently lived in one of your lovely Nordic countries for a decade, allow me to elaborate.

    You can choose to study whatever you wish, but you are not allowed to study that subject unless you pass a battery of exams and score high enough to be placed in the limited number of slots alloted by the bureaucrats. Ignoring the whole concept of faceless bureaucrats making these decisions, it seems logical enough for fields such as mathematics or languages. Downright idiotic for more subjective fields like art, history and literature. And god forbid if you don't score high enough in any of the subjects you choose. It's off to advanced shop classes for you.

    As to the medical systems. Yes they do go to the doctor for antibiotics for things like strep throat. But I can tell you from personal experience that they are more than likely to give ineffective and/or inadequate dosages of said antibiotics due to strict guidelines set down by, again, faceless bureaucrats. This necessitates multiple return visits for more useless treatments until you finally wise up, and go to a private doctor at your own expense. Whereupon you receive the proper antibiotic at the proper dosage and the problem disappears almost immediately, never to return.

    Try getting an operation for anything not considered life threatening. You'll grow old first. Of course, at that point, they pretty much wheel you into a corner and wait for nature to take it's course. Waste of resources, don't ya know.

    And this is one of the socialized systems that works pretty well overall. No one who has had to deal with both the American and European systems for any length of time would prefer socialized medicine. Full stop.

    Now go read a book and spare us any more of your nonsense.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, I'll pick just one of your premises to bombard. College is extremely affordable in the US. Even free! No, you aren't going to Harvard on the cheap, but you can get a BS degree at most community colleges these days for a pittance - and there are pretty much no admission requirements.

    Under the "free" category many states have some variation of the "hope scholarships" started by Georgia's governor Guy Millner. These programs use lottery proceeds to finance the full tuition cost to state schools for all high school graduates who maintain at least a 'B' average.

    I'm not sure exactly what the cost of college has to do with crime rates, but there ya go. Premise refuted.

  • Cyto||

    Just because it is close and I know the name, here's some figures for Palm Beach Community College: it looks like a little over a third of their students have their full tuition covered by grants in aid. In-state tuition is under $2,000 per year.

    Just down the road at Broward College it looks like nearly 2/3 of students have their $1,800 tuition covered by grants-in-aid.

  • ||

    You just have to admit, these people's problem has little to do with drugs and almost everything to do with their socio-economic status.

    The drug war and mass incarceration do more than anything else to entrench this "socio-economic status" you're so worried about. We don't need to help people escape poverty nearly as much as we just need to fucking let them do so.

  • Marshall||

    This is the best (and most succinct) response to Cray here.

    Nail, meet hammer.

  • ||

    I hate to use this tired old point, but... you're 21 years old. Like most college students, you're an idealist. You've talked to a few people from Europe, so you know everything about life over there. You just know that if we had a social welfare state, all our problems would go away.

    Once you get out of school and see the real world, I'd love for you to revisit this idea to see if your thoughts have changed. I'd suspect they will have.

  • Cray Gibson||

    Not a college student, only managed save up enough money to buy my first car a few months ago and am only now starting to look at federal grants. I've already been homeless and criss-crossed the country on Greyhound, I've seen a bit of the real world.

    My idealism is far less so than the belief that men like Rockwell and Rothbard put in the free market, willing to blind themselves to all the moral consequences of their system and treating it as a god.

    I never once said that the European welfare system is ideal, but it warrants study on ways that it could be adapted and improved. If I believed Europe to be so grand I'd have moved there.

  • sarcasmic||

    "only managed save up enough money to buy my first car a few months ago and am only now starting to look at federal grants."

    Dumb move.
    Cars are expensive.

    Better to go to college first, get a real job, then buy a car.

  • ||

    *treating it as a god*

    If by *god* you mean *extremely powerful force that is hard to predict and almost impossible to channel without large unintended consequences*, then they were quite right.

  • Cray Gibson||

    I mean god as in how Hoppe referred to and criticized democracy as such.

  • ||

    I take back what I said earlier. Don't read a book. Because apparently your library does not include John Locke, Adam Smith, De Tocqueville, The Federalist Papers, Bastiat, Orwell, Hayek, or any other author that doesn't worship the Almighty State.

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and you're approaching biohazard status.

  • Zeb||

    You do know that Orwell was a devoted socialist, and that Adam Smith was far less libertarian than most people believe, right?

  • M. Simon||

    That is the beauty of Orwell. He told the tale of socialism from the inside. And an ugly tale it is.

  • ||

    Seriously, Cray, no one really knows how much does poverty contribute to crime.

    The whole concept of "poverty is the root cause of crime" is on about the the same level of falsifiability as "intelligent design theory". It sort-of can't be proven wrong, it is highly cherished by the appropriate cultural groups (lefties vs. fundies), but it consistently fails to predict anything.

    Even in really poor places like Africa or northern India you have sub-populations which are peaceful and easygoing, as well as populations that are warlike and aggressive, and constantly on the warpath. Are the Afghans really more poor than people of Bihar? Are Somalis poorer than people of Cameroon? Not really; but the base cultures differ a lot.

    And your idea that welfare state prevents poverty is not based on reality. In fact, unless it is severely restricted, it creates a permanent dependent underclass. You will see serious numbers of beggars in any European major city.

  • MrGuy||

    I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the Roe v Wade ruling as a possible cause to the drop in crime and incarceration rates. A baby intended to be aborted was a baby that was never wanted in the first place... it's pretty simple really.

  • cynical||

    Oh, you read Freakonomics too?

  • ||

    "it's pretty simple really."

    Yes, charting the course of a human life from birth is so simple, a caveman could do it.

  • Sadly amused European||

    I wonder.

    A lot of Euro states do have abortion on books for decades, yet the violent crime rates are not going down.

    It is true, though, that quite some of the rates are attributable to recent immigrants, who often reject abortion for religious reasons.

  • It might be time||

    to think of solutions to this problem instead of just complaining. Some no-brainers:
    No prison time for victimless crimes - fines, probation, rehab, but no prison time.
    Elimination of your criminal record after 5 years without commiting another offense.
    Predictably, the legalization of all non-addictive drugs. A hard addiction to meth will create costs for society at large. I think its appropriate to keep it and other similar substances illegal.
    The elimination of mandatory minimums, its absurd that justices can't utilize discretion to reduce sentencing.

    Etc. Etc. I'm probably just preaching to the choir here.

  • Marshall||

    The prohibition of meth does far greater societal harm, in aggregate, than does its use.

    If anything, societal harm is one of the biggest reasons to legalize hard drugs.

    It's the small-scale harm done to individuals and sometimes their dependents that isn't addressed by legalization.

    Tragically, however, this harm is, in aggregate, insignificant on the societal level compared to the massive harm caused by the prohibition of drugs like, yes, meth.

    First of all, there is the violence which plagues illicit manufacture, tied to serious profits and serious prison time. Most of it is a perversion of inevitable self-defense drive created by the twisted incentives engendered by criminalizing large-scale economic activity. From defending their property to their legal liability, prohibition encourages violence in ways that do not occur in a legitimate market, where parties have representation in objective courts, among other things.

    To illustrate this notion, consider that, during the prohibition of alcohol, those in the alcohol business became famous for shooting up cities with automatic weapons. When was the last time a 21st-cenutry businessman did that to protect alcohol-related business ventures?

    In addition, even at the individual level, it rarely benefits the dependents of an addict to throw that addict in jail, or really in any other way aggress against him. The best you can really do is make available voluntary treatment.

    Furthermore, it is interesting to note that prohibition has historically provided no evidence of being capable of minimizing addictive behavior or other harmful effects of drugs.

    Take a look at the prohibition of alcohol again. Did alcohol use become less widespread? Did it become safer, saner? Or did it simply accrue a whole slew of additional nasty side-effects and demonstrable societal harm?

    And it isn't like alcohol isn't a drug which is capable of harming individuals, families, or society. But criminalizing any aspect of its production, sale, or use, does not in any way make the situation better.

  • Marshall||

    Oh, and did I mention the societal harm caused by the paramilitarization of police (another pet Radley Balko issue), which is inextricably linked to the War on (some) Drugs?

    You think that kicking down the door of innocent families, on the word on a "confidential informant", and shooting the family pet in front of small children -- and doing this on a massive scale -- isn't societal harm?

    Heck, you think that isn't a societal harm EVEN IF Daddy actually IS cooking meth?

    Well, I think someone who would think that way is crazy.

  • Time||

    Oh, you saw that video too?

    Look, there is a very real difference between alcohol and a drug like methamphetamine. I'm not saying we should go around shooting meth addicts, but I think in this case laws designed to either prevent the production of, or force rehab on abusers can lower the cost we all pay. I wish I had numbers to back that up.

    A little googling brought me here: http://www.whitehousedrugpolic.....index.html which indicated around 18% of violent criminals committed their crime in the pursuit of drug money. I guess you'll have to draw your own conclusions, but I still come down on the side of regulation.

    Sy: BS, its never your problem until someone robs you to get their fix. I'm not speaking hypothetically, its happened to me, my family, and my friends. I'm presenting the argument that there are chemicals so addictive that regulating them makes financial sense to society at large. The numbers might not add up, but you don't have any citations either, just a religious belief in whatever home security system you have.

    Here's a study from USC detailing the outcome of regulation of Meth precursors, some might find it worthwhile to read. http://people.ucsc.edu/~cdobki.....tamine.htm

  • Caustic Pout||

    Someone may have robbed you to get their "fix," but it was for a substance that was already illegal. Outright banning the substance has not prevented the very crimes you wish to prevent through banning the substance.

    It would be impossible to assert a drug user burglarized your home independently of the effects of drug prohibition. Do alcoholics routinely commit home invasion to get another 40? Either way, I don't think anyone is suggesting these people should not be given help if they are committing crimes other than simply getting high.

  • Marshall||

    I don't have any home security, and I've been a victim of the War on Meth (despite never having used meth) several times, while I've never been a victim of a drug-fueled robbery.

    There actually have been studies done on this, and it's quite clear that people who commit violent crimes for drugs are the same people who commit violent crimes... not for drugs.

    Giving a person who isn't inclined toward violent crime an addictive quantity of meth isn't all of a sudden going to turn him into a burglarous monster.

    Oh, had you failed to notice that obese people prescribed that highly addictive drug aren't running around robbing people and using their weight as an excuse?

    If you like, I will provide a citation for the study I referenced when I return from class this afternoon.

  • Marshall||

    By the way, it took me a moment to realize which "that video" you were referring to.

    I'm pretty sure I know now, but I have to laugh.

    "THAT video..."

    My friend, in the last year, I have seen/heard at least a dozen video/audio recordings of exactly that sort of incident. And read news reports of dozens more.

    The fact that you're referring to any "THAT video" underlines exactly how little you've failed to recognize the truly scale of the societal cost here, which is, again, far beyond that caused by the drug itself.

  • Marshall||

    That's what I get for posting right after I wake up....

    What I meant to say was:

    The fact that you're referring to any single "THAT video" underlines exactly to what extent you've failed to recognize the true scale of the societal cost here, which is, again, far beyond that caused by the drug itself.

  • ||

    Excuse the anecdote, I've been actively searching for articles about drug policy since I saw THAT video a few weeks ago. For those who don't know what we're talking about, its this: (I think)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwvUaRqc
    I do resent you assuming I'm ignorant. I understand this is just a small facet of the war on drugs, but if this sort of thing only happened once I wouldn't be upset at the policies which lead to it. I would only be angry at the police in that particular video.

    I'm sticking by my original premise, that there are negative consequences for society at large created by the use of chemically addictive narcotics. Its a problem that I believe can be mitigated through intelligent regulation and yes, criminalization. I absolutely think drug policy as it stands is horrible, politicized, and causes more problems than it solves.

    I am interested in that study. I would appreciate it if you could either send it to my e-mail address or link it.

  • ||

    "A hard addiction to meth will create costs for society at large"

    [citation needed]

    When am I being burdened with someone else's addiction? When they go to tax-payer funded counseling and rehab? The fault lies with 'society' for allowing the shitty laws.
    When they go to prison and their family must subsist on welfare and foodstamps? The fault again lies with the 'society' for allowing shitty laws.

    Cooking meth only breaks my leg or picks my pocket because stupid jackboots think they have a right to burden others with their shitty sense of morals. IOW, we shouldn't keep it illegal because you think we should abide by your half-assed perception of what is societally acceptable.

  • Sadly amused European||

    Count me as the part of the choir.

    One of the things I do not like about American drug policy are the international implications. Basically, the US administrations twist arms of their business partners to adopt the same War-on-Drugs failed attitude. It is felt even in Europe.

    And in South America, the 'War-on-Coca' has alienated so many native people that it prepared soil for a wave of neo-Marxist Chavista dictators. Which, I think, the world will be very sorry for, especially if the largest reserves of lithium are actually in Bolivia etc.

  • monolith||

    sarcasmic, when it comes to "Europe" you are a total and utter bullshitter.
    there is a hell of a lot wrong with medicine and welfare in the EU but you are talking complete crap.
    you do realise that for all its faults Germany is a first world country?

  • ||

    "the crime rate has fallen dramatically since the early 1990s...." WHAT! Let's see if I've got this-crime rate down, incarceration up. Could there be a link? Sure i know they're all innocent, and I got the demographic arguments, too, but how do you explain that correlation? Or is that why "Reason"-writer Radley blows it off until the last para or two? Where's the 'reason' in that?

  • Marshall||

    Absolutely. It's a well-established causal principle that correlation implies causation.

  • ||

    Crime Rates are down. The Crime has been decreasing, sociologically speaking since the beginning of time. Man is evolving and improving, not nearly as fast as some would like. But nonetheless, the path is in a positive direction.

    Crime rates as a definitive "fixed" numeric expression is open to debate. Our data gathering methodology is not as reliable as we assert it to be. Too many people believe in the myth, that crime can be eliminated, it WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

    Abraham Lincoln said it a long time ago as regards equality. I quote: “I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all – constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere.” Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln - Douglas Debate at Alton, Illinois, October 15, 1858

    We have to constantly strive toward equality, to yes maximize equality and minimize crime.

  • Barack Obama||

    "...black men actually live longer in prison than they do outside."

    See? My lack of reforms on American criminal justice policy are doing minorities a favor!

  • ||

    Your "lack of reforms on American criminal justice policy" are doing NO ONE any good. You are just lucky that you have not been randomly selected as an innocent victim. Fight judicial and criminal reform and you will someday get your chance at victim-hood, I guarantee.

    America has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the worlds prisoners in custody. We are NOT the HOME OF THE FREE AND THE BRAVE. We are not FREE because our rights are unenforceable. Those in power are not brave, because they have usurped the power of the LAW by taking our RIGHTS. They, the Judges, the prosecutors, the police are stabbing us in the back with the denial of our Civil Rights.

    Why does a Judge, a prosecutor or a policeman need and or want immunity from liability for my rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws?? Think about it??

  • ||

    Crime rates are down because more criminals are locked up. If society can tolerate an increase in crime, let the criminals out. It's always a trade-off. I speak from experience of 30 years in the criminal justice system. MOST of the drug offenders I've dealt with tend to commit non-drug related crimes as well. Sorry, but that's a fact of life.

  • Marshall||

    What we have here is a wonderful example of the self-admitted professional shill.

  • ||

    Most of the Drug Offenders I know, and I known dealers doing $250,000/month and users trying to feed a $50/day habit are doing not because they are bad.

    They are doing it because they believe they have no other alternative.

    The successful drug dealers, would be, could be successful business people if they had been credibly given that opportunity at the start. Now they are invested in a business that is a crime. They are addicted to the lifestyle, just like the successful middle level executive that gets downsized. Their options are limited.

    The users are addicted to the "high". If you want to understand addiction, I suggest Stanton Peele's "The Meaning of Addiction". It is not about bad people, it is about bad information, bad cultural education. For example the American Indian had knowledge of peyote and marijuana but they were not addicted to it. Nor was their society distorted by the control of it as ours is.

    It was not until Europeans came over with alcohol that the American Indian culture was adulterated with wide spread addiction. Think about it.

  • uhhh||

    Mescaline and Marijuana are addictive now? Its scary how even people who are anti-prohibition think things like this.

  • DGJeep||

    No they are NOT. I have done both and NEVER felt anything like addiction. I suggest you read "What Addiction Is and Is Not"

  • ||

    Additive? No. Stupid? Yes!

    THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabis receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the "high" that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabis receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabis receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

    Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a sub optimal intellectual level all of the time.

    Striving to be a life-long moron is such a lofty goal...

  • M. Simon||

    We knew what the long term effect of these policies would be in 1995.

    Demographics

    The family breakdown the socons complain of.

  • ||

    Facetious Insight

    It is not without some apprehensive forethought that I have arrived at the conclusion that if the majority wants public safety through incarceration, the public in general should be the ones who are incarcerated. Think of the security and safety afforded should we turn the tables on accepted theory concerning prohibiting criminal behavior. Instead of incarcerating criminals, we incarcerate the innocent. This would provide for the security that the people demand and eliminate the individual liberty that is the bane of our "modern society" in all its ambiguous complexity.

  • DGJeep||

    You are missing it. You forget what TRUE democracy is about. In a true democracy, there is true liberty protected by a limited government.

    There is no limit to our government in today's America. We have no enforceable rights.

    “Absolute Immunity” enables “Absolute Power,” that leads to “Absolute Corruption”. The Supreme Court starting with Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. (13 Wall) 335 (1871 ) created “Absolute Immunity.” That led to Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) “Absolute Immunity” specifically as regards our Constitution and laws, Title 42 § 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights . Because of Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) a judge cannot be held liable for violating a citizen’s Constitutional Rights. That led Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976) “Absolute Immunity” for a Prosecuting Attorney. Because of Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976) a prosecuting attorney cannot be held liable for violating the Constitution and laws in the prosecution or presentation of evidence in trial. A prosecuting attorney can knowingly prosecute a false charge and knowingly present false evidence and he/she cannot be held liable for violating a citizen’s Constitutional Rights. That led to Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978) “Absolute Immunity” that authorized “Absolute Power”. Because of Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978) a judge cannot be held liable for violating the laws of nature and literally dehumanizing a citizen. That led to Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325 (1983) “Absolute Corruption” for the police as regards perjury. The Police have absolute immunity from the charge of perjury. The Police can knowingly perjure themselves on the stand to corruptly convict a citizen and the Police cannot be held liable for violating the Constitution and laws.
    Why? “With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world's reported prisoners. ” Are we 5 times as bad? Are our streets 5 times as safe? Or have our Rights been taken away? We no longer have the protection of the Bill of Rights or the laws we have created to protect ourselves, there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY, everyone has ABSOLUTE IMPUNNITY:
    “This (absolute impunity) immunity applies even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly” (Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 335 (1871) @ page 349), (Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) @ page 554) and (Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991))… A malicious and corrupt (as noted above) “judge of a criminal court, invested with general criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed within a certain district, should hold a particular act to be a public offense, which is not by the law made an offense , and proceed to the arrest and trial of a party charged with such act, or should sentence a party convicted to a greater punishment than that authorized by the law upon its proper construction, no personal liability to civil action for such acts would attach to the judge” Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 335 335 (1871) Page 80 U. S. 352 and “There is no safety for the citizen except in the protection of the (malicious and corrupt) judicial tribunals for rights which have been invaded by the officers of the government professing to act in its name. There remains to him but the alternative of resistance, which may amount to crime.” (Non-italic and lined through editing added for clarity)(United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196 (1882) , Page 106 U. S. 219) (Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) @ 403 US 394-395).

    We are there Absolute Corruption

  • ||

    I believe you meant to say a constitutional republic, not a democracy. A true democracy is three wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner by majority vote. That is what we now have.

  • ||

    No I meant what I said a true democracy. I assumed my readers would make the assumption that I was referring to humans not wolves and sheep. But I guess that is any issue for another blog.

    We have no enforceable constitution. As regards the Judiciary we are the sheep they are the wolves and they devour us at their discretion, without regard to OUR Natural, Constitutional Civil Rights.

  • ||

    Well, which is it? A constitutional republic or a true democracy? I see no reason to scrap what we were given for something as vague as a "true democracy" just because evil men have subverted it. The only reason they got away with it is because we let them.

    There is now a determined effort to bring all three branches of government within the confines of the Constitution, with particular attention to the Bill of Rights. Or haven't you noticed?

  • ||

    TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets…..Wake up america!!!! This goverment is the most corrupt we have had in years. The good old boy network is very much in charge.Mr. obama and pelosi are the puppet masters.How many of their good friends benefited by the agreement ” what a farce. All of the u.sSenators voted for this. I am ashamed to say I voted for the these corupted self serving politicians.With good reason they picked an out of towner to be president.All u.s departments need an overhaul. We need to rid ourselves of the puppet masters and the dept heads that bow down to obama and pelosi.I am sick of the lip service I have been getting from these dummies over violations, their friends are getting away with.in the goverment . Barack Hussein Obama , threatens friends and bows to Mmslim.
    INPEACH OBAMA ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur. //////// I love communist obama.will you ,thank you,the commander.ps aka red ink obama. //////// Repost this if you agree,stop communist obama.

    THE COMMANDER.

  • ||

    Perhaps we could reduce this to the constructive, and arguably do-able:

    1)Require a super-majority (60%) for the passage of any law that is a 'felony' or that permits as a penalty the use of prison. For any law that required a mandatory minimum, or provides for a max. prison term greater than 5 years, require a 75% majority. (and I mean of legislators eligible to vote, not of of those who show up).

    Laws should always be repealable and penalties reducible by 50+1%

    This has the effect of making it much tougher to pass silly laws, with completely arbitrary penalties about whatever subject.

    2) The other thing required is a prohibition on the passing of a 'criminal' law, or law for which prison is a mandated penalty, where the alleged crime only involves self-victimization.

    For clarity: Once you are an adult, your BODY, Your RIGHT to do with as you please, if you don't harm others in the process.

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    I think that some prison sentences are stupid, like the three strikes law. So if you smoke some pot 3 times and get caught each time, you go to jail for how many decades? That's dumb. However, I am in favor of keeping criminals in jail for a long time; I mean actual criminals, not stoners.

    Reggie's political forum

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