American Gulag


According to the latest data from the Department of Justice, a jaw-dropping 7 million—or one in 32—Americans is in prison, on probation, or paroled.  America has 4.6 percent of the world's population, but nearly a quarter of its prison inmates.  The explosion has occurred over the last 20 years, which, not incoincidentally, dates back to the draconian 1986 drug bill Congress passed after the death of college basketball star Len Bias.  Half of the increase in America's prisons since 1995 is due to federal drug crimes alone.

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  1. Of course it makes more sense to spend billions of dollars a year, destroy lives, and get thousands of innocent people killed just to prevent people from doing what they want with their own bodies.

  2. America has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but nearly a quarter of its prison inmates.

    We also account for a quarter of the world’s energy consumption, a fact that distresses many environmentalists.

    Over at Jim Henley’s blog a thread turned into a discussion of why liberals support the drug war and what to do about that fact. If we could somehow trick liberals into thinking that there’s a connection between those two statistics, maybe we could get them to sign on with legalization.

    I think the phrase “hemp diesel” will be important to this discussion.

  3. Repeat after me, There is no War On Drugs! If truth in advertising laws were followed, all of this would be trumpeted as the War on Liberty. Oh, I forgot that the govrnment doesn’t have to obey the laws they enact. Foolish me.

  4. Crime rate’s dropped too…

  5. Crime rate’s dropped too…

    Yes. And imagine how much more it could drop without the drug war.

    why liberals support the drug war

    The drug war is permanent and supporting it has become the “default” position to take. As long as it only appears to impact icky people on the wrong side of the tracks, people don’t give it any serious thought.

  6. thoreau, thanks for the thread.

  7. “Crime rate’s dropped too…”

    This is the rub isn’t it? It is not just the poor and down and out who use drugs. The illegal drug trade is worth billions. All that money can’t just be coming from crack whores. There have to be huge numbers of gainfully employed law abiding citizens who use drugs. The money has to be coming from somewhere. Further, locking up the people we are locking up does seem to be reducing crime.

    We are using the drug war as an excuse to lock up our criminals. I think a lot of people who are in jail on drug crimes right now would be right back in jail for other crimes even if you legalized drugs and let them out tommorow. That doesn’t mean we should keep prohibition; we shouldn’t. It just means that if and when drugs are ever legalized, don’t expect a long term drop in prison populations.

  8. 7 million — or one in 32 — Americans is in prison, on probation, or paroled.

    And when is the government going to do something about the other 268 million people still running loose?

    Don’t they know that prison is the safest place in the world, and how much better off they’ll be there?

    If the government made the safety of prisons more widely know, they wouldn’t have to use force to make people go there.

  9. or, you could say

    The explosion has occurred over the last 20 years, which, not incoincidentally, dates back to the advent of gangster rap


    …the Bears last winning a Super Bowl
    …the time albo moved into his third apartment.

  10. And none of the other things have anything to do with the U.S. criminal code.

    Your point?

  11. Conspiracy theory – perhaps Len Bias was somehow murdered in order to give the pro-war-on-drugs crowd (big pharm, private prison builders,etc.) public support for the War?

  12. We can’t keep building prisons forever. That’s why we must increase the use of lethal force in our no-knock raids. The savings in terms of long term incarceration costs will be terrific.

  13. I can stick a vacuum up my vagina and suck out a 5 month old fetus in my own living room because I have a Right to Privacy… but in that same living room I can’t smoke a joint because…

  14. so its all Len Bias’ fault. I never should have voted for him, but at least he would have been better than Kerry.

  15. I can stick a vacuum up my vagina and suck out a 5 month old fetus in my own living room because I have a Right to Privacy… but in that same living room I can’t smoke a joint because…

    Don’t worry, the most hard-core of the drug warriors come from the party of JEEZ-us and don’t think you have the right to an abortion anymore than you have one to shoot a line of coke.

    At least there is consistency among the theocrats on those two issues.

  16. If you can do that, shouldn’t you be “laGabaGringa”?

  17. I can stick a vacuum up my vagina


  18. Radley, the BBC disagrees with you — they put the US portion of worldwide prison populations at “close to half”

    The BBC, citing the International Centre for Prison Studies.

  19. 5 yr stock chart GGI

    5 yr stock chart CXW


    Under the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, slavery is not illegal. Slavery is illegal unless it is for conviction for a crime. In that case, slavery is perfectly legal.

    The actual text of the Thirteenth Amendment (with some emphasis added) is as follows:

    Amendment XIII
    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    “Today, slavemasters again justify their acts of enslavement by blowing all out of proportion some minor flaws of those being enslaved. Today, it is drug use…”

    “Drug laws make is possible to sweep up hundreds of thousands of young men and women in the prime of their lives, and confine them for life to being the slaves of some profit-making corporations.”

    “What has changed over the last 400 years? Not much. Only the improved cleverness of the slavemasters in latching on to ingenious rationales to cloak their crimes.”

    Slave Labor Easy Source For Corporate And Government Profit

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