April 12th, 2012
By Frank Byronn Glenn -- I have heard it said that the United States has more of its
people in prison than other developed country -- both by absolute numbers and buy percentage of population. I wounder how this could be?
After being such a stellar country -- the beacon of the world I have even heard it said. The shining light upon a hill.
Well, like most problems. It's probably about money.
You see -- in the United States there are people making a lot of money by filling their private, for profit prisons up with our citizens. Many prison systems in this country are for profit businesses, and rely on aggressive enforcement of punitive or unconscionable laws for their income generating populations -- us!
Now, it should not surprise us too much that a few "entrepreneurial",
business minded citizens figured out another way to make some guaranteed corporate welfare money by championing law and order. I know if I received a check for $50,000 every time a fellow citizen went to prison, I'd probably be scrutinizing the behavior of my family, friends, and neighbors pretty carefully as time went on and the checks rolled in. I might even suggest a few more things that should be against the law -- you know a little stronger sense of community self-righteousness!
It probably shouldn't even surprise us that if there are wealthy,
influential people who make more money every time we put another American in prison, that somehow the politicians, law enforcement, and prisoners put their heads together and come up with a little more of that "tough-love" . We might even be creative enough to come up with some really badly needed legislation that just happens to have as one of its major benefits its takes a few more of those onery Americans walking around freely out there and finds a reason and a way to put them in prison for a while. It's not so much that American people have just gotten a lot more "criminal" as people. It's just that when we have some wealthy, powerful people out there making great money off people in prison, somehow the politicians just happen to find a way that society needs some extra protection by having a few more of us behind bars.
So, there are two simple reasons why we have so many people in prison.
1) Many prisons are now private, for-profit businesses in the United States, and prisoners are the rental equipment these for profit businesses bill the government for, on a per person, per head fee basis (if you make money every time someone goes to prison, are you going to be for more people in prison or fewer people in prison); 2) the other reason is that we have some of the most Draconian drug enforcement laws in the world -- including a system in which in many cases the police that arrest a person for a drug violation get to confiscate your cars, houses, inventory, and any walking around cash money of the people they bust. Many of the people in prison are in prison for drug related offenses, and many of them are in for marijuana related offenses, a drug significantly less harmful to society than alcohol but with a less well-connected lobbyist machine, profit, and law enforcement support system. We have "Alcoholics Anonymous" for alcohol abuses. We have "privately-owned, for profit prisons" for marijuana abusers.
I frequently ask myself, why does the United States
keep inventing new ways to do things wrong? The answer is, because we have allowed businesses and politicians to collude in creating a for profit business which is mutually beneficial to both of them, out of denying our people their civil rights and taking away their personal freedom to move about in our society. It's all invented! For Money! Americans should be very proud we have allowed this to happen!
By Frank Glenn • Posted in Politics
• 6,569 Comments