December 22, 2006

THE LONG PURITAN BACKLASH:

America Has Become Incarceration Nation (Marc Mauer, December 22, 2006, TomPaine.com)

Two remarkable developments in Washington in the past week highlight the extent to which the United States has become the land of mass incarceration.

First, the Supreme Court denied the appeal of Weldon Angelos for a first-time drug offense. Angelos was a 24-year-old Utah music producer with no prior convictions when he was convicted of three sales of marijuana in 2004. During these sales he possessed a gun, though there were no allegations that he ever used or threatened to use it. Under federal mandatory sentencing laws, the judge was required to sentence Angelos to five years on the first offense and 25 years each for the two subsequent offenses, for a total of 55 years in prison. In imposing sentence, Judge Paul Cassell, a leading conservative jurist, decried the sentencing policy as "unjust, cruel, and even irrational."

The Angelos decision came on the heels of a Bureau of Justice Statistics report finding that there are now a record 2.2 million Americans incarcerated in the nation's prisons and jails. These figures represent the continuation of a "race to incarcerate" that has been raging since 1972. With a 500 percent increase in the number of people in prison since then, the United States has now become the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-8 times the rate of other industrialized nations.


America is the only country where shari'a would be liberalization.

MORE:
Gov. calls for prison growth:
Schwarzenegger outlines a $10.9-billion plan. Baca hopes L.A. plays a role in program. (Evan Halper and Jenifer Warren, December 22, 2006, LA Times)

Trying to avert a possible court takeover of the state prison system, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday proposed a multibillion-dollar expansion of state and local correctional facilities and opened the door to sentence reductions for some crimes.

Schwarzenegger's $10.9-billion plan would add 78,000 beds to state prisons and county jails.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2006 7:47 AM
Comments

Just about the first thing found by criminology in its infancy was that most crime is committed by criminals, that is to say, recidivists. From this it follows that the most effective preventitive for crime is to identify these individuals and incapacitate them. Incarceration is thought to be more humans than its alternatives.

Now cultural diversity is going to favor high rates of social deviance by allowing varying degreees of acculturation and varying degrees 0f informal social control. The same freedom which allows a thousand flowers to bloom makes room for the weeds.

Is locking up a few misfits and malcontents too high a price to pay for liberty and creativity for the rest of us? One supposes that it all depends on point of view. I daresay it were better to bring the unsocialied ah, slowly, to the light than to purchase safety with chains and slavery for us all.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 22, 2006 10:45 AM

Remind me: we've incarcerated 500% more people since 1972.

How much has crime fallen? How much safer are we?

As I recall, a lot. And way safer.

Seems like a good trade to me.

Posted by: Steve White at December 23, 2006 12:51 AM
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