And Justice For…

16 May

The United States with only about 5% of the world’s population has over 24% of the world’s prisoners. One of the basic principles that our nation was founded on and what many of our founding fathers thought was the most fundamental principal necessary for a free and democratic society to function properly was the rule of law…but only if it were applied equally to everyone, with no one, not even kings or royals or presidents or wealthy citizens, exempt from the nations laws.

Today the U.S. has almost 2.5 million prisoners in its jails and over 7 million citizens who are in some way either incarcerated or on parole or under probation for having broken the law…but what is it that most often sends people to prison in the U.S.? Here is an approximate breakdown.

Drug offenses…approximately 1.2 million

Public-order crimes…approximately 850 thousand

Violent crimes…approximately 200 thousand

Property crimes…approximately 150 thousand

Illegal government Wiretapping…approximately none

Creation of global torture network…approximately none

Fraudulent home foreclosures…approximately none

Inadvertent drone strikes…approximately none

Wall Street banking scandals…approximately… Bernard Madoff

In the United States approximately 1.5 million of our 2.5 million prisoners are either Hispanic or African American, comprising 60% of the prison population even though those 2 groups represent only 25% of the U.S. population.

If you would like to avoid the rule of law and stay out of jail in the United States today then you should do your best to be white, then wealthy and then a politician…on the other hand if you are poor, an immigrant or a person of color then the rule of law not only pertains to you but, in a prison system that is now mostly run for profit, is counting on you to be available for incarceration.

And even more sadly…those are the facts ma’am…just the facts.

13 Responses to “And Justice For…”

  1. Barbara Backer-Gray May 16, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    Great post. I’m reblogging!

  2. Barbara Backer-Gray May 16, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    Reblogged this on Resident Alien — Being Dutch in America and commented:
    I just had to share this. Kort maar krachtig, is what we call that–brief and to the point.

  3. mvschulze May 16, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    Whooo! Those are some interesting numbers! Good post.

  4. A Voice May 16, 2013 at 3:58 am #

    There is a part missing, my good man, and that is how criminal offenders are treated.

    I have a BA with a concentration in Philosophy and a MA in Theology, however I wasn’t even allowed to apply at a global shipping company because I have a criminal background: two counts of simple assault (the same incident, but two counts) in my second-to-last semester of undergraduate school. My crime shamed me deeply and it still does on a daily basis; no one is more aware of how deeply I’ve failed than I am. However, the unspoken status quo is that criminal offenders are to largely be looked at as monsters for the rest of their lives…no matter what they do, no matter how much they improve their life and the lives of others after their conviction.

    That shipping company’s name will remain unsaid, but what will not go unsaid is that I applied to it five years after my conviction and after earning said degrees. When I applied for my current job, two years after the conviction, I was very upfront with my boss about it. He took me for who I presented myself to be, that being who I am, and if I didn’t move out of state for a few months in 2011 my employment would have been uninterrupted. A few months after I moved back my job opened back up and I was brought back on board. I’ll always be grateful to my boss because without him I’d truly have nothing; he’s a great man.

    Every day I’m somehow touched by the irony of living in this country: I can’t teach Philosophy on a collegiate level because of my background and I can’t apply to load boxes into trucks in a warehouse, yet George Bush can be part of the machine destroying a country and even has a Presidential Library. Somehow I fall into the same category as Jerry Sandusky and Jodi Arias, yet he simply had ‘bad intelligence.’ Unless you have some level of fame, some real cover, there’s no way to overcome your stigma in the eyes of the body Public: you will always, always be other and a monster.

    You’ll notice that I say ‘criminal offenders’ and not ‘criminals’. It seems to me to take an over-arching pattern of behaviour, not simply an act or series of acts (delineated from an over-arching pattern of behaviour) to make a criminal. A great many people break established laws, some small and some not so small, and they don’t consider themselves ‘criminals’…even though they are the ones preventing me and people like me from loading boxes into trucks in a warehouse.

    There are no second chances in the United States of America, there are only opportunities in extraordinary circumstances.

  5. MikeW May 16, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    In many of the countries you just compared with the US, you might easily have been incarcerated for writing that, while many who murder, rape and abuse others for tribal, gender, racial, caste, or other arbitrary distinctions among human beings go free.

    Have you ever considered that the story is even sadder than you suppose? That were the other countries as efficient and just in their administration of justice, they too would have larger prison populations? And we know only a fraction of actual offenders are caught.

    Economic success or its lack tends to skew property crime related offenses, which is a lion’s share of the stats. The level playing fields are there now, however, the ill-effects of decades of non-level playing fields are not so easily cured; nor the reality of new immigrant graduation to elder immigrant status (many historians pointing out that success comes with tenure in the immigration cycle).

    With all of those intervening factors, I think it is more complicated than perhaps the assumption that somehow white people are to blame for their successes rather than born into situations no less than those born into less successful economic situations. The relevant question it seems is: what is the way out together?

    • A Voice May 16, 2013 at 4:39 am #

      Please don’t miss the general point: comparing how first-world countries handle this situation. Granted, the statistics may cover much more than that and the premise, the general point, I am offering is suppressed, but that is what seems to me to be the case here. In the future, please give the reader the strongest possible argument you can unless they prove to be grossly misinformed or truly stupid. In philosophical argument, we call this the principle of charity.

      With that said, the relevant portion of your comment is that relevant question you bring up. I agree with it completely and I’m sure our writer does as well. The way out seems to me to actually engender real caring for the citizenry and critical thinking. Both of these are disturbingly lacking in this country and there can be no argument to the contrary. But how we actually go about engendering these two things…it’s complicated and calls for some real sacrifice, it calls for rethinking greatness, success, as not who dies with the most money or the most prestigious position within a group but rather living well, with some real nobility, no matter the circumstances.

      The United States of America needs to change. It does not need to change its purported principles, it needs to bring its into accord with those principles.

    • A Voice May 16, 2013 at 4:41 am #

      “it needs to bring its into accord with those principles.”

      This should read ‘it needs to bring its actions into accord with those principles.’

      We need a fucking edit button on comments or at least a preview.

  6. makagutu May 16, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    Whereas our prison population is low compared to that of the US of A in %s, the people in prison are petty offenders, small time drug traffickers whereas those who politicians who steal from public coffers, who are the drug lords drive around in their fuel guzzlers. There is indeed a problem with most criminal justice systems around the world but for the US, you guys obviously need some help. It is serious when prisons are privately run, you just know something has gone wrong!

  7. A.V. Walters May 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Surely, something has gone wrong. It’s just hard to know where to start in fixing it. We’ve just come through a major recession–triggered by astounding levels of corporate greed–and those in the industry want to say it was because of people who shouldn’t have been in the real estate market–the “sub-prime” folks. As long as the wealthiest among us, and soulless corporations are allowed to embezzle away the profits and then point to the poor as the culprits, things won’t get better. We could start by making an effort to enforce the laws.

  8. Jae May 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    The big problem is the “War on Drugs” which isn’t doing anything but costing us money. The other problem is lack of real education in areas inhabited mostly by minorities. Combine those two and you get the appearance of racial discrimination. I’m not saying there is no racial discrimination at all in the system, but I think it’s a bit too presumptuous to blame the system based on the standards of white/not-white.

    But I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of equal justice under the law. Whether you’re a factory worker, a CEO or even the President, whatever law you break the punishment is the same no matter who you are. That’s how America is supposed to work. Hopefully we can get it to work that way someday, but that’s going to take us holding those we put in power responsible for crimes committed, even if that means next election the other guy wins.

  9. sheilamariegrimes May 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    good post

  10. appletonavenue May 17, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    A sad shameful part of today’s America. How to correct it?

  11. serendipityherbals May 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    A fantastic post!

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