Tag Archives: prisons

Racism is dead! Long live ?????

21 Feb

The United States of America has 5% of the world’s population and yet 25% of the world’s prisoners are in American jails. And The number of prisoners in our prison system has increased to 8 times what it was 30 years ago.

And yet only 47% of our prisoners have ever been convicted of a violent crime.

32% of all black men (that’s one third) will spend time in our prisons and will serve 20% more prison time for the same crimes that white men are convicted and sentenced for. (according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission)

6% of all white men (that’s one seventeenth) will spend time in jail.

It costs 6.5 billion dollars every year to keep our prison system operating.

If racism in America is dead and a thing of the past…

Then how do we as American’s explain these numbers?

 

Look Out Old Draco Is Back

11 Jun

Former NFL receiver Chad  Johnson AKA Chad Ochocinco AKA Chad Johnson was sentenced to 30 days in jail for  apparently slapping his attorney on the butt for helping him avoid jail time with a plea deal in a Florida courtroom. However, when everyone in the court room started laughing the judge took offense, accused Mr. Johnson of not taking the proceedings seriously, nullified the plea agreement and sent Mr. Johnson off to jail for 30 days.

 Apparently last August, Johnson pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge after he allegedly head-butted his then-wife during an argument, then in May Johnson was arrested for failing to meet with his probation officer, which led to his courtroom appearance this June.

Now, I do not advocate domestic violence nor do I think it should be taken lightly and certainly avoiding one’s probation officer is not an action that I would recommend…but wouldn’t a nation that already spends over 40 thousand dollars apiece per year on the incarceration of over 2.2 million citizens be doing itself and its fiscal health a favor by trying to help keep citizens out of jail rather than in? .

It is said that Draco was the first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece…and that he replaced the prevailing system of oral law and blood feud with a written code to be enforced only by a court. Unfortunately Draco’s laws were particularly harsh and often unfair. However, under Draco’s laws The death penalty was the punishment for even minor offences and when asked about this he supposedly replied “that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, and he had no greater punishment for more important ones.” So death was the order of the day.

But I certainly don’t advocate the death penalty for our prison overflow. It’s too expensive for one thing, cruel and unusual for another and too Draconian even for the 21st century…But Why do we need so many prisons and prisoners in the United States in the first place? Why is punishment becoming our national pastime? Isn’t this too draconian too…especially for the U.S. (of all countries) here in the 21st century?

And now that we have the NSA listening in on anything and everything and  anybody and everybody where are we going to go from here?

Why not just fine people who break laws…nice big hefty fines? Let’s just send them home so they can go back to work and then garnish their paychecks. Make them take out a nice hefty government loan at a lofty percentage rate…like we do with our law abiding students…or force them to use a high interest government credit card…like most of us do with our regular bank credit cards… or make them pay a special criminal tax rate…or something along those lines.

We could fine the NFL for not teaching Chad Whatshisname the meaning of respect while cavorting around NFL endzones in disrespect of NFL law. How about garnishing one of Dick Cheney’s hefty paychecks for bringing back the draconian practice of water boarding? Or a special tax on President Bush for not finding that evidence that sent us to war for 10 years and 3 trillion dollars. Or taxing President Obama at an especially high rate for all of those draconian killer drones that he likes to use so much.

I’m just saying…couldn’t we use the money more than we can use the prisoners? Let’s start fining our lawbreakers and wrongdoers and use the money to pay down our debts. The Schadenfreude that comes from our draconian application of punishment for our criminals may make us feel good but it doesn’t pay any bills…it just creates a great big pile of new ones…which I believe will just bury us all in the end…which I suppose would probably make Draco proud.

Book ’em Danno

8 Feb

Image

No doubt by now you’ve already seen or read the story about the young woman who was disrespectful to the Florida judge while receiving her bail and had the book thrown at her to the tune of 30 days in jail and bail set at $10,000 for a prescription drug infraction.

I know that many people view this as proper justice and a case of a disrespectful young woman getting what she deserves but if you watch the video carefully you’ll see that the disrespect began with the judge and not the young woman.

She was a first time offender on an illegal prescription drug charge and she wasn’t behaving seriously enough for his liking so instead of releasing her on her own recognizance which would have been standard procedure for an 18 year with no prior offenses, he set her bail at $5,000 and dismissed her with an unprofessional “Bye, Bye, you can go now.” To which she simply responded, “Adios”. 

Even I know that means goodbye. Does it mean goodbye disrespectfully? Simply because it is a Spanish word? Ironically, Judge Rodriguez-Chomat thought so and called her back to increase her bail to $10,000 and then dismissed her with the same, although much more sarcastically spoken, “Adios”. That led to the young woman giving the judge the finger and a verbal expletive which led to the judge calling her back again and then ordering her to spend 30 days in jail for contempt.

As an educator and an adult who can attest to having had classrooms filled with 20 or more students, exactly like this young woman in Florida I have absolutely no doubt that he started it. Why? Because as a professional and an educated adult and a person with an extreme amount of power…he is the one who should definitely know better. In fact and whether he likes it or not, that’s precisely part of his job.

But even if you disagree with me consider the fact that at the average price of $31,000 per year to keep some one incarcerated in a county, state or federal jail in the USA that judge just cost us all about three grand! And multiply that by our world record prison population of over 2 million citizens and you have an annual cost to the tax payers of over 74 billion dollars.

And if you then consider the fact that over 7million adults are under correctional supervision  including  probation, parole, jail or prison (fully 3% of our population) then the total costs are even more staggering.

Yes, over the last 40 years or so there has been a staggering shift in the way that people behave disrespectfully to one another and we teachers know that there is nothing funny about being disrespected… but when this happens on almost every television show on the air these days there is always an accompanying laugh track to keep us amused.

Unfortunately for the young woman in the Florida court room she tried to add her own laugh track to the proceedings which just made matters worse for her. Curiously enough I have noticed over the years that no one, not teenager, nor adult, professional or non, likes being insulted in any way shape or form …

Yet everyone on Television seems to enjoy it, including the audiences. Why is that?

It seems to me that we have a love/hate relationship with disrespect in this country. We like to be disrespectful and we hate to be disrespected…and it’s costing us upwards of 70 billion dollars a year and destroying millions of lives…and because it really isn’t funny there’s not a laugh track to be heard.

 

 

 

 

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