Search This Blog

24 March 2008

1st day issue (v.3): 1 in 99 adults behind bars in the Land of the Free (also new text)

Click, gets bigger.

Make t-shirts. e-mail it around. Photocopy it and tape it to light poles and windows. Make it into a tattoo.

If you get called for jury duty on a drug crime case, nullify. Let the defendant skate. That's the best way anyone's come up with so far to reduce these grotesque numbers. Just vote to acquit and hang the jury or convince the other 11 people to acquit with you.

Resurrected and modified from a February 2000 (Bill Clinton administration) stamp commemorating 2,000,000 children, women and men behind bars in the Land of the Free, and the USA's surpassing Russia (they let about 100,000 prisoners out of the old Gulag system) as the world's largest prison.

Since that time the USA has had more prisoners than Russia, and has had more prisoners than the Peoples Republic of China.
We lead the world both in raw numbers of prisoners, and in the ratio of prisoners to population.

Now 1 in 99.1 men and women are in a prison or jail in the USA. As of the beginning of 2008, 2,319,258 human beings are behind bars in the USA.

Are you safer? Do you feel safer?

Not a single presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, wanted to talk about this as if it were an important issue; and no journalist or YouTube "Ask the Candidate" Question Submitter raised this Mother Of All Bathtub Elephants as an important issue. So the next president is essentially politically free to Keep On Imprisoning and not do or even suggest a future in which America becomes the World's 2nd Largest Prison.

In the 1970s, most public psychiatric hospitals in the USA were closed. Prisons and jails now house our mentally ill. Though the War on Drugs claims to target drug kingpins, most drug prisoners are low-level street addicts. About 53 percent of America's prisoners are non-violent.

In 2006, 1 in 30 men of all races age 20-34 were behind bars.

In 2006, 1 in 9 black men age 20-34 were behind bars.

Women are currently the fastest-growing prisoner group.

The likelihood of contracting the bloodborne diseases HIV/AIDS or hepatitis in prison is 10 times greater than contracting these diseases in the community. Prisons and jails are institutional pressure cookers of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, and most prisoners are released back into the community. A recent study by The Center for the Obvious said that prisoners are 10 times likelier to die in the two weeks after their release than they are normally. Because the first thing a lot of them want after 6 years in prison is to do a lot of drugs and fuck a lot. But even if they don't die, they return their prison-acquired bloodborne diseases to the community, most of whom have never been or never will be prisoners.

Pew Center for the States
Public Safety Performance Project
"One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008"

No comments: