Dear Mom and Pop voter —
The GOP’s hero, Reagan, STILL spends billions of your tax dollars on a lost war with all the legislation he put in place out of politics and fear. It’s time we all JUST SAY NO–ONE MORE TIME. Thanks, Nancy, love your slogan. I remember you on TV. 25-yrs-later I see the ruined lives.
Let’s run through this business style: As long as there is a consumer, there will be a manufacturer and a seller. You want to fight a War on Drugs, then TREAT THE DRUG ADDICT . . . but not forcefully, as the court system does. One’s body is their’s. Make treatment affordable and readily available. Educate. And then educate some more. Stop treating teenagers like idiots by telling them they’re going to kill someone because they smoked a joint. They will not listen to you. Consumers bring sellers whom are making at least a 500% profit. Arrest one and 5 more take his or her place immediately. Lock up the consumers and the sellers STILL come to them. I’ve heard it from talking to many who went to prison.
Among violent offenders, 49% of probationers, 41% of those in local jails, 38% of those in state prisons and 20% of those in federal prisons were estimated to have been drinking when they committed their crime. Alcohol is a dangerous drug for the alcoholic but these figures don’t even touch the drug ones and those in these places for drug “crimes.”
There is more: Based on victim reports in 2006, 52% of rapes and sexual assaults involved alcohol use by the offender, as well as 15% of robberies, about 29% of aggravated assaults and 25% of simple assaults. How many involved drugs?
All these figures apply to men. The ladies being locked up are thought to be even MORE likely to end up in prison based on drug ad/or alcohol related crimes. Does this mean lock up more people? NO!!! Has violent crime gone down? Uh, no. Are people safer? That would also be a no.
Something else Reagan did was cut treatment and education programs in state and federal prisons across the country, making it much more likely for a person to return to prison. By adding an inordinate amount of executive orders for mandatory minimums, he assured he would keep them there, continuing to suck up your money–anywhere from $17,000 to $80,000 PER INMATE a year.
And of course they will return. They leave with a bus ticket and often only $100 check to their names. Their communities won’t let them work, live, vote, as Rick pointed out, so they stay largely disconnected. As Rick also mentioned, they are largely impoverished minorities with little education. Felonies preclude them from certain scholarships if they TRY to get an education. If they weren’t impoverished before, they will be now. We have way too few programs to help them acclimate to society.
For us to have 25% of the world’s prison population and only 1% of the world’s total population makes us ‘Incarceration Nation,’ which is why that phrase is in the tagline of my blog. I concur with Rick Cooley who has written a must read piece–‘Just Say No to the War on Drugs.’
Why do I care? Why is this personal? As a former criminal defense attorney and one who still works in the criminal justice system, I had to watch it, fight it and feel it. I saw an overwhelming attitude of hopelessness. If one has lost hope, what have they left? I am angry. In the pictures of those scales of justice, they should be tipped way over. There is no justice in the justice system.
Ever since President Nixon proclaimed the start of a War on Drugs some 40 years ago, prison populations in this country have grown far faster than the population as a whole. The United States now incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation in the world, largely due to laws related to this “war”. Last week, while Congress continued its extended summer siesta, Attorney General Eric Holder announced some initiatives in the prosecution of the War on Drugs that may signal a significant shift in our criminal justice system in coming years.
In addition to the fact that our prisons are holding more prisoners per capita than any other nation, our judicial system has resulted in a situation where those incarcerated are dramatically over-representative of minority groups and poor people. Increasing evidence of discriminatory prosecution and sentencing that results in longer sentences for relatively minor and non-violent…
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