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Fri Dec 13, 2019, 07:49 PM

The hidden scandal of US criminal justice? Rural incarceration has boomed

US prisons

While big cities are finally putting fewer people in jail, small towns and rural counties are locking up more people than ever

Jasmine Heiss and Jack Norton

Fri 13 Dec 2019 06.15 ESTLast modified on Fri 13 Dec 2019 09.10 EST

Since the 2016 election, many political observers have taken a greater interest in the social and economic crisis afflicting rural America.

As people who grew up in and then migrated out of small towns, we’ve noticed a conversation that goes something like this: rural America is a “land of self-defeat”, characterized by deepening poverty and despair, worsening infrastructure and public health, and collapsing industry. These depictions, however, miss an important part of this story: the rising criminalization and incarceration of people in rural communities.

In 2017, our colleagues at the Vera Institute of Justice issued a report on an underappreciated phenomenon: at the same time that economic change and policy reforms in America’s biggest cities have resulted in fewer people in jails and prisons, small cities and rural counties are incarcerating more and more people. This week, we’ve released new research on this changing geography of incarceration. Our study is the first recent estimate of the national jail population, and the results are troubling and urgent.

Jails both produce and respond to the litany of horrors recited weekly in media coverage of declining small-town America – overdoses, violence, suicide, joblessness. Research consistently shows that jail impoverishes people and communities; even short jail stays can shred social stability, causing people to lose their homes and jobs. Research also shows that economic decline and increased jail incarceration each lead to higher rates of drug overdose deaths, playing an even bigger role in the overdose crisis than the prescription rate of opioids.

More:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/rural-incarceration-hidden-scandal-us-criminal-justice

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Dec 13, 2019, 08:03 PM

1. small towns are notorious for their speed traps, basically extortion rackets nt

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Dec 13, 2019, 09:39 PM

2. We have a small (microscopic) weekly newspsper here that serves 4 towns

with a combined population of 6,000. Each week I count how many people were caught Driving While Hispanic (profiling). Then it occurred to me: How bad did the whites piss off the cops to be pulled over with the Hispanics?

I also keep score of Births vs Obits and am happy to say each week has a downturn in population.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 10:38 AM

4. I bet in your town as it is mine, most of the city's budget comes from trafic and court fines ...

our four local papers hardly publishes any news past arrest logs.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:01 PM

5. It's like we live in the same place.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:02 PM

6. The wealthy non-taxers being supported by the poor.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 10:33 AM

3. Our county is freaking proud of how many we lock up. We bedded down with a private jail company ...

that paid the Sheriff for everyone jailed.

Its pretty clear: they are driving anyone out of high school out of my town and the county if they aren't gainfully employed. A hard thing to be in an area with very little work that mainly is made up of service aimed towards retirees and tourism.

I've met many inmates on work release from all over the country who did not belong in jail, let alone one a thousand miles away from home.

It's a scandal.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:03 PM

7. The thousand miles away is to inconvenience both the inmate and the family.

Layers of punishment.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:11 PM

8. Used only on the poor and unrepresnted. One inmate was a seventeen year old Hatian refugee ...

who just happened to be in the vicinity of a crime in Miami.

He's had his schooling messed with, he has a record because he was compelled to plead by a system that pleads better than 80% of its cases - more like a sausage press than justice.

Our sheriff has said he treats simple pot possession as severely as if it were for heroin. Who is that aimed at? Not me or all the other codgers who smoke pot. There is a special white privilege for those over 40 around here.

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