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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 09:14 PM
Original message
THE UNITED STATES PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX


The United States has less than 5% of the worlds population, but we incarcerate 25% of all the prisoners in the world. We leave China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and all the other nations we like to look down our noses at far in the dust. We not only lockup more of our citizens than all totalitarian nations, we even lockup more people than China which has more than 4 times the number of Americans, and India which has almost 4 times the number of Americans, and Iran COMBINED. The US not only leads in the numbers of prisoners but far outpace China when measured per capita. We rank 1st among all nations with 715 prisoners per 100,000 people. China, ranks 71st with 119 prisoners per 100,000 people.



According to a report released by the Bureau of Prison Statistics, one out of every 32 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole at the end of 2005.



US leaders love to point out China as a violator of human rights and their penchant for slave and prison labor. While its principled to point out abuses by the Chinese, Americans should also recognize that slavery is not only legal in the US, its also practiced. The 13th Amendment authorizes it, Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. The key word here is except and being convicted of a crime in the United States is that exception.



In todays America, drug laws have become the new Jim Crow laws, the prison/industrial complex has become the new plantation, and the warden has become the new overseer. Americas newest slaves arent picking cotton. Theyre assembling computers, making womens lingerie, booking airline flights over the phone, telemarketing for major corporations, and doing all kinds of tasks that free Americans used to be employed at doing. What appeared to be a normal plant closing by U.S. Technologies when it sold its electronics plant in Austin, was actually the company relocating its operations to a nearby Austin prison. One hundred and fifty free employees lost their jobs to the new slaves.

African-Americans are the most loyal constituency the Democratic Party has, but the Democratic Party will not adequately address this critical issue for fear of being seen as soft on crime. Thus, the Democratic Party itself perpetuates the stereotype. The biggest explosion of Americans going to prison happened under Bill Clinton. Under Clinton, more people went to federal and state prisons than under any president in American history. Clinton also signed a bill that prevented U.S. Sentencing Commission amendments to equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine from taking effect.

The disparities in sentencing and probation are well-known and were certainly known to Bill Clinton. Then Attorney General Janet Reno said the sentencing disparity is unfair. "Clearly I think should be equalized with respect to possession offenses," she said. "And equally clearly, I don't think the 100-to-1 ratio is fair." She also said that people who provide powder cocaine to those who cook it into crack should get "the more appropriately stiff sentence than the person who distributes the crack. Under Clinton, the federal 3 strikes law was enacted and many states soon followed with similar legislation of their own.



Eighty-five percent of those sentenced under the three strikes youre out law in California faced prison for a nonviolent offense. The law requires a mandatory 25 years to life sentence. Two years after the law went into effect, there were twice as many people imprisoned under the three-strikes law for possession of marijuana as for murder, rape and kidnapping combined. More than 80 percent of those sentenced under the three strikes law are African-American and Latino. It was supposed to be meant to protect society from violent and dangerous criminals, but is fueling the prison/industrial complex with those caught for non-violent crimes. Up to 75% of American prisoners are locked-up for non-violent crimes.

During the past two decades roughly a thousand new prisons and jails have been built in the United States. Nevertheless, America's prisons are more overcrowded now than when the building spree began, and the inmate population continues to increase by 50,000 to 80,000 people a year In 1977 the inmate population of California was 19,600. Today its over 170,000, which amounts to more inmates in its jails and prisons than do France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined. After spending $5.2 billion on prison construction over the past fifteen years, California now has not only the largest but also the most overcrowded prison system in the United States, and for the first time among large states, California will spend more on its prisons than on its public universities.



Prisons are rising all over America. Its a fast rising growth industry with investors on Wall Street and corporations we all know are paying peanuts to prisoner/slaves so they dont have to employ those who buy their products. Even when crime goes down, jail population still goes up. Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the Civil War ended, blacks were imprisoned on a variety of trumped up reasons and were then loaned or hired out to plantations and farms and all would share in the profit, except the prisoner/slave of course. That same hiring out of prisoners is still practiced in the United States today.



The prison/industrial complex is a multi-billion dollar industry complete with lobbyists, trade shows, and conventions. It profits from an evil in the US that neither democrats nor republicans will seek to remedy.
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PaDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is something we all should be talking about........
any politician who speaks up about this is going to be nailed with a "soft on crime" meme. It's up to those of us who recognize this colossal problem to educate the citizenry, making it possible for our politicians to act.

Thanks for posting this.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. I think it was Chris Dodd who raised this problem during a debate
and if I recall, an incredulous Chris Matthews asked for a show of hands from the others for who would support the legalization of marijuana.
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appal_jack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
56. and our 'front-runners' raised their hands
As the campaign moves from primary to GE, and then hopefully to a Democratic Inauguration in January 2009, it's important to remember how the candidates responded to that oddly substantive question in an otherwise unremarkable debate. Dodd, Obama, and Kucinich all raised their hands in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson responded that they favor laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. Edwards, alas, parroted the drug warrior line, frosted on top with some 'it would send the wrong message to the children...' nonsense.

But now Dodd and Richardson are out of the running, and I doubt that Edwards will remain for much longer. This means that our remaining top candidates (and I place Kucinich firmly in the top tier with respect to ideas, if not votes or dollars) all support some form of legalization of marijuana. Such a policy of course would cut-off a major artery that feeds people into the Prison-Industrial Complex. I strongly believe that we Democrats must hold both Hillary and Obama to their statements, and use this point as a launching pad to reexamine the War on Drugs as a whole soon in 2009, examining more public-health oriented strategies that reduce harm and the number of nonviolent offenders who are locked into small boxes.

Democrats stand firm! No matter who your favored candidate is, an end to the madness that is the War on Drugs is an idea worth pushing.

-app
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. and America's prisons subject torture on prisoners
Edited on Sun Jan-20-08 09:26 PM by grasswire
I've been wondering where American liberals and progressives are on the very real ongoing torturing of its prisoners. There's plenty of anger and sorrow regarding those caught in its foreign snares. But right here at home, hundreds of thousands if not millions of prisoners have been tortured for decades. Sensory deprivation, sexual battery, sleep deprivation, starvation, extremes of heat and cold, exposure to disease, vermin, bugs, physical cruelty .... and more.

Are you progressives angry about that? I hear crickets.....
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Diclotican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. grasswire
grasswire

I am so angry that I don't have the word, either in my native language, or English to REALLY say what I feel, or want to say... Words just are going in the way.... Angry as hell.....

Diclotican

Sorry my bad English, not my native language
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
16. something that always confuses me too
I've seen DU posters rail against Abu Ghraib and Gitmo on the same day that they post wishes that people are raped in prison.

The US has ALWAYS tortured foreign nationals (Operation Phoenix and the creation and training of the SAVAK) and I'm not sure how being sent to prison for 25 years for smoking pot can be viewed as anything other than torture.

Many DUers seem to view violence in prisons as part of the punishment and obscene.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #16
27. I find that disgusting myself.
The cruelty and abuse in prison isn't a joke. It's serious business, and seriously fucked up.
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #27
77. particularly worrying when
people that claim that rape is such an awful unforgivable unexcusable crime (which it is) that rapists "deserve" to be raped. Boggles the mind.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-22-08 02:41 AM
Response to Reply #77
88. It's more of that "eye for an eye" mentality.
The best thing is to separate them from society and deal with the issues that make them what they are. Or try, at least. Making them victims of the same thing just perpetuates the evil. IMO.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #2
26. I am...
Been pissed about it for YEARS.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 09:28 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
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motocicleta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. Big time K n R
Where is the Congress? Funneling $ to big penal corporations and military contractors. Makes a guy start to believe in the values of the old Republican party, i.e., small government. I guess that's part of the goal, though, so I will resist.
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nebenaube Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:29 PM
Response to Original message
6. and yet...
they wonder why Social Security is going insolvent...
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Jed Dilligan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
7. I'm hoping this is the LAST election
that will be winnable without any attention to drug law and penal reform.

K/R
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:38 PM
Response to Original message
8. k&r -- thank you for bringing this up.
Nothing will happen to change this situation unless people start paying attention to it.

sw
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
10. excellent article and topic
but not to be the fly in the ointment, but did you write this yourself, or is there a link?

Here's one I wrote
http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/41

although to my everlasting shame, I typed "fpr" instead of either "for" or "FDR".
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 11:23 PM
Response to Original message
11. Steal $5, you're a thief; steal $5 million, you're a financier
"In 1995, the most recent year we can use for comparative purposes, the overall incarceration rate for the United States was 600 per 100,000 population, including local jails (but not juvenile institutions). Around the world, the only country with a higher rate was Russia, at 690 per 100,000. Several other countries of the former Soviet bloc also had high rates-270 per 100,000 in Estonia, for example, and 200 in Romania-as did, among others, Singapore (229) and South Africa (368). But most industrial democracies clustered far below us, at around 55 to 120 per 100,000, with a few-notably Japan, at 36-lower still. Spain and the United Kingdom, our closest "competitors among the major nations of western Europe, imprison their citizens at a rate roughly one-sixth of ours; Holland and Scandinavia, about one-tenth."

Elliott Currie, Crime and Punishment in America

"The number of people in prison, in jail, on parole, and on probation in the U.S. increased threefold between 1980 and 2000, to more than 6 million, and the number of people in prison increased from 319,598 to almost 2 million in the same period. This buildup has targeted the poor, and especially Blacks. In 1999, though Blacks were only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they were half of all prison inmates. In 2000, one out of three young Black men was either locked up, on probation, or on parole. The military-industrial complex of the 1950s, with its Cold War communist bogeyman, has been replaced by a prison-industrial complex, with young Black "predators" serving as its justification."

Dan Parkin, International Socialist Review, Jan-Feb 2002, p69


" The United States is way ahead of the rest of the industrial world in imprisoning its own population. That's for population control. None of that has anything to do with crime. "

Noam Chomsky, American linguist and US media and foreign policy critic


"From 1984 to 1994, Califomia built 21 prisons, and only one state university...the prison system realized a 209% increase in funding, compared to a 15% increase in state university funding."

The Justice Policy Institute (1996)


" Working class addiction to crack (cocaine) is a crime. But, middle- and upper-class addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disease. "

Sabina Virgo - Criminal Injustice


"The U.S. has both the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, including China and Russia. The U.S. incarcerates people at a rate more than 15 times that of Japan, and its prison population is more than eight times that of Italy, France, the UK, Spain, and Australia combined."

International Socialist Review


"Increases in prison spending average twice as high as increases in education spending."

National Criminal Justice Commission (1996)
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Elspeth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #11
42. how true
..
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arendt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
12. Another issue trampled by horse race politics. n/t
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2hip Donating Member (350 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-20-08 11:33 PM
Response to Original message
13. Exceptional research and presentation!
Thanks! Recommend.




Edwards '08 tees!

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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:48 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. this seems to be one source
http://www.greencommons.org/node/770

although googling "prison industrial complex" brings up a lot of cool sites

http://core.ecu.edu/soci/juskaa/SOCI2110/Prison_Industr...
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countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:07 AM
Response to Original message
14. Until people are there, they really don't care.
Thanks for this topic and all your research and your fine presentation.



"It takes time to bring inmate population levels up to where they cover costs. Low occupancy is a drag on profits."

US: America's Private Gulag
by Ken Silverstein, Prison Legal News
June 1st, 2000
originally appeared in CounterPunch

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=867





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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:23 AM
Response to Original message
15. when you have such a HUGE prison population
and laws in some states that mean once convicted you lose your right to vote EVER again, arguments about whether Tweedledee or Tweedledum would make the best nominee, seem utter irrelevant.

Thanks for posting something that makes not one mention of the bread and circuses distraction of the primaries and instead demonstrates one of the varied unpleasant ways the Democrats and Republicans agree with each other
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 01:18 AM
Response to Original message
18. All true - thanks - here's an excellent radio program on this...
Tues 1.01.08| Alternatives to Incarceration

From the 1920s to the 1960s, America incarcerated about one in every 1,000 people. Yet something changed in the 1970s and by the year 2000, five in every 1,000 people were incarcerated. Critical Resistance organizer Rachel Herzing talks about why prisons are being built apace and about the movement for their abolition.

http://www.againstthegrain.org/AtG%202008.01.01_Incarce...



One note: while it's all true as far as the U.S. prison complex is concerned - and the drug war that keeps it going above all - let's not exonerate China. Its prison populations are probably dwarfed by the "free" labor camps/Walmart production locations that amount to prisons.
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Dawggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #18
41. RE: your clip. what changed in the 70's? The "war on drugs"
in one form or another and Madd (1980) made it possible to incarcerate someone for 10 years for having a glass of wine with dinner.

Politicians started listening to every jerk who wants to control the actions of others and started increasing punishments in huge steps in a politician A says "I'll send them to jail for 5 years for that!" and politician B says "Oh, yeah? I'll send them to jail for 10 years!" and so forth.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #41
44. Yes, of course, that's what the radio show is about...
Well worth listening to. The war on drugs was the single most important factor, of course.

But there's more at work here: the war on the poor; incarceration as an alternative to welfare; fear, reaction and punishment of urban black dissent.

The fear factor: stoking fear of crime gets votes, politicians escalate in an effort to outdo each other (three strikes, two strikes, death penalty).

And, of course, the profit motive, once the prison-industrial complex got into swing: Wackenhut, cheap prison labor, etc.

Finally, there's your awesome bureaucratic and political momentum. Hundreds of billions in budgets and huge institutions employing tens of thousands now depend on crime and punishment!
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Dawggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #44
51. I hadn't listened to the radio show when I first replied...
Bit am listening now. Fascinating.
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:17 PM
Response to Reply #44
80. the kind of social engineering our "leaders" love
Any time anyone suggest large public works programs in order to provide employment and a public service (Victoria's Great Ocean Rd was built by returned WW1 soldiers - The New Deal's WPA being examples) politicians on BOTH sides of the fence screech "social engineering" (and in the US "argh commie".

Yet somehow it's perfectly OK to boost employment by artificially inflating the prison population.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:13 AM
Response to Original message
19. K&R n/t
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ConsAreLiars Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:18 AM
Response to Original message
20. The relatively small number of views and high proportion of recs says
a lot. This is a truth that many know but few want to even face. Even on DU. There is a lot of talk of Fascism when it comes to spying and such, and that is justified, but when it comes to looking at the concentration camps, well, we would rather avert our eyes.
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Nutmegger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
21. Hefty R&K!
Thank you for posting this. My state is talking about enacting a stupid "three strikes law". :puke:
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 08:01 AM
Response to Original message
22. More on U.S. Prisons ...
Sorry to intrude with this long post.

Prison stocks, prisoner ranks seen rising-Barron's

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Prison stocks are expected to rise despite a recent U.S. Census report pointing to a lower than expected rise in prison population, Barron's reported in its Oct. 8 edition.

The Census report, which said U.S. prisons' population is growing at 4 percent annually, countered a February study by Pew Charitable Trusts that forecast prison population to rise 13 percent annually.

Barron's said Pew's report is likely a more accurate assessment of the prison population growth as the U.S. government's report polled 37 states, compared to Pew's data from 42 states and estimates from the other eight states.

"If you have reservations about owning a stake in a harsh institution like a prison, consider this: Some of our nation's most creative CEOs now reside in prisons," Barron's said. (Reporting by Kenneth Li)

Reuters

Note> Prison population growth is based on census data NOT crimes.


International committee urged to scrutinize U.S. Census practices that dilute vote of minority populations

The United States Census practice of counting prisoners in their districts of incarceration rather than their home districts for the purpose of establishing electoral and Congressional representation is a violation of international treaty. This month, the non-partisan public policy and advocacy centers Demos and the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) submitted their analysis to the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva.

Demos and PPI urged the committee to scrutinize the racially discriminatory redistricting practice of crediting rural white counties with additional population based on the presence of disenfranchised prisoners in violation of Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Demos/PPI comments were included in a larger submission {PDF} prepared by the U.S. Human Rights Network.

Prisoner of Census


Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal is a feature length documentary by Arkansas filmmaker and investigative journalist Kelly Duda. Through interviews and presentation of documents and footage, Duda alleges that for more than two decades, the Arkansas prison system profited from selling blood plasma from inmates infected with viral hepatitis and AIDS. The documentary contends that thousands of victims who received transfusions of a blood product derived from these plasma products, "Factor 8", died as a result.

Factor 8 uses in-depth interviews and key documents as well as never-before-seen footage, to allege wrongdoing at the Arkansas state government under Governor Bill Clinton's leadership, and at the United States federal level.

Through in-depth interviews with a number of players, including victims in Canada who contracted the diseases, US state prison officials, former employees, high-ranking Arkansas politicians and inmate donors, Factor 8 examines a prison blood-harvesting scheme run by prisoners to earn them an income; the blood was then sold by blood companies for millions of dollars. The harvested plasma was then shipped around the world, where it has been reported to have infected thousands of haemophilia patients. Haemophilia is a genetic condition which prevents clotting.

In the United States, lawyers have won settlements for 8,000 US haemophilia sufferers after they were given infected blood. In 2002 the UK Government promised an inquiry if it was proven infected blood came from a US prison, although to date no inquiry has taken place. The UK Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, has said: "We are aware that during the 1970s and 80s blood products were sourced from US prisoners" and the UK Haemophilia Society has called for a Public Inquiry. The UK Government maintains that the Government of the day had acted in good faith and without the blood products many patients would have died. In a letter to Lord Jenkin of Roding the Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) informed Lord Jenkin that most files on contaminated NHS blood products which infected people with HIV and hepatitis C had unfortunately been destroyed "in error". Fortunately, copies that were taken by legal entities in the UK at the time of previous litigation may mean the documentation can be retrieved and consequently assessed

Factor 8


While many Americans firmly believes that immigration is the source of wages being driven down, they do not realize that those thousands of prisons and jails recently built are factories behind fences.

Trustee prisoners replace municipal employees in many states.

Americans in a rush to punish others are punishing themselves as they lose their jobs to the people they seek to punish. Americans pay to imprison others with their jobs and additional tax burdens.
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porphyrian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 08:03 AM
Response to Original message
23. Hell yeah, I'll kick that. -n/t
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 08:13 AM
Response to Original message
24. Gotta find some way to involve large sectors of that "surplus" population
I love this line, "We not only lockup more of our citizens than all totalitarian nations..."

The U.S. is a police state in many ways. The really sad thing is how average fuckwits LOVE the idea of locking away "undesirables" of all sorts. Several months back I took part in an online discussion at another forum - one that is supposedly very liberal minded - and was appalled at how many fear induced sheeple sided with authority on this very issue, discounting fact after fact, the phony "war on drugs," the federalization/militarization of local police, Big Brother, Inc, the numerous incidents of tasering, etc. Most seemed to be in favor of rounding up the homeless as well...who of course are just "lazy." Yet another glaring example of how the true left of this country has been effectively marginalized by consistent right wing corporate messages and themes rolled out 24/7.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
25. It's a travesty...
Thank YOU Drug War.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:19 PM
Response to Original message
28. K&R -- The War on Drugs shredded the Constitution before Bush ever set foot in the White House.
This has to be remedied, and soon. Hell, at the current rate of growth, every American citizen will be a prisoner within a century. That's a lame statistic, of course -- it's gotta top out at some point -- but laws like California's three-strikes law that deal out life sentences for stealing a couple of Disney videos have got to go. The justice system should be about just that -- justice. It should not be about vengeance, greed or profit.
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appal_jack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #28
60. a lot of the 'credit' goes to Bush41
Edited on Mon Jan-21-08 06:08 PM by app_farmer_rb
Nixon might have started the 'modern' drug war, and it was Ronnie Ray-Gun who ordered the National Guard to march across Cali, confiscating and arresting everything/everyone they could, but Bush 41 really ramped things up further.

:mad:

Clinton was pretty lame wrt the Drug War, but it's Repub hands that are dirty with the origin of this crisis. It's time for a Democrat to make some positive change on this issue!

-app

EDITED to put quotes around 'credit' in the subject line to make sure that no one here thinks I believe that that war-criminal-slimeball-Bush41 deserves credit for anything good.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
29. America loves locking up its pot smokers!
And making them indentured servants for The State. Government would take slavery over capitalism anyday. Cheaper.
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Elspeth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:35 PM
Response to Original message
30. K & R
This is another reason for the loss of middle class jobs.
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stellanoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:37 PM
Response to Original message
31. This is a HUGE issue
Many years ago I heard an interview with a retired conservative Federal Judge who had been appointed by former President G.H.W. Bush.

That Judge who's name I can't recall, had retired because of frustration over Draconian Mandatory Sentencing rules that prevented him from weighing the merits of a case. He said that they gave far too much power to the prosecutors. He sighted several examples. The one which is seared into my memory was regarding a young woman who was enduring a harrowing divorce and had been encouraged to go out one night with some girlfriends. Well she wasn't much of a drinker and in a clear lapse of judgement, unwisely bought some cocaine around midnight and was apprehended. Because the establishment where she was busted was within close proximity to an elementary school she was sentenced as though she was a drug dealer selling to children. She had no priors and had two small children. I can't recall the precise sentence but it was really onerously excessive.

That was the case that veritably, "broke the camel's back" and compelled that Judge to retire.

Another case was of a 19 year old girl who had a bozo boyfriend move in and deal crack out of her place, without her knowledge. She got 25 years. That was prior to 9/11 when standard sentences for hijacking a plane was 25 years.

This system is so broken.

With the incredibly sophisticated surveillance technology available in I'm of the belief that non violent criminals do not belong in prison. With the astronomical rates of recidivism it rarely provides remedy or restitution. Given that the costs of imprisonment of an individual ranges from state to state widely from $30,000 to $100,000, there is no way home confinement, treatment and rehabilitation, wouldn't be far more economical.

We should follow Norway's lead in this and many other matters IMHO.

http://bravenewfilms.org/blog/19529-michael-moore-cut-t...

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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
32. We saw this years ago...them half way houses charge big monies
and guess who pays...us taxpayers

so...they want it to sustain/grow...its a fucking BUSINESS....

Capitalism gone Mad...
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #32
54. Another important point


While it is true that some cuts in Federal housing programs had occurred under President Carter, it was not until the onset of the Reagan administration that the legitimate role of the Federal government in providing affordable housing for low-income people was challenged and effectively gutted.

Between 1981 and 1986 the federal budget for housing programs was cut from $31 billion to $10 billion per year. During the same period federal tax expenditures in the form of homeowner mortgage interest tax deductions increased from $8.2 billion to $28.6 billion. Only 3% of these tax breaks went to lower income households.

These changes in housing policy have not been reversed through either the Bush-Clinton-Bush Administrations. And whereas in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, a wealth of federal programs generated the development of millions of units of new and rehabilitated low-income housing, todays federal housing budget contains nothing for housing production and is limited to rental vouchers, one-year renewals on the thousands of HUD Section 8 projects whose twenty to thirty year terms are expiring and the HOPE 6 program for the redevelopment of public housing, which often results in a net loss of subsidized low-income units.

These cuts led to a dramatic increase in homelessness which exacerbate all the issues related to personal security and well-being. Quite expectedly more people on the street with no hopes and no social safety net leads to all sorts of criminal activity which is really only the symptoms of the States original sin of shoving people out in the cold with nowhere to go. Once this cycle begins it is very difficult to halt. And the State is there to prey upon the victims they created.

During the Reagan Administration's budget-cutting drive in the 1980's, the federal government also slashed funding for such programs as group homes and outreach for the homeless mentally ill. Many of these folks have now become insitutionalized in the US penal colony.
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #54
78. Conservative ASSHOLES....and they dare talk about Liberalism...Bastids
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #78
81. I think you'll find this is one of the many issues
with truly bipartisan support
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High Plains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
33. So...what do Obama, Hillary, and Edwards have to say about this?
Almost nothing. The Democrats are complicit in the bipartisan "tough on crime" binge.
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donsu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:45 PM
Response to Original message
34. kick - let the pot prisoners out first! talk about injustice


making money off of pot smokers - neo cons are creeps
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #34
49. They're not only creeps, they are unamerican.
Denying others their rights and freedoms. Sick little bastards, I hope they all slither under a rock and stay there. Cold winds blowin in.
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frog92969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #34
52. But don't you know..
marijuana makes you permanently insane, like Charles Manson or Dennis Kucinich?
:sarcasm:

About those neo-con creeps, how many do you think they sold the stuff to in the first place?
DAMN, I need a bong hit!
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NOLALady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #52
70. Permanently insane?
You mean like the decider?
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frog92969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 11:46 PM
Response to Reply #70
86. -\/-
He's made of harder stuff. :freak:
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:39 PM
Response to Reply #34
82. thinking this is all about the neo-cons doesn't help
it means during times of a Dem President people delude themselves into thinking the problem has gone away. The largest expansion of the US prison population occurred under Clinton.

It's a problem in a whole host of areas, people think electing a Democrat means getting a progressive, even though they are accepting monies of the EXACT same people in office as the Republicans do.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
35. Montel had a good program on the prison industry this morning, although
Edited on Mon Jan-21-08 12:49 PM by Uncle Joe
I don't believe they put enough emphasis on the totally ludicrous, nonsensical and Orwellian assumption of waging a "War Against Drugs".

Thanks for the thread, Orwellian_Ghost. :thumbsup:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
36. The prison-industrial complex is a disgrace
How do we explain that a so-called democracy imprisons people at a higher rate than any other country in the world and more than China, India, and Iran combined?
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
37. It's all very deliberate and all very interconnected
I don't have time to write it all out now, but consider the following:

1. Media-induced fear of crime, playing on existing racial prejudices

2. The lack of living wage jobs for blue collar workers, making drug dealing and manufacturing an attractive side business for the financially desperate

3. Drug laws that treat harmless drugs the same as dangerous ones and users the same as gang leaders

4. Mandatory minimums and harsher conditions, popular because of #1

5. Prisons as a source of cheap labor

6. Prisons sited in depressed small towns become a source of employment and allow residents to take out their frustrations on the convicts

7. People being incarcerated in their late teens to be released decades later without ever having held a job or learned any job skills, full of anger at their experience, a perfect source of "recidivism" to keep the system going.

8. Children growing up with one or both parents in prison

9. The money to be made from running private prisons
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radhika Donating Member (563 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #37
59. Item One ($$$$) is the Key
All the other points simply facility that bottom line.
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:48 PM
Response to Reply #37
85. there are no levels of dangerousness
The idea that some drugs are safe and others are unsafe makes no sense and has allowed the drug wars to flourish.

They are collections of chemicals that is all.

If I take a measured amount of clean heroin every day of my life it would be FAR FAR safer than smoking the amount of pot that I do.

Many people already agree that marijuana possession shouldn't lead to jail time but the same people will tell you that cocaine/crack/heroin etc use is ALWAYS bad and ALWAYS undesirable for society.
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ElboRuum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
38. Somehow, I'm not surprised.
Knowing how many laws are on the books to incarcerate people for non-violent crimes as though they were violent, and how a cottage industry has sprung up in the wake of an American population looking to protect itself from every negative influence and action as though premeditated insularism is a right in the Constitution, up there with speech and assembly, this doesn't shock me at all. In fact, it's precisely predictable.

Now, the really interesting question is the following:

Are the plethora of laws such as three-strikes, etc. designed to make this so a result of the lobbying of the prison industry or is the prison industry merely a side effect of a population that values safety and order so much more strongly than freedom to sue for laws of this type?
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #38
45. Lobbying ...
Organizations such as the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA) and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

NCIA is a trade group promoting prison-labor programs where the group benefits from laws that expands private prisons.

ALEC is a whos who of Americas most powerful lobbies, sit on public policy task forces comprised of state legislators.
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Bonobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
39. Some statistics tell it all. This is one of them. Clinton was a big part of this.
Don't take my word for it. It's true. Look it up.
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
40. K&R!
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:22 PM
Response to Original message
43. And Of Course... "Under One God"
:crazy:
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Popol Vuh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
46. First two words that pop into my head
when I hear the term "prison/industrial complex" is: Clinton and Wackenhut.

n/t
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IsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:43 PM
Response to Original message
47. In addition to having the most people in prison, we are also the most christian nation in the world.
You know the right wing Christian just love peace.

:sarcasm:
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 03:45 PM
Response to Original message
48. God bless Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich
The only two that will end the drug war :kick:
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #48
62. kick
:kick:
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pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
50. K&R I have been talking to people about this for years.
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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
53. This is real folks
Not the 'he said she said' of the current primary, because when the dust settles, those fucking prisons will still be there and no elected official will touch 'em. I'm curious, who got the prison guard union endorsement?

I know guys who are unable to vote because of something stupid they did when they were 19 and wasted. Now they have no political voice to wield in changing their circumstances or improving their neighborhoods. Almost like a new jim crow poll tax thingy (although a few of these guys are white as well) to shut out those poor who might not have the same interests as the wealthy.
This is where REAL CHANGE comes into the conversation.

Thank you, OP for this timely reminder.
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NOLALady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #53
73. This is probably why the right to vote was taken away.
If they had a political voice, they would vote the yahoos out of office.
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FlyingSquirrel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:32 PM
Response to Original message
55. Looks kinda like an Al Gore chart...
Edited on Mon Jan-21-08 05:34 PM by FlyingSquirrel
My stepson's dad is about to be in prison, probably March or April. Now granted, he was part of a big ring of people breaking into pharmacies and reselling the stuff on the street. But if he was that big of a danger to society that he needs to be in prison - how come he isn't there NOW? The process is moving so slowly, that we've known he was going to prison over a year ago. (Long before that we figured it would probably happen. But the thing is, it will devastate his 10yo son when he finally does get put away. He's already affected just knowing it's going to occur. And since we didn't have any actual inside information to give the authorities, just our suspicions, our conscience is clear.)

I'm just saying, we're putting people in prison who society could keep an eye on in other ways, and who pose no actual threat to the extent that they should be imprisoned. Few people really want to leave the place where all their family and support resides, so the flight risk is pretty minimal among the vast majority who are in prison for non-violent crimes. And their imprisonment does not only affect them - it affects their family in a big way.
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va4wilderness Donating Member (201 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:38 PM
Response to Original message
57. Thanks! This is eye-opening. nt
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:51 PM
Response to Original message
58. Honored to K&R this.
Land of the free, or at least that's what I'm told.
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
61. If we don't invest in our kids now
Edited on Mon Jan-21-08 06:00 PM by proud patriot
we'll be investing in them later when they are
incarcerated for crimes , pregnant as teens ,
and drooping out of school .

we end up investing more when they are adults then
if we were to invest in them when they are kids .


Why do you think I'm a preschool teacher ? :think:
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
63. I feel so much safer with all the marijuana criminals behind bars.
Maybe they can let out some rapists to make more room for the evil potheads.
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appal_jack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 02:25 AM
Response to Reply #63
90. sad thing is, that seems to be the plan (n/t)
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LeftofU Donating Member (421 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:13 PM
Response to Original message
64. k & r
Thanks
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Dawggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
65. K&R'd earlier but want to keep this near the top.
This is an important issue.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:31 PM
Response to Original message
66. K&R
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ooglymoogly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
67. If you watch a program that comes on almost every night on MSNBC
Edited on Mon Jan-21-08 06:48 PM by ooglymoogly
sometimes after Kieth Olbermann (men behind bars I think) without puking your guts out you will fast realize that our prison system especially in California and in the south is nothing more than a torture chamber for profit. The show bad boys, bad boys whatcha goin to do when they come for you about the folks who fill up the prisons is also very enlightening about the state of the police state in this country. Both of them to condition us to except police brutality for anyone who breaks the draconian laws the drug co's, the tobacco co's and the corporate world through their corporate media have put on our books, will be dealt with without mercy and no further care for your safety in the corrupt prison for profit system.
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Dawggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #67
71. I've seen that shit.
Takes the BP up a notch or two every time.
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debbierlus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
68. Omg. I know it is really bad...This is a EXCELLENT reminder

Horrible.

The context of the statistics, HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. Really brings it home. EXCELLENT.

How many do you think we would free by just making marijuana a misdeameanor?

They are talking about it, in MA
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ThatsMyBarack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 06:49 PM
Response to Original message
69. Painfully disturbing.
Any one of us could end up in prison at any time. :scared:
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duhneece Donating Member (967 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
72. I'm up in Santa Fe right now fighting for treatment vs incarceration
...an increase in funding for Public Defenders...sort of 'piecemeal' legislation, but our NM NAACP adopted some legislative resolutions and I agreed to fight for them. My son is in prison for drug charges; he'd been in counseling and was in line, waiting for a 'bed' at a rehab/treatment center when he slipped, used meth, got caught. Even the judge said he didn't like the mandatory minimums, but had no choice. NM has the greatest number of prisoners in private prisons and I am committed to doing what I can to change that. This War on Drugs is just another war on people.
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me b zola Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 08:18 PM
Response to Original message
74. K&R
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terryg11 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 09:20 PM
Response to Original message
75. excellent information
I was just talking about this the other day, using many of the same talking points you used. It is a multi million dollar industry that is only growing.
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the other one Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 09:49 PM
Response to Original message
76. China does execute for almost anything too.
So it isnt comparing apples to apples.

A pot smuggler in the US gets time, in china he gets taken out and shot.

That doesnt mean you dont raise valid points, and on the whole I agree with the thrust of the argument.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:10 PM
Response to Original message
79. A Kick for a rare Progressive Thread
Don't forget the USAmerikan capitalists who own banks and are also making big bucks laundering drug money.

And the arms manufacturers -- arming the drug gangs who are killing each other and the occasional innocent protecting their bloated profits...

Capitalism is the bottom line evil...
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
83. What would we eat if we didn't have prisons?
It's a fucking crying shame. Too big to stop.
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-21-08 10:47 PM
Response to Original message
84. I predict that this will be the subject of Michael Moore's next documentary
He already hinted at it by the inclusion of the 'Norway' featurette in the "Sicko" DVD.

The statistics alone are alarming - the story behind those statistics should be very interesting indeed.
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Hawkowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-22-08 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
87. Felons can't vote
In most states, especially southern states, felons can't vote. It is a deliberate disenfranchisement of the poor and especially black men and other minorities, which make up a hugely disproportion of the prison population. We live in a police state which locks up anyone without money and power.

Land of the incarcerated and home of the scared shitless (Terror!!! Terror!!!)
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Plucketeer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-22-08 05:06 PM
Response to Original message
89. Calee-fournee-ya
Would rather spend money to keep folks in jail than give them a top-notch education so they can stay out of jail! :crazy:
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
91. One last kick
For any who might want to use these figures for letters or discussions or calls to their representatives.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 07:42 PM
Response to Original message
92. Kick....Thanks for this post and the work put into it...
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