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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 11:46 AM
Original message
US GULAG SYSTEM SETS NEW WORLD RECORD FOR NUMBER OF INMATES
New High In U.S. Prison Numbers
Growth Attributed To More Stringent Sentencing Laws

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 29, 2008; Page A01

More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more, according to a report released yesterday.



With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.



The growth in prison population is largely because of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been particularly affected: One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group.



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/02/28/ST2008022803016.html

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the United States of America is The Worlds Worst Prison State:


"In 2004, nearly 7 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at yearend 2004 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 31 adults." - U.S. Department of Justice


http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/correct.htm

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tekisui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Prison Reform should be a priority.
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Obamanaut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. Does "gulag" make it sound more "prisony?" I can't find, on the
DOJ website, a reference to the US gulag system.
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
20. What does "more prisony" mean exactly?
Edited on Wed Mar-11-09 10:40 PM by TBF
"Gulag" is a word used to specifically describe forced labor camps. Start with wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag
and then read the op again and see if it makes sense to you.

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Obamanaut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 05:10 AM
Response to Reply #20
25. The message makes sense, the subject line does not. There
are other sources for definitions besides wiki, and I know how to use them - shucks, I didn't really need to look that one up. "More prisony" is made up, and was used sarcastically, ie, is a place of incarceration (prison) more so if we call it a gulag rather than a prison? There isn't that much "forced labor" in the US prison system. Most of the time spent whilst incarcerated is actually idle. It is more a system of "warehousing" than anything else.

Inasmuch as "gulag" is a Russian word, and we have a perfectly good word for the place where inmates are housed, prison, why not use that word. Often we see writings that seem to be pretentious when using such things as "uber" outrage, "faux" outrage, etc. when there are real English words that convey the same meaning.
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awoke_in_2003 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #25
30. We use gulag
because we do not have one English word that says "forced labor prison". We have the word prison, but it does not imply forced labor.
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. What do you mean by "more so"? I do understand you were
being sarcastic, and that you don't like the OP. "There isn't much 'forced labor' in the US prison system" depends upon how you define "that much" I suppose.

As to word usage the first amendment is still in effect, whether you like it or not.
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Obamanaut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. "More so" as in if we call it a gulag rather than a prison, is one who
is incarcerated more incarcerated than if we call it a prison - hence the made up word prisony.

As to the first amendment and word usage, now don't I feel chastened!
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. "More incarcerated"?
Maybe you should just re-read the sources to the article rather than trying to make fun of it. You might just learn something.
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Obamanaut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #33
39. In all of my posts with the word "more", read into it "enhanced" as
in enhanced penalty for a hate crime. If I bludgeon someone with a baseball bat, and the bludgeonee passes away, enhanced penalties could be imposed due to hateful thoughts I may have had at the time (or that the authorities imagined I had.) You know, Orwellian thought crimes.

So, I guess gulag = enhanced imprisonment, maybe three locks instead of only two - "more" locks.
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. More inmates = greater slave labor pool = increased profit$
Has NOTHING to do with 'keeping the streets safe.'
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
4. more results of those wonderful daze of ronald rayguns
Edited on Wed Mar-11-09 12:07 PM by spanone
the prison system is big business
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duhneece Donating Member (967 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
29. I see 2 parts-one began with Nixon, the Drug War, the other began with Reagan
Nixon wanted the progressive, liberal voice silenced. It happened that many liberal voices experimented with pot and mind-altering acid. Imprisoning these liberals shut them up.

Add to that, the privatization movement under Reagan, in regards to prisons...and the private prison supporters could see that passing mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders could fill up their prisons/pocketbooks.

Ooops, a third thing: the desire to punish those suffering from the disease of addiction, to treat it as a moral lapse instead of a condition that literally changes the brain (though recovery IS possible) instead on providing treatment feeds one's self-righteousness.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. To be fair, in China there's no profit potential to putting you in jail...
since everybody gets paid 50 cents a day over there anyways...

in China they just take you out back and shoot you so that's why their prison population is smaller than ours...

Doug D.
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Documentation?

Or did you just pull that out of your ass?

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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. You apparently don't read the news...
when somebody does something bad over there they get executed.

If anyone needs to pull something out of their ass it's you.. pull your head out...
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Wednesdays Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I'm backing Blindpig up on this one
Outside of propaganda news stories, is there an aggregate study on this?
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Yes, of course, I accept everything the MSM disgorges

without any context, analysis or vetting.

Bet you accepted their drivel in 2002 too.
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anaxarchos Donating Member (963 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. You might want to pull yours out first.
There isn't much room left with all the fairy tales you've shoved up in there.

Amnesty International, World: 2007 Death Penalty statistics, notes and case studies
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/014/2008/en/4e7803a1-057a-11dd-aef9-cb72426d610c/act500142008eng.html

In 2007, the highest number of confirmed executions per country, in descending order, were:

CHINA 470
IRAN 317
SAUDI ARABIA 143
PAKISTAN 135
USA 42
IRAQ 33
VIET NAM 25
YEMEN 15
AFGHANISTAN 15

Those countries represented more than 90% of the executions worldwide.

As a function of population, the Chinese death penalty rate is about 2.5 times as high as the U.S., but the U.S. imprisonment rate is 15 times higher.

To your "point", the difference in capital punishment rates is statistically insignificant in relation to imprisonment rates, being 4 orders of magnitude smaller.

Try again...



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DrCory Donating Member (862 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 06:55 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. No one really knows...
How many folk are in the Laogai, and central government isn't saying either.
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anaxarchos Donating Member (963 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. No one knows...
..if they listen to Harry Wu or the Falun Gong. According to the BBC (hardly pro-China), in 2006:

His (Harry Wu's) estimates of the total number of inmates have ranged from four million to 20 million. But many believe the true figure today to be around two million - which is fewer than the number behind bars in the United States.

As for using "slave labour" to conquer the world's markets, prison goods are in fact thought to play a very minor role in China's exports - if only because their quality is too low. While some prison officers may be lining their own pockets, the system as a whole runs at a loss.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4515197.stm

In fact, even the BBC number is dated. The UN says 1 million while Amnesty's estimate is just a bit higher.

Believe what you like but the OP is correct and can't be refuted by "No one really knows..."

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DrCory Donating Member (862 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 04:54 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. Just To Be Clear...
I'm more inclined to believe Harry Wu and the LRF rather than western sources. What information do they rely on to compile their estimates? Central government? "No one really knows..." is not a refutation, it is a statement of fact. Also, up to this point, the Laojiao hasn't been mentioned but certainly bears consideration.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #8
36. so how many people does china execute in a given year...?
an experienced and uber-educated newsreader like yourself MUST have the answer to that...? :shrug:
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 04:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
15. If China imprisoned 1 out of every 31 citizens, it would have 43 million folk in prison
China's got fewer than 2 million in prison. According to your view, the other 41 million have been executed. They're executing about 500 people a year: executing 41 million at that rate would take about 80 thousand years -- even if they were executing 100,000 a year, it would take them 400 years to execute that many people
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #5
18. To be fair we sorta do that in Texas too. Just sayin' ...
particularly if they are black or hispanic.
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
6. This is a crying shame...

Who says we're not a police state?
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. Those who seek to distance themselves (and the public mind) from unpleasant truths
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 10:42 PM
Response to Reply #10
21. And those who deny because they make a profit doing so.
Good to see you, Echo.
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anaxarchos Donating Member (963 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
13. There is a very obscure and hugely important paper on...
... the manipulation of public polls and the "crime" issue in the 1960's to create this unending atrocity. It is written by Dennis Loo and Ruth-Ellen Grimes, who are Sociology Professors at California State Polytech. It is called Polls, Politics, and Crime: The "Law and Order" Issue of the 1960s, available here:

http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v5n1/loo.htm

From the abstract:

"This article examines how the false impression of high public crime concerns was created in the 1960s. Our findings challenge the idea that the public conflated race and crime and the idea that public sentiment is either solely or primarily responsible for the harsher turn in the U.S. criminal justice system since the 1960s.3 We argue that the 1960s' crime issue was a social construction - a moral panic - initiated and fostered by conservative elites in an effort to counter the gains made by the 1960s' social insurgencies."

In truth, U.S. crime rates have not changed much since the 1930s, and have proven to be completely independent of the Crime and Punishment system.

The prisons are about somethin' else, entirely.



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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. " The prisons are about somethin' else, entirely."
Edited on Wed Mar-11-09 05:39 PM by Orwellian_Ghost
Convict Lease System: 1870s to 1930s


If slavery is the grandparent of todays PIC, then the convict lease system is its parent. Although defeated in the war, Southern plantation owners still needed cheap labor and a way to divide the growing alliances between poor people of color and whites. Their answer was the Black Codes, a set of laws which criminalized African-American existence. Everyday activities of Blacks like standing on a street corner were deemed criminal. Additionally, sentences for other "crimes" were extended for African-Americans. Finally, those convicted served their sentences doing manual labor for counties, the state or private companies.

The system actually proved to be more cost-effective for owners than slavery. Since companies paid for a mass of convict workers, rather than individual slaves, the death of one of the prisoners did not affect profits. A new convict would replace a dead worker without economic impact on the company. This system also created a population that could be used to beat down worker resistance. As the Tennessee miners strike of 1891 showed, employers would not hesitate to use convict labor to break strikes.

Learning Lessons from History: 1960s to Present


The state (e.g. police, military and the criminal injustice system) and its laws serve those who own societys wealth and run the society. But it is the race, class and gender interests of the time that determine what form the control will take. For example, at a time when people of color were defined by law as being less than human, slavery was considered appropriate. The form of social control changes over time, but its essential nature remains the same. Although it has been about 70 years since the convict leasing system was abolished, we still live with its legacy. Its essential qualities criminalizing a targeted population, undermining worker strength and subsidizing cheap labor for private corporations exist today in the prison-industrial complex.

<snip>

http://www.projectsouth.org/resources/pic2.html

Historical Perspectives on Prisons, Slavery, and Imperialism

It is important to recall that many of the first settlers of the "New World" were actually British, Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Dutch convicts sold into indentured servitude. Selling "criminals" to the companies exploring the Americas lowered the cost of maintaining European prisons (since they could remain relatively small), enabled the traditional elite to rid themselves of potential political radicals, and provided the cheap labor necessary for the first wave of colonization. Indeed, as detailed in both Peter Linebaugh's The London Hanged and A. R. Ekirch's Bound for America, there is a strong historical relationship between the need for policing the unruly working classes, fueling the military and economic needs of the capitalist class, and greasing the wheels of imperialism with both indentured servants and outright slavery.

An early US example of this three-pronged relationship occurred in Frankfurt, Kentucky in 1825. Joel Scott paid $1,000 for control of Kentucky's prison labor to build roads and canals facilitating settler traffic westward into Indian lands. After winning this contract, Scott built his own private 250-cell prison to house his new "workers." In a similar deal in 1844, Louisiana began leasing the labor of the prisoners in its Baton Rouge State Penitentiary to private contractors for $50,000 a year. California's San Quentin prison illustrates this same historical link between prison labor and capitalism. In 1852, J.M. Estill and M.G. Vallejo swapped land that was to become the site of the state capital for the management of California's prison laborers. These three antebellum examples are not typical of pre-Civil War labor arrangements, however. The institution of slavery in the South and the unprecedented migration of poor Europeans to America in the North provided the capitalist elite with ample labor at rock bottom prices. This left prison labor as a risky resource exploited by only the most adventurous capitalists.

Prison labor became a more significant part of modern capitalism during Reconstruction because the Civil War made immigration to America dangerous, left the U.S. economically devastated, and deprived capitalism of its lucrative slave labor. One of the responses to these crises was to build more prisons and then to lease the labor of prisoners, many of whom were ex-slaves, to labor-hungry capitalists.

Burdened with heavy taxes to meet the expenses of rebuilding the shattered economy, and committed to the traditional notion that convicts should, by their labor, reimburse the government for their maintenance and even create additional revenue, the master class, drawing on its past experience with penitentiary leases, reintroduced a system of penal servitude which would make public slaves of blacks and poor and friendless whites.
-- J.T. Sellin

<snip>

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/hisprislacap.html

A new American slave trade is booming, warn prison activists, following the release of a report that again outlines outrageous numbers of young Black men in prison and increasing numbers of adults undergoing incarceration. That slave trade is connected to money states spend to keep people locked up, profits made through cheap prison labor and for-profit prisons, excessive charges inmates and families may pay for everything from tube socks to phone calls, and lucrative cross country shipping of inmates to relieve overcrowding and rent cells in faraway states and counties.

Advocates note that the constitutions 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exceptionin cases where persons have been duly convicted in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment, they add. The majority of prisoners are Black and Latino, though they are minorities in terms of their numbers in the population.

According to One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, published by the Pew Center on the States, one in nine Black men between the ages of 20-34 are incarcerated compared to one in 30 other men of the same age. Like the overall adult ratio, one in 100 Black women in their mid-to-late 30s is imprisoned.

Everyone is feeding off of our down-trodden condition to feed their capitalism, greed and lust for money..."


The chain gang was re-established in 1995. Becoming one of the first convicts in perhaps a half-century to break rocks, William Crook, 28, of Gadsden, Ala., takes a swing with his 10-pound sledge hammer. Shortly after sunrise, 160 inmates at the Limestone Correction Facility marched a half-mile in leg irons from their dormitories to the rock pile.

Prison watch groups note corporate-owned prisons feed job-starved communities where businesses have disappeared. By incarcerating so many people, America deals with warehousing them and not finding out why they are incarcerated in the first place, advocates said.

<snip>

http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_4475.shtml

Any thoughts on the above articles?



Advocates note that the constitutions 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exceptionin cases where persons have been duly convicted in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment.
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anaxarchos Donating Member (963 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 12:05 AM
Response to Reply #17
23. My thought is...
...that we haven't even begun to fully understand how important this "system" has been or has become.

It was certainly a pillar of Jim Crow and remains a significant bar to voting rights to this day. Next to economic equality, it is the most significant prop to racial division.

Autorank used to have a paper on his website that scrupulously calculated the impact of felony disenfranchisement on elections. The short story is that not a single Republican Congressional majority or Presidential election within the last 30 years would have been possible without it.

There is the budgetary impact of all this and the fact that the cost of the "Corrections System" has passed that of public education in many states.

There is the private prison/slave labor story you tell above.

There was a jerry-mandering scandal in Upstate New York a few years ago, where prisoners from NYC were incarcerated up North and were used to establish Congressional Districts where they could not vote... and it was not a few.

There is the story of the use of this system to dismantle the upsurge of the 1960s, which Loo's paper only begins to talk about.

But the most amazing thing is that all you have to do is to mention "prisons", and people start talking about some kind of bullshit "morality"... about how "we" should or shouldn't do this or that.

The fuckin' thing is invisible... Godzilla in a trench coat.

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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
14. 'The Perpetual Prisoner Machine, How America Profits from Crime'
-by Joel Dyer

If you come across this book it's worth reading. A bit dated (2000) but makes an excellent case for the Prison Industrial Complex CREATING, through the M$M, a belief that crime is rampant > something must be done > lobbyists tell elected officials Americans want something done about crime > legislation happens. Wash, rinse, repeat.

http://www.amazon.com/Perpetual-Prisoner-Machine-America-Profits/dp/0813338700/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236797349&sr=8-1
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-11-09 05:01 PM
Response to Original message
16. "And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free..."
:sarcasm:
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #16
28. Oo, magic thinking! nt
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
26. Could this be the freedoms, the terrorists hate us for?
:shrug:

Thanks for the thread, Orwellian Ghost.
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
27. I thought prisons were for free labor for Big Business. They're the
people who take our credit card information over the phone, aren't they?
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #27
34. I'm not convinced that inmates provide labor on any other services on a
significant scale, anywhere near to the amount of money they cost taxpayers through huge state corrections departments and private prison companies.
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 01:33 PM
Response to Original message
35. one in 100 adults incarcerated, and one in 50 children homeless,
http://www.familyhomelessness.org/


the power of pride!
:sarcasm:
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #35
42. That is a stunning statistic. n/t
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RedCappedBandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
37. Land of the free...
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 02:37 PM
Response to Original message
38. And yet, there are still a lot of criminals running around loose who really should be locked up.
It seems that some people get imprisoned for (what I see as) minor offenses such as drugs, while dangerous criminals often get released back into society and reoffend.

There is more complexity to this problem than simply having too many people incarcerated. The problem is that the USA doesn't care what makes children grow up to become criminals, and the USA doesn't care what will make criminals turn their lives around.
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libodem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #38
40. yeah, Bernie Madoff
sittin around his 7 million dollar penthouse
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. I think they finally have incarcerated him too (as of this morning - I believe
Edited on Thu Mar-12-09 04:30 PM by TBF
I saw that in the times). The ruling class is always willing to eat their own as well, assholes that they are.
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