Archive for July, 2013

Further punishment

July 13, 2013

It’s a statistic I have used before: We have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s imprisoned.
We apparently are willing to pay the price to make sure that they go back to prison. The cost is already staggering. California has been ordered to cut the overpopulation of its prisons to ONLY 135% of capacity. Other states are not far behind. Although figures vary from state to state, the minimum figure for incarcerating a person for one year that I have found is $25,000, and this is under conditions that Human Rights Watch have found to be inhumane.
Now let’s examine why the government apparently wants to have the people who have committed crimes return to prison.
It is generally accepted that re-integration into the community is necessary to minimize general recidivism. If a person has food, shelter and a support system, they are far more likely to re-integrate successfully and far less likely to commit other crimes. Do we want less crime? Of course we do! Then why do we treat former felons in such a way as to assure that the maximum number of them turn to crime in order to survive?
In the 2007 ban on drug felons receiving food stamps, the states were allowed to opt out of the ban. Some did, some did not. So what were the results of this?
The results were as one might expect. In those states where the food stamp ban was instituted, general recidivism increased. That’s right, because they could not get food stamps, drug felons resorted to illegal methods to get food. In states where the food stamp ban was not instituted, general recidivism of drug felons decreased.
Now we are discussing doing the same thing again, but this time with a more dangerous set of criminals. We are discussing doing this without allowing the states to opt out of the ban. Do we really want to see an increase in murder, rape, illegal drug use, robbery and child molestation? Do we want to see the members of the families of these former felons suffer?
I don’t think it’s a good use of our tax dollars to discourage re-integration of former offenders by removing food stamps for those who need them, not when the likely consequences are so devastating. This ban increases crime, which may affect any of us. We may then look at increased court costs. And we will certainly still be feeding the recidivist, but at a much higher cost in prison.
Is this a wise ban? No.
Write to your congressional delegation. Let them know that they are being “penny wise and pound foolish.” In other words, let them know you don’t want more crime at the cost of a few dollars in food stamps.

To contact your Senator, go to http://www.senate.gov and to contact your Representative go to http://www.house.gov . Thank you for those who take a few minutes to contact their congressional delegation. Please feel free to share this blog.

And then they came for the transgendered.

July 6, 2013

I recently received an email which was entitled “then they came for the transgendered”. It immediately caught my attention.

Here is the main body of the email:

“First migrants and recent immigrants were rounded up from Greece’s streets and forced into internment camps.Then they threw the drug users in. Next came the sex workers, forcibly HIV tested, publicly humiliated, and imprisoned.

Now they’re coming for transgender men and women — and the list of “undesirables” just keeps longer.

Operation Zeus is a cleansing campaign targeting and imprisoning the most vulnerable members of Greek society, accompanied by spikes in racism, gender hate and homophobia.

There are now at least 5,000 people languishing in these hellholes simply for existing — and this month, while warning trans* men and women to “return to normal” or else, the Greek government announced that camp capacity is about to double.

We call on the EU member states to put the pressure on Greece now to stop this abhorrent cleansing campaign now. We can still save the people persecuted under Operation Zeus — but we can’t afford to stay silent for long!

PETITION TO EU MEMBER STATES: We cannot afford to sit by while another European country rounds up “undesirables” and imprisons people in camps simply for existing. Let the Greek government know it must release these people now.”

 

 

I look at what my country is doing. It imprisons over 2.2 million of it’s own citizens. That’s over one quarter of the total number of people imprisoned all over the world. That includes Russia, China and Iran. We imprison illegal aliens. We imprison drug users. We imprison sex workers. We imprison young men accused of “terrorism” for making a joke in poor taste on social media. People advocate for internment camps for “undesirables”, usually those on the sex offender registry, all without recognition of the possibility that they may have been convicted of misdemeanors, which are, by definition, minor crimes.

Meanwhile, police in some places are out of control. They shoot kittens in front of small children, break into people’s homes without warrants, arrest people for filming (via cell phones) their activities, and do other things no officer should do. If you have the stomach for it, go to youtube or any petition site and search “police abuse”.

I believe that the country I grew up in is turning into a police state. It shows all the hallmarks of that regrettable trend now. We spy on our own people. See above for the imprisonment statistics, which only cover one third of the number of those under state control via supervised release, some for life. We make lists which require people who no longer qualify for such supervision to report to the police every time their information changes, and not just for sex offenders any more. Now it is for drug users and other “dangerous criminals”. Rehabilitation seems no longer to be the goal. Now eternal punishment seems to be the desired effect.

States have been told that they must reduce their prison populations or risk being held in contempt of the Supreme Court. Jails in this country have been compared – unfavorably! – to jails in Iran and other countries with bad human rights records.

So sign the petition for Greece, if you wish. But keep in mind that the United States of America is in danger of becoming the same thing. It is on that road. Next year, there will be a march on Washington DC to End Mass Incarceration. I’d suggest you join. It is not just your future, but that of your children as well that is in danger. Don’t say “It’s not my problem, I’m not one of them.”

Neimoller said that until at last they came for him. Then there were none left to protest.


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