Locked Down Nation: One in Every 31 Adults Now in Corrections System

180px-prison_cellThe Pew Center has released a shocking statistic: one in every 31 adults in the United States is now in the corrections system in jail, prison, probation and supervision. That is over double the rate of 1982 when one in 77 was in the system.

One in 100 is in jail in a rate that retains the position of the United States as the country with the greatest number of people incarcerated. Among the states, Georgia holds the record with one in 13 adults in the justice system. Idaho has one in 18 adults in the system and Texas has one in 22.

When broken down on race, the numbers are equally staggering. Almost ten percent of black adults are in the system while only two percent of white adults.

The financial impact is also enormous with a prison and jail population at 2.3 million in 2008 — a 274 percent increase in 25 years. The costs of this population are grown even above the rate of growth — expanding more than 300 percent in the last 20 years.

For the full story, click here.

57 thoughts on “Locked Down Nation: One in Every 31 Adults Now in Corrections System”

  1. Chris,

    At this point, no. The situation in Mexico is just too dangerous to risk escalation. Prohibition is a proven failure. I see no less destructive remedy than the combination of decriminalization for natural substances combined with regulation and taxation while making the punishments for manufacturing and distributing (but not being addicted to) the harder heavily processed drugs so harsh that it creates actual deterrence. While getting offshore manufactures of cocaine and poppy derivatives would remain an issue, you should see advances against meth manufacturing fairly fast this way as it is a mostly localized phenomena and not as heavily reliant upon imports as the other substances currently are. If you legalize marijuana, that significantly damages the Mexican cartels profit base and helps our tax base, getting us a two for one. Three for one if you count new jobs a new agricultural and distribution channels would create. Four for one if you count lives not risked on escalation battles. Legalizing peyote and/or mushrooms would probably have minimal effects on importing and do limited damage to the Mexicans, but it would remove the ability of the Government to interfere with indigenous religious practices and their use of these substances which I don’t find a bad thing either. Bill Hicks was fond of pointing out that “outlawing a natural substance? Doesn’t that seem a little unnatural? It’s like saying God made a mistake.” And I think that’s where the line should be – natural agricultural products as used by man for thousands of years before industrialization vs. chemically processed poisons with zero personal or societal benefits. But this type of partial legalization is the only winning path I can see that does not create more injustice, more wasted lives or create the truly horrific problems that legalizing hard drugs would create. Make joints $15 a pack for a product that would cost less to grow and the same to package as cigarettes, which is probably less than $.50 per pack. Stipulate that it can only be sold in raw bulk form would be even better and more economical. That’s affordable to those who chose to use and leaves a huge piece of pie for both private profits and, more importantly, tax revenue. Not only do I think it’s the only sane solution at this point, I think it’s the best solution as a cost-benefit analysis.

  2. 6% is fair, but honestly I’d have no issue with up to 10% if the money were properly tasked. The key word there being “properly”.

  3. Gyges:

    I agree if you tax the weed at 4-6% I dont think that would lead to a black market. But we still have moonshine. So I dont think my assumption is incorrect. If we have reasonable taxes such as you propose there probably would not be a black market but they will probably not be reasonable as evidenced by the proposal of $50/oz. that I stated above. So I stand by my initial assumption that too high a tax will lead to a black market and we have the same drug problem.

    If you tax weed farmers on earnings plus the sales tax and social security and medicaid, etc. you are talking about a lot of money. Businesses take taxes into account when pricing their products, consumers pay the corporate taxes, corporations do not.

    So I think you may actually be able to produce it cheaper if it is illegal although you would not get the tax breaks that are available to business.

  4. Chris, Buddha, Bron,

    I support using the health care system because in corporate hands the price will rise and the selling of its’ benefits to the public will be a matter of corporate policy. My assumption would be that government would control prices and it would be available by prescription. I think that you may have missed the end of my post which was:

    “Also it seems to me that legal addicts should face the removal of their children unless they could prove they are competent parents.If your addiction is stronger than your parental feeling you probably aren’t a good parent.

    Finally, this presupposes that we can use the savings and proceeds from taxes to provide treatment, health care for all and a competent,caring child welfare system.”

    First, when I say Health Care System I mean universal health care. Unfortunately, sorry Patty but I think you know what I mean, some physicians are more in it for the money than for giving people care. While I would want physicians to prescribe I also would want to ensure that the assistance of a physician was easy and available.

    To me among the criteria of a dangerously addicted person is precisely someone who would risk losing their children by choosing addiction. My last 6 years of work was establishing and running programs dealing with actual addicts. They taught me much, the best lesson was that you couldn’t trust a word they said and an old pro like me got fooled often.

    Also many users of hard drugs do not become addicts because that is a scary bridge to cross. Many have just satisfied their curiosity and left it at that. Decriminalization might separate the mythology from the facts.

    As to the black market would be cheaper argument, I don’t think so. People deal drugs precisely because they are illegal and therefore there is a high risk/reward factor. Current dealers would move into different lines of illegal behavior. As long as we criminalize certain behavior we will always have criminality. However, the WOD has shown it doesn’t work and continuing to do something that doesn’t and can’t work is crazy.

    I also talked about better funding of treatment and research. The current state of the art addiction treatment has an unacceptably high failure rate, near 80% by some estimates. Research, treatment and information are narrowly proscribed by political considerations that wouldn’t exist under de-criminalization.

    I also covered child welfare because the largest addiction problem in the country is alcohol, despite the flashy and
    self-serving headlines fed to the public on narcotics. A high rate of children of alcoholics are abused and become alcoholics themselves. Child Welfare needs to do more to protect these children and yes unfortunately I can legitimately claim expertise in Child Welfare also.

    I said I could “unfortunately” claim expertize because few know better than me that in the area of addiction and child welfare there are no real experts. The research is tainted by issues of politics and public policy, rather than by the scientific method and has not provided near enough data to really treat either problem. While by all measures used I would be considered an expert in these fields, it is nowhere near analogous to the expertize of JT or other attorneys on this site in the law.

    This is not modesty, this is the truth. I am making guesses that perhaps are informed, but in truth your guesses are as good as mine. Expertize in addiction is often claimed, but is in truth sorely lacking for the reasons I stated above. I think I’m right and in my mind I have a 60/40 shot at being right. But I’m a confident type of guy so my odds may be skewed. However, I’m also an honest guy and so you could be right and I could be wrong. The only thing that I’m absolutely certain about is that the WOD isn’t working, is destructive to our citizens, our legal system and to our LEO’s and we got to do something else.

  5. Buddha,

    I never said black markets can’t be cheaper, just that it’s not safe to base an argument on the assumption that they are.

  6. Gyges,

    You forget people are busted for stealing and selling untaxed cigarettes. I think it may even be a competition sport in New Jersey. That’s an example of an “inverse black market”. The rest of that, I have no issue with.

  7. Bron,

    I’m sorry but your Major premise of a black market being cheaper than a regulated market is flawed, as is your minor premise that people will use the black market simply because it is cheaper. I’ve already explained why. To amend what Buddha said, reasonable taxes and regulations are the key.

    Now if you want to get into a discussion as to what’s reasonable, I think we’re probably a lot closer in opinion than you think.

    I think any tax aimed at a specific industry should be used exclusively to offset the cost of that industry. Reforesting efforts payed for by taxing loggers, automobile and gas taxes going to road construction and maintenance, etc. Other than that it should be taxed at the same rate as whatever the state sales tax is, plus whatever payroll\corporate taxes other companies have to pay.

  8. Bron,

    I think reasonable taxation is the key because you are correct that too high a legal cost would result in another black market arising. But SOME tax is not only a good idea, in the current economy, I think it’s required.

  9. I was. I just think there would be a lot of negative side effects to legalizing all drugs. Drugs like heroin, crack, crystal meth, ecstasy. I wonder if legalizing them would just replace the problems we have with the current “war on drugs” with other problems that are just as serious.

  10. Gyges:

    I think my premise was sound, a free market in currently illegal drugs would lower the price and improve quality. Cars are better than they were in 1965 and computers are certainly better than they were just 5 years ago.

    If the government taxes them there is a possibility for another black market due to higher prices. What is the difference between this and the tax on the beer a few weeks ago?

    I am sure that if it was legal there would be many people competing to sell it, this should drive prices down and quality up.

  11. Sure, I have no issue with that. Some how I scrolled past Mike’s initial post. I’d have been on board had I seen it. My bad.

  12. Im just saying that if i were cracked out, and I had the choice of going to the hospital to get my crack prescription, or going to my drug dealer, i would probably go to my drug dealer. Especially if you were talking about taking my kids away like Mike S. said. As far as weed is concerned, it should be legal. Im talking about real drugs.

  13. Bron,

    My first step is making sure my premise is sound. My second step is talking.

Comments are closed.