Why We Need Prison Reform

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Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by editor » Mon May 02, 2016 8:01 pm

Why We Need Prison Reform:
Victimless Crimes Are 86% of the Federal Prison Population


By Michael Suede, May 18, 2012
(original link: http://mic.com/articles/8558/why-we-nee ... .HNBOFpQ9u )

[Editor's note: The United States prison system is thoroughly Roman. Mosaic/Christian law has no need of prisons, which are an ungodly system of institutionalized slavery, and should be abolished.]

When we talk about the war on drugs, which is increasingly turning into a real war, we often overlook the fact that the "criminals" involved in the drug trade aren't actually violating anyone's rights. When a drug dealer is hauled before a judge, there is no victim standing behind the prosecutor claiming damages. Everyone participating in the drug trade does so voluntarily. However, there are a lot more crimes for which this is also true. Millions upon millions of Americans have been thrown into cages without a victim ever claiming damages. It is important to look at the burden this mass level of incarceration places upon our society.

In light of that, let us review some statistics which demonstrate just how destructive the mass incarceration of victimless criminals has become to our society. The 2009 federal prison population consisted of criminals who committed these crimes:
  • Drugs 50.7%
  • Public-order 35.0%,
  • Violent 7.9%
  • Property 5.8%
  • Other .7%
Drug offenses are self-explanatory as being victimless, but so too are public-order offenses, which also fall under the victimless crimes category. Public order offenses include such things as immigration, weapons charges, public drunkenness, selling lemonade without a license, dancing in public, feeding the homeless without a permit. etc....

The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world. Presently 756 per 100,000 of the national population is behind bars. This is in contrast to an average world per-capita prison population rate of 145 per 100,000 (158 per 100,000 if set against a world prison population of 10.65 million), based on 2008 United Nations population data. In other words, the U.S. incarcerates its citizens at a rate that is 5 times the world average.

In 2008, according to the Department of Justice, there were 7,308,200 persons in the U.S. corrections system, of whom 4,270,917 were on probation, 828,169 were on parole, 785,556 were in jails, and 1,518,559 were in state and federal prisons. This means that the U.S. alone is responsible for holding roughly 15% of all the prisoners in the world.

In other words, 1 in 42 Americans is under correctional supervision. This constitutes over 2% of the entire U.S. population. That percentage jumps up drastically if we limit the comparison to working aged adult males, of which there are around 100 million. Over 5% of the adult male population is under some form of correctional supervision, alternatively stated, 1 in 20 adult males are under correctional supervision in the U.S.

According to 2006 statistics, 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men are behind bars, as are 1 in 15 adult black men. If we limit the data to black males between the ages 20 to 34, 1 in 9 are behind bars. Keep in mind that 86% of those men in federal prisons are there for victimless crimes. They have not stolen any property, damaged any property or harmed anyone directly by their actions. Of course, if you are reading this and live in the U.S., you are paying for all those people to subsist on a daily basis. Roughly 34% of all prisoners in the U.S. are incarcerated for victimless crimes.

In California in 2009 it cost an average of $47,102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in state prison. In 2005 it cost an average of $23,876 per state prisoner nationally. In 2007, $228 billion was spent on police, corrections and the judiciary. That constitutes around 1.6% of total U.S. GDP.

Of course, being the good economists that we are, we must not just look at the cost to incarcerate and police, but also at the opportunity cost to society that putting all those able-bodied men behind bars creates. When a man is put behind bars he is obviously incapable of contributing anything to society. He becomes a complete burden to society while producing nothing in return for the expenses he creates. He becomes a black void of resource destruction. It's important to remember that money's value is directly related to the consumer goods that a society produces. If a society produces nothing of value, the money it uses will also be worth nothing of value. If a huge portion of able-bodied workers is locked behind bars, society is effectively penalized twice: once for the resources that are diverted into the prison industry and it is penalized again for the opportunity cost of the lost labor of those prisoners.

I find some dark humor in the fact that those who engage in victimless crime don't create any real victims until they are put behind bars, at which point they cause the state to steal $47,000 a year from the tax paying public. In our justice system today, victims are victimized twice; once by the perpetrator of the crime against them, and the other by the state which then forces the victim to pay for the punishment of their assailant. Clearly our society's notion of "justice" is logically ridiculous. It's apparently not OK for someone to steal from you, but its perfectly acceptable for the State to steal from you if the state is going to use that money to punish the person who stole from you. What kind of asinine system of justice is that?

What is justice? Isn't justice making a victim whole once again? Isn't justice punishing a criminal for the damages he imposed upon his victims? I propose that the only real justice that can be enacted in a free society is monetary punishment in the form of taking the perpetrators property and handing it to their victim, or ostracism by defamation of character.

I know some people will cry that under such a system violent criminals will be left free to roam the streets, but isn't that what our system is doing now? Consider that if a man commits a violent crime today, he is put behind bars for some arbitrary length of time with hundreds of other violent criminals, after which he is released back on to the streets. Do you think that criminal is going to be more dangerous to society after spending years locked in a cage with other violent criminals or less dangerous? Numerous studies show that prison either increases, or has no impact on, recidivism. Thus, it all comes down to punishment. Isn't being branded a criminal, along with monetary punishment to make a victim whole once again, enough? How difficult do you think your life would be if you were convicted of murder, everyone knew about it and half your assets and income were being handed to your victim's family? The rest of your life would be a living hell.

Putting people behind bars does nothing but squander resources. It deprives society of able-bodied workers and costs society massive amounts of resources which are stolen from the general public through the coercive theft of taxation. Consider how much richer American society would be today if it had an additional 5% of the male population working to produce goods and services in the private sector labor force.

Economist David Friedman has put together a fantastic presentation on how society could be organized in such a way as to eliminate all victimless crime while simultaneously eliminating the necessity of the State to steal from the victims of crimes to pay for their assailants punishment. After you're done watching Friedman's presentation, check out this fantastic comic put together by the Real Cost of Prisons project.

If you are interested in learning more about private law and private defense, listen to this series of essays by economist Robert Murphy and this lecture by economist Hans Hoppe.

The statistics cited in this article can be verified at Drug War Facts.org

Michael Suede
Michael Suede is an Austrian economist and author who holds a business degree from the University of Wisconsin. Michael's articles have appeared in numerous economics publications. Michael is also one of the few economists who is well versed in the economics of voluntary crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. Michael is a veteran of the US Navy and an advocate of voluntarism. Michael authorizes the use of all his content under Public Domain copyright. Any organization or individual may freely republish, edit, modify and distribute Michael's works without restrictions.
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Re: Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by notmartha » Fri May 06, 2016 12:52 pm

editor wrote:[Editor's note: The United States prison system is thoroughly Roman. Mosaic/Christian law has no need of prisons, which are an ungodly system of institutionalized slavery, and should be abolished.]
I agree, that the so called “justice system” today is the furthest thing from the intentions of the Lord. Punishments should be death or restitution to victim or victim's family. depending on the crime. But I would not want this so-called "justice system," with its torture induced confessions, DNA tampering, financial interest, to name a few, having the power to decide. And only people that share the religious belief that the final verdict on a man's life is not given in this life should execute a capital punishment verdict, otherwise execution would be a godlike activity.

I found this interesting:

Romans, Verse by Verse, William Reed Newell, 1938
Concerning Capital Punishment

1. God for His own reasons forbade any human hand to execute Cain, the first murderer. Iniquity increased, and God brought the Deluge.

2. After the Deluge, God announced a complete change of earth’s governmental affairs. In the words of Genesis 9:5 and 6, “Surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man.” God here puts the sword of the magistrate into man’s hand as not before. Furthermore, the “everlasting covenant” with Noah, of which the above quoted words were a part, God said would last “while the earth remaineth” (Gen 8:20-9:7).

3. Under the Law of Moses, 1000 years later, God reaffirmed the governmental duty of punishing murderers with death: “Ye shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer that is guilty of death. For blood, it polluteth the land, and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Num 35:31, 33).

4. Note that in the above quotation, the crime of murder is said by God so to pollute the land, that there can be “no expiation made for a land” for this crime, save by the execution of the murderer.

5. It is said that upwards of 200,000 known man-killers are alive in America. “To realize,” said Judge Kavanagh of Chicago, “the prevalency of this invisible class (murderers at large in the United States), it is only necessary to consider that they are more than we have of clergymen of all denominations, or male teachers in our schools; or all lawyers, judges, and magistrates, put together; and three times the number of our editors, reporters, and writers; and 52,000 more unconfined killers than we have policemen.” Only by the stern carrying out of the command of God regarding the murderer, can this crime be checked.
(In England, where more than 90% of murderers are executed after a fair but speedy trial, even the police do not carry revolvers except by special license!)

6. To claim that it is “not Christian” to execute murderers, is to deny directly Paul’s plain word here in Romans Thirteen, that the magistrate “beareth not the sword in vain,” being “a minister of wrath to him that doeth evil,” and one of whom evil-doers are commanded to be afraid.

7. It is therefore an appalling disservice to home, state, and nation, to call that murder which God has commanded to be done—the execution of shedders of human blood. It is a libel on Christianity to claim that the current anti-capital-punishment cry is Christian. It is not Christian, but rebellion against God. “We suffer,” said the penitent thief to his impenitent companion on the cross, “the due reward of our deeds!” That penitent thief said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me”; and our Lord’s answer, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise,” shows anew the great truth that government in this world, and salvation in the next, are two absolutely distinct things. Only the ignorant confound them.
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Re: Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by editor » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:22 am

When my dad was still alive he asked me once what I thought of capital punishment.

I told him capital punishment is Scriptural, and lawful. Then I went on to say I could never support its legalization in the United States.

Dad was a supporter of capital punishment, and he was apalled I wouldn't support it too. He launched into a plethora of reasons why it was the right thing to do; I'm sure I don't have to list them all for any readers of this site-- burden on society, etc. My dad was one of those guys who really wants people to agree with him, and he was a very persuasive guy.

I listened patiently and respectfully until he was done and, of course, he asked if given all those reasons I'd changed my opinion? I told him he had outlined all or most of the reasons I agreed there ought to be capital punishment, but I still wouldn't support it in the United States. I told him I had only one reason to stack up against his numerous ones, and that only one law might have to be changed for me to reverse my decision.

He took the bait, and asked me to explain.

"Judicial corruption," I told Dad, "is rampant in the United States. Juries are systematically lied to about the extent of their power and authority. Prosecutors are routinely rewarded for getting convictions, without regard to the truth. Police, prosecutors, and judges are all granted unconditional judicial immunity while in the commisions of their offices."

"Go on," Dad said, "what would you change?"

"Reinstate full responsibility for unlawful actions, of everyone, even those in the exercise of official capacity."

I went on, "That means if a witness lies on the stand, and it can be proven, then he's given the punishment that would have been given to the defendant."

"Likewise," I said, "if cop lies on the stand; a prosecutor presents false evidence, or knowingly ignores evidence which would have proven the defendant innocent; a judge gives false or misleading instructions to a jury, knowingly keeps ANY information from a jury, including such things as are routinely hidden now, like the punishment the defendant stands to receive, or allows improper procedure to influence the outcome; if any of those participants are found to have taken a bribe or been in any way enriched by their actions-- they shall receive the punishment intended for the defendant."

"In fact," I said, "I might be in favor of double punishment for government actors in the case of outright bribes or other similar misconduct, because they are in a position of public trust."

"Do that," I told my dad, "and you might change my mind about capital punishment in the United States."
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Re: Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by notmartha » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:10 pm

Did you change your dad's mind? :D
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Re: Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by editor » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:09 am

Hard to say. My dad had a lot of good qualities, and also some substantial eccentricities. He grumbled that he didn't know how I ever got to be so F-ing stubborn. He always hated it when he couldn't change my mind.

Sometimes though, long after the moment had passed, he'd re-think an issue and take up a point of view I had previously argued. Of course by then he thought it had been his idea from the start.

Dad and I got along really well for about the last five years of his life. The change came when I accepted him for who he was, and let go of all the past baggage. I'd sure like to have him back.
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Re: Why We Need Prison Reform

Post by Firestarter » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:48 am

They say that slavery is abolished.
A quarter of all prisoners in the whole world survive in the United States, while the US counts only 5% of the world’s population. In 2008 the US had 7.3 million adults in prison (or penitentiary supervision), about 1 out of 31, making it by far the highest in the world.
The chance that a black man in the US, ends up in jail, is: 32%, for Latino men: 17% and for white men: 6%. There are now more African American men in prison (or in provisional release) than “slaves” in 1850 (the beginning of the civil war).
More than 40 million arrests over the last 40 years were drug-related. In Texas, a person can be sentenced to two years in prison for possession of 4 grams of marijuana. In New York State even 15 years to life for possession of 4 grams of drugs.
A large number of prisoners in the US are victims of the Three Strikes law, giving an extra long imprisonment for a third conviction (usually 25 years to life). This leads to situations like life sentences for crimes such as stealing food.
For a longer story about this “Holocaust in slow motion” (2014): http://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewc ... ontext=jsj

The prisoners in the USA are forced into slave labour for the company Unicor (if they do not work “voluntarily”, they are put in isolation cells). In 2012 they earned 23 cents per hour (for 52, 40-hour work weeks less than 500 dollars.
The US Department of Defense is the biggest “employer” for the prison slave labour, companies that use them, include: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and TWA: http://www.alternet.org/story/151732/21 ... ison_labor

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