American Justice System: Part 2
American Justice System Facts and Statistics
- The United States holds five percent of the world’s population but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s total prison population- 2.3 million Americans incarcerated; 3.7 million on probation; 840,000 on parole.
- At the end of 2012, there were around 1.35 million people incarcerated in state prisons; 217,800 in federal prisons; and 744,500 in local jails.
- 10.6 million jail admissions each year.
- 630,000 locked up in local jails at any given time; 70 percent are waiting for their cases to go to trial. Most will waive their right to trial by pleading guilty to a lesser offense, an offense they may not have even committed.
- 1 in 5 prisoners incarcerated is for drug offenses: 456,000 for possession, trafficking or some other nonviolent drug offense.
- Police make more than one million drug possession arrests each year.
- One year: the average sentence for 66,000 prisoners whose most severe crime being drug possession.
- About half of the federal prisoner population is locked up for drug offenses.
- 91 percent of Americans say our criminal justice system needs repair; 71 percent of Americans support mass prison incarceration reform, including 87 percent democrats; 67 percent of independents; and 57 percent republicans.
- 200,000 inmates suffer from mental illness.
- Over 70 percent of inmates are illiterate.
- 60-80 percent of inmates suffer from substance abuse.
- 40 percent of inmates suffer from both a mental illness and drug addiction.
- These classes of humans: illiterate, mentally ill, drug-addicted, do not fit into the ridged, conformist, puritanical, culturally ideological, American structure of society; rather than cure the disease of society that causes these classes to exist, our society turns to incarceration as a short-term, simple solution.
- Four percent: 1 in every 25 defendants sentenced to the death penalty in the United States are found to be innocent (National Academy of Sciences).
- There are 1,719 state prisons; 102 federal prisons; 901 juvenile correction centers; and 3,163 local jails, military prisons, and immigration detention centers. This brings the total to over 5,885 incarceration institutions compared to just 4,298 degree-granting colleges as of 2017-2018. (According to the National Center for Education Statistics there are 1,626 public; 1,687 private non-profit; 985 for-profits).
The rate of incarceration in a nation is determined by the number of inmates per every 100,000 residents of the country, which includes inmates that are locked up in jails and prisons; people held in pre-trial awaiting their charges/conviction; people that have been sentenced and are held in jail.
- From 1970-2015, the U.S. incarceration rate increased by 700 percent (1970: 196,000; 1980: 500,000; 2015: 2.4 million)
- United States incarceration rate increased by 12 percent per year between 1970-2000.
- Reagan, 1980- Prison population: 329,000; eight years later: 627,000.
- Most prisoners held in state prison are incarcerated for committing a violent crime.
- Some states enacted legislation to reduce their prison population; subsequently increased their jail population to compensate.
- The U.S. incarceration rate is at its lowest rate since 1996, at the height of crime in the 1990s.
- The U.S. incarceration rate went from 221 inmates per 100,000 citizens in 1980, to 762 inmates per 100,000 citizens in 2008. The 1920s-1970s remained relatively steady at 100 inmates per 100,000 citizens. The Civil Rights and Counter Culture movements of the 1960s encouraged the rampant and panicky United States government, spearheaded by Richard Nixon, to infringe on American rights and freedoms by beginning the War on Drugs.
- The U.S. incarcerates 696 people per every 100,000 residents.
- 32 states have a higher incarceration rate than the highest incarcerated country: El Salvador: 618 per 100,000.
Incarceration Rates by Country
- England/Wales: incarcerates 142 inmates per 100,000 citizens.
- France: 102 per 100,000
- Germany: 77 per 100,000
- Italy: 85 per 100,000.
- El Salvador: 618 per 100,000
- Turkmenistan at 583 per 100,000
- Cuba: 510 per 100,000
- Thailand: 472 per 100,000
- Russia: 453 per 100,000
- Rwanda: 434 per 100,000
- Brazil: 324 per 100,000
- Saudi Arabia: 197 per 100,000
States with Highest Incarceration Rate
- Washington D.C: 1,196 per 100,000
- Oklahoma: 1,079 per 100,000
- Louisiana: 1,052 per 100,000
- Mississippi: 1,039 per 100,000
- 34 states have reduced prison pop since peak in 2007 (peak prison population: 800 per 100,000 working age adults).
- “Since the official beginning of the War on Drugs in 1982, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S. skyrocketed from 40,900 in 1980 to 450,345 in 2016.” –The Sentencing Project
- At the current pace, it will take 149 (the year 2166) years for incarceration rate to fall to pre-1970s levels.
The rate of crime in a nation directly correlates with the standard of education and the rate of poverty. As education increases and improves, the rate of poverty decreases; but as poverty increases, so, too, does the rate of crime. The economic and political circumstances that leads toward greater levels of inequality and poverty for millions of Americans within the United States is a result of a more corrupt, subtle, and a far more damaging level of crime that often goes unreported and unrecognized: The white-collar crime from politicians in Washington D.C. and from the business executives on Wall Street- who conspire to manipulate the public political system for their private profit- are responsible for Americas worst financial disasters, and represent the greatest threat to the majority of the population who may never even come into direct contact with these entitled aristocratic classes, but may feel the effects of their corruption if and when their greed becomes too much for our social, political and economic system to control, i.e. the Great Recession of 2008.
American crime rates are determined by the level of the more visceral blue-collar violent crime of theft, burglary, robbery, and other crimes of poverty, as these coincide with the resources available in and surrounding poor communities. This type of crime is associated with the racial minorities, the poorest and least educated among our population who often commit crime out of desperation for survival. But the same criminal behavior occurs at a far greater scale in the corporate, business sector with white-collar crimes that extort and manipulate the financial and political system for the benefit of corrupt politicians and corporations- many of whom escape paying American taxes- while the government provides them with streams of tax breaks and taxpayer-funded subsidies (free money paid for by American taxpayers).
Americans allow the mainstream media, politicians, and corporations to dictate and control the direction of the culture and the economy by falling for their rhetoric and propaganda, which turns our friends, family, and neighbors with different social and political ideologies into ignorant and naive enemies that must be stopped. Rather than as unique, individual human beings with their own set of personal beliefs and ideas, people become an external projection of our unconscious mind- classified not by their name or character- but by their political party, which requires conformity and discourages original and novel thought.
As the average American tears down the fabric of the nation from within, over these arbitrary, dogmatic, egocentric political ideologies, the white-collar corporate and political criminals continue to suck up and hoard material and financial resources in order to sell it back to the larger middle class and poor population, who must fight to regain and retain enough wealth to sustain their rights and freedoms as American citizens, which continues to dwindle as self-interested politicians take from the poor to give to the rich.
Contrary to the lies of a crime epidemic that politicians and the mainstream media dispel on a daily basis, the crime rate has been steadily declining in the United States for decades; in fact, the crime rate has fallen for 14 of the last 15 years, beginning with a downward trend that started in the early 1990s. Across the United States, the crime rate fell 30 percent from 1991 to 2001; from 2001 to 2012 the crime rate dropped by an additional 22 percent. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that 2017 had the second-lowest crime rate since 1990. Over this period from 1991 to 2017, the rate of violent crime decreased from 747 per 100,000 in 1993; to 382 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2017.
Drop in the Crime Rate from 1991 to Today
- Crime peak’s in 1991 at 5,856 crimes per 100,000 people; rate drops to 2,857 crimes per 100,000 people in 2016.
- Violent Crime: 716 violent crimes per 100,000 in 1991; 366 per 100,000 in 2016.
- Murder Rate: 9.8 murders per 100,000 in 1991; 5.3 murders per 100,000 in 2016.
- Crime Rate in Americas 30 Largest Cities: 10,244 crimes per 100,000 in 1991; 3,702 crime per 100,000 in 2016, a 63.9 percent decline. Large American cities often skew the national violent crime and murder rate in what has been a national decline in crime over the past 25 years.
Since 1991, the rate of violent crime in the United States has decreased by 20 percent, but the number of people in jail has increased by 50 percent. This is the result of our archaic and draconian ‘tough on crime’ laws, the War on Drugs, the ’three strikes’ law, and mandatory minimum prison sentences, which function by locking up fewer criminals for longer sentences in order to compensate for the drop in crime.
Private prison corporations hire corporate lobbyists and pursue politicians to bribe and manipulate public political policies that incarcerate large amounts of American citizens for long periods of time, many of whom are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses- which are convicted at a higher rate as violent crimes decrease- especially among minorities. This keeps a steady stream of human beings flowing into state, federal, and private prisons, which sustains private prison industry profits, maintains government control of ancient laws over the American population and allows the prison industrial complex- the corporations and industries that benefit financially from human incarceration- to increase their profits even during this period with a drop in the crime rate.
The key metric within the decrease in the rate of crime is the rate of recidivism among convicted criminals upon being released from jail or prison. Recidivism is the rate at which formerly incarcerated human beings are likely to re-offend and be locked up a second or even a third time. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, within three years of release about two-thirds (67.8%) of prisoners are rearrested; within five years of release, three-quarters (76.6%) of prisoners are rearrested (from a 2005 study). Of those prisoners who are rearrested, more than half (56.7%) are arrested by the end of the first year.
In a society, in a sovereign nation, with a government that proposes and demands mass incarceration as the primary method of rehabilitation, this high rate of recidivism represents the most blatant failure of a corrupt system that prioritizes profit over function, success, and effectiveness. The higher the rate of recidivism, the greater the failure, and the higher the cost, both economic and social, that our country must suffer before any meaningful change occurs.
Racial Disparity in Incarceration
- Racial minorities make up 70 percent of the total U.S. prison population.
- African Americans makeup just 12 percent of the total U.S. population but account for 33 percent of the total prison population.
- Hispanic Americans makeup 16 percent of the U.S. population but account for 23 percent of the total prison population.
- Racial minorities are incarcerated in state and federal prisons across the United States at higher rates than white Americans, with African Americans landing in prison at more than five times the rate of white people. In states such as Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin, African Americans are incarcerated at ten times the rate as white Americans, even though these states are predominantly white.
- African Americans represent more than half of the prison population in 11 states.
- Chance of being incarcerated at some point in life: 1 in 3 chance for African American men; 1 in 6 chance for Latino men; 1 in 23 chance for white men.
- 1 in 9 African American men under age 25 lives under some form of restrained liberty: prison, jail, parole, probation.
- Incarceration rates: 2,306 per 100,000 for African Americans; 450 per 100,000 for Whites.
- Since 2005, African American incarceration rates have dropped 30 percent in urban and 22 percent in suburban areas (Vera Institute of Justice).
- White jail population doubled nationally between 1990-2013; a result of greater poverty among whites, especially after the Great Recession; also from an increase in opioid addiction and related crimes).
- According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a black person is nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than a white person, despite the rate of marijuana use between the two races being approximately the same.
- The rate of illicit drug use among African and white Americans is similar, but the rate of imprisonment is six times higher for African Americans according to the NAACP.
- In 2000, there were approximately 791,600 African American men in prisons and jails; that same year, there were 603,032 African American men enrolled in higher education.
The racial disparity in the prison incarceration rate is exacerbated by ideological political parties that, with the help of the mainstream media, disseminate lies over the American population to feed into the false racial narrative that minorities are responsible for the majority of crime and law-breaking behavior. The evidence suggests that drug use and criminal behavior are committed by all racial classes at similar rates, but minorities make up the majority of criminal arrests and convictions, as these classes possess less legal rights and wealth to fight off prosecution compared to more established white Americans.
The increase in economic inequality and poverty over the past 50 years disproportionately affects immigrant and minority communities, who suffer from a lack of social, educational, and economic resources that discourage the types of criminal behavior associated with poor communities. The greater the educational and economic resources within a community, the greater the opportunities to escape from the patterns of behavior that lead towards crime and the vicious circle of incarceration and recidivism.
White people are poor, too, but when the media and politicians frame the narrative around race and social progress, poor, uneducated white Americans may be manipulated into believing that they are poor, not because politicians take their money to give to corporations and the already wealthy, but because marginalized minorities are less poor and possess more rights than in the past. This is a common strategy used throughout American history among the mainstream media, corporations, and politicians- those with the illusion of power and control over our democracy. When their greed refuses to allow for reasonable and rational behavior, they crash the economy and turn to the government for a taxpayer-funded bailout.
Rather than accept the blame, the politicians, mainstream media, and corporations turn the poor whites and the poor minorities against one another through the lens of sociopolitical debate, republican vs. democrat; but the integration and expansion of American politics into American social life accelerates the conflict even further, as a persons political and social beliefs, their ridged and dogmatic ideology, becomes their adopted tribe, and their adopted tribe becomes their whole identity. When human beings lose their individual identities in order to become absorbed within an arbitrary, ideological political party, they are more likely to abandon logical and rational thinking and behavior, and more likely to believe that truth is a subjective opinion rather than an objective fact that applies to the whole of society.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Amendment IV. December 15, 1791.
Social and Economic Cost of Mass Incarceration
- American taxpayers spend $13.6 billion every year on detaining people in local jails who have yet to be convicted of a crime (Prison Policy Initiative).
- A study from Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law in 2016 found that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison population, roughly 576,000 people, is incarcerated with no compelling public safety reason (the majority of them non-violent drug offenders). Community service, probation, medical treatment or some other form of punishment found to not only be adequate for these lawbreakers but economically just. If released, it could result in $20 billion savings per year- $200 billion savings over 10 years- which is enough to employ 270,000 new police officers; 360,000 probation officers; or 327,000 teachers.
- The United States government (taxpayers) spend $80 billion on incarceration every year. Free college for every student would cost taxpayers $70 billion. (the discretionary budget for the U.S. Department of Education is $68 billion, with cuts increasing every year).
Mass incarceration of human beings not only puts a massive economic burden on American taxpayers, who must fund the expansion of old prisons and the construction of new; pay for the cost of locking up each of the 2.3 million inmates; and also maintain the cost of the entire prison industrial complex machine, i.e. court system and the police force; mass incarceration also functions by destabilizing families in poor and minority communities, who must maintain a steady income with one or both parents in jail or prison, many of whom are locked up for non-violent drug offenses.
Studies show that up to 75 percent of formerly incarcerated men and women are still unemployed one year after release. This is due to the stigma placed by society, government, schools, banks, and employers on those with a criminal record, which not only prevents them from maintaining a steady income to provide for their family by reintegrating back into and contributing to society- which is the governments feigned purpose of incarceration as a form of rehabilitation- but also prevents released prisoners in some states from participating in democracy, as their right to vote is revoked.
The modern American prison system does little, if any, to rehabilitate human beings, which is not a surprise when looking into the treatment of prisoners and the state of prison facilities. In most cases, incarceration increases the risk of recidivism and may even encourage nonviolent drug offenders to commit more crime upon release as their social, community, family and economic standing is damaged from incarceration, selling drugs may be the easiest avenue to find a stable source of revenue. If formerly incarcerated people enter into the same poor, crime-ridden community that they left, it is no wonder if they fall back into the same criminal behavior that leads them to incarceration in the first place.
The deterioration of many major cities is a result of American political policies, which cut social and medical services that primarily benefit the poor and middle class, combined with an increase in the number of people cramped into poor and minority communities, who must fight over the remaining resources, goods, and services, which continue to increase in cost due to economic inflation (the increase in the cost of goods and services over time). The increase in the rate of crime since the 1970s coincides with the increase in economic inequality since the same period. Economic inequality and high levels of poverty are the greatest determiners of crime, as evidenced in poor/minority communities when compared to wealthier communities that possess the economic, social, and educational resources to prevent high levels of criminal behavior.
Poverty generates a constant feeling of anxiety, vulnerability, and worry. For the old and established industries and corporations that manipulate the political and financial system for their individual profit, poverty becomes a business. For these corporations and the American government, the poverty-stricken lower classes of the country represent a particular market to be exploited and manipulated for their own benefit, like pieces on a chessboard. For millions of white and minority Americans, perpetual poverty becomes a state of mind, an inescapable state of being and stigmatization handed down from the wealthy social and political classes that despise and detest the reality that their corruption causes in the wealthiest country that the world has ever known.
Incarceration decreases crime in the short-term, but contributes to social, community, and family instability in the long-term, as former inmates enter back into their communities with a lower socioeconomic status, making it difficult to find a job to contribute to the economy and their community. Socioeconomic and racial inequality must be addressed in poor and minority communities so that young men and women do not grow up in dangerous homes and schools, which harms their prospects later in life and may lead to a greater likelihood of criminal behavior. Addressing crime before the crime occurs represents the most economically feasible avenue for American taxpayers, but doing so would cut off a major source of funding for the parasitic American government- the funding from the multi-billion dollar prison industrial complex.
Like the American governments War on Drugs; War on Poverty; War on Terror; War on Mental Health; War on Gun Violence; the War on Crime is simply a clever marketing slogan to provide the American public with a convenient illusion that something is being done to solve the problems that exist at the root of our societies suffering. But solving any one of the many problems within the United States removes the enormous profit that the government makes off of pretending to solve that very problem. The cost of these American social and political wars is paid by taxpayers, while the benefit goes directly into feeding and expanding the federal government and their power and control over the population.
By distracting the American population with these pretend wars, the government is able to delay any meaningful change and progress in order to maintain a steady stream of profit coming in from corporations- which the government subsidizes through taxpayer money- who, in turn, bribe the government with lobbyists and donations to politicians political campaigns. As long as this cycle of government corruption funded by American taxpayers for the benefit of private corporations exists, the poor and middle class will continue to suffer under laws which only punish and apply to these lower classes of society, while the corporate government runs and reigns free from any accountability.
Incarceration and the American Healthcare System
From 1998 to 2009, The cost of mass incarceration of criminals in state prison for state governments increased from $12 billion in 1998 to $52 billion in 2009. In 2015, the average cost of incarceration for one federal prisoner was just under $32,000. The federal prison budget has increased from $3.7 billion in 2000 to $5 billion in 2006, to just under $7 billion in 2017. This exceeds the $5.5 billion allocated by the federal government to care for all the homeless people in the United States.
Some studies estimate that there are over 550,000 homeless people on the streets and shelters of America on any given night. Many of these homeless individuals- like many incarcerated people- suffer from substance abuse, mental illness, and/or a lack of education. Many inmates and homeless with a mental illness were kicked out of mental health facilities after political policies in the 1950s reclassified mental health in order to save money medical treatment. These individuals ended up in jail or on the streets and labeled as outcasts to society.
The deterioration of America’s mental health and the healthcare system begins in the 1950s when mentally ill patients housed in hospitals peaked at 560,000. Cuts in the federal budget and the passage of Medicaid incentivized states to reclassify severe mental illness in order to save on medical treatment. Between 1955 and 1994, 487,000 patients suffering from mental illness were transferred into federally funded community health centers, taken in by family members, or left to fend for themselves on the streets. The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill from medical treatment centers the United States is better classified as a reclassification and reinstitutionalization of America’s prison population, an out of control American social experiment.
As people suffering from severe mental illness are left on the streets without proper medical treatment, their mind deteriorates into chaos and they eventually lack the ability to operate inside of society, ultimately left up to America’s judicial system and prison industrial complex to pay for their crimes. Today, over 383,000 local, state, and federal inmates are believed to suffer from a severe psychiatric disorder since the period of deinstitutionalization in the 1950s; ten times the amount of people with severe mental illness are locked up in prison than in psychiatric medical centers. America’s ignorance of severe mental illness, our inability to address the underlying cause of the disorder and the failure of the healthcare industry and the federal government to adequately fund mental illness ensure that our society will continue to ignore the mistakes of our past.
Before the deinstitutionalization of mental health institutions, very few methods existed for the treatment of mental health. Many people were subject to cruel forms of torture in the form of electroshock therapy and lobotomies, which is a surgical procedure that involves the slicing of the prefrontal lobe as a means to sever the connections to the other parts of the brain. The creation of antipsychotic drugs like Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) in 1950, motivated the push towards deinstitutionalization as society awoke to the immorality of the more severe psychiatric treatments.
Thorazine treats severe psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, but is increasingly used as a treatment for less severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. Thorazine represents the first antipsychotic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is also the beginning of an era of America’s obsession with prescription opioid medical treatment. Long-term use of older antipsychotics, like Thorazine, may cause a side effect called Tardive Dyskinesia, a movement disorder characterized by stiff and repetitive involuntary movements, loss of control of the face, lips and tongue and other parts of the body. Part 3