No Denying It: The US is the World's Jailer

Despite Condoleeza's statements that the US has no desire to be the world's jailer, the defendant is guilty as charged. With the largest prison population on the planet, a high profile terror/torture camp on an illegally occupied plot of land in Cuba, and secret prisons in God knows how many countries, the United States imprisons more people than any other nation.

Certainly there are some bad folks in US jails who cannot be rehabilitated, even if the system actually worked toward rehabilitation, but many of these prisoners should not have been incarcerated in the first place. There are political prisoners like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, thousands of non-violent drug offenders, local by-standers who were picked up in sweeps in Afghanistan, exiles like Assata Shakur, scores of Arab Americans who were "disappeared" after 911 for whom whereabouts are still unknown, and folks who just didn't do the crime. Not to mention the large numbers of people who are held metaphorically captive by US economic, domestic and foreign policies.

Perhaps America's greatest contradiction is that the supposed bulwark of freedom holds more human beings in chains than any society in human history. The defendant should plead "no contest".


Paul Hue said...

Nadir: Of course I agree with you on most of this, especially all the people needlessly imprisoned for drug offenses; anti-drug laws directly violate the very underpinnings of democracy -- the right to own your own body. And I agree that some significant fraction of convicts were unjustly accused and convicted, often with coerced or tricked confessions. But I expect this fraction is only a few percentage points (still too high to accept).

But overall, Americans are approximately the safest and freest people on earth -- safe from false allegations, and free from police brutality. The massive net immigration here testifies to this, and also testifies against your cliam of "captive by economic policies", unless here you mean cumbersome, illogical, and overly high taxation.

Nadir said...

The US is the most prosperous nation on earth, but at the same time has more people imprisoned. Most of those in prison are there because of poverty, substance abuse, poor education or some combination of the above.

More people are coming here because of the potential for a better life, and some of your right-wing friends want to make those people criminals as well. That is the mentality that we are dealing with here.

You're a criminal because you want a better life, but you didn't follow their antiquated, elitist rules. Sure there have to be some rules, but US immigration policy has been messed up for years. Now is not the time to criminalize people who are looking for the promise of what America could be.

Paul Hue said...

Nadir: I mostly agree with you here. Six and I believe that America is a better place than you and Tom do, but we do not think it's perfect. One area where I agree with you that we can increase prosperity is to eliminate the drug prohibition, which surely accounts for 50% of all prisoners, and perhaps 70% considering indirect crimes traced back to drug prohibition.

I also agree that we can improve our country via immigration reform, and in ways that you probabaly support. I think that it must become MUCH easier to immigrate, so that the only people who will want to sneak accross are those whose background checks would fail. (NOTE: I see a problem here in that in less free countries some people could get unjust criminal records, people who could come to the US and contribute productively).

Some of your leftist union friends want to clamp down on immigration because it suppresses wages. Many of my rightest free marketeers want to support massive immigration as a means of fostering competition and producing the best possible outputs.

I oppose criminalizing immigration because when you have a law that 13 million (or whatever the figure is) violates, it's probably a stupid law; and I think that it is. I do not yet know for sure if the illegal immigrants have a net prositive benefit to our economy. I suspect that the net result is a benefit, but I am very curious to see hard data.