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Old 02-28-2008, 02:27 PM  
Jenson71 Jenson71 is offline
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1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says

1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says

By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: February 28, 2008

For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.

The report’s methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

Either way, said Susan Urahn, the center’s managing director, “we aren’t really getting the return in public safety from this level of incarceration.”

But Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah and a former federal judge, said the Pew report considered only half of the cost-benefit equation and overlooked the “very tangible benefits — lower crime rates.”

In the past 20 years, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987.

“While we certainly want to be smart about who we put into prisons,” Professor Cassell said, “it would be a mistake to think that we can release any significant number of prisoners without increasing crime rates. One out of every 100 adults is behind bars because one out of every 100 adults has committed a serious criminal offense.”

Ms. Urahn said the nation cannot afford the incarceration rate documented in the report. “We tend to be a country in which incarceration is an easy response to crime,” she said. “Being tough on crime is an easy position to take, particularly if you have the money. And we did have the money in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

Now, with fewer resources available, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and will accelerate as the prison population ages.

About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and some states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone in 2006.

The number of prisoners in California dropped by 4,000 last year, making Texas’s prison system the nation’s largest, at about 172,000. But the Texas legislature last year approved broad changes to the corrections system there, including expansions of drug treatment programs and drug courts and revisions to parole practices.

“Our violent offenders, we lock them up for a very long time — rapists, murderers, child molestors,” said John Whitmire, a Democratic state senator from Houston and the chairman of the state senate’s criminal justice committee. “The problem was that we weren’t smart about nonviolent offenders. The legislature finally caught up with the public.”

He gave an example.

“We have 5,500 D.W.I offenders in prison,” he said, including people caught driving under the influence who had not been in an accident. “They’re in the general population. As serious as drinking and driving is, we should segregate them and give them treatment.”

The Pew report recommended diverting nonviolent offenders away from prison and using punishments short of reincarceration for minor or technical violations of probation or parole. It also urged states to consider earlier release of some prisoners.

Before the recent changes in Texas, Mr. Whitmire said, “we were recycling nonviolent offenders.”
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:57 PM   #2
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If someone's in jail, then they obviously deserve to be there.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:59 PM   #3
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That's what happens when you make Law Enforcement (through property seizure) and Prisons a for-profit enterprise.

Well, that combined with an absolutely inane approach to handling non-violent and "victimless" crime.

Last edited by Adept Havelock; 02-28-2008 at 03:07 PM..
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post
That's what happens when you make Law Enforcement (through property seizure) and Prisons a for-profit enterprise.

Well, that combined with an absolutely inane approach to handling non-violent and "victimless" crime.
The first part makes no sense. Property seizure doesn't require people in jail. It doesn't even require a conviction in many circumstances. If profit motive was at work here we'd see fewer people in jail, not the other way round. People in jail cost money with no ROI.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
The first part makes no sense. Property seizure doesn't require people in jail. It doesn't even require a conviction in many circumstances. If profit motive was at work here we'd see fewer people in jail, not the other way round. People in jail cost money with no ROI.
Sure it makes sense.

The police in many situations get to use the value of confiscated property to add to their budget.

How many prisons are run out of the budget for the local police force? Corrections is usually a separate budgeting entity, IIRC.

More arrests and confiscations=more money for the cops local budget. Sure, the Dept. of Corrections budget might grow so large that it will eventually draw down the budget for the local police.

That said, which is more likely the thought process at work?

1) If we arrest that guy and confiscate his property, we can use it to fund a purchase of XYZ equipment.

or

2) We should not confiscate that property or arrest that guy. Eventually, it might end up hurting our budget because the funds for incarceration have to come from somewhere.

From what I know of human nature, I suspect #1 is far more common. It's the same lack of a complete thought process that drives many entitlement programs.

Letting cops keep the spoils of drug raids and such is nothing more than Roman style Tax Farming.

It's just as bad an idea now as it was two thousand years ago, for largely the same reasons.

As for the rest of the first part...when you make Private Prisons (for-profit) part of the system, they are going to have a vested interest in lobbying to maintain a broken system that incarcerates people for stupid crap. Why? Though it costs the state, it makes the owner of the private prison money.

IMO, those two moronic policies have quite a bit to do with this country having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
The first part makes no sense. Property seizure doesn't require people in jail. It doesn't even require a conviction in many circumstances. If profit motive was at work here we'd see fewer people in jail, not the other way round. People in jail cost money with no ROI.
The cops a) seize from everyone with property and b) incarcerate those either without anything to relinquish or, more likely, anyone to flip on.

Check out the reefer portion of Reefer Madness (the book, not the movie).
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post
Sure it does. The police in many situations get to use the value of confiscated property to add to their budget.

How many prisons are run out of the local Police forces budget?

Letting cops keep the spoils of drug raids and such is nothing more than Roman style Tax Farming.

It's just as bad an idea now as it was then.
????

You're still making no sense. Throwing people in jail isn't a money making action. Period. The only way having someone behind bars could generate profit is if a 3rd party was handling it and could reduce the cost of incarceration below the fee from the gov. For local and state govs there isn't any way to jigger it to make money.

And seizures have nothing to do with jail time anyway. Two totally unconnected issues. Or at least they don't have to be connected.

If what your saying was accurate cops would throw every speeder in jail and push habeas corpus to keep them there as long as possible. And they don't.

There are issues with the way we incarcerate people but profit? Nope.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
????

You're still making no sense. Throwing people in jail isn't a money making action. Period. The only way having someone behind bars could generate profit is if a 3rd party was handling it and could reduce the cost of incarceration below the fee from the gov. For local and state govs there isn't any way to jigger it to make money.

And seizures have nothing to do with jail time anyway. Two totally unconnected issues. Or at least they don't have to be connected.

If what your saying was accurate cops would throw every speeder in jail and push habeas corpus to keep them there as long as possible. And they don't.
I notice your ignoring my point that most folks (like with entitlement programs) aren't going to think beyond their own (or their departments own) bottom line.

I'm saying that incarceration rates are (in part) driven by a short-sighted policy concerning property confiscation. Let me put it this way:


Here's Joe Pothead. He's generally a decent guy, taking care of his responsibilities. He doesn't break the law at all except when it comes to his preferred form of intoxication.

Cops decide to arrest Joe Pothead, suspecting he has a personal stash on some very valuable property he owns. Sure, there are plenty of other criminals around, but going after this guy adds to the budgets bottom line, which gets you in good with the brass as well.

The Cops arrest Joe Pothead, seize his property, and the DEA kicks back a good chunk to the local police force budget.

At that point, some cops no longer care. They have got what they wanted. However, the system pushes Joe through and locks him up in a nice little privately-operated prison facility.

Joe's incarceration is an unintended consequence of the policy of property seizure.

The broken system that incarcerated him will be lobbied for by the Private Prison, who is making a few bucks off the state for locking Joe up.

The example I gave is very similar to a seizure case a few years ago in CA, IIRC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
There are issues with the way we incarcerate people but profit? Nope.
So the for-profit Private Prison industry has zero interest in (for example) prolonging an incarceration policy that incarcerates low-grade drug offenders and other non-violent offenders?

I wish I could believe that a business would be interested in cutting their own profits.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post
Sure it does.

The police in many situations get to use the value of confiscated property to add to their budget.
This has nothing to do with jail time. Look up the rules for seizures, drug ones in particular. They don't require jail time, they don't even require convictions. Seizing and not incarcerating would be far more profitable because there would be far lower expenses.

Quote:
How many prisons are run out of the budget for the local police force? Corrections is usually a separate budgeting entity, IIRC.
Jail time isn't even distributed by police forces. They arrest, they don't convict and sentence. But I guess you could try to convince me that the seizing unit somehow, for some reason gets people who shouldn't be in jail put there. How this becomes profitable to anyone you'll have to explain. Especially how they get the courts, who don't get that seizure money, to play along.

Quote:
More arrests and confiscations=more money for the cops local budgets. Sure, the Dept. of Corrections budget might grow so large that it will eventually draw down the budget for the local police.
None of this explains how putting more people in jail = more money.

Quote:
That said, which is more likely the thought process at work:

1) If we confiscate that property, we can use it to fund a purchase of XYZ equipment.

or

2) We should not confiscate that property or arrest that guy. Eventually, it might end up hurting our budget because the funds for incarceration has to come from somewhere.
Uhhh, what? You still haven't explained how more people in jail = more money.

Quote:
From what I know of human nature, I suspect #1 is far more common. It's the same lack of a complete thought process that drives many entitlement programs.

Letting cops keep the spoils of drug raids and such is nothing more than Roman style Tax Farming.

It's just as bad an idea now as it was two thousand years ago, for largely the same reasons.
Here we're in agreement. Too bad this thread has very little to do with seizures and a lot more to do with having a significant part of the population in jail.

Quote:
As for the rest of the first part...when you make Private Prisons (for-profit) part of the system, they are going to have a vested interest in lobbying to maintain a broken system that incarcerates people for stupid crap. Why? Though it costs the state, it makes the owner of the private prison money.
Maybe. In order for private prisons to be profitable you have to keep the average cost per head below the income per head. Adding volume doesn't necessarily make that easier.

It still doesn't describe how gov run jails generate money.
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4. Performance enhancing drugs:

A) are my ticket to the Hall of Fame.
B) would be better if they tasted like fruit and were shaped like various Flintstones characters.
C) are not for me, because I find that cocaine aids my performance much more effectively.
D) apparently worked for Rodney Harrison.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post

His incarceration is an unintended consequence of the policy of property seizure.
Bullshit. His incarceration is the very much intended consequence of him breaking the law.
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4. Performance enhancing drugs:

A) are my ticket to the Hall of Fame.
B) would be better if they tasted like fruit and were shaped like various Flintstones characters.
C) are not for me, because I find that cocaine aids my performance much more effectively.
D) apparently worked for Rodney Harrison.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Bullshit. His incarceration is the very much intended consequence of him breaking the law.
IMO, both play their part, but I'm sure you can't bring yourself to admit that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no cop-basher. I've made my respect for the majority of the Thin Blue Line very clear. I think allowing them to keep confiscated property is a phenomenally stupid and short-sighted policy, as it helps maintain an (IMO) clearly broken system.

This isn't a cop bash. It's a policy bash.

Or is it the fact I'm pointing out that profit just might be a bad thing in one or two instances that's sticking in your craw?

If you believe profit can't have a bad effect, I suggest you look into the history of Roman Tax Farming.

Now, how about addressing my points regarding the for-profit prison industry driving poor incarceration policy?

Are you going to try to convince me those companies are altruistic and not at all interested in keeping the numbers of prisoners they incarcerate (and thus, their profits) as high as possible?

It's pretty simple, IMO. When you give people a motive (profit) to follow policies that lead to mass incarceration, they are going to support those policies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
It still doesn't describe how gov run jails generate money.

I don't believe I ever said they did.

I said that allowing LEA's to profit from property seizure has an unintended consequence of leading to greater incarceration rates for certain (IMO) minor crimes. I also suggested that a for-profit private prison industry has a serious interest in keeping that population as high as possible, as most are paid per inmate/per day.
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Seizing and not incarcerating would be far more profitable because there would be far lower expenses.
That may be true on a macro level, but incarceration expenses are paid by the state but the benefits accrue locally. Hence the perverse incentives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Jail time isn't even distributed by police forces. They arrest, they don't convict and sentence. But I guess you could try to convince me that the seizing unit somehow, for some reason gets people who shouldn't be in jail put there. How this becomes profitable to anyone you'll have to explain. Especially how they get the courts, who don't get that seizure money, to play along.
Mandatory minimum sentencing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Maybe. In order for private prisons to be profitable you have to keep the average cost per head below the income per head. Adding volume doesn't necessarily make that easier.

It still doesn't describe how gov run jails generate money.
You don't think prisons have significant fixed costs and are more profitable to run completely full than just partially full?
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post
IMO, both play their part, but I'm sure you can't bring yourself to admit that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no cop-basher. I've made my respect for the majority of the Thin Blue Line very clear. I think allowing them to keep confiscated property is a phenomenally stupid and short-sighted policy, as it helps maintain an (IMO) clearly broken system.

This isn't a cop bash. It's a policy bash.

Or is it the fact I'm pointing out that profit just might be a bad thing in one or two instances that's sticking in your craw?

If you believe profit can't have a bad effect, I suggest you look into the history of Roman Tax Farming.

Now, how about addressing my other points regarding the for-profit prison industry driving a bad incarceration policy?

Or are you going to try to convince me those companies are altruistic and not at all interested in keeping the numbers of prisoners they incarcerate (and thus, their profits) as high as possible?
Profit motive isn't the problem here no matter how much you want it to be.

Knee jerk laws or laws pandering to the public's need to feel safe are candidates. A lack of concern for the well being of criminals (why help them improve, screw em), a desire by those who get laws passed to control the actions of everyone else, overly restrictive laws stemming from fundamentalist morality, could also be argued.

But linking "too many people in jail" to "the cops make money by seizing stuff" is dumb. If we're going to fix the problem, figuring out the problem in detail is the start and this crap ain't it.
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4. Performance enhancing drugs:

A) are my ticket to the Hall of Fame.
B) would be better if they tasted like fruit and were shaped like various Flintstones characters.
C) are not for me, because I find that cocaine aids my performance much more effectively.
D) apparently worked for Rodney Harrison.
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Profit motive isn't the problem here no matter how much you want it to be.
So you believe the for-profit Private Prison industry has no interest in maintaining a broken system? Really?

Wow. An entire industry of altruists who are paid by-prisoner/by-day who want to cut their own throats. That's extraordinary.

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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
Knee jerk laws or laws pandering to the public's need to feel safe are candidates. A lack of concern for the well being of criminals (why help them improve, screw em), a desire by those who get laws passed to control the actions of everyone else, overly restrictive laws stemming from fundamentalist morality, could also be argued.
I would certainly agree with most of those points. However, I don't believe they are mutually exclusive. I think it's a case of both arguments being factors.

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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
But linking "too many people in jail" to "the cops make money by seizing stuff" is dumb.
In your opinion. I believe I made a pretty decent case for how "too many people in jail" is in part driven by short-sighted policies like private prisons and property confiscation.

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Originally Posted by pikesome View Post
If we're going to fix the problem, figuring out the problem in detail is the start and this crap ain't it.
I agree with the former point, but obviously disagree with the latter.

I have no problem with profit in general (it would be foolish to, IMO), it's just this is one of those rare cases (like Roman Tax Farming) where it has more negative consequences than positive. I know that the notion profit could have a negative consequence is heresy to some, but it seems quite clearly to be part of the problem here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pittsie View Post
That may be true on a macro level, but incarceration expenses are paid by the state but the benefits accrue locally. Hence the perverse incentives.
Precisely why I made my point comparing it to the (IMO) flawed thought processes supporting many entitlement programs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pittsie View Post
You don't think prisons have significant fixed costs and are more profitable to run completely full than just partially full?
An excellent point, as it also factors with per-prisoner/per-day payoffs.
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Last edited by Adept Havelock; 02-28-2008 at 04:30 PM..
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pittsie View Post
That may be true on a macro level, but incarceration expenses are paid by the state but the benefits accrue locally. Hence the perverse incentives.
I'll buy this on occasion but as a systemic problem? Far fetched. Most government funding isn't "per head" and any other way makes incarcerating people a money losing action. People in jail can not make the cost of their stay, let alone a profit for anyone.

I do know that some communities set up jails and run them as money makers, importing prisoners from over crowded jail systems. These groups don't put the people there in the first place however. They have no input in the arresting, trying, or convicting of the prisoner before they get them.


Quote:
Mandatory minimum sentencing.
Uhh... I think you're confusing the legislature with the police. And their motivations. Considering the get deal of resistance judges have to sentencing guidelines (their softness on criminals being the reason for them in the first place), you're going to have to expound on how this makes someone money.

Quote:
You don't think prisons have significant fixed costs and are more profitable to run completely full than just partially full?
I'd buy in to this if there was someway to make a prisoner make money. Even if he's punching plates I doubt he's making what he costs the DOC.
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