[p2p-research] Post-Depression first: Americans get more money from government than they give back | csmonitor.com
Paul D. Fernhout
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Wed Nov 25 20:41:38 CET 2009
Ryan Lanham wrote:
> On 11/25/09, J. Andrew Rogers <reality.miner at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Yes, they are that powerful. Who do you think created legislation and
>> lobbied for very long mandatory sentences for relatively minor crimes?
>> Every election season, the prison unions spend many millions of
>> dollars pushing legislation and initiatives that will put more people
>> in prison longer.
> Here's the facts from a Republican leaning newspaper:
> I just checked here, and the rates are about (a little lower than) what we
> pay in the Cayman Islands at average and starting levels.
Just to support Andrew's point, consider as an analogy New York, which
recently reformed its drug laws after thirty years, only by overcoming
opposition by Republicans representing districts with big prisons.
"N.Y. Governor, Lawmakers Agree To Soften Drug Sentencing Laws"
NEW YORK, March 27 -- Gov. David A. Paterson (D) and legislative leaders on
Friday announced an agreement to roll back the state's strict, 36-year-old
drug laws, including eliminating tough mandatory minimum sentences for
first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.
Then in November, Democrats captured the state Senate for the first time in
years. The State Assembly in the past had proposed repealing the drug laws,
but the effort was always blocked by Senate Republicans, many of whom
represent largely rural, Upstate districts where most of the state's prisons
It may not be as simple as "prison unions", but clearly employment and
profits are a big part of the dynamics of creating laws about crime and
punishment in the USA.
And even more sadly, profit plays a role in the dynamic of just judging on
existing laws to send children to private prisons:
"A disgraced former Pennsylvania judge began requiring detention for certain
youth offenders just three days after the opening of a for-profit detention
center whose owner was paying him kickbacks, according to testimony. ...
Former probation official Sandra Brulo says the zero tolerance policy put
into place by former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. swelled the
number of kids sent to detention. Prosecutors say Ciavarella and another
judge accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks to place juveniles in PA
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed
thousands of juvenile convictions issued by a judge charged in a corruption
scandal, saying that none of the young offenders got a fair hearing.
The high court on Thursday threw out more than five years’ worth of
juvenile cases heard by disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Mark
Ciavarella, who is charged with accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks
to send youths to private detention centers.
The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which represents some of the
youths, said the court’s order covers as many as 6,500 cases. The justices
barred any possibility of retrial in all but a fraction of them.
“This is exactly the relief these kids needed,” said Marsha Levick, the
center’s legal director. “It’s the most serious judicial corruption scandal
in our history and the court took an extraordinary step in addressing it.”
Now, if it is a "scandal" for those judges to make rulings for their
personal profit, why is in not a similar scandal for lawmakers to make laws
for their own political profit and for the financial benefit of those unions
or other that support them (which indirectly create judicial rulings,
especially when there is no room for judicial discretion with certain laws)?
Making the laws for personal profit via campaign donations and so on is one
level removed from direct kickbacks from the jails per person imprisoned by
judges, but is it not essentially the same thing? If people are making laws
about putting people in jail in ways that have no significant relation to
preventing real harm to society, then is that not a much bigger problem than
a couple of corrupt judges out of some large number of judges who try to be
fair and balanced, but are prevented from being so by bad laws? But it is,
evidently, a problem that has persisted for decades in the USA with little
accountability, and US prison populations reflect it.
Of course, if we made all the improvements to society that people want, less
prisons, less pollution, less war, and so on, then we would see much more
unemployment. That would be a good thing for society, but a bad thing for
individuals. These sorts of reforms may have to go hand-in-hand with
something like a basic income, or substantial funding of the arts and
sciences, or some other reform.
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