Thursday, March 29, 2012
If you have a copy of TIME MAGAZINE with the pictured cover you might want to read the article by Fareed Zakaria on INCARCERATION NATION, costs and statistics of the war on drugs and the total failure of this effort over the last four decades. We have 5% of the world's population and 25% of the prisoners.
All you have to do is follow the money trail in the War on Drugs to realize it is a political issue that appeals to liberals as well as conservatives. State prisons now have a good portion of their prisons ran by private prison companies with powerful lobbyists protecting their interests. These firms are hailed as great for the economy in places with few other options for employment. Money spent by states has risen six times the amounts spent on education. It costs on average $8,600 to keep a kid in college and $45,000 to keep someone incarcerated for a year.
We have spent nearly $1 Trillion dollars on the war against drugs over the last four decades. Nary a dent has been put in the availability traffic and potency of drugs. According to Adam Gopnik who writes in the New Yorker...." Overall, there are now more people under "correctional supervision' in America- more than 6 million than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height."
Currently, the US has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in jail or prison. This is 7-10 times the incarceration rates for any developed country in the world. Japan has 63/100k, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, Great Britain has 153/100k of population. In 2009, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges.
The result of the war on drugs is we are creating huge numbers of prisoner underclass population at a huge cost to taxpayers all in the name of a war we have already lost by any logical measurement of success. The justice system from arrest to conviction and incarceration costs have created a huge burden for taxpayers.
Canyon County is now looking to build yet more space to incarcerate more of our citizens at a very high cost to county taxpayers. Recently, they shut down the entire 4th floor of the old jail due to a leaking drain pipe that could have been repaired with a Epoxy/fiberglass liner installed in place. (http://maxlinerusa.com/ ) There is nothing like a capacity crisis to give citizens a reason to build more and more jail space.
The world wide numbers suggest we are fundamentally out of line with our approach to the drug war. Yet we continue to throw billions at a losing proposition.
Here's a link on a report on the war on drugs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Commission_on_Drug_Policy
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 12:59 PM