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One in 32 Behind Bars, on Probation or Parole

Published:

One in 32 Behind Bars, on Probation or Parole
Law's Long Arm Reaches Record 7 Million Americans
By KASIE HUNT, AP

WASHINGTON (Nov. 30) - A record 7 million people - or one in every 32 American adults - were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday.

 

More than 4.1 million people were on probation and 784,208 were on parole at the end of 2005. Prison releases are increasing, but admissions are increasing more.

Men still far outnumber women in prisons and jails, but the female population is growing faster. Over the past year, the female population in state or federal prison increased 2.6 percent while the number of male inmates rose 1.9 percent. By year's end, 7 percent of all inmates were women. The gender figures do not include inmates in local jails.

"Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails."

From 1995 to 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.

The numbers are from the annual report from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report breaks down inmate populations for state and federal prisons and local jails.

Racial disparities among prisoners persist. In the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent of black men - about one in 13 - are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. And it's not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and over three times as likely as white women to be in prison.

Certain states saw more significant changes in prison population. In South Dakota, the number of inmates increased 11 percent over the past year, more than any other state. Montana and Kentucky were next in line with increases of 10.4 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. Georgia had the biggest decrease, losing 4.6 percent, followed by Maryland with a 2.4 percent decrease and Louisiana with a 2.3 percent drop.

Entry #777

Comments

1.
emilygComment by emilyg - November 30, 2006, 1:16 pm
amazing. and we go meddle overseas instead if fixing our own problems.
2.
Rick GComment by Rick G - November 30, 2006, 4:11 pm
A high percentage of these figures come from victimless crimes, over-enthusiastic District Attorneys and the failed war on drugs with mandatory sentencing. Now we've added a whole new dimension to incarceration involving "enemy combatants" and eliminating habeas corpus.

90% of incarcerated prisoners are non-violent offenders. Prisons and incarceration compounds are being built faster than ever. Why? The violence hasn't increased more than the population, the definition of crime has.
3.
Comment by jim695 - November 30, 2006, 9:44 pm
Privately-run "Super-max" prisons are very profitable these days, and every state seems to want at least one. The only way to justify the cost of building one is to ensure its capacity will be met or exceeded. The only way to do that is to pass more laws. Indiana, for example, is the ONLY state in which stealing gasoline is a felony. This law applies equally to the rich and poor but, realistically, which group do you believe is more likely to commit the act?

Rick G makes an important point in his response: "... violence hasn't increased more than the population, the definition of crime has." As more and more laws are adopted, and more and more activities are defined as criminal, then it naturally follows that more and more people will end up behind bars, whether they're convicted at trial or they're coerced into accepting a plea bargain.

A friend of mine has a 17-year-old son, who was recently charged with sexual offenses against a minor child. This minor child was his 15-year-old girlfriend, and some cop caught them making out in a park. The police led him to believe that if he didn't accept the plea bargain, he would be tried as an adult and would go to jail for a long, long time. Now, because his parents didn't have the money to hire an attorney, this kid, a minor himself at the time, must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Another friend of mine, a 23-year-old waitress at the local truck stop (they always have the best coffee), was arrested for driving under the influence. She was stopped for "Failing to Properly Signal a Turn." The cop who pulled her over said she didn't put her turn signal on until she was almost at the stop sign, rather than 200 feet before reaching the intersection. When he searched her car, he didn't find any drugs, so he ordered a blood test. She popped positive for trace amounts of THC (less than .005%), and was placed under arrest at the hospital. Last time I saw her, she was wearing an ankle bracelet, and was under house arrest for six months.

I posted my own case on Rick G's blog, under the title, "Papers, please... Now!" You can read it there, if you're interested.

I fought my medical retirement from the Navy for two years before finally accepting it. The reason I finally relented was due entirely to the military's adoption of their current sexual harassment policy. Now, I don't advocate sexual harassment in the workplace, or anywhere else, for that matter. But it eventually reached the point where ANY woman, even one you'd never seen before, could simply point her finger and say, "He sexually harassed me," and that accusation was the equivalent of a conviction; there was no defense against your accuser; pack your sea bag - you're going away. Thankfully, it never happened to me, but I did see it happen to two very good people. One was a Marine gunnery sergeant, the other a fellow sailor.

The Gunny, an instructor at Ordinance Disposal "A" School, made a simple mistake that bit him in the butt. There were three or four women in our class, but the only one I can remember was named Moorehouse. She was a squid, but had a thing for marines, and made it her mission to sleep with every one she could land in the sack, and not necessarily one at a time. An exhibitionist, she didn't seem to be ashamed of the very explicit Polaroids which circulated around the base from time to time. Anyway, one day she raised her hand in class and Gunny made the ultimately fatal mistake of mispronouncing her name as "Moorehead." Everyone knew of her sordid reputation so, naturally, a collective snicker erupted from the entire class of about thirty people. This, evidently, was sufficient to cause her to blush, and she filed sexual harassment charges against Gunny. The following day, we had a new instructor, one who was not nearly as knowledgeable and with no actual field experience, and Gunny had been transferred to another command at another base, so we never saw him again.

(continued next >)
4.
Comment by jim695 - November 30, 2006, 9:47 pm
(>> continued>>)

The other case involved a fellow sailor. His girlfriend had sent him a "glamor shot" which, if you've ever seen one, cannot be considered obscene by any stretch of the imagination. Foster carried this picture with him wherever he went, and he was very proud to show it to his buddies at every opportunity. He even read her letters to us. She was hopelessly devoted to her Marine, and they planned to be married when he came home from ODS. At the time, we were aboard the USS America, three miles off the coast of Kuwait, awaiting orders for ground deployment (as EOD techs, we were usually farmed out in pairs to armored field commands). About twenty of us were smokin' & cokin' on the fantail and swapping sea stories, when Foster produced his latest scented love letter. A marine asked if Foster had a picture of her, and he proudly handed him that glamor shot. Unfortunately, a female squid was sitting next to the leatherneck, and she filed an official complaint, saying that she found the photograph "offensive." Foster was charged with "Possessing Lewd and Lascivious Material," and was awarded NJP, or Non-judicial Punishment. He was transferred out of our command and off the ship, and I never saw him again, either. I think about him now and then. He was a dedicated and loyal sailor who knew his job well, and he was determined to be the best EOD tech in the Navy. I believe he would have achieved this goal, were he given the opportunity to live up to it; he was a brilliant strategist, despite his relative youth. He was always studying and practicing our craft, even to the point of skipping the occasional meal. Whenever the call came for volunteers, his hand was always the first in the air, contrary to the tongue-in-cheek acronym (Never Again Volunteer Yourself). He was truly an inspiration to all of us, so I don't mind telling you that we made life very difficult for the woman who brought about his departure. She requested a transfer a few weeks later, and it was approved immediately, an action which was unheard of at the time. Her replacement was the son of some Marine colonel, a kid who couldn't find his own butt with both hands, and whose training and qualification were constantly called into question due to the enormous chances he'd take. Not exactly an equitable trade.

I was always very outspoken during my years in the service, so I figured it was just a matter of time before I mouthed off to the wrong female, so I accepted the disability rating and retired quietly to Indiana to be near my family. Now, 11 years later, I'm facing six years in state prison because some kid who rear-ended me decided he didn't have to answer for his crimes. As it turns out, he was correct. I stopped him from fleeing the scene of an accident with bodily injury, and I was incarcerated for it. The kid has no driver's license, no vehicle insurance and the plates on his truck didn't belong to him, yet he wasn't even cited; he went home with Mommy and Daddy, with assurances from the police that they would take care of the bad man.

If you think it can't happen to you, think again; if they're building those prisons, and they are, they're committed to filling them with warm bodies, or they won't get their money. Even if the crime rate drops, they still have to fill those bunks, and prosecutors don't care whether you're guilty; they just want a conviction for their own performance record. It's a game of numbers.

I served my country honorably and faithfully for eighteen years. In return, I received 90% hearing loss, 14 ounces of shrapnel (six ounces of which are buried so deeply in various bones that it can't be removed) and sixty-seven scars of various sizes and shapes on my face, chest, neck, left leg and shoulder. As a bonus, I've been diagnosed with PTSD, due to terrifying nightmares which resurfaced about two years ago after a particularly nasty car accident. Pardon my self-indulgence, but I believe I deserve better, so I'm sure you'll understand when I say that, in my opinion, this country just isn't worth dying for anymore. America and her ideals have been sacrificed for a dollar, and what's left isn't worth even one life in defense of profit.

This is my opinion, folks, and I'll entertain any contrary comments, provided the member who makes them can stack his experience up against mine. Lest anyone misunderstand, let me clarify: I love my country, but I loathe the people who are charged with her care; they have all failed miserably. I owe no loyalty to either dominant party, and neither do you. Whether they're Democrats or Republicans makes no difference to me; we're all Americans, but the line that defines bipartisanship grows wider every day, and those of us who don't hold public office are caught in the void of No Man's Land. Once the elections are over, the people we've elected have no further use for us, until the next election, when they come out of their holes and tell us how important we are to the political process. The business of government has become less about governing a nation of free people, in favor of a collective effort to win the next election for the sole purpose of keeping your chosen party in power. If you want to get rich quick, run for office; in four short years, you'll be a millionaire with taxpayer-funded healthcare for the rest of your life.

That's not our America, it's theirs. And it's not worth dying for.

Let the politicians and lawmakers fight the next war; let's see how fast the enemy runs away when they're facing the threat of an ink pen ...
5.
LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - December 1, 2006, 6:39 am
jim.sorry to hear about that.you need to try and get the guy who hit you to take a polygraph.don't let that bastard off the hook!!!
6.
Comment by jim695 - December 1, 2006, 1:34 pm
Thanks, Mike, but the polygraph would have to be ordered by the prosecotor. A situation like this really sheds light on the myths we were brought up to believe; a person is innocent until proven guilty, equal justice under the law (despite several discovery motions, the prosecutor continues to suppress relavent evidence in this case) and, especially, the big one: If you're innocent, you have nothing to worry about. Even if I'm acquitted, I'll still have a felony arrest record.

It's probably just a coincidence, but I think it's interesting to note that I had been to see Clouse (the prosecutor) about the Hoosier Lottery mess on the Monday prior to the wreck, which occured on Thursday. His deputy told me there was nothing they could do, since it was a jurisdictional issue. In other words, the Noble County prosecutor can't bring charges against state employees in Marion County (it didn't make any sense to me, either).

To make matters worse, the only witness I had flipped, and is now planning to testify against me. Through depositions he took from the cops on the scene, my attorney discovered that the cop who took me into custody (a city cop who was six miles out of his jurisdiction) lives next door to my witness! When I spoke with him on the phone, he said he believed I was being railroaded, and swore he would tell the truth in court. He has apparently changed his mind, for some reason.

I know some members who read this are going to think to themselves, "There must be something Jim695 isn't telling us about this case; this just can't happen the way he describes it." Well, you'll just have to wait until it happens to you, or to someone you know personally, because nothing I can say here will convince you otherwise.

According to the last census, nearly 300 million peole live here in the good ole USA. Using figures from the title of this blog entry, nearly 10 million of us are currently in jail, which is over 3% of the populace. Given the number of super-max prisons being built, they're anticipating that number to climb significantly in the next few years.

Call your local prosecutor and ask him which aspect of his position is most important to his re-election campaign. He'll tell you his job depends on the number of convictions he wins during his term; if he's putting people in jail, then the public perceives he's doing his job.

At this point, I'm confident of my acquittal. So far, I've spent about $7,000 on attorneys and related legal fees. How confident do you think I'd be if I didn't have any money, and had to rely on a public defender to secure my liberty?

Sorry about the long posts ...

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