“There is no very great danger of a rich man going to jail.” — Clarence S. Darrow, 1902
One hundred and ten years ago… how little things change.
“Some so-called criminals — and I use this word because it’s handy, it means nothing to me — I speak of the criminals who get caught as distinguished from the criminals who catch them–some of these so-called criminals are in jail for their first offenses, but nine-tenths of you are in jail because you did not have a good lawyer and, of course, you did not have a good lawyer because you did not have enough money to pay a good lawyer. There is no very great danger of a rich man going to jail.” — Clarence S. Darrow, Speech to inmates at Cook County Jail, 1902
The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 7.2 million men and women under correctional supervision; including five million on probation or parole and 2.3 million people who are currently incarcerated in prisons or jails… a 500% increase over the past thirty years. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and state governments that are overwhelmed by the burden of funding a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration of our citizens is not an effective means of achieving public safety. If it were, we would be safe already… don’t ya think…
Annually it costs some $68 billion dollars to fund local, state, and federal corrections systems in the United States. This has transformed American society by removing a disproportionate number of nonviolent minority offenders from their communities while diverting taxpayer money from critical social programs. Like schools, hospitals, research, the arts, museums, libraries, bridges, roads, parks …
I wonder what might happen if we spent 1/2 of that money on schools instead.
- ACLU: Counties opting for incarceration, not rehabilitation (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- The Caging of America (humanobsas.wordpress.com)
- Stop Wasteful Spending on Incarceration of Immigrants (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- New ACLU report on costly realignment – counties ignoring cheaper, better alternatives (mercurynews.com)
- America’s Prison Industrial Complex and Slave Labor Sweatshops (thedirtylowdown.wordpress.com)
- Navy Is Smaller; Prisons Are Bigger (patospapa.wordpress.com)