"tough on crime"
Whatever you think about the national effort against drugs I think the criminals in Lake County, IN are actually criminals even by your definition Maxx. The fact that the county jail is overcrowded is a big problem. The irony is there's plenty more bad guys who should be serving time and still more that only serve a fraction of what they deserve and are back out on the streets partly because there's no room to house them.
The system is screwed. "According to one study, in 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession while one out of five were for drug sales. The crime history for three-quarters of drug offenders in state prisons involved non-violent or drug offenses."FACTS ABOUT THE PRISON SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES
On Thursday, October 4, Senator Jim Webb will conduct a Joint Economic Committee hearing to explore the steep increase in the U.S. prison population.
RATIONALE FOR HEARING
The hearing entitled “Mass Incarceration in the United States: At What Cost?” will host a number of experts in the field to examine the reasons behind this growth in the prison population, whether it correlates with decreases in crime, the economic costs of maintaining the prison system, the long-term labor market and social costs of mass incarceration, and policy solutions that can alleviate this crisis while maintaining public safety.
KEY POINTS - * The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world.
While the United States currently incarcerates 750 inmates per 100,000 persons [This has since increased to 1000 per 100,000 or 1 out of every 100 -MM], the world average rate is 166 per 100,000 persons. Russia, the country with the second highest incarceration rate, imprisons 628 per 100,000 persons. Compared to its democratic, advanced market economy counterparts, the United States has more people in prison by several orders of magnitude. Although crime rates have decreased since 1990, the rate of imprisonment has continued to increase.- The U.S. prison system has enormous economic costs associated with prison construction and operation, productivity losses, and wage effects. - The prison system has a disproportionate impact on minority communities. - Much of the growth in the prison population is due to changing policy, not increased crime.
Many criminal justice experts have found that the increase in the incarceration rate is the product of changes in penal policy and practice, not changes in crime rates. Changes in sentencing, both in terms of time served and the range of offenses meriting incarceration, underlie the growth in the prison population.- Changes in drug policy have had the single greatest impact on criminal justice policy.
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 created mandatory minimum sentences for possession of specific amounts of cocaine. The Act instituted a 100-to-1 differential in the treatment of powder and crack cocaine, treating possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine the same as possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine. The United States Sentencing Commission found that African-Americans are more likely to be convicted of crack cocaine offenses, while whites are more likely to be convicted of powder cocaine offenses Mandatory minimum sentences for low-level crack-cocaine offenders are comparable (and harsher in certain cases) to sentences for major drug dealers.
* - The composition of prison admissions has increasingly shifted toward less serious offenses, characterized by parole violations and drug offenses.
According to one study, in 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession while one out of five were for drug sales. The crime history for three-quarters of drug offenders in state prisons involved non-violent or drug offenses.- Prisons are housing many of the nation’s mentally ill. - America faces an epic problem of re-entry. The number of ex-offenders reentering their communities from state and federal prisons increased fourfold in the past two decades. On average, however, two out of every three released prisoners will be rearrested and one in two will return to prison within three years of release.
[Here's another kicker: When someone on probation or parole fails a drug test and gets sent back to prison, it is categorized as a probation or parole violation and NOT counted as a drug offense. In other words it has been made almost impossible to get precise statistics showing the actual number of people in prison solely for drugs. -MM]