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Who among your friends is a Criminal?

By       Message Christopher Wright       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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I expect most folks will simply say 'none'. They can't imagine their friends and neighbors as being scofflaws.

Well, if your State is anything like Alaska or the Federal government, you'll note that many of your legislators and political appointees have criminal records – as do TV and Movie stars and professional athletes. But, not your friend Claire on the PTA or that nice neighbor Jim who works 2 jobs and plays devotedly with his kids on the weekends.

There is plenty of good reason for people not to advertise their histories. In street parlance, you don't put your business on the streets.It is not a matter of shame or guilt. It is a matter of the same problems the sex offenders have – trouble obtaining employment, socializing, belonging to the community in a positive way.

Well....1 of every 15 persons (6.6%) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime. In 2006, 1 out of every 142 persons in the U.S. was in State or Federal prison or jail. (ibid)

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7,000,000 were in some form of government custody, including probation or parole during 2006

This is 'presently' and doesn't include all who 'have been' in the past and are still living citizens - Nor does it include the CIA 'secret' prisons abroad. 

Why are/were they there?

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Yet, violent and property crimes have decreased by 20 % since 1990 (BJS).  In California, the top three charges for entering prison are: possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance and robbery. Violent crimes like murder, rape, manslaughter and kidnapping don't even make the top 10 - despite the panic of TV where "if it bleeds, it leads".

The media blitz about serial killers, missing children and "random violence" feeds fear. In reality, however, most of the "criminals" locked up are poor people who commit non-violent crimes out of economic need.

Violence occurs in less than 14% of all reported US crime, and injuries occur in just 3%. 36% of convicted offenders were under the influence of Alcohol during the commission of their crime.

Drug offenders, up 37%, represented the largest source of jail population growth between 1996 and 2002.

More than two-thirds of the growth in inmates held in local jails for drug law violations was due to an increase in persons charged with drug trafficking. (ibid)The state of California now spends more on prisons than on higher education, and over the past decade has built 19 prisons and only one branch university. Between 1980 and 1994, the number of women in prison increased five-fold, many of them mothers.

And, what are they doing while there?

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American prison administrators are now "leasing" prison labor to private corporations in a system reminiscent of their German work camp predecessors in WWII, who "leased" concentration camp labor to corporations such as Ford and BASF. The difference is that while the Third Reich prisoners were virtual slaves, the current American prisoners are paid. Their wages, however, are often less than state minimum wages, and the prison systems take about 80% of that wage for "room and board.

"The prisoners who stuff junk mail into envelopes for the likes of Bank of America, Chevron and Macy's, take telephone reservations for hotels and airlines such as Eastern, pack golf balls for Spaulding, repair circuit boards supplied to Dell, Texas Instruments and IBM, etc. often earn about $1 an hour. During the 1990s creative managers leased prison labor for a variety of tasks ranging from the nocturnal restocking of shelves at Toys R Us to raising hogs and manufacturing Honda parts and El Salvadoran license plates.

For private business, prison labor is like a pot of gold: no strikes, no union, no unemployment insurance or workers compensation to pay, no language or shipping problem, as in a foreign country.

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Christopher is a retired Mayflower family, Navy Vet, flower child, Mensan and a long-time rural Alaskan with a lifetime or two in Social Sciences and cross-cultural endeavors. He has a terminal graduate degree and is heading into his terminal years (more...)

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