No More $$$ = No More Prisons

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Amidst the surging debate over our nation's draconian drug policy and general over-reliance on incarceration, there is one important factor that even the most diehard law & order ideologues can't just brush aside…

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Michigan officials said Friday that the state is closing three prisons and five prison camps in hopes of narrowing a $1.4 billion budget gap for fiscal 2010.

If you can't afford to maintain giant iron cities full of people that must be fed, clothed and monitored 24-7, then you have to stop building them and start closing down the ones you have. This reality is finally beginning to sink in across the country:

Michigan is not alone in turning to its prison system for savings. Some 25 states cut spending on corrections in fiscal 2009 and another 25 are proposing to do so in fiscal 2010, as they struggle to address massive budget shortfalls.

"It's a trend we'll be seeing more and more of in coming months given the dire revenue situation states are in," said Sujit CanagaRetna, senior fiscal analyst at the Council of State Governments, a research group.

Well, bring it on. This isn't exactly what we had in mind when we started calling for criminal justice reform, but we'll take it.

We should never underestimate the extent to which our hideously bloated prison population owes much of its existence to a reversible pattern of public hysteria and reactionary political idiocy. The number of inmates in U.S. prisons has increased more than five-fold in my lifetime, and I was born in the 80's. It just wasn't all that long ago that our prison population was relatively manageable and there's no real reason we can't return to that. Indeed, we may have no other choice.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I have some ideas regarding prisons and "offenders"

I really think there is a better way of dealing with most non-violent offenders (especially the ones who committed no property damage or personal injury) than to throw them in cages with truly violent people (who definitely need to be locked away from society). There is house arrest, and community supervision, all those who've committed any criminal damage to or theft of someone else's property should also have to pay restitution, make the victim whole. Additionally there are fines which could be levied. But even those truly violent prisoners which we must incarcerate, if only to protect ourselves, should be treated humanely and allowed personal hygiene, exercise, proper nutrition, and preventive medical care.

We could probably close 3/4 of our prisons and jails (federal and state) by implementing my ideas -- handling of non-violent offenders and releasing all POW's from the drug war (we don't incarcerate alcohol users, so what kind of twisted logic says we should be incarcerating users of other drugs?), and still have room to spare (in what prisons/jails remain) for the truly violent criminals, the ones who really need to be incarcerated.

We also need a better solution than jail for those who suffer from mental illness, too many of them are being warehoused in prisons and jails. Like drug abuse, including alcoholism, there should be medical treatment available for these people. We could provide that treatment/care, if we weren't spending so much on prohibition efforts and prisons.

A society is judged on how it treats the least among them, and America doesn't do well in that respect -- the condition of our prisons (and the massive number of people we have incarcerated), the torture issue, our poor and homeless, it's NOT a pretty picture. Add to that the change in attitudes of our police organizations and politicians towards the People, the ever increasing requirements to "get a license" for almost every activity known to humanity from selling a product to changing a sink in your bathroom to catching a fish for your dinner. And what doesn't require a license has a long and complex set of regulations governing how it can be made and what it may do.
It is still absolutely unconstitutional for the government to tell people they may not use any particular substance, let alone a whole list of substances. The Constitution is a document which is supposed to limit the power of government and maximize the freedom of individuals. It is the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND which EVERY part of government is supposed to OBEY and UPHOLD. Especially including the so called "justice" branch (which, currently, is anything but just; and everyone knows that is the truth, even if they won't publicly admit it).

People, our society truly has gone insane.

I'm 65 years old, I could die tomorrow, 40 years from now, or any time in between; I am less concerned for my personal life than for the future for my progeny. I do not want them to live under tyranny. But it is clear that has been the trend over my lifetime. With each new congress and each new administration we have suffered ever more intrusive laws and ever more tyrannous law enforcement. The "war on (some) drugs, is the sole reason for this trend. It MUST stop, here and now!

In the meantime, while we are workig our way through those issues, remember this the next time you are called for jury duty -- juries should be fully informed of their right to acquit any defendant who is prosecuted under an unconstitutional/unjust law. However, judges will no longer inform juries of that right, and the prosecutor, if s/he learns that a potential juror knows about this right, will do all that is possible to prevent that juror from serving on that jury. Therefore, too many get convicted when it is the law that is in the wrong, not the defendant(s) (as with the drug war). This long standing right of juries is called jury nullification and you can learn more about it here: http://fija.org/

PS I know someone else posted something about jury nullification, I just want to avoid stepping on that person's toes as I think s/he covered some of the same points so I want to give that person some credit for the inspiration for some of what I wrote on the subject (it's also possible I may have lifted a phrase or two without noting it via quotation marks; I apologize for that, but I don't really have time to go looking for that comment in order to correct that omission -- peace).

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Cost of prisons could open discussion on legalization

The fiscally conversative politican who could identify and link the rising cost of prsions as a campaign issue could take the drug war debate to a new level. Ron Paul comes to mind as the most recent elected leader to successfully argue this point. The question for Republicans who preach a smaller government and one that doens't intrude on our lives is "How can you continue to support the drug war when it goes against the basic tenants of your platform?"

This question needs to be addressed by the media and when they fail to do so, this contradiction needs to be publicized with letters-to-the-editor and E-mails to those guilty politicians. Those in position of authority in the media should be held accountable as well.

Just to note that Rand Paul is running for the Senate

I recently received this email:

Dear Friend,

My son, Rand, has helped me campaign since he was 11. He and his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews have literally knocked on thousands of doors for me.

At the age of 21, Rand debated Phil Gramm in my US Senate race in my stead. During the Presidential election he traveled to ten states giving speeches for me. He appeared on hundreds of radio programs for me. I am grateful for his contribution and very proud of the thoughtful, principled man Rand has become.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that I endorse my son Rand's venture into electoral politics. Rand has formed an exploratory committee to run for Senate in Kentucky. Sending Rand to Washington would be a tremendous victory for the Freedom Movement.

I hope you will join me in supporting Rand in any way you feel comfortable. You can get more information or make a contribution at www.randpaul2010.com

Rand has also established himself as a significant force in Kentucky politics. For fifteen years he has run Kentucky Taxpayers United, a group that rates the state legislature and promotes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge whereby candidates and office holders take a pledge not to raise taxes.

Like me, Rand is a graduate of Duke Medical School. Rand is an eye surgeon, married for eighteen years, and has three children. In addition to politics, he is the founder of the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic that provides free care for those in need.

I hope you will visit Rand's website, www.randpaul2010.com, and consider supporting him in any way you can.

In Liberty,

Ron Paul

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Less $$$ means

I'm starting to like this 'recession' more all the time. We may even be able to call ourselves 'the land of the free' once again. Now, if only we could do something about the police brutality on the streets.

But where will we house the prohibitionists and their tools?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the violence advocated and committed by the prohibitionists and their tools should guarantee their place in what few prisons remain.

A simple prisoner exchange could go a long way here... swap out the 10's of thousands of unlawfully detained prisoners who've had their rights violated by illegal marijuana prohibition with the politicians and the violent tools responsible!

Remember Crimes Don't Commit Themselves... politicians, and their illegal laws, are the true criminals.. and rounding them up should be fairly easy... Wait till they convene in Congress or go to Church and arrest the whole lot of them. And since this is a WAR and the politicians are enemy combatants they can be held, and tortured, indefinitely.

All wars require funding that's why paying taxes should be a lowest priority for all marijuana consumers... atleast until gov't ends it's criminal activities!

DO NOT Aid & Abet our ENEMIES with your hard earned legally aquired tax dollars!

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