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Author Topic: Drug Laws / Tough-On-Crime Laws Produce Higher Taxes Back to Topics
SemiSteve

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Message Posted: Sep 9, 2013 5:16:38 PM

Funny how so many politicians come outta the box claiming to have the answer to crime. They'll attack the incumbent as being weak and then say they can solve the crisis with stiffer laws and sentencing.

It's an easy ploy to get voters fired up and possibly get elected.

And even if they don't get elected the hand-writing is on the wall for the incumbents.

Make the laws tougher!

The sad part is few talk about how much it will cost.

So we get more laws making more activities illegal. Misdemeanors become felonies and sentences become harsher.

All of that must necessarily raise taxes; because somebody has to pay for prisons, police and courts.

"The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world today. As of 2009[update], the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%).[2] In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world at 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000.[2]

While Americans represent about 5 percent of the world's population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world's inmates have been incarcerated in the United States in recent years.[3] Imprisonment of America's 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 per inmate per year, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60.3 billion in budget expenditures."

US Incarceration Rate Highest In The World (wiki)

The wiki page also says that the USA has a disproportionate number of blacks and hispanics incarcerated. There is great leeway given to federal and State prosecutors in determining what charges and/or sentencing to pursue. It appears that whites get the benefit of the doubt more frequently than others. Judges are not allowed to over-ride mandatory minimums for convictions on charges brought by prosecutors. Prosecutors regularly threaten suspects with extra prosecution in order to bargain for information on other suspects.

Another factor is Prison Privatization:

"In a 2011 report by the ACLU, it is claimed that the rise of the for-profit prison industry is a "major contributor" to mass incarceration, along with bloated state budgets.[66] Louisiana, for example, has the highest rate of incarceration in the world with the majority of its prisoners being housed in privatized, for-profit facilities. Such institutions could face bankruptcy without a steady influx of prisoners.[67] A 2013 Bloomberg report states that in the past decade the number of inmates in for-profit prisons throughout the U.S. rose 44 percent.[68]"

The basic logic is difficult to deny. Where big money is to be made pressure will be applied whereever necessary to increase profits. That could take the form of lobbying, campaign donations, PR, and all the usual business-political trickery.

The War On Drugs is responsible for a marked increase in incarceration levels; and also the advent of Prisons For Profit.

As more of our population goes behind bars for non-violent crimes so do government budgets rise; and the with that the need for increased taxes.

Now that so many of our governments (federal, State, county and city) are cash-strapped and we still have thriving recreational drug usage and abuse, perhaps it is time that we take a more realistic look at how to approach our goal of reducing drug abuse and associated crime.

Perhaps we can call Drug Laws / Tough-On-Crime Laws the 'stealth tax hike.'

A pol can claim he never raised taxes even as he votes for things that must and do raise taxes. And while he also takes donations from the very industry that depends on tough-on-crime laws.

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/9/2013 5:18:12 PM EST]
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Oct 1, 2013 11:00:58 PM

Being mean/cruel to prisoners has not reduced crime. Crime has fallen all over the world as leaded gas was phased out. Leaded gasoline has been shown to have directly contributed to higher crime rates. That evidence is unexplainable in any other way. The residue from leaded gas has made people stupid enough to think that crime is a worthy risk. The effect is greater in more densely populated cities where more peole are exposed to the residue.

There is another correlation which must be discussed.

The less we spend on education the more we spend on prisons. But the ratio is not direct. For every dollar we save by cutting education we must pay several dollars more for prisons.

By ignoring large-scale trends we end up paying more taxes.

We have got to be smart about far-reaching trends and take advantage of what has been learned.
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Oct 1, 2013 6:32:55 AM

AC-302

Prison/Jail conditions and sentence length are two different things. Making them wear pink underwear, limiting the TV channels to news only or not selling coffee in the jail commissary is just adding a minor discomfort to the time that the person already has.

When I said people get too much time in general I am not particularly referring to violent crime. We can cut the sentences of over half the people incarcerated in America's jails and prisons without touching a violent offender.

You are in California and probably remember Mark Klaas, the father of Polly Klaas. At one point Mark made a statement that he still supported the 3 strikes law but he stated: "More than anyone, I understand the difference between a violent offense and an act in which the offender hurts no one but himself," stated Marc Klaas, President of the Klaas Foundation for Kids. "Study after study has shown that money spent on treatment and prevention reaps several times as much crime-control as money spent on incarceration for nonviolent offenders."

If you kill someone, carjacking, kidnapping, those headline grabbing crimes then you need to go to prison and I do not care if you ever get out but there are hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated in this country who did not hurt anyone. That is what I mean by people getting too much crime or incarceration being used too much.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Oct 1, 2013 12:57:51 AM

mnrick041 said: "Criminal defendants in many States get too much time in general."

--Do they? Many "minimum sentence requirements" were put into place due to public outcry/outrage. People got fed up with violence and wanted to see harsher sentencing as a means of deterring crime.

Actually, a guy who has the right idea is Sheriff Joe of Maricopa County, AZ. Make Jail/prison a harsh place you don't want to go back to. Pink underwear, no coffee, bologna sandwhiches.. yeay, it's almost enough to make some guys actually go straight (I mean, as not being a jailbird a second time.
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 30, 2013 7:42:17 PM

Criminal defendants in many States get too much time in general. You can look at the incarceration rates from State to State and get a good idea of which states are big on the "tough on crime" idea and which ones are not.

HERE is a interesting link for you. You can put your arrow on each State and the incarceration statistics appear on the side.

States like Minnesota never really bit on the whole tough on crime, "three strikes" thing that many other States did and you can see it in their statistics. Louisiana for example, we all know they are tough, they have that reputation, and they have the stats to prove it: a incarceration rate of 865 per 100,000. On the other end of it States like Maine and Minnesota have very low (comparatively) incarceration rates, 147 and 183 respectively.

I would never disagree that a criminal defendant in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama Mississippi or a handful of other States is going to get too much time in prison for almost any crime he is convicted of. The United States in general and certain States in particular use incarceration way too much.

In the feds and many States there are "mandatory minimums" related to drug crimes and the gun laws that were part of the VCCLEA act in 1994 but they do not touch many other crimes. That has been part of the criticism of the laws. You can get a 5 year min on drugs and if you have a gun that is another 5 year min but in the feds there is no minimum on bank robbery or many other violent crimes. I do not think breaking into a car is going to get you a mandatory minimum unless it is a felony and falls under some kind of 3 strikes or other repeat offender law.

Back on Sept 13 I posted "Claiming discrimination might account for a small percentage of the disproportionate prison population in a place like Minnesota but the much bigger issue is blacks commit more crimes, which is something we agree is true."

That is something that is probably true nationally and in the feds. I am not saying that there is absolutely no discrimination out there but I do say that the effects of it do not, could not come close to creating the racial disparities that exist in prison populations all across the country. For whatever reason, reasons that would take generations to fix, blacks do commit more crimes proportionally than other races do. As pointed out above, Minnesota has a very low incarceration rate compared to the national average and that is because most offenders get probation. Notice that we have more people on probation in this State than most other States do. The guidelines here are geared to be tough on violent offenders, serious drug offenders and sex offenders. If you do not fall into one of those categories you are going to get probation, even if you do it again and again. Blacks commit violent crime at a rate far greater than whites. That is a fact backed by the FBI statistics, and one way to go to prison in Minnesota or any other State is to commit violent crimes.

I apologize for getting annoyed last week, I put time and research into many of the things I post on here. I am sure there is discrimination here and there but the main culprit in the black/white incarceration gap is the rate at which blacks commit crimes. Blaming Republican prosecutors does no good and does not help anything. I am sure there are plenty of registered Democrats out there who harbor racist feelings towards people of other races, it is nothing that Republicans have a monopoly on.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 30, 2013 2:36:33 PM

Thank you for re-opening the conversation. Obviously there is great depth to the issue. It's easy to think it is simple but that would be unrealistic.

"We should cut back on drug offenders going to prison and save the space for people who are dangerous but even if we cut out drug prosecutions we would still have a lot of people in prison. It might be a societal issue, we have a lot of crime and violence here. "

--A lot of these other crimes are over-sentenced also. A young black kid who breaks into a car and steals some possessions and car parts is commiting a crime. But does that mean he whould get seperate minimum sentences for each itme taken and then another for the break-in? Does that mean that prosecutors who charge a similar white kid with one charge and a black kid with the maximum number allowed are doing justice?
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2013 6:27:21 AM

In my original post I actually agreed with you on several of your points. Prisons, prison health care, food service and so on should not be privatized or made into a profit. I also agree that the drug laws are out of control, too many non violent offenders are wasting our prison space. I said prison beds are a limited and expensive resource and we need to make sure the right people are in them.

In that same post I said "Yes, we all know that blacks are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate but that is due to their own criminality." You seem to disagree with that fact.

I looked up facts from various websites, Minnesota DOC and the Human Rights Watch prison project and I posted them. You replied with a racist accusation against our Nation's prosecutors.

I have fact behind what I am saying and you are repeatedly replying with a accusation that there are Republican white prosecutors who have some kind of nationwide conspiracy (all 50 States have out of whack incarceration rates for blacks) to charge black defendants with extra crimes.

I am well aware that we lock up more people than anyone else in the world and it is costing us a lot of money. I do not know how to address that. We should cut back on drug offenders going to prison and save the space for people who are dangerous but even if we cut out drug prosecutions we would still have a lot of people in prison. It might be a societal issue, we have a lot of crime and violence here.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2013 10:37:03 AM

"The black incarceration rate is higher because they commit more crime.
That is the end of this discussion. "

--Ha ha HAAAAA!

Yer makin me laugh.

That's like saying: 'I don't care about facts. I have my opinion and I need to ignore all those pesky facts because then I might have to change my bigoted view.'

And you even acknowledge that this is the simpleton view. Well, guess what? Life is complex. The world is complex. Trying to over-simplify things is the point at which you leave reality behind and enter fantasy land.

In order to do that in this discussion you have to ignore all that I said about prosecutors.

Ever wonder why we hear judges say they wich they didn't have to adhere to minimum sentencing requirements? Oops. Now we have to leave simpleton-world and consider more complicated facets of the situation.

If everything were so simple why don't you just design and fabricate your own cell-phone? Go ahead and create your own multi-layer surface-mount, internal via circuit board with ultra fine-pitch SMT components, write your own firmware, create your own NiMH battery, design and mold your own plastic enclosure in your garage, and launch your own satellite while you're at it? Then you will find it a very simple piece of cake to create your own computer, too.

And you can do it all by ignoring facts.

Ha haaaa...

The combination of minimum sentencing and the latitude of white prosecutors to apply as many or as few charges as they please is the Jim Crow of 2013.

There.

Is that simple enough for you?

And while you're digesting that overly complicated concept why don't you address the fact that the US locks up more people than any other nation and for every one of them somebody has to pay taxes to pay for it all.

Now.

Is there some part of that which is not 'simple' enough either?

Or do you 'simply' not want to adress this glaring drain on our government budgets?

Or is it the fact that 'tough-on-crime Republicans are responsible for the majority of this tax-raising over the past decades?
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 24, 2013 8:56:10 PM

SemiSteve, Where did you get some crap like that from? Do you actually believe that BS?

I will make it plain and simple for you to understand: The black incarceration rate is higher because they commit more crime.

That is the end of this discussion.
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NickHammer
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Message Posted: Sep 24, 2013 8:41:17 PM

>>Solution: Escape from Detroit<<

Yeah, like Cincinnati is so much better.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 24, 2013 7:39:15 PM

"--and again, I proposed it, too. I totally agree with you on all points. However, we do have to consider that if we legalize heroin and coca today, you will sacrifice a generation of young people. And mark my words that every family in America will have at least 1 addict who will take themselves out of the gene pool. You must consider that point." --Not according to surveys. Most people have no interest in trying hard drugs even if they were legal. But our government could save a lot of money and eas the debt. Now wouldn't that be nice?
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 3:19:25 PM

Rehab programs would be more effective and cost less than prison.

We could reduce government expenditures and ease the debt while getting better results at reducing drug abuse.

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/19/2013 3:20:33 PM EST]
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fueluser10
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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2013 8:17:12 AM

We have people retiring and not enough people working to cover the retirement and pension plans. If a persons hours at work go down but the cost of living goes up.. might that not add to the Tax situation as well? If they can't work 40 hours a week. Will they not be taxed as they were before when they did work 40 hours a week?
It's more then a question of the current drugs laws and crime having various affects on the economy and how it's dealt with.
It's almost as if the economy is saying let me do what I'm supposed to do and maybe things will fix themselves? I've heard that analogy via the news media for nearly 5 years now.
You've got a bag full of tools that are in constant play here, and the easy to handle ones are the seemingly most utilized ones?
Legalizing any illegal drug.. why not fix whats been in question for some time now and use what's been talked about (Flat or fair tax?) Instead of legalizing anything illegal for the sake of mere legalization?



[Edited by: fueluser10 at 9/18/2013 8:22:49 AM EST]
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2013 12:04:42 AM

sgm said: "Without me taking a position on legalizing harder drugs, can you tell me why you think the rate would be so high? Are there countries where all drugs have been legal for a while that we can look at for comparison?"

--England for one tried this. They repealed it later. I think Netherlands also may have had legal heroin for a time. Cannabis in NL isn't actually LEGAL, it's "tolerated". However, you can "blow a doobie" while walking down the street, and even blow the "weed" smoke in the face of a passing cop there and they won't arrest you.

SemiSteve said: "I also have to wonder if it isn't Republicans whom have done this more frequently than others. Here they are carrying on about Democrats raising taxes when they are doing just exactly that in this stealth way. Talk about hypocrits."

--Steve, Steve, Steve.. Now, here you go throwing out an olive branch to me in a PM, then you go off and make one of these flaming statements. What do you expect me to say? Are you trying to goad someone into an equally flaming response in defense of the Reps, or are you trying to get them to say something bad about Dems? You are, in effect, asking me to turn over a new leaf and have an intelligent discussion with you, sans vitriol. OK, so are YOU going to stop these very foolish statements intended to demonize the "other side"?
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 16, 2013 10:44:37 AM

mnrick041: "This is a point that we disagree upon.

Look at a state like Minnesota where we have had sentencing guidelines for nearly 30 years. People are sentenced based on a formula of points and levels that intersect on a grid like chart. That is about as fair and unbiased as sentencing can get and guess what!!!

Minnesota has one of the most racially disproportionate prison systems in the nation, right next to Iowa's."

--Disagree all you like but it would help your view if you could address the main reason why blacks do more time, which I have already stated. I shall attempt to make this as clear as possible. Sentencing is one thing. Charges filed are another:

Prosecutors have ultimate discretion over what charges are filed against a defendant. What this means is that if they decide to file additional charges for a black defendant over what they might file against a white defendant, and both are convicted of all charges, then the black does more time for the same crime.

Say a black person is found in possession of some cannabis and a few smoking accessories. Possession of those accessories are also crimes. Each and every roach clip, lighter, pipe, matches, ash tray, paper clips used to clean the pipe, pipe screens, pack of rolling papers, etc. is another potential charge. The prosecutor does not have to file individual charges for each article but has that discretion. What happens is that blacks typically get more charges filed against them with each charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence.

Somebody could get put away for ten years for first time offense of having less than an ounce of cannabis. Or they could get probation and not even do any time. It's all up to the prosecutor, not the judge.

All of this does virtually no social good what-so-ever but it does increase government budgets and that means taxes have to go up every time one of these laws is imposed.

I also have to wonder if it isn't Republicans whom have done this more frequently than others. Here they are carrying on about Democrats raising taxes when they are doing just exactly that in this stealth way. Talk about hypocrits.

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/16/2013 10:48:26 AM EST]
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 15, 2013 8:16:35 PM

Good point AC-302.

In Minnesota it is what it is and the prison population is probably proportionate to the criminal population rather than the population according to racial breakdown.

One of the biggest factors in criminal sentencing is criminal history. In Minnesota it plays a huge factor as you are assigned levels that correspond with the current offense and points that correspond with your past criminal history. The more history you have the more time you are going to get, the sentencing grid is easy to understand. Criminal history can more than double a repeat offender's sentence compared to what a first offender will get.

Some people just think there is a Klansman hiding in every closet and that there is a racist conspiracy behind every negative statistic that involves black Americans when most of it is of their own doing.
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sgm4law
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Message Posted: Sep 15, 2013 3:18:03 PM

"--and again, I proposed it, too. I totally agree with you on all points. However, we do have to consider that if we legalize heroin and coca today, you will sacrifice a generation of young people. And mark my words that every family in America will have at least 1 addict who will take themselves out of the gene pool. You must consider that point."

Without me taking a position on legalizing harder drugs, can you tell me why you think the rate would be so high? Are there countries where all drugs have been legal for a while that we can look at for comparison?

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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 15, 2013 10:50:58 AM

Jayrad said: "AC, agreed. legalize it, tax it, regulate it. There goes the criminal aspect of the drug trade. Saving a ton of taxpayer money."

--and again, I proposed it, too. I totally agree with you on all points. However, we do have to consider that if we legalize heroin and coca today, you will sacrifice a generation of young people. And mark my words that every family in America will have at least 1 addict who will take themselves out of the gene pool. You must consider that point. Me? I'm still willing to do it as I see no better prohibition laws that could be passed and actually work. We've tried prohibition of drugs, and it doesn't work. We may as well legalize it, tax it, and offer treatment programs. IT's time to start treating drug addiction as the heath care problem that it is, and stop treating it as the criminal justice system that it is not.

SemiSteve said: "It is true that blacks commit more crimes proportionally than whites. But when whites and blacks are convicted of similar crimes blacks end up doing more time for the same crime."

--Whoa there, Steve. Liberal Democrats would say that what you just said is a racist statement. I think the problem isn't race, per se. I think the problem is socioeconomic in nature. Though I don't know the answer to the question, see what the proportion of poor whites, to rich whites is in prison. That may tell you also something.

As to sentencing, also consider that if you have a population that commits more crimes, they are more likely to also be repeat offenders. If someone is a repeat offender, consider that they may be treated more sternly by the courts in terms of sentencing guidelines. I think the Minnesota example is interesting in that the guidelines and point system simply "is what it is". I think it's hard to say that's racist.

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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 8:43:34 PM

This is a point that we disagree upon.

Look at a state like Minnesota where we have had sentencing guidelines for nearly 30 years. People are sentenced based on a formula of points and levels that intersect on a grid like chart. That is about as fair and unbiased as sentencing can get and guess what!!!

Minnesota has one of the most racially disproportionate prison systems in the nation, right next to Iowa's.

I'll give it to you that it was unfair at one time, some states worse than others but Minnesota has gone to great lengths to try to remedy the issue and it has gotten them nowhere, we are still ranked as the worst when it comes to this.

Claiming discrimination might account for a small percentage of the disproportionate prison population in a place like Minnesota but the much bigger issue is blacks commit more crimes, which is something we agree is true.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 10:37:12 AM

"Yes, we all know that blacks are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate but that is due to their own criminality."

--Um, no. It is true that blacks commit more crimes proportionally than whites. But when whites and blacks are convicted of similar crimes blacks end up doing more time for the same crime. This is well documented. That is because prosecutors have ultimate power over what charges are filed and that is where the discrimination takes place. Judges are bound by mandatory minimum laws and frequently write sentencing statements harshly criticizing the laws.

And guess what? Prosecutors are mostly white. Go figger.
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mnrick041
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2013 9:28:02 PM

I agree that the drug laws need a overhaul and we need to look at the amount of time people are getting for drugs.

However, "tough on crime" covers everything and we do need to be tough on crime while being smart about it at the same time.

Basically, we need to lock up the right people for as long as possible but prison beds need to be looked at as the limited and expensive resource that they are and we need to be sure that the right people are sleeping in them.

I do agree that the incarceration of human beings should never have been privatized and corporations like CCA and Wackenhut should not profit from it.

Yes, we all know that blacks are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate but that is due to their own criminality.

Crime talk during elections seems to be a thing of the past, you do not hear about it nearly as much as you did back in the 80's & 90's. However there still is a resistance to making changes and some of that probably is the result of big contributions that some politicians get from companies that make big bucks off the prison industry.

[Edited by: mnrick041 at 9/12/2013 9:29:42 PM EST]
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oilpan4
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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 9:57:51 PM

Wish the fed would legalize cannabis and leave it to the states to decide what to do with it.
California would become the richest country on earth in a week. All the illegal immigrants could get a PhD on the states dime, every one would get a check issued to them every year and the state would still have a surplus.
Back woods dirty south states like Mississippi would not legalize it and continue to burn crosses.

The other drugs, well my dad is a toxicologist and the stories I hear about the "hard drugs" is not encouraging.

[Edited by: oilpan4 at 9/11/2013 10:01:18 PM EST]
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jayrad1957
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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 9:12:53 PM

AC, agreed. legalize it, tax it, regulate it. There goes the criminal aspect of the drug trade. Saving a ton of taxpayer money.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 9:02:52 PM

Escape from Detroit?

THAT's your solution?

This is a national problem.

Please give it more thought and try again.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 1:19:36 AM

SemiSteve - OK, easy solution. Legalize all drugs and tax them. I'm all for it. We'll sacrifice a generation of young people for the "noble experiment", but I think it's the only way to stop the drug problem and the appetite for drugs once and for all. Legalize it. After every family in America has an addict that dies off, then nobody will want to do it anymore, having seen the damage done first-hand.
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mudtoe
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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 12:55:52 PM

Solution: Escape from Detroit



mudtoe
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RNorm
Champion Author San Bernardino

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 12:17:50 PM

But privately run prisons is big business...Look at the judge (now in jail) who was sending kids to a privately run prison and getting all kind of kickbacks....
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