I swear I’ll come up with original content one of these days…
Did you know that in America state spending on corrections is growing six times faster than state spending on higher education? It’s true! Because when you look at America, one of the things you say is “dammit, we need more prisons and fewer colleges, that definitely sounds like a sustainable plan that will help our country build for the future.” Why? The war on drugs, tough-on-crime politicians, racism, political pressure from groups that stand to profit from more prisons, the usual, all helped along by the economic crisis, which means that states have less money which they have to spend on immediate concerns (enough prisons for all their prisoners) rather than long-term investments like universities.
The next three articles talk about particularly egregious cases of injustice within the prison-industrial complex.
In Tennessee, a newspaper investigation found the prosecutor’s office and drug task force were routinely using public property and money as if it were their own, seizing cash and vehicles without charging the owners with crimes or even finding drugs, using money found in drug busts to travel the country for law enforcement conferences, ignoring wrongdoing by favored law enforcement officers, and withholding evidence and ignoring defendant’s rights in criminal cases. I have to say, my first reaction was “wait, it’s legal to take people’s money without charging them with crimes?” Apparently in Tennessee it is. I am not entirely sure about how that’s different from literally just robbing people.
In certain counties in central Illinois, black people make up 16% of the population but at least 40% of the people arrested, including around 90% of the people arrested for jaywalking. Anyone want to bet that black men are disproportionately likely to be arrested? Yeeeeep. I think that the arrest of people of color for jaywalking is similar to stop-and-frisk, in that it forcibly reminds people that the right to walk around the street freely doesn’t really belong to them because of the color of their skin.
In New Orleans, after budget shortfalls led to the firing of twenty-seven employees in the public defender’s office, hundreds of defendants were left without lawyers and their legal right to free counsel. Despite the fact that legally one is supposed to be freed if one can’t be provided with an attorney a speedy trial can’t proceed, prisoners are left “on a waiting list” for public defenders; any judge that would free them would lose the next election for being “soft on crime.” If there is one phrase I never want to hear again, it’s “soft on crime.” Seriously, you should just replace that with “treats the OMGSCARYCRIMINALS like human beings with basic rights,” because that is what it means.