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Thread: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

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    Default Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    From a Study of the Prison System

    Misdemeanors: Minor offenses with major consequences

    The “massive misdemeanor system” in the U.S. is another important but overlooked contributor to overcriminalization and mass incarceration. For behaviors as benign as jaywalking or sitting on a sidewalk, an estimated 13 million misdemeanor charges sweep droves of Americans into the criminal justice system each year (and that’s excluding civil violations and speeding). These low-level offenses account for over 25% of the daily jail population nationally, and much more in some states and counties.

    Misdemeanor charges may sound like small potatoes, but they carry serious financial, personal, and social costs, especially for defendants but also for broader society, which finances the processing of these court cases and all of the unnecessary incarceration that comes with them. And then there are the moral costs: People charged with misdemeanors are often not appointed counsel and are pressured to plead guilty and accept a probation sentence to avoid jail time. This means that innocent people routinely plead guilty, and are then burdened with the many collateral consequences that come with a criminal record, as well as the heightened risk of future incarceration for probation violations. A misdemeanor system that pressures innocent defendants to plead guilty seriously undermines American principles of justice.


    https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html

    Yeah, you can end up in the criminal justice system and processed through the courts for jaywalking. If found guilty, that's going to follow you the rest of your life.

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    Thanks for reading, Bill, Ken and Miha.

    It was the above system (on steroids!) that created the atmosphere around the Ferguson, Missouri riots. I was just astonished when I read what was happening there before any shooting happened.

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    Avalon Member Satori's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    Quote Posted by AutumnW (here)
    From a Study of the Prison System

    Misdemeanors: Minor offenses with major consequences

    The “massive misdemeanor system” in the U.S. is another important but overlooked contributor to overcriminalization and mass incarceration. For behaviors as benign as jaywalking or sitting on a sidewalk, an estimated 13 million misdemeanor charges sweep droves of Americans into the criminal justice system each year (and that’s excluding civil violations and speeding). These low-level offenses account for over 25% of the daily jail population nationally, and much more in some states and counties.

    Misdemeanor charges may sound like small potatoes, but they carry serious financial, personal, and social costs, especially for defendants but also for broader society, which finances the processing of these court cases and all of the unnecessary incarceration that comes with them. And then there are the moral costs: People charged with misdemeanors are often not appointed counsel and are pressured to plead guilty and accept a probation sentence to avoid jail time. This means that innocent people routinely plead guilty, and are then burdened with the many collateral consequences that come with a criminal record, as well as the heightened risk of future incarceration for probation violations. A misdemeanor system that pressures innocent defendants to plead guilty seriously undermines American principles of justice.


    https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html

    Yeah, you can end up in the criminal justice system and processed through the courts for jaywalking. If found guilty, that's going to follow you the rest of your life.
    From my perspective, these petty offenses have been monetized. That is, more and more behavior has been criminalized. Then, fines are attached to the “offense.” If you pay the fine great. That is what the state really wants. It is a form of taxation and increase in revenue. A stream of income.

    If you can’t or won’t pay the fine you are jailed. They don’t really want that. Jail creates an expense. A burden not a benefit. An outgo not an income. Not good for business.

    The state only really wants to jail the real trouble makers. Those who can make a difference.

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    This is the major problem with being found "guilty" of misdemeanor offences, as it outlines above, Sartori:

    This means that innocent people routinely plead guilty, and are then burdened with the many collateral consequences that come with a criminal record,

    Jaywalking leads to a criminal record, which leads to probation, which means taking time off work to see probation officer. If this can't be accomplished a warrant is issued, counsel is not appointed and now you get jail time.

    I know of no other country in the world that does this. I might be wrong. A misdemeanor offense in Canada will be an automatic fine and nothing more.

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    The uptick in LFOs comes as states look for ways to pay for their corrections system while facing other revenue shortfalls. The fees levied on the formerly incarcerated include
    bench-warrant fees,
    filing-clerks fees,
    court-appointed attorney fees,
    crime-lab analysis fees,
    DNA-database fees,
    jury fees,
    and incarceration costs.

    They come in different forms: Fines are fixed financial penalties for given offenses, fees are charges for costs of using the justice system—and surcharges are levied on top of those—as a percentage of the total cost. States also charge for restitution and the cost of collection, and add interest surcharges for people on payment plans.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business...soners/489026/

    And about those incarceration costs to inmates:

    The way this works varies. In some states, formerly incarcerated people are sent bills, and in others they are charged fines (sometimes called legal financial obligations, or LFOs). Some states collect the cost of incarcerating someone through windfall statutes, grabbing any inheritances, lottery winnings or proceeds from litigation.

    In 49 states, inmates are charged for the costs of their own incarceration.

    There’s no way to pay these bills ahead of their due dates or work these charges off while in prison, no matter how hard you work. No inmate can earn enough inside to cover the costs of their incarceration; each one will necessarily leave with a bill. The state of Florida, which pays inmate workers a maximum of $0.55 per hour, billed former inmate Dee Taylor $55,000 for his three-year sentence. He would have had to work 100,000 hours, or over 11 years nonstop, at a prison wage to pay for his three year incarceration. Even as a free man working at Florida’s minimum wage of $8.25, he would have to work more than 6,666 hours ― more than three regular work years ― and not spend a penny on anything else to pay it back. These debts are impossible for the even hardest-working people to pay off.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opini..._teJBLssgiDzpi

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    The collective Anger of these poor prisoners alone, is enough to earn this country a massive Karma. "Leave it to Heaven," is as certain as death. The Judges and others who condone this system will pay in ways they would never guess. You do not play around with Heavenly Justice.

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    In the US, states typically pay for prison while counties determine sentencing. A natural experiment whereby the cost burden of juvenile incarceration was placed on counties led to a stark drop in incarceration. This suggests that mass incarceration in the US is in part due to misaligned incentives. It really needs to be brought more in line with those giving out the sentences being responsible for the cost that the state and county incur.
    • In the US, states typically pay for prison, while county employees (judges, prosecutors, probation officers…) determine time spent in custody.
    • When the cost of incarceration is internalized by the entity choosing punishment, incarceration is lower, without detectable effects on crime
    • Misaligned incentives in criminal justice may have contributed to the growth of incarceration in the United States
    Here is a paper on it if you care to read it.

    Abstract
    The incarceration rate has increased substantially in the United States between the 1980s and the 2000s. In this paper, I explore an institutional explanation for this growth: the fact that costs of incarceration are not fully internalized. Typically, prison is paid for at the state level, but county employees (such as judges, prosecutors or probation officers) determine time spent in custody. I exploit a natural experiment that shifted the cost burden of juvenile incarceration from state to counties, keeping overall costs and responsibilities unchanged. This resulted in a stark drop in incarceration, and no increase in arrests, suggesting an over-use of prison when costs are not internalized. The large magnitude of the change suggests that misaligned incentives in criminal justice may be a significant contributor to the current levels of incarceration in the United States.

    Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...47272720301493

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    The main game always in play..........

    Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power
    https://www.independent.org/publicat...le.asp?id=1510

    ................."By keeping the population in a state of artificially heightened apprehension, the government-cum-media prepares the ground for planting specific measures of taxation, regulation, surveillance, reporting, and other invasions of the people’s wealth, privacy, and freedoms

    At every point, opportunists latch onto existing fears and strive to invent new ones to feather their own nests"

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    Default Re: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

    A few months ago I posted a link to a story in the Guardian about a man who served 23 years in prison in Louisiana for stealing a pair of hedgeclippers and was then still denied parole.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...hedge-clippers

    It seems the bad publicity this news story created caused the parole board to revisit their decision and Mr. Bryant, now 63 years old, was finally released from prison.
    Quote On Thursday (Oct. 15), the Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole voted to release 63-year-old Fair Wayne Bryant, according to NBC News. That same day, he walked out of prison for the first time in over 23 years.

    [...]

    In January 1997, Bryant was arrested after he took a pair of hedge clippers from a home in Shreveport. That same year, he was convicted of attempted simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and since he had prior convictions, he was sentenced to life in prison. Under state law, he was considered a “habitual” offender.
    https://www.revolt.tv/2020/10/16/215...eleased-prison

    It seems that the parole board had no problem sleeping at night knowing they were keeping a man in prison for decades for a most trivial crime, but they could not bare was the bad publicity. I wonder how many more Wayne Bryants are rotting away in prisons because of non-violent crimes, when they could be out in the world having productive, meaningful lives.

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