CIVIL LIBERTIES, CRIME & DRUGS
Road signs compiled by the Progressive Review
OTHER AMERICAN INDICATORS DRUGS
America has more people in prison than it has engineers or high school teachers
30 years, we had about 300,000 incarcerated people in this country. Now we have 2.4 million.
In its total 34 year history - from 1978 through 2012 - the FISA court has rejected a grand total of 11 government applications, while approving more than 20,000.
@Harpers - Number of private U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks in 2010: 15 . . . .Number killed by falling televisions: 16
Percentage of Americans who have been arrested by the age of twenty-three: 30 - Harper's Index
ETHAN NADELMAN, CHANGE - The United States now ranks first in the world in per capita incarceration rates, with less than 5% of the world's population but nearly 25% of the world's prison population. Roughly 500,000 people are behind bars tonight for a drug law violation. That's ten times the total in 1980, and more than all of western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses. More than half of federal prisoners are there for drug law violations; relatively few are kingpins and virtually none are queenpins.
2008. . .
The average cost [of incarceration] across the country is $24,000 a year per inmate. . . . It's going up far faster than state budgets can keep up." About 2,000 drug courts nationwide spend between $1,500 and $11,000 per offender, according to the National Drug Court Institute. Those scattered courts handle only a small fraction of the 1.5 million nonviolent drug offenders who are arrested and charged with a crime, said C. West Huddleston, chief executive of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. - Washington Post
Bruce Western, Boston Review - Those coming home from prison, now about 700,000 each year, face an narrowed array of life chances. Mostly returning to urban neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, men with prison records are often out of work. The jobs they do find pay little and offer only a fraction of the earnings growth that usually supports the socially valuable roles of husband and breadwinner. Ex-prisoners are often in poor health, sometimes struggling with mental illness or chronic disease. A University of California, Berkeley study attributes most of the black-white difference in AIDS infection to racial disparities in incarceration. In many cases people with felony records are denied housing, education, and welfare benefits. In eleven states they are permanently denied the right to vote.
The social penalties of imprisonment also spread through families. Though formerly incarcerated men are just as likely to have children as other men of the same age, they are less likely to get married. Those who are married will most likely divorce or separate. The family instability surrounding incarceration persists across generations. Among children born since 1990, 4 percent of whites and 25 percent of blacks will witness their father being sent to prison by their fourteenth birthday. Those children, too, are to some extent drawn into the prison nexus, riding the bus to far-flung correctional facilities and passing through metal detectors and pat-downs on visiting day. In short those with prison records and their families are something less than full members of society. To be young, black, and unschooled today is to risk a felony conviction, prison time, and a life of second-class citizenship. In this sense, the prison boom has produced mass incarceration--a level of imprisonment so vast and concentrated that it forges the collective experience of an entire social group.
Viewed in historical context, mass incarceration takes on even greater significance. The prison boom took off in the 1970s, immediately following the great gains to citizenship hard won by the civil rights movement. Growing rates of incarceration mean that, in the experience of African-Americans in poor neighborhoods, the advancement of voting rights, school desegregation, and protection from discrimination was substantially halted. Mass incarceration undermined the project for full African-American citizenship and revealed the obstacles to political equality presented by acute social disparity.
Skeptics may concede that mass incarceration injured social justice, but surely, they would contend, it contributed to the tremendous decline in crime through the 1990s. Indeed, the crime decline of the '90s produced a great improvement in public safety. From 1993 to 2001, the violent crime rate fell considerably, murder rates in big cities like New York and Los Angeles dropped by half or more, and this progress in social wellbeing was recorded by rich and poor alike. Yet, when I analyzed crime rates in this period, I found that rising prison populations did not reduce crime by much. The growth in state imprisonment accounted for 2-5 percent of the decline in serious crime--one-tenth of the crime drop from 1993 to 2001. The remaining nine-tenths was due to factors like the increasing size of local police forces, the pacification of the drug trade following the crack epidemic of the early 1990s, and the role of local circumstances that resist a general explanation.
So a modest decline in serious crime over an eight year period was purchased for $53 billion in additional correctional spending and half a million new prison inmates: a large price to pay for a small reduction. If we add the lost earnings of prisoners to the family disruption and community instability produced by mass incarceration, we cannot but acknowledge that a steep price was paid for a small improvement in public safety. Several examples further demonstrate that the boom may have been a waste because crime can be controlled without large increases in imprisonment. Violent crime in Canada, for example, also declined greatly through the 1990s, but Canadian incarceration rates actually fell from 1991 to 1999. New York maintained particularly low crime rates through the 2000s, but has been one of the few states to cut its prison population in recent years.
More importantly, perhaps, the reduction
in crime was accompanied by an array of new problems associated
with mass incarceration. Those states that have sought reduced
crime through mass incarceration find themselves faced with an
array of problems associated with overreliance on imprisonment.
How can poor communities with few resources absorb the return
of 700,000 prisoners each year? How can states pay for their
prisons while responding to the competing demands of higher education,
Medicaid, and K-12 schools? How can we address the social costs--the
broken homes, unemployment, and crime--that can follow from imprisonment?
Questions such as these lead us to a more fundamental concern:
how can mass imprisonment be reversed and American citizenship
John S. Baker, Jr, Heritage The most complete count of federal crimes, done by the U.S. Department of Justice in the early 1980s, put the number at 3,000. . . [A later] report estimates that there were 4,000 federal crimes at the start of 2000 This report updates that total through 2007, finding 452 additional crimes created since 2007, for a total of at least 4,450 federal crimes.
The growth of federal crimes continues unabated. The increase of 452 over the eight-year period between 2000 and 2007 averages 56.5 crimes per year-roughly the same rate at which Congress created new crimes in the 1980s and 1990s. So for the past twenty-five years, a period over which the growth of the federal criminal law has come under increasing scrutiny, Congress has been creating over 500 new crimes per decade. That pace is not steady from year to year, however; the data indicate that Congress creates more criminal offenses in election years.
Although [a 1998] ABA Report did not actually count the number of crimes, it drew the following dramatic conclusion from the available data: "The Task Force's research reveals a startling fact about the explosive growth of federal criminal law: More than 40% of the federal provisions enacted since the Civil War have been enacted since 1970."
Adam Liptak, NT Times The United States has less than 5 percent of the world¹s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world¹s prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes - from writing bad checks to using drugs - that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.
The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King¹s College London. China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China¹s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)
San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.
The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.) The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England¹s rate is 151; Germany¹s is 88; and Japan¹s is 63.
WASHINGTON POST More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more, according to a report .
With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.
The growth in prison population is largely because of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been particularly affected: One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group.
According to the FBI, in 2006 there were 17,000 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the United States. According to the Institute of Medicine, "Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year.
AN EPIDEMIC OF "ISOLATED INCIDENTS"
US ranks 17th among world's democracies
BLACKS IMPRISONED AT FIVE TIMES THE RATE OF WHITES, LATINOS NEARLY DOUBLE WHITE RATE
AP - Blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, according to a study released Wednesday by a criminal justice policy group.
The report by the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based think tank, found that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity in incarceration. Iowa had the widest disparity in the nation, imprisoning blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites. . .
Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and Wisconsin incarcerated blacks at more than 10 times the rate of whites, the group said, citing Justice Department statistics from 2005. Vermont had a ratio of 12.5, followed by New Jersey with 12.4 and Connecticut with 12.
States with the lowest black-to-white ratio were Hawaii, with 1.9, Georgia with 3.3 and Mississippi with 3.5.
AP - The total number of people incarcerated by federal or state authorities in the year ending June 30, 2006, was roughly 1.6 million, the government said Wednesday. That translated to a 2.8% increase from the previous year, due to people being put in prison at a faster rate than those released. Overall, the total number of people behind bars - including those held in local jails - was more than 2.2 million, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly 6 out 10 people behind bars nationwide were black or Hispanic.
2006. . .
BOB SULLIVAN, MSNBC - When pollsters ask Americans about privacy, most say they are concerned about losing it. An MSNBC survey. . . found an overwhelming pessimism about privacy, with 60 percent of respondents saying they feel their privacy is "slipping away, and that bothers me." . . . [But] only a tiny fraction of Americans - 7 percent, according to a recent survey by The Ponemon Institute - change any behaviors in an effort to preserve their privacy. Few people turn down a discount at toll booths to avoid using the EZ-Pass system that can track automobile movements. And few turn down supermarket loyalty cards. Carnegie Mellon privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti has run a series of tests that reveal people will surrender personal information like Social Security numbers just to get their hands on a measly 50-cents-off coupon.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL SECRET FISA WARRANTS APPROVED
1980 - 322
UNCONSTITUTIONAL NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS
Non-judicial warrants issued by the Justice Department
2005 - 9200
PERCENT OF DEFENSE BUDGET THAT IS CLASSIFIED
NUMBER OF FOIA REQUESTS
42% more pending requests than in 2002
AMOUNT OF TAX DOLLARS RECOVERED THANKS TO WHISTLEBLOWERS
1990 - $40 million
NUMBER OF LAWS PASSED BY STATES SINCE 9/11 RESTRICTING ACCESS
2005. . .
CROOKED TIMBER: Nearly 6 in 10 offenders in local jails are racial or ethnic minorities. In mid-2005, the BJS reports that nearly 4.7 percent of black males were in prison or jail, compared to 1.9 percent of Hispanic males, and 0.7 percent of white males. Among males in their late 20s, nearly 12 percent of black males, compared to 3.9 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males, were incarcerated.
Some 2.5 million children and 1.5 million adults take stimulants, mostly to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Adult use has jumped sharply in recent years. . . Some 10 percent of all 10-year-old boys in this country are on attention deficit drugs. - NY TIMES
WASHINGTON POST - Eastern Kentucky University's Peter Kraska -- a widely cited expert on police militarization -- estimates that SWAT teams are called out about 40,000 times a year in the United States; in the 1980s, that figure was 3,000 times a year. Most "call-outs" were to serve warrants on nonviolent drug offenders.
MURDER RATE PER 100,000 IN 2004
DEATH PENALTY INFO
U.S. HAS ONE QUARTER OF ALL THE WORLD'S PRISONERS
DRUG WAR CHRONICLE - More than half a million people were behind bars for drug offenses in the United States at the end of last year, according to numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Justice Department number-crunchers found that people sentenced for drug crimes accounted for 21% of state prisoners and 55% of all federal prisoners.
Even as violent and property crime rates have declined, drug arrests have continued to climb, reaching more than 1.7 million last year. The consequences of those arrests show up in the ever-increasing drug war prisoner numbers.
With an incarceration rate of 724 per 100,000 inhabitants, the United States is the unchallenged world leader in both raw numbers and imprisonment per capita. With a global prison population estimated at nine million, the US accounts for about one-quarter of all prisoners on the planet. In terms of raw numbers, only China, with almost four times the population of the US, comes close with about 1.5 million prisoners. Our closer competitors in incarceration rates are Russia (638 per 100,000) and Belarus (554), according to the British government's World Prison Population report.
Black and Hispanic prisoners are also more likely to be doing drug war time. More than a quarter of black and Hispanic prisoners are serving drug sentences, compared to less than 15% of white prisoners.
US: 726 people per 100,000
AL KAMEN WASHINGTON POST - Executive branch agencies -- mostly the CIA, the Pentagon, the spy satellite folks and the Justice Department -- discovered more than 14 million new secrets last year, according to a report to the president by the Information Security Oversight Office, part of the National Archives. That's a 25 percent increase over the prior year in creating things that must be "secret." Just before Sept. 11, 2001, the rate was 8 million a year. So that's a substantial surge in the urge to submerge.
GALLUP - The Supreme Court's decision to invalidate a Texas anti-sodomy law is generally in line with the attitudes of the majority of Americans. About 6 out of 10 Americans believe that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal, essentially the Supreme Court's position in its decision in the Lawrence v. Texas case. Gallup has asked the public about the issue since 1977, and the latest results -- from mid-May of this year -- show that 59% of the public says homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal, while 37% say they should not be.
There has been a significant shift in public opinion on this issue over the last 26 years. In 1977, when Gallup first asked about the legality of homosexuality, Americans were evenly divided on the issue: 43% said gay and lesbian relations should be legal; 43% said they should not be; and 14% weren't sure.
During the mid-1980s, the percentage saying that homosexual relations should be legal dropped to as low as 33%, most likely due to either widespread publicity surrounding AIDS and its prevalence in the homosexual community, or a more general conservative environment on social matters ushered in by the Reagan administration. As recently as 1988, a clear majority said that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be illegal, but since 2001, the majority has come down on the "legal" side of the issue.
CURT ANDERSON, AP - About one in every 37 U.S. adults was either imprisoned at the end of 2001 or had been incarcerated at one time, the government says. The 5.6 million people with "prison experience" represented about 2.7 percent of the adult population of 210 million as of Dec. 31, 2001, said the report, released Sunday. . . The number of people sent to prison for the first time tripled from 1974 to 2001 as sentences got tougher, especially for drug offenses. There are more ex-prisoners as well, the result of longer life expectancies and a larger U.S. population.
Almost 5 percent of men in 2001 had done prison time, compared with less than 1 percent of women. Almost 17 percent of black men in 2001 had prison experience, compared with 7.7 percent of Hispanic men and 2.6 percent of white men. The percentage of black women with prison time was 1.7 percent, compared with less than 1 percent of Hispanic and white women.
No matter their ethnic origin, people between ages 35 and 44 in 2001 had the highest rates of lifetime incarceration -- 6.5 percent for men, almost 1 percent for women.
GAIL RUSSELL CHADDOCK, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR - More than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a new report by the Justice Department released Sunday. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world. It's the first time the US government has released estimates of the extent of imprisonment, and the report's statistics have broad implications for everything from state fiscal crises to how other nations view the American experience.
If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.
. . . Nor does the impact of incarceration end with the sentence. Former inmates can be excluded from receiving public assistance, living in public housing, or receiving financial aid for college. Ex-felons are prohibited from voting in many states. And with the increased use of background checks - especially since 9/11 - they may be permanently locked out of jobs in many professions, including education, child care, driving a bus, or working in a nursing home. More than 4 million prisoners or former prisoners are denied a right to vote; in 12 states, that ban is for life
Global illicit drug sales are estimated between $300 billion and $500 billion each year. This rivals annual drug sales for the pharmaceutical industry, which are $300 billion. In some countries the illegal drug trade generates more money than any other single industry. A 1998 estimate found that marijuana was the fourth most lucrative crop in the United States after corn, soybeans, and hay, and was the biggest grossing crop in several states. [World Watch Institute]
The average American is caught on camera eight to 10 times a Day, law enforcement officials say. - Washington Post
ANNUAL LIST OF 25 MOST STOLEN VEHICLES (year, make, model), by state
The Nation - Whites and blacks use marijuana equally, but the police do not arrest them equally...The vast majority (76 percent) of those arrested and charged with the crime of marijuana possession are young people in their teens and 20s. Over the last fifteen years, police departments in the United States made 10 million arrests for marijuana possessionan average of almost 700,000 arrests a year. Police arrest blacks for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites in every state and nearly every city and countyas FBI Uniform Crime Reports and state databases indisputably show. States with the largest racial disparities arrest blacks at six times the rate of whites. This list includes Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Nevada, New York and Wisconsin. Big city police departments are among the worst offenders. Police in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have arrested blacks for marijuana possession at more than seven times the rate of whites. Since 1997, New York City alone has arrested and jailed more than 600,000 people for possessing marijuana; about 87 percent of the arrests are of blacks and Latinos. For years, police in New York and Chicago have arrested more young blacks and Latinos for simple marijuana possession than for any other criminal offense whatsoever.
26 percent of Americans say they would buy marijuana at least on rare occasions if it was legal in their state, compared to 9 percent who said they buy it at least on rare occasions now. The percentage who said they would buy marijuana often, jumped from 1 percent who do so now to 4 percent who would buy if it was legal.
The failure of the drug war in one chart Full Report
80.8 percent of crack cocaine defendants in 2003 were black, despite the fact that more than 66 percent of crack cocaine users in the U.S. were white or latino.
Black drug offenders have a 20 percent greater chance of being sentenced to prison than white offenders.
Between 1994 and 2003, the average time served by blacks for a drug offense increased by 77 percent, compared to an increase of 28 percent for white drug offenders.
[US Sentencing Commission]
STATE COURTS CONVICTED more than 59,000 marijuana offenders on felony charges in 2000, according to a report released this month by the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Overall, marijuana felons comprised 6.4 percent of the total 924,700 felony convictions in state courts. Marijuana trafficking convictions were 2.7 percent of the conviction total, and marijuana possession convictions were 3.7 percent of the total. Marijuana offenders comprised slightly less than 20 percent of all felony drug offenders. NORML
AN ESTIMATED 163 MILLION PEOPLE worldwide consume marijuana, according to an annual report released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. More than 80 percent of the world's illicit drug users consume marijuana, authors noted. In the United States, more than 21 million Americans used marijuana and/or hashish in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 13 percent of the world's pot smokers live in the U.S., according to the report.
NORML - A growing percentage of Americans believe the government should regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, according to a national poll of 1,204 likely voters by Zogby International and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance. Forty-one percent of respondents agree that "the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: it should regulate marijuana, control it, tax it, and only make it illegal for children." That figure is up significantly from the 34 percent of Americans who said they supported legalizing marijuana in a 2001 USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, and is almost three times as high as the percentage who supported legalization in 1972.
Hispanics (65 percent) are most likely to agree that the government should tax and regulate marijuana. Also agreeing are approximately half of Democrats, Independents, residents of the East and West, Catholics, those with some college education, adults with household incomes over $75,000 or more, and men.
A separate Time Magazine/CNN poll released last October found that 72 percent of Americans favored marijuana decriminalization, a policy whereby marijuana offenders are fined but not jailed, and 40 percent favored outright legalization. The latter figure was more than double the percentage that backed marijuana legalization in 1986.