The “mass incarceration” fraud

You’ve heard that the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country. The Left keeps telling you that. It is a fraud that is parroted endlessly, but not subjected to scrutiny.

U.S. prison population

The same Left wails that the United States has more gun homicides than any other advanced country.

If the second statement is true, you can conclude that the United States has an army of violent criminals who should be locked up.

Let’s examine the fact that the U.S. incarcerates so many, an idea that is used to terrify us and breed guilt. That ends now.

Since we are the world’s third most populous nation — following only China and India  — if all other things were equal, it stands to reason that we would be in the Top Three in incarceration. That’s simple math, pure numbers.

But all other things are not equal. China is an oppressive police state that has spies in every neighborhood, and now is setting up a facial recognition system that will allow Big Brother to keep an eye on 1.4 billion citizens.  

It’s simple: There is less crime in China than here because there is less freedom. Under China’s laughable justice system the accused are presumed to be guilty, unlike here. It’s no wonder the crime rate is low. Potential criminals are terrified.

India has freedom, and crime, but incarcerates fewer than the U.S. because its police force is hapless, inefficient and often corrupt.

That points to another reason America incarcerates so many — we have a comparatively efficient police force. 

These reasons explain why we are No. 1.

There are roughly 2.2 million people incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. That’s 0.96 percent of the population, 1 out of 100. Does that seem like too high a number? 

If we lock up too many, what is the right number?

Have you ever been mugged? Raped? Assaulted? Has your home or car ever been broken into? Someone steal your bike or handbag or iPhone? Does 1 in 100 seem high?

In Philadelphia, we currently have a congressman, a sheriff and a D.A. in jail. Does 1 in 100 seem high?

Most of the prison population is not violent. There are burglars, counterfeiters, white collar thieves and drug offenders. Those serving time for drug offenses account for 45% of inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons.   That is a huge chunk and it brings us to the heart of the mass incarceration myth. Those people were jailed not for no reason, but for a real reason — they broke the law. 

In the past decade, views on drug offenses have changed. Many localities are commuting sentences for many drug offenses, even those, amazingly, in which guns were used. Emptying the jails is motivated partly by social justice, and partly because money is saved when the prison population is reduced. 

Just remember: Druggies were in jail for breaking existing law. It was not racial and it was not arbitrary.

Don’t confuse incarceration with the disparity of sentences handed out to white versus nonwhite defendants. That is real, it is provable, and has been verified. Various reforms are in the pipeline to smooth out the racial disparity in sentencing. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the fallacious notion in some quarters that no one in jail belongs there.

(Someone who seems to not share that opinion is Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner; he will be featured in my next column.)

A small percentage is wrongly imprisoned people, yes, but just about everyone in jail deserves to be there. 

Earlier I mentioned a pipeline, and I’m returning to that word to discuss the “school to prison pipeline” that you also have been told about.

It is more softheaded blather.

The “pipeline” is usually applied to minorities and it suggests that every child of color goes directly from high school to a correctional institution. The reality — the majority of  minority kids do not go to jail — doesn’t seem to slow down the myth. It is repeated as if it were fact. It is not. 

Schools are necessary. So are jails. 

15 thoughts on “The “mass incarceration” fraud”

  1. “The only thing prison has demonstrably shown to cure is heterosexuality.” –Anon

    First thing we should do is empty the jails of anyone in there for smoking pot. Then, legalize ALL drugs and use the money being pissed away on the so-called WAR ON DRUGS to help the addicted. We would also raise lots of tax dollars (viz the booze industry), and take drugs out of the hands of criminals. We could put Mexico’s and Colombia’s cartels out of business virtually overnight. And move Pakistan and Afghanistan from the Middle Ages into the Dark Ages.

  2. It is no coincidence that serious crime is up in Philadelphia, in their zeal to reduce the prison population, our DA and Mayor are putting violent offenders back on the street to wreak havoc

    where to begin ? Drugs, crime, racism, et al.
    I couldn’t agree with most people that laws should be softened for drug users. Soften the law, make more money. WRONG. I know of quite a few people who did hard drugs. Some of them started on grass, some not. Some are Vets who, after getting shot, kept getting shot up. Apparently on the battle field ( Viet Nam ) morphine was given quickly, and according to my fellow Vets, often, Too often. Those troops did clean up and fly straight, but after paying a terribly high price. The ones that smoked often said that they know that their brains were diminished in memory capacity, rationalization and simple motor skills. Also partly due to serving our country.
    Then you have the civilian population. When you EXIST in a poverty area, there’s not a whole helluva lot to look forward to in life. I had this discussion with my pallie more than once, so I’ll share it with all of you. I bought my mother’s house in the city to become a city employee. My brother and his wife lived also lived there for a time. #1 brother couldn’t understand why the neighbor kids were the way that they were. You see. We grew up with their families. Their parents were our buddies when we were kids. The ones that stayed in the neighborhood, were there for a few generations. Three generations from the time of horses on our street to the present fourth generation – who are pretty useless. For whatever the reason, these kids chose drugs over building a better life. None of them really worked. They did what they had to do to EXIST ! They stole for drugs and they sold and used drugs. Scary stuff, aint it ! Welcome to every town, USA. So now you have the politicians answer ( again ) to fix every problem out there. Open up the jails and let the criminals that committed the soft crimes out ! We have a bill in Harrisburg coming up for vote. Make marijuana legal ! You must be 21 to purchase ! HA !
    How about trying something old. Let’s actually have parents try to teach their children right from wrong. Let’s have schools and teachers be the extension of the family that once existed. Good behavior, citizenship and patriotism is a full time learning experience. How about the forgotten fact that we can place others before us and help each other, rather than just breathe air. Let’s teach -again- that there is something bigger and better than us.
    And while you’re at it, ladies and gentlemen. Forget the fact that you may be black, white, brown, yellow or even pink. Let it be, that you are man or woman or some combination of both. It doesn’t hurt to be different and it’s better to be who you are. There is a place for all of us. Your color or sex wont rub off on anyone anytime soon. Your ability to look beyond the outer package and take the time to look inside of that package (person) is all that really matters.
    In short. Do the crime, to the time. In the ’90s when I was building prisons, the average cost per inmate in a minimum security cell was $25,000.00. I doubt that the price went down. Take the politics out of the justice system and let the courts and prisons do their jobs.

  4. The road that led to the term coined “Mass Incarceration,” is not a myth, not is it that simple. We all smart enough to know that this is not about guilting people. It is a fact that Racism, Discrimination, “Jim Crow,” isolated, shut out & crushed 3-4 generations of Black, Latino & other groups in education, Health Care, employment and economic opportunities. Let me also mention that Laws were created after Slavery that target Blacks, which resulted in more Black people being arrested and serving longer sentences for things like “Vagrancy, Loitering.” Sentencing is still levied more harshly against Black and Latino Specifically Males, and this includes juveniles. Already adversely impacted by the terrorism of Slavery, former Slaves and or former prisoners couldn’t find housing or jobs. They were also paid lower wages and often had to take part time or seasonal jobs. Seriously, are you saying that these things have no impact on today’s generation. Real research goes beyond personal feelings and often leads to some uncomfortable truths. Prisons replaced the plantations, use of Slave labor. If you examine the equity at many schools in poor communities, you will see that the students and the staff do not have access to many needed resources / interventions. This is a generational problem. I have no animosity towards the person who wrote this article. We all have our views based on parenting, exposure, affiliations, goals and personal self-image. This article represents a limited view that supports a world with no Compassion, Disenfranchisement, Racism, apathy towards the economically deprived and institutionalization over equity, particularly for many children in America today, And…, yes, we in the Black, Latino and Poor Communities need to do more to educate, promote employment opportunities, and pilot impactful healing programs.

    1. I specifically mentioned disparity of sentencing. I might have mentioned race-tinged laws, but it doesn’t change my overall narrative. It is not that hard to stay out of jail.

  5. Two points – 1) The most repressive governments on the planet ban guns among the citizenry, aka the “militia” of 1776. 2) If guns were confiscated by the government, cries of racism would ring out from sea to shining sea. Black and brown people are charged with gun crimes more often on a per capita rate. Presumably, gun grabs by John Law would affect black and brown people more. People like Beto ought to think things through to see the possible effects of politically motivated, anti-American messages could have on liberty. Hey, we could be in Hong Kong.

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