August 17th, 2013
03:07 AM ET

U.S. wakes up to its prison nightmare

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By Global Public Square staff

We were struck by a piece of news recently that is good for America, shows that our politicians are learning from their mistakes, and are actually cooperating with each other – on both sides of the aisle. Sounds too good to be true?

For many years, the United States has had a growing problem in its criminal justice system. As Global Public Square has pointed out before, the United States is number one in the world when it comes to incarceration – by far. In 2009, for example, for every 100,000 citizens, 760 Americans were in prison. That was five times the rate of incarceration in Britain, eight times the rate in Germany and South Korea, and 12 times the rate in Japan.

This trend began about 40 years ago. In 1970, state prisons had a combined total of 174,000 inmates. By 2009, they had 1.4 million – an eight-fold increase. And these correctional systems cost a lot of money of course – nearly $80 billion a year, more than the GDP of Croatia or Tunisia.

Well it seems that finally, common sense is prevailing. Attorney General Eric Holder made an important speech this week admitting that our prisons are overcrowded and costly. He specifically called for a reduction in mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenders.

It's important the attorney general brought up drugs, because the numbers are startling. Federal prisons, the group Holder was referring to, account for about 14 percent of our total inmates. In these prisons, the most serious charge for nearly half of all inmates is a drug offence. Compare that with state prisons, where only 20 percent of the inmates have a drug offence as their most serious charge.

More from CNN: Shame of mandatory minimums

Now, here is what is interesting. The federal prison population has increased every single year since 1980. On the other hand, state prison populations have been declining in recent years, so much so that the overall number of inmates – state plus federal – is actually down in each of the past three years. And here is the best part: the declines encompass 28 states, red AND blue.

Part of these declines are because budgets were simply collapsing. But it could also be because of a growing acknowledgment that the war on drugs has failed. According to the pro-reform Drug Policy Alliance, the United States spends about $50 billion a year on the drug war – adding up to a trillion dollars in the last four decades – but there has been no real change in addiction rates.

Americans are not more prone to drugs or crime than citizens of other countries, so why should we put so many people in prison? Well, the good news is that the numbers are finally too large to ignore. The states are already acting. And Holder's comments will add momentum to a growing chorus for reform.

The greatest challenge in pushing these numbers further down will be the prison lobby. Believe it or not, many of our prisons are run by private companies that then lobby state legislatures massively for bigger prisons, larger budgets, and of course more prisoners. According to the non-profit Justice Policy Institute, the two largest private prison companies in America together generate revenues of $3 billion a year – paid by taxpayers, of course. These private prison companies also happen to be major donors to a number of state campaigns, lobbying for more resources.

If our politicians can take on the prison lobbies, there really is hope for America.

Post by:
Topics: Drugs • Law • United States • What in the World?

soundoff (1,005 Responses)
  1. harrisonhits2

    When we cater to politicians whose only goal is to get into office at the expense of all other things, and to the growing for profit prison system we see the reasons why mandatory minimums and the utterly and totally failed drug war were shoved down America's throats.

    This is just one piece of the puzzle of American corporate corruption and why this country is going down the tubes.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
  2. Dave Rogers

    The politicians might be ready to scrap the prison bloat.. but US citizens want harsher sentences , stricter laws and if they can get it... summary executions.

    There is this oddity that's appeared in the US that can only be called a "big government conservative"...who aren't actually conservative about anything... They want more power for police forces, less due process and they will absolutely accept a raise in taxes to build more prisons.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • everything in Moderation

      Yes. Social conservatives as opposed to fiscal conservatives.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Jason

      You're on your own with that. Personally, I think it's silly to put somebody in jail for having a drug addiction. It doesn't solve the problem. Our tax money would be much better spent helping these people to get off drugs and become productive members of society. Our current drug laws only break up families and communities, which is overall counterproductive.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
      • JustAnotherVoter

        Nobody forced them to have a drug problem. Life is all about choices.

        August 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Ken Thompson

      Dave Rogers, you don't speak for "all" US Citizens. I surmise that you only speak for those that are in the position of "white privilege".

      You want "harsher sentences" so that you can lock up all that don't look like you.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
      • everything in Moderation

        Ken,

        I'm pretty sure Dave was making an observation, not a demand. Read the post again.

        August 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Nahzuul

      Thankfully, such draconian views are becoming more and more in the minority. People are finally waking up to the fact that rehabilitation and treatment are far more cost effective than incarceration - not to mention that it's the right thing to do, whenever possible.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
      • jeri lynn williams

        Thank you-ditto 🙂

        August 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • Larry

        Make the sentences tough enough, and they'll be too scared to take drugs in the first place. That way, there will be no need for treatment. If they're still stupid enough to take drugs, better to incarcerate them for life to keep them from polluting the human gene pool.

        August 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Hackpiper

      Sorry...but I don't think all that many people want harsher sentences. Sure, the law'n 'order pinheads are all for it, but no one else. Our sentencing laws are grotesque and draconian. You can go to jail for a very, very long time just by committing trival offenses. What makes it worse is that prosecutors game the system on technicalities to drum up horrendous convictions and the private-prison industry keeps pouring in the lobbying dough to keep it up.

      Our system of laws and corrections is genuinely evil. And its not just about drug sentences.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  3. Sounds good.... but is it just a speech????

    The Obama administration promises many things... and then some people think those problems have been solved because... well someone said so. Let's look at the Whistle Blower statute... or lets look at Guantanamo Bay... or lets look at drone strikes against US citizens.... or lets talk about bailing out Main Street.... anyway... the point is Obama promises a lot of "change" but rarely delivers.

    One bit of legalize I see in Holder's statement is the fact that he continues to keep going after anyone who is part of a criminal organization. Anyone who has practiced in Federal Court, and I have, knows that most low level drug offenders are charged as part of a conspiracy. In cases like that, a mule who buys Sudafed for a meth manufacturer ends up getting as much jail time as the real criminals (sometimes more because the mule doesn't know anyone to rat out). Now is the guy who bought the Sudafed.... part of an organization? You could argue yes, in which case this person would still be prosecuted under the conspiracy charge.

    Despite what Holder is suggesting, many of these changes do not require a change in law. In fact, many of the laws were never intended to be applied for broadly. It has been the executive branch, going all the way back to George Bush the First, which has been pushing for broader and broader interpretations of laws so that more people fall under the criminal guidelines. The Courts have let them get away with it. So there has been no check on the power of the Executive Branch in this area. It would not require an act of Congress to change this. The Attorney General could do it...........

    So for now all I hear are empty promises. But we can hope.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • Julie

      Excellent comment.

      August 18, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • Scott Moore

      Indeed, Obama and Holder are both full of hot are and lofty speeches. The DEA continues to shut down dispensaries and the war on drug rages on under Holder, so I don't believe him. Actions speak louder than words, and from the Obama administration we get too many words, and too little action. In fact, their actions contradict their lofty speeches. Obama said he wouldn't allow lobbyists in the White House, but now it's full of them. He said he wouldn't prosecute marijuana dispensaries, and yet the DEA is still raiding them in Washington and Colorado (even if was a problem at the state level the action could be left to the state).

      It's time to end their speeches and demand action.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Well said, above. Yes, Obama promised many changes back in 2008 but hardly made any of them. Gitmo remains open and political prisoners are still being tortured there despite the fact that he promised to close this evil facility!

      August 18, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
      • us_1776

        It takes a real, live functioning Congress to make any changes.

        The GOP parasite, TEA Party, has totally gridlocked the Congress.

        .

        August 18, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  4. Jeff

    It's funny: US crime rates have gone down over the last 40 years as the incarceration rate has gone up. Maybe someone will realize the two are linked.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Postosuchus

      Read the book "Freakanomics" for the answer to why crime rates have decreased. First chapter. Think you'll enjoy it

      August 18, 2013 at 10:52 am | Reply
      • kvonnegut

        There is also a utube video about crime reduction by freakonomics radio. It's easy to find.

        August 18, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Mike D

      The crime rate in Canada is decreasing at a similar rate to ours, but they imprison far fewer of their citizens. No, the answer is not that simple.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
      • Larry

        It's whiter up there, so of course the crime rate is lower.

        August 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • georgemarvin

      Actually, there is a factual problem with your argument. You're right that crime rates were much higher about 35 years ago: Both violent and property crime did spike between 1975 and 1985. For a couple of years, during the height of the 1979-1982 recession, both violent and property crime were several times as high as they are now. However, the current crime rate is also MUCH higher than it was prior to 1970, when our prison population was about a tenth of what it is now.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
    • Winston5

      Jeff, respectfully, you need to reread the article. I mean really, all those stoners they let out are not going to start some mythical crime wave.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • davidv

      Or you could toss laws in the trash and you have less law breakers.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  5. soul68

    Read the article The Atlantic did on the prison industrial complex and you'll learn why this will never change. As long as incarcerating people is so profitable, there will be more and more incarceration.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
    • Mike D

      It can change, but powerful people have to take a stance against the bloated plutocrats who are making a killing off of this. My hopes are not incredibly high, but I wouldn't call it impossible.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • davidv

      What if no one broke the law? How many people would we have in prison?

      August 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  6. Brian

    I do believe that sentencing should be within some from of guidelines and not strict minimums.

    As the article so proudly quoted other countries incarceration rates you failed to mention the drug addition rates of those countries. Those countries don’t even come close to our drug problem. Our country has a drug addition problem and we have failed as a society to morally condemn it.

    We glorify criminals, gangsters and anti-social behaviors. As a law enforcement officer for over 33 years I have seen our society crumble like the Roman empire. Yes, we can't afford to put every criminal in jail or prison but the unseen costs of drugs are not released because the amount would be quite staggering.

    These costs are associated with increased mental health issues in our youth, just look at our sky rocketing suicide rates. The number of accidental deaths due to drug overdoses, the heart problems of the cocaine users, the number of alcoholics on dialysis, most any crime associated to any form of theft is drug related, gangs prosper due to their drug trafficking, murder rates in most cities can be tied to illegal drugs.

    So we just throw up our hands and say we surrender; smoke your pot, shoot up your heroin, pop your pills, binge your alcohol and use those performance enhancing steroids. As our Declaration of Independence says: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We need to add: to be as stupid as one wishes to be.

    Just talk to the families that have been destroyed by drugs and alcohol, the costs to our society are enormous not just in monetary means but in our mental health too.

    Just go to your local jail and see the problems of our society; kids that can’t read, ½ of the inmates have mental health issues, 1/3rd wants to commit suicide and 2/3rds have a substance abuse issue or drug related offense.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • Julie

      Brian you make the point. The war on drugs is a massive failure. We can't incarcerate our way to a great nation. Its time to try another way. How about "a war to get every citizen properly educated". That may be a great place to start.

      August 18, 2013 at 10:53 am | Reply
      • Wendy

        Educating the masses is getting harder and harder with the cost of college skyrocketing......Only the rich are able to afford advancement. That is not helping the low income families to rise out of the ashes...

        August 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Larry

        Yes, we can incarcerate our way to a great nation. If we put all drug users in jail, HOW can we still have a drug problem?? Turn them all lose on impressionable youth, how can we NOT have a drug problem?? If incarceration is too expensive, deport them all to South America, and if they return, kill them on the spot. There, problem solved.

        August 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • rob

      Well... Why should a health care issue(the abuse of drugs) be solved with our prison system. A person who is addicted to drugs needs to go to rehab not prison. Every dollar we pump into the prison system is a dollar more out of your pocket in taxes. It is a dollar less that can be spent on educating our children.

      August 18, 2013 at 10:58 am | Reply
      • Brian

        Overall I agree to your observations, education is a great place to start. But, education dollars are 3/4ths of our local taxes. Jails don't even have 2% of the taxes! Costs of incarceration is not the issue; if you see the system as I have from the inside you will know that we are always denying individual responsibility, they have an excuse: drug abuse, abused as a child, gender confusion, battered wife syndrome, post traumatic syndrome, PMS, fetal alcohol syndrome, etc.

        I see rehab programs that strive for the person not to succeed, look at the methadone one. They get state funding for as long as someone stays in their program, they don’t want people to get off. There are so many programs out there it’s mind boggling, just open your phone book and see. Rehabilitation is an abject failure, studies can be made to say anything. All I know there is only a couple of things that make people stop: age and a realization that I’ve been a stupid ass for the past 10 years or so. Sorry about being so blunt.

        August 18, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Joe

      I believe the tenor of this country has grown far more liberal over the years and it can be traced back to the 60's when drug use exploded in this country – it was seen as recreational use for a long time until the crack epidemic hit in the 1980's, when people demanded, and got, stiffer mandatory minimums from the Feds. How quickly people forge. We have a generation now that excuses bad behavior and glorifies it to no end – where are the adults in this country? The "adults"" now running this country came of age in the 60's and have that same liberal mindset when it comes to drugs. I don;t care that poverty or no parents or no jobs contribute to this drug problem – lock them all up! I believe the judges should have some leeway in how the sentences are applied, but only under extenuating sentences. The only thing that separates us from becoming another Mexico or Honduras is that we lock people up! Detroit, Oakland, Chicago are examples of a liberal justice system run amok – do we want the rest of the nation to follow suit? As long as drug abuse & crime affects only certain areas, peopple will get on their morality soapbox and say the sentences are too harsh – when it starts to affect the quality of life in more affluent communities will you see people clamoring for harsher penalties, like the ones we have in place now – bunch of hypocrites

      August 18, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply
      • Larry

        Amen!

        August 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • davidv

      "I do believe that sentencing should be within some from of guidelines and not strict minimums."

      That was the reason for mandatory minimum sentences. Judges were giving convicted criminals a slap on the wrist. They returned to the streets and committed more crimes. Public outcry demanded jail time.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  7. Anthony Fierro

    @Dave Rogers –
    "but US citizens want harsher sentences , stricter laws and if they can get it... summary executions"

    Where is your data coming from?

    August 18, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
  8. Jim McDonald

    What percent of the prison population is composed of Mexican illegals? 30-35%

    August 18, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • kvonnegut

      I hope that's a mis-statement. Do you mean that most of the immigration deportation facilities are full of illegal Mexicans? If you are thinking that illegals are filling our prisons, you should seriously find better sources of information. First of all, one of the things that the corporate prison systems are pushing for everyone to be locked up for one reason or another. As they lock up more people, they then terrify people with the idea that there are so many criminals and therefore what we need is to lock up more people. I don't know how they get away with it, but apparently it works.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  9. us_1776

    Please learn the difference between:

    LEGALIZATION = GOOD:
    LEGAL: Usage, possession and sale.
    RESULT: Black market, drug gangs and drug violence disappears.

    DECRIMINALIZATION = BAD:
    ILLEGAL: Usage and possession (but not punished).
    ILLEGAL: Sale
    RESULT: Does NOTHING to stop the black markets, the criminal drug gangs and cartels, and all the violence.

    MEDICAL MARIJUANA = BAD:
    ILLEGAL: Usage and possession (except in cases of medical prescription).
    ILLEGAL: Sale
    RESULT: Does NOTHING to stop the black markets, the criminal drug gangs and cartels, and all the violence.

    LEGALIZE and TAX NOW !!

    .

    August 18, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • KR

      I agree! It just makes sense!!

      August 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  10. Robert

    Those European nations do not have a large minority that commit most of the crime.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • us_1776

      Yeah. You discriminate against a segment of your citizenry for over 400 years and guess what? Bad things can happen.

      .

      August 18, 2013 at 11:33 am | Reply
      • Larry

        It was only when we stopped discriminating against them that all the bad things started happening.

        August 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Gene

      Where do you get your data from Robert....those European countries do have large immigrant(legal and illegal) populations....do some research.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
  11. Robert

    I wonder is there any connection between the civil rights movement of the 60's and the crime wave of the 70's??

    August 18, 2013 at 10:51 am | Reply
    • Jermaine

      Yeah, because people demanding to be treated equally is a bad thing.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:59 am | Reply
  12. DAVID COOPER

    Social Security and Medicaid are spending Billions on Outpatient Drug Rehabilitation providing Addicts a place to live in the community(next door to Senior Citizens and the Blind). These outpatient rehabs do not require Addicts to be clean, in fact over 90% are using. The government is paying for these Addicts to get high, and paying for their Drug Rehabilitation at the same time!!!
    Lookup 115 Ontario Street Albany, NY and you will see a perfect example of Government Waste and violent offenders.

    l

    August 18, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
  13. Greg

    This is all a bunch of baloney. The politicians are lawyers and they know which side of the bread is buttered. Legalize POT and half the cells will be empty.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:05 am | Reply
    • RSG

      You can't legalize pot. Think of all the people it would put out of work. Hundreds of prison guards, perhaps thousands of police officers. Think of all the poor cartel folks that we'll have to support on welfare (cause that's the only work they know how to do). You'd, of course, would have to cut a ton of money being sent and spent to foreign countries that support that industry... What are you thinking????

      August 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  14. Karl Hungus

    Much of the problem would be solved if juries would become aware of their true rights, powers, and responsibilities, and start refusing to convict people for non-violent, victimless "crimes."

    August 18, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • davidv

      Doesn't matter. Juries convict. They do not sentence. Judges sentence.

      August 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  15. TK

    if people in this country really want change they need to get rid of most of the members of congress. the president gets the blame for a lot of things BUT it is congress that make and pass laws, it is congress that have the power of the "purse" and that is on the federal level and do the same on the state level nothing will change unless we change congress and state legislatures and make term limits happen on state and federal levels

    August 18, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • KR

      Exactly! In order to end the gridlock in Washington, the obstructionist Tea Party members ('Party of No') in the House of Representatives must be voted out! They are responsible for the crippling stagnation in passing required legislation to grow the economy, fix our prison systems, improve our infrastructures & schools, and address the health & wellbeing of ALL American citizens. The Party of No Must Go!!!

      August 18, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
      • Dan

        No

        August 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
      • JustAnotherVoter

        FYI, the House passed over 30 job creation bills that are sitting in Harry Reid's in-basket. He won't even bring them onto the Senate floor for a vote. Who's holding back the economy??

        August 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • KR

        @Just Another Voter- prove your claim.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • davidv

      "if people in this country really want change they need to get rid of most of the members of congress."

      I believe there is a method to do that. Its called voting.

      August 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  16. Jessica McGwin

    3 Billion a year in prophet. That is allot of working capital. I have to wonder if the drug problem in America is being fueled by these corporations. During incarceration prisoners are placed in "drug" treatment programs. It would be beneficial to the corporation to use this time, power, and authority to essentially teach prisoners how to use and build "small" businesses geared to the perpetuation of the problem rather than a resolving it. I can think of one such prison guard off hand. He was eventually fired however during his time working as a guard he regularly moved pills, cocaine to the inmates. By the way he was not fired for his drug dealing. He is currently well connected and operating a "nice" little business for him self. I doubt that the changes purposed will come to pass. The corruption with in the system is so ingrained and the money is just to good. The tax payers have no choice, it is against the law to not pay taxes. It is illegal to demand an account of your tax dollars. We the stupid people is what government thinks of us. Laughing all the way to the bank as we the people are forced to watch entire cities fall.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
  17. Uncommon Sense

    First off, we don't know how many prisoners, including political, are in jail in China, Russia, North Korea etc. So I doubt we have the most. Second, the crime rate has dropped dramatically in America over the last 20 years or so. Wonder why? I don't. It's because the people that commit those crimes are behind bars! Release them and the crime rate is gonna skyrocket.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:27 am | Reply
  18. Wendy

    We are #1 in incarceration because we dont cut off hands, or behead, or give 100 lashes or...........

    August 18, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
    • us_1776

      Afghanistan is calling you.

      .

      August 18, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
      • Wendy

        Not me, i dont condone any of those things...Just making an observation..I love America. I for one know how fortunate I am !!!!

        August 18, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • us_1776

        Wendy, OK, I mistook your comment then.

        August 18, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • kvonnegut

      There are so many things wrong with that idea, I almost don't know where to start. People get their hands cut off for stealing. The point of the argument is that we are letting thieves out of jail because it's more profitable to make long prison sentences for non-violent criminals – there are tons of them. Drug users. Just like they have everywhere else. In the early 1900s, the USA started to recognize that rehabilitation was better than punishment. It was a success, and many other western countries followed our example. Unfortunately, we have put money into our system, and that money we send to them for prisons, comes back to us online, tv, print and politicians clouding the issues, telling us we need to lock up more people. We are at critical mass. Imagine if we locked up people who drank for decades, during prohibition. We would have bankrupted the country, lost a generation of workers, and created an apathetic society. Locking someone up for decades for using drugs, is as unethical as cutting off the limbs for using drugs. It serves no one and degenerates our entire culture.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
  19. P. Turner

    There are a few factors not mentioned.

    First, where does all the money factor in from the ridiculously priced commissary items sold in jails and prisons? They are making a TON of money from that stuff. Ramen Noodles for over a dollar a piece when you can buy them for about .10 However that money is never ever mentioned anywhere.

    Locking people up for using drugs is silly and always has been. It will never stop people from being addicted to these drugs. They need to develop a way to treat people for these addictions in a cost effective manner, incarceration is by no means "cost effective" all that is doing is lining the pockets of the private corporations that own them.

    Legalize Marijuana, that will free up a crap load of space and money. Sure the argument is tax it, however you can simply grow your own and avoid the taxes, it's not like making your own alcohol, growing pot is much easier. They could sell licenses to individual people to allow them to grow so many plants on their properties. This is a win win situation, people can grow it themselves and the already cash strapped cities and states can make more much needed money. If people fail to obtain these permits or licenses then they will be subject to fines, not criminal records and such.

    All other drugs there needs to be more effective rehab and other programs available to treat those addictions, prison will not treat it nor get rid of the issue.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:31 am | Reply
    • RSG

      Grow their own pot to avoid taxes?.. You mean like we all do with tobacco? Hmmm.... I'd give that more thought but I gotta go water my tobacco plants.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • digdug

      Ever tried to grow pot? Not "easy"

      August 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  20. simplyput

    The states got a grip on this problem first because Republican governors had to balance checkbooks. Didn't hear Fareed mention this.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:32 am | Reply
  21. JM

    Imagine if we built state of the art schools throughout America that filled our kids' minds with useful/exciting knowledge. They wouldn't have time to waste being stupid and getting into trouble.

    But, no, let's keep on being mystified by gang violence in neighborhoods that we don't invest in (and where guns are easier to buy than fresh fruit).

    Imbecilic.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:33 am | Reply
  22. Jessica McGwin

    I do think that the plan set out by our Attorney General would work in breaking the cycle of abuse in the system. Because I do not know him or have never worked for him or with him, I would say for me anyway the jury is still out on his motives. It is always about the money. My trust in the government is not existent.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
  23. evoc

    And yet when does a politician 'take on' anything but support...

    August 18, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
  24. Ashley

    I thinks USA's mandatory has the biggest number of prisoners which make this country on top of the list of criminals sentences.
    That's awful

    August 18, 2013 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • davidv

      Then we need less laws. Which would you like to delete?

      August 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  25. johnvsc

    The grammar in this article is atrocious. Who wrote this? Are they getting paid? Please, please have someone proof read this article; I don't care if you post my comment or not. Thanks!

    August 18, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
  26. The Brutal Truth

    As long as judges and politicians are allowed to invest in private prison and contract for labor from prisons for their companies, the incarceration rate will continue to increase.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:50 am | Reply
  27. Dandy

    Commonsense is a rare things these days with our current congress. Yet we keep voting the same clowns back in.
    Right now we have the best congress that money can buy..

    August 18, 2013 at 11:51 am | Reply
  28. alan

    letting the druggies out so they can put in more thugs

    August 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
    • Wendy

      The druggies are the thugs. There goes the neighborhoods.....

      August 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
    • Julie

      No, they start of as just pot smokers who may only mug a bag of Doritos. After prison they come out thugs.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply
      • billy d

        correct.

        August 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  29. trilly2010

    It is obvious that this organization Global PUblic Square is a lobby group for CRIMINALS and is probably composed primarily of ex-cons (at least i would check into it before i would believe anything anybody in this group says)

    August 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
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