August 17th, 2013
03:07 AM ET

U.S. wakes up to its prison nightmare

For more What in the World, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

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. GI Joe

    Without Prisons for Profits where will Joe Arpaio and their Gov. get their personal retirement funds? h ha ha ha ha

    August 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  2. 99mystic99

    About time, we need to empty our prisons and jails of all but the most egregious criminals. Incarcerating low-level and petty criminals does not help rehabilitate them; if anything, it trains them and further corrupts them so that they commit additional crimes upon release. We need a complete overhaul of our drug laws and sentencing guidelines, with more counseling and rehabilitation services, and fewer jails and prisons.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • davidv

      And where should the criminals go? Should they stay at your house? How many will you take in?

      August 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
      • Janis

        Most of these "so called criminals" have homes, at least they did before society locked them away for low level offences. They can stay in their homes. No need for them to be relocated anywhere. I wonder if some of you people even think at all.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Inprison the Corporate Criminals, and let first time pot users go. We're putting the wrong people in prison.

    Campbell Brown is so far-right she walks in circles.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  4. unowhoitsme

    And it's only going to get worse. With a 25% high school dropout rate in the US, 18 year olds have no way to support themselves. People will do what they have to do to support themselves and their families. Many turn to being a drug dealer because there's BIG money in it. It's 'better' than working at McDonald's or some other fast food joint. We need intervention BEFORE it's too late. American school system is broken. We're quickly becoming a third world nation. Soon we will be spending more money on prisons than on education. Instead of challenging ourselves with knowledge and becoming productive citizens for our communities, we will be physically defending our lives and putting up bars in our windows. At the rate that we're 'producing' criminals, they will eventually take over this country. And the government wants to ban our right to bare arms? Then the only ones with the guns will be the criminals because they can get them illegally, and you and I will be without any means of defending ourselves. Quality education and true reformation; not prisons.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  5. Pokey

    Why after all these decades is this now being tended to? Because since Holder is black, and knows that these offenses are committed by a large % of young black males. The Senate Amnesty bill allows for ILLEGAL immigrants to have up to 3 misdemeanors wiped off their records, and Holder now actually read that part of the bill and doesn;t feel it;s fair that blacks won't have that same advantage. Shame that it takes race to have something like this implemented.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  6. edmundburkeson

    These are the fruits of Democratic Party values. They worked very hard to get us to this point.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • marjee123

      What a bunch of bull hookey. but then what kind of lies to you expect from tea bags and republicans. I mean they are so jealous of Democrats the use a gross of depends a week.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
      • John

        Jealous of what? Higher deficit, Middle East coming a part at the seams. IRS discriminating against political groups and the NSA spying on it's own citizens. Ya, I'd be jealous of that too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        August 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
      • EdD

        Why are the Dem defenders lacking in any actual facts. Simply full of emotion. How about you try to respond with some published stats to back up your opinion. Simple. You can't.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Julie

      Its obvious your a tea party rocket scientist. Doesn't take long for you people to get tired of watching fox news, so you come over to blog here, where there are a few logical and intelligent commentators.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        The liberals get very emotional. Don't have any real facts but lots of emotion. Just look around and it's pretty obvious that the numbers don't lie. If there is going to be any progress it has to start at home and we need a culture that supports that no matter what color you are. Frankly the fact that people can't even agree on a basic value set is pretty damn frustrating and ruinin this country.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • John

        Sure I watch Fox News, and I watch CNN. But I draw the line at MSNBC, CBS, ABC. and NBC. They are soooo far left that most of the time they are off the scope.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • julie acklin

      Beautifully said.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Raw-L

      The Schools Are Closed and the prisons Open Come on everybody we rollin'

      August 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • PotSmokingYoda

      All drug users must serve prison time forever. NO DRUGS FOR ANYONE!

      August 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Reply
      • PotSmokingYoda

        All you drug using heathens have no place in this country!

        August 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • Janis

        No drugs means no coffee, no aspirin, no cancer treatment, no Prozac, no alcohol, no birth control pills, no antibiotics. Are you sure we should go there?

        August 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Uthor

      The misguided "war on drugs" policies started with Richard Nixon–whom everyone knows was Republican.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • ddanny1

      Said the man who's party has fought tooth and nail to not only fight regulations that make it a crime to send the country hurtling toward economic depression, or poison drinking water and air, but to end the agencies who enforce any of the regulations.
      How many drug dealers do you think equals one Wall Street CEO, or one venture capital firm CEO (/ GOP POTUS candidate) in numbers of lives ruined? 20? 50? 100?
      A pot dealer sales a guy a bag grass. The guy smokes it. If he likes it, he comes back for more. If he keeps coming back too much, he's going to end up sitting on his couch stoned and loss his job. A venture capital CEO buys a company, and outsources the jobs to China. Anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand lose their job because the self made millionaire CEO , who fought his way all the way up from the extreme poverty of a Michigan Governor's son,found out he no longer has the biggest yacht at the marina, and that's embarrassing.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
      • DE

        The repug/tea bagger party is the one that de-regulated and thus laid the groundwork for one of the worse recessions we've had in a long time. The economy that Obama inherited, yes inherited, I know you repugs don't like to admit that, but it is true, was the sole responsibilty of repugs and their policies. There have been roughly 13 stock market scares/collapses since the Civil War, all occurring in repug administrations. More jobs are created by democrats than repugs:
        Job creation since 1961: Republican presidents: 23.9 million
        Richard Nixon: Increase of 7.1 million jobs
        Gerald Ford: Increase of 1.3 million jobs
        Ronald Reagan: Increase of 14.7 million jobs
        George H.W. Bush: Increase of 1.5 million jobs
        George W. Bush: Decline of 646,000 jobs

        Democratic presidents: 42.3 million
        John F. Kennedy: Increase of 2.7 million jobs
        Lyndon B. Johnson: Increase of 9.5 million jobs
        Jimmy Carter: Increase of 9.0 million jobs
        Bill Clinton: Increase of 20.8 million jobs
        Barack Obama: Increase of 332,000 jobs
        This is a of a year or so ago; the number for Obama can be increased.
        Republcans killed a bill introduced by dems to wouls have given tax breaks to companies that bring jobs BACK to the US. Repugs are poison for the economy.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • EdD

        DE. Why are rehashing BS blog stats/opinions? Who was it that pushed a historically massive CRA expansion? Who was it that signed that nasty GLBA into law? But hey, don't let facts get in your way.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • John K.

      You're hilarious.....everyone knows that the War on Drugs, which is a colossal failure has always been a favorite project of Republicans.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        Bush bush bush bush. Bush bush bush. Bush bush bush bush and bush bush bush. BUSH! bush bush. Bush bush bush or bush bush bush. Finally, bush bush bush bush.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Steve Howe

        Everyone has some fault, but this particular problem was brought about by the Democrats who supported the Congressional Black Caucus in their bid to keep crack off the streets of the poorest neighborhoods. A lofty goal, but as with any law, there were unintended consequences.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • nclaw441

        Democrats should introduce legislation to legalize all drugs if that's how they feel.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Jo W

      If stupidity was a crime you would be incarcerated for a billion years

      August 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • sundownr

      You cannot be serious. This problem has been steadily increasing for over 40 years. It is only now we understand paying $50,000/year to incarcerate a prisoner is a form of extortion, let alone a miscarriage of justice, with racial overtones that defy our democracy. If any American citizen can believe we do not have a broken justice system then they must be living in never-never land.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
      • nclaw441

        I don't get your logic. Imprisonment is pretty easy to avoid, assuming you are aware that possessing and selling drugs is against the law. Just don't do it.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • rg33

      100 years from now, today's U.S. prison system will be considered the same as we consider Devil's Island, Botany Bay, Siberian Gulags and the insane asylums of the 1800's. Nearly all violent crime and drug addiction is a mental illness, which may be beyond today's medicine, but as we come to understand the extreme intricacies of the Mind, early detection and correction will be available. Just as early detection and correction of many diseases is today. (I'll leave the social implications for others.)

      Most of what we think we know about crime, violence, and mental illness is as wrong as using bleeding to cure disease in the 15th century. Locking people up or killing them does not cure them. It just protects a society that does not know how to solve the problem.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • Janis

      Gosh, I hope so. Keeping people out of jail and giving them more chances to make something of their lives is not only more moral, but it's also cost effective, and it's what Jesus would do. Bring on the Democratic values of freedom, compassion and cost effectiveness, and let us quit ruining lives for low level offenses.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • penel9

      I'm a Republican. I've long thought our drug laws and sentences have been horribly out of whack. Why pot isn't legal, legislated and taxed is beyond me. But if you make meth to sell, if you commerce in meth, crack, heroin or are part of a brutal, murderous, merciless, unlawful ring/cartel of baby-losers, then you deserve to be hung from the highest tree. There are very, very significant and distinct differences that we refuse to look at as part of a viable solution to the costs, over-crowding, unfairness and injustices. Being caught with a joint or 2 and some papers is far different from finding people tortured, beheaded, gutted, hanged. I'd rather see the money spent on tracking those who commit such God-awful atrocities, drug-related or not. This is not solely a Democrat/Liberal agenda. Right is right, fair is fair.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Reply
    • Janis

      Gosh, I hope so. More room in jail for violent offenders, saving money by only housing the more violent offenders. Not ruining people's lives by giving them a criminal record for low level drug offences, so they can actually find a job and not be a drain on society. Great fruit, and a real move in the right direction!

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

    Carter turned the mentally ill out on the streets. Now the streets will be littered with drugees.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • Dennis Downey

      Mental health is a state issue not federal. Reagan trned them loose in California when he was governor.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Reply
      • julie acklin

        Mental illness is every ones issue.

        August 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Grouch

        And they have been running the state since!

        August 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Dennis

      You are a dodo.Reagan was the one who cut funding for the mentally ill and cut back on veterans funding as well.This is the product we have after the "war on drugs" that Reagan followed by Bush Sr. thought up as a brilliant idea.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        Bush bush bush bush. Bush bush bush. Bush bush bush bush and bush bush bush. BUSH! bush bush. Bush bush bush or bush bush bush. Finally, bush bush bush bush.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • DE

      Can you repugs get anything right? It was Reagan who put all the mentally retarded on the street.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  8. Mikey

    Why is it that every time I log on to CNN lately, the main "story" is actually an opinion piece?

    August 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • Grouch

      Because they are the liberal propaganda arm. Joseph Goebbels would be proud!

      August 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • EdD

      Because CNN is a joke of a news site. When they can't spin a story to divide us they invent one and call it an opinion piece.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • dre

      And written by a muzzie who cnn feels obligated to hire by the boatload to be sensitive

      August 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  9. Kurt

    Stop advertising crime and you might see a decrease in it.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • Karen

      I totally agree.........it's way too advertised via social networking, news, etc..........makes some people very desensitized to any of it...........it all seems way too "normal"

      August 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  10. Darwin

    The way to reduce the prison population and at the same time achieve rehabilitation is to require all prisoners to watch MR. ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD reruns during all their waking hours. Hey, it has as much chance of working as all the other expensive and ineffective rehab programs they use now!

    August 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
    • julie acklin

      This isn't a juvenile subject matter. It is real not Mr. Rogers neighborhood.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Reply
      • uhhh

        Uhh What are you saying Julie. Mr Roger's was a real person, and by extension so was his Neighborhood.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Steve Howe

      But therein lies the problem. Less than one penny of every dollar spent in the prison system goes to rehabilitation. There's a reason that youthful offenders who go to prison come out as hardened criminals. It's the prisons themselves, especially private ones, They simply lock offenders away, feed them a bare subsistence, and let them out when their time is up. Some states will put prisoners on a work farm for their last few months and call it rehab.
      I believe a person should certainly spend time compensatory to any crime they committed, but if you don't want a 19 year olds stupid mistake to turn into a lifetime of crime and punishment that you wind up paying for, then we need to be doing a lot more than we're doing now.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  11. davidv

    The crackheads who are to be released will live in Eric Holder’s neighborhood? How many of you crackhead lovers will take say 20 in your neighborhood? Please raise your hand.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
    • julie acklin

      You know what .That crack head is some ones family member. No one woke and said gee I wish I had a crack head in my family. Grow up

      August 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        My heart bleeds for you. If the family members weren't crack head too, there may be progress.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • EdD

        So then you're okay with a house full of crack heads next door to you right?

        August 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • nclaw441

        I do feel sorry for those in the family who were not aware of what the drug user/seller was doing. But the one who is convicted had to know that taking the drug was illegal when he/she did it. That is a personal choice, with an associated risk. Don't take/possess/sell the drugs and you will stay out of jail. Even the least educated people can follow that.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  12. Greg

    People don't go to jai for simple possession. Possessing pound of crack cocaine is nit a non violent crime, just ask the people in chicago.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Reply
    • Darwin

      Acutally, the way to solve the illegal drugs problem is to put a bucket of drugs on every street corner. Then you can take your kid around in the morning to check out all the dead bodies, and you can tell your kid, "Now Johnny, do you see what will happen to you if you stick your head into one of those buckets?" In contrast, you apparently hold the belief that law enforcement and prohibition of drugs is the solution, but we've been fighting the war on drugs every year, losing every year, and spending billions on it every year, to the point where it has become "welfare and job security for the law enforcement industry, so most sensible people would conclude that it don't work, right?

      August 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        As long as there are junkies, there will be drugs. We could supply all the druggies of the country with what we have spent on the so called war. We just need to make sure they all get a really stong hit when we hand it out.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  13. rick

    ed,

    that is simply nuttier than squirrel droppings.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  14. joney

    We have a problem keeping felons locked up not visa versa. Too many are let out to prey on citizens.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • julie acklin

      Yes with out rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment. Is that right too?

      August 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        Rehabilitation does not work. My daughters is a corrections officer and she says it's a revolving door for druggies. They dry them out. They rehab them and 3 months later they are back. What we need to do is find them a nice comfortable corner and let them fry themselves out.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • Janis

        @Grunch, You mean rehabilitation doesn't work for everybody. It does work for some, just like alcohol treatment only works for some, yet we are not throwing them in prison.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  15. zed

    as with everything else in the modern world, as the oil and energy of the world runs down and the population explodes there will be nothing but horror, destuction, and global collapse. the human monkeys will get everything we deserve on our way from 7plus billion people to less than 1....

    August 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • Grouch

      Yes, we have exceeded carrying capacity. Not only that strategic energy sources are drying up. Since the 'first' world countries run on oil and the 'third' world countries live on the spoils. I think we're in for a real bumpy ride in the not so distant future.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  16. Nancy

    Pulling people out of jail is only half the story. ...giving people the opportunity to rise above after they're released is the other half. Once you've got a criminal record, it's very hard to get a job. Without a job, a lot of people will just wind back up behind bars anyway. I say, sure, let them out, and spend the tax dollars (that would have been spent on keeping them locked up) as credits toward businesses to take the risk of hiring these guys and properly training them.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • julie acklin

      That is the key.

      August 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  17. Liquidcobra

    People actually think the drug laws prevent drug dealers from dealing. That's the number one thing people need to wake up on. Overcrowded prisons have proven anything it's proven that drug laws are MEANINGLESS. People are going to do what they're going to do regardless of the drug law in the books. I've never seen a junkie stop doing drugs because a law told him to. So it all basically comes down to this....do you want to keep paying for people to live off your dime in prison or not. You're not safer because of drug laws...that's just an illusion.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  18. elucidated1

    It's humorous that so many want to lock up anyone who doesn't follow the values they choose, and then complain about the cost of incarceration. But the system is a tiny bit compromised. Take California for example. Privatized prisons that may prison guards six figures and then cherry pick only the prisoners they want.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • civilian

      Say hello to the practice of Charter Schools. And noone wonders why they are performing better than public schools?

      August 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  19. California

    And this administrations solution is to let all the prisoners go.

    Why does this not surprise me?

    August 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • julie acklin

      Because you are an republican who thinks that you are in control?

      August 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply
      • California

        By your post you never graduated grade school.

        August 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Hackpiper

      Probably because you don't seem to understand the facts.

      Just saying.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      This applies to low level,non violent offenders.Doesn't the GOP/Tea Party crowd want to cut govt spending?..Well,here is a start in that direction.I am surprised that you can even form a logical thought.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • lib

      That's not what I read. It says to release offenders of non violent crimes who are arrested for small amounts of drugs. Makes sense.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
      • California

        Yeah made sense in California where they released a man that kidnapped a little girl right out of her Chatsworth bedroom and took her. I'll spare you the details.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Grouch

      They are running out of politicians. They need to release a new batch.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  20. 6797777

    What is a low level drug offender ? Is taking a schedule 1 drug low level ?

    August 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  21. Darwin

    If legalized, a shot of heroin, including the cost of the sterile syringe and needle, might cost at most $2. Instead, we in our wonderful wisdom, make it illegal and costly, so gangs murder each other and innocent citizens to gain the huge profits from it, and junkies have to rob and kill us to get high – what a GREAT IDEA! Sounds like something Republicans thought up!

    August 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • EdD

      You're actually trying to rationalize legalizing heroin? Look at Needlepark, Switzerland. A perfect example of why it can't work.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        Why not? Have a meat wagon come by ever morning and pick up the terminals.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Grouch

      Bush bush bush bush. Bush bush bush. Bush bush bush bush and bush bush bush. BUSH! bush bush. Bush bush bush or bush bush bush. Finally, bush bush bush bush.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  22. Edward

    The second to last paragraph says it all.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  23. fleaflea

    Drug abuse, incarceration, and mental health issues are the direct result of psychotronic frequencies broadcasted by celltowers. We live in a police state controlled by Google. They hire a lot of low-level grunts whose only job is to serve as thought police to monitor and control our brainwave EEG patterns on the Internet and out in the street. Their other function is to harass those of us who didn't respond to programming implemented by Google's psychotronic supercomputers in 2006-2007 via cellular technology. Chemtrails, mosquito-spraying, vaccinations, etc. are all methods for improving the efficacy of our brain's responses to the mind-control low-frequencey radiowaves that constantly bombard us on a daily basis via celltowers.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • Darwin

      And YOUR brain is clearly sitting in a vat of nutrients and being fed signals from aliens from the planet Mongo, thus directing you to write what you did in your post. You can't fool us!

      August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        You forgot his tin foil hat. He needs a tin foil hat.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Dennis

      It appears your brainwave activity is operating a bit off frequency.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  24. mindstorms

    This prison over population problem could have been predicted by any rational person who has been following this issue. The war on drugs is a complete and total failure. Drugs such as pot should be legalized and taxed. Stop putting people in prison for using a product that is no worse than alcohol. One would think that we would have learned our lesson with prohibition and how the only thing it did was make some criminals very rich. The same can be said about pot.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • davidv

      "Drugs such as pot should be legalized and taxed."

      Obama is working on that. Your kids will be able to go to 7-11 and get a big gulp and a joint. Wont that be cool?

      August 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
      • DE

        Typical dumbaZZ response.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Grouch

        Kids that want a joint are going to find a joint. Do be absurd.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  25. trilly3807

    I think most of the comments here are missing the point. It is LOW-LEVEL drug offenders whose sentences are being lowered. That would apply to SMALL amounts of drugs. Long-term mandatory sentencing for petty amounts of weed, just for example, is absolutely ludicrous. Lock up VIOLENT offenders. They are the people that belong in prison.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  26. real reality

    only 20% of the population, the question really is what crimes make up the 80%? then you also need to do some low level research on the ground in areas that low life drug dealing and users live and play- since none work-- and see with your own eyes if drug dealing is victimless and does not include violence. who believes releasing the 20% of the prison population with drug offenses and the associated violence is a good thing? certainly there are other crimes without violence or crimes that promote violence and intimidation that probably make up 20-30% of the prison population, out of the millions in prison how many have committed violent acts? we see a few in the news, but we also see the tax cheats named who get prison time and those usually outnumber violent and drug dealing

    August 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • JCal

      Most tax cheats rarely get caught – let alone get prison time. Now that makes sense. If they get caught, they should pay the fine and continue with life with their lesson learned. Putting them in prison accomplishes nothing but require that the rest of us pay a lot more taxes than we need to.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  27. Rock Singer

    But simple offenders to work on road work or some kind of community work to allow these people to lift weights and hang around a jail cell all day is not the way to go.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  28. Ken

    What the Liberals / Democrats won't mention is, as the number of people incarcerated due to drug charges increased, the number of crimes, both violent and non-violent, decreased. Supposed sociological experts are scratching their heads as when the recession hit and unemployment soared, they did not see a corresponding increase in crime like in the past. While they keep scratching their heads, some have theorized that with all the low-end people in prison, the ones who lost such jobs first in the past were in prison and so they could not commit any crimes. Add in how your average everyday Joe Somebody is not going to turn to crime as easily, and you see the result.

    So yes the prisons have a lot of people in them. But everyone of them would be more than willing to rob somebody. They were already doing so to support their habits. The streets are safer with them removed from society. Heck, I say INCREASE mandatory sentences, and keep them locked up even longer. That is tax money well spent.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • Masse

      "What the Liberals / Democrats won't mention is... blah blah blah"
      That's fantastic- you have formed a hypothesis. Does the data support it? No? I see.
      You know what they call people who believe things that aren't supported by facts?
      Crazy. Get help.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • LI_Bri

      "as the number of people incarcerated due to drug charges increased, the number of crimes, both violent and non-violent, decreased."

      Maybe you have link to backup this statement?

      And not everyone in jail on a drug-related "crime" are willing to rob somebody. Some are there for mere possession.

      I'm glad so-called Conservatives such as you are a dying breed. You're woefully misinformed.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      Ken,aren't you a part of the same Tea Party/GOP crowd clamoring for cutting govt.spending?..You can't have it both ways.Make up your confused minds,will ya?

      August 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
      • Grouch

        Cut spending. I'm all for it. Let druggies be druggies too. No more spending on trying to wash them out over and over and over again. Of course that's not the kind of spending liberals are looking to reduce. Oh well.

        August 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  29. LI_Bri

    They lock-up more of their citizens than China and Iran combined, and they have the nerve to call themselves the "Land of the Free". LOL.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      Maybe the reason China and Iran have less prisoners is because they are executed on a mass scale.

      August 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  30. sundownr

    We should all wonder that by incarcerating 25% of the world's prisoners we suddenly have a prison problem. Perhaps if the profits of incarceration were not so great we would not be facing such a dilemma. Thanks Congress for accepting the bribes which created this mess in the first place. All of you are a testament that moral decay is alive and flourishing today.

    August 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
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