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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

America's Shameful "Criminal Justice" Cartel

America's prison system and our entire system of "criminal justice" is broken. This is what happens when you allow private industry to handle certain functions that only government should be running, and even then with rotating civilian oversight such that no one person is on the oversight committee so long as to become inured to the faults. 

Our prison system is an abomination for a "civilized" republic, although it might in fact be a sign that our republic has lost its civilization.

Cops, prosecutors, DAs, judges, jailers, prison corporations, therapists, counselors, more cops, lawyers, bail bondsmen, legal aides, paralegals, even more cops... It's an industry that's out of hand and largely out of sight. It rests on its laurels despite the fact that they were stolen rather than earned. Our prison system has always been broken, and it's gotten even worse.

Add to this that conservatives in states all over the country slashed budgets for state-run hospitals for the mentally ill back in the early-90s. I know; I lived 5 blocks from the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, when they released into for-profit group homes people who immediately turned to drugs and alcohol and prostitution in order to get them. Immediately! 

The group homes were sties. Piles of dirty laundry all over, unwashed linens, feces, urine, half-eaten food... But the Almighty Dollars flowed into the right pockets and the plight of the residents got even worse. Plus, our little quiet neighborhood with a mix of owner-occupied and rentals suddenly turned into the loony ward, judging from the sounds one heard at night. Rentals were suddenly filled with 6-8 residents at 10 times the rental rates the absentee owners had commanded before, but no work was done on them and they looked like...mental wards.

These people can't help themselves. Most of the time, they don't even understand what's happening to them, and sometimes they don't fully grasp why they were incarcerated to start with. Oh, the monied criminal justice cartel owners don't give a damn about these people or any inmates for that matter. They pay lip-service to wanting to help, but that help comes with a hefty price tag and a hold-harmless contract that makes damn sure they'll never be held responsible for anything that happens to the inmates. 

Think about how you would feel if you were put into solitary confinement for a month. Now think about how bad it would be if you were already agitated, fearful, terror-filled even, and that happened to you. These people are someone's sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. 

This isn't punishment. This is torture.