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Sociologist on incarceration: “This is no way to run a country”


Sociologist on incarceration: “This is no way to run a country”


April Taylor

Sociologist Salvatore Babones recently began a series on that centers around policy issues relevant to 2016 political campaigns.  One of the most pressing issues is mass incarceration.  Nearly 3 percent of the adult population in the United States is under the control of the country’s criminal justice system by either being in prison, on probation, or on parole.  To put this in perspective, if the population of the U.S. prison system were a state, it would rank as the 14th largest, making it larger than the population of Massachusetts, and just under the population of Washington state.

As Babones points out, mass incarceration is “no way to run a country.  Too many people are in prison for too long, and too many people are in prison for crimes they did not commit or for activities that should never have been classified as crimes in the first place.”  Although optimists may point out that conditions are improving because of the current decline in the number of people under correctional supervision as well as the number of new incarcerations, the underlying cause reveals that it is not due to altruistic reasons.  The decline is due to the fact that many states can no longer afford to keep so many people incarcerated.

One of the most concerning aspects of mass incarceration is the fact that so many people wind up behind bars for nonviolent crimes.  Nearly 70 percent of newly incarcerated state inmates and a large majority of newly incarcerated federal inmates have committed nonviolent crimes.  Some of these inmates have committed such harmless crimes as protesting.  The recent Occupy movement saw a number of young people arrested, tasered, or shot for not following police commands during peaceful protests.  This is alarming considering America is supposed to be a democracy with constitutionally protected rights to free assembly and free speech.

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Another unnerving problem related to mass incarceration is the number of people who are wrongfully convicted and have had their sentences overturned.  More than one-third of all inmates who received the death sentence since 1973 have been exonerated.  The fact that there are many roadblocks within the criminal justice system to having sentences overturned means that the rate of wrongful conviction is most likely much higher than exoneration statistics indicate.

America can no longer claim to be a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world when it criminalizes constitutionally protected rights and operates a criminal justice system that sees more than one-third of it’s citizens labeled as criminals.  The amount of power that the American government has over its citizens through the criminal justice system is quickly turning the “land of the free” into a police state.  It is imperative that all citizens who value their freedom and American democracy unite in the upcoming 2016 presidential election to ensure that the freedom and rights of all American citizens do not continue to be violated by a criminal justice system that uses mass incarceration to control and exploit American citizens.  As Babones states: “Modern governments have at their disposal awesome powers of domination and control.  We have to make sure that our federal, state and local governments don’t dominate and control us.”

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  1. teddybarexxx

    June 9, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Ppl wake up prisons are a big money making machine. Schools are closing but prisons are being built. Ask yourself how do one fill a jail well you first infest their neighborhoods with drugs and alcohol, you keep the community uneducated, unhealthy, close down jobs that ultimately effects them financially and you keep reminding the ppl how they aint shit if they dont have a certain car or certain clothes. You play and show audio and video ages of a lifestyle you should have or strive to have with no real solution on how you obtain those things. You keep the ppl divided on political, social, and financial decisions we all need to make. They keep you unhealthy by selling you processed foods that they know is linked to various diseases ie cancer hey the list goes on and on. The only way amerikkka is going to survive is that we have to stand together for the improvement and betterment of the human race not just for a select few but for all to benefit.

  2. Peter D. Slaughter

    June 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    The whole scenario is updated slavery,genocide,eugenics and population control.
    This is even more modern than what the nazi’s were doing.
    Most people are to blind and to scared to call it what it truly is.

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