Friday, December 05, 2008

Schools Or Prisons?
The politicians chose for you. They chose prisons. Juan Cole has an excellent post on the subject.

A big drain on state budgets is the penitentiary system. In just the decade 1980 to 1990, the prison and jail population in the US doubled. Since 1980, the prison population has quadrupled. By the end of 2006, over 2 million persons were in prison and another 5 million were on probation or on parole.

I remember reading in the Ann Arbor News in 1988 about a big debate at the statehouse in Lansing over funding for prisons versus funding for universities. The prisons won.

In these same nearly four decades, there have been substantial declines in violent crimes and crimes against property in the US. The vastly increased prison population was produced by unreasonably long prison sentences for non-violent crime, by ridiculous 3-strikes-and-you-are-out life sentences and by the completely failed 'war on drugs' and by mandatory sentencing guidelines imposed by legislatures on judges in drug cases. Half of prisoners in state prisons did not commit a violent crime, and 20% are drug offenders.[...]
The states had to put their money into prosecuting, trying, imprisoning and then supporting to the tune of like $20,000 a year a bunch of . . . potheads.

The whole thing is worth a read. Some key points, alcohol causes more problems than marijuana yet nobody is talking about alcohol prohibition. Marijuana should be taxed and regulated. Some of the tax money for treatment programs for people that can not handle marijuana. I think the alcohol industry should have a similar tax for people that can not handle alcohol.

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