2015 September 27 Sunday
Why Prison Populations Grew

The "war on drugs" theory is a libertarian fantasy explanation. It neatly sidesteps the problem of violent men.

The fact of the matter is in today’s state prisons, which hold about 90 percent of all of our prisoners, only 17 percent of the inmates are there primarily for drug charges. And about two-thirds are there for either property or violent crimes.


Well, the real growth in the prison population comes from county-level district attorneys sending violent people to prison.

This does not fit #TheNarrative. Yet there it is in Slate. Go figure.

I think we should consider colonies rather than prisons as ways to separate the violent and the sexual predators from the rest of us. Take pedophiles for example. Imagine Pedophile Island. A population with no children. Women would only be allowed on the isand if they were sterile. So no babies. Lots of former Catholic priests would be on hand to give religious communion. So there'd be an active religious community.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 September 27 03:53 PM 

Black Death said at September 28, 2015 6:09 AM:

I have always considered Alaska'a Aleutian Islands as an ideal location for a penal colony - sort of like a Devil's Island in reverse. Attu (345 sq mi) and Kiska (107 sq mi), at the very end of the chain, would do nicely. The climate is cold, although not extremely so - the average high temperatures are above freezing, even in January and February. It rains more or less all the time. Plus, it's in the middle of nowhere, so escape would be virtually impossible. Of course, facilities would have to be build, and frequent flights from places such as Anchorage or Dutch Harbor would be required, but that seems such a small price to pay for such lovely quarters. Indeed, one island could be devoted to pedophiles and the other to violent criminals. Sounds good to me.

Brett Bellmore said at September 28, 2015 6:27 AM:

Considering the reputation pedophiles have even among violent criminals, putting them on the same island would probably reduce the needed facilities...

I think maybe you don't understand the causality in the libertarian theory of the war on drugs driving prison population. It isn't that the population consists of drug criminals.

Rather, the black market has created a very lucrative secondary market for violent gangs to provide the drug cartels with enforcers. It's pumping a lot of cash into the under-culture, and the gangs are expanding as a result. It's one thing for a violent gang to try to recruit when they're poor, small time hoods. Recruiting becomes much easier when they're swimming in money.

End the war on drugs, and the whole under-culture would end up defunded.

Jim said at September 28, 2015 8:44 AM:

It seems to me that extensive use of execution would make a lot more sense than trying to cram violent individuals into the Aleutians.

Black Death said at September 28, 2015 12:14 PM:

@Jim -

Agree, but the Overton window seems to be closing on capital punishment. I'm sure the Supreme Court would like to outlaw it if the esteemed justices could figure out how to get around the fact that it's specifically authorized by the constitution.

Abelard Lindsey said at September 28, 2015 12:27 PM:

The Slate article is correct as far as it reads, as the article's substance is limited to state prisons. However, it makes no mention of Federal prisons, where a significant percentage of the inmates ARE in on drug charges (and sometimes on obscure regulatory transgressions that no one in their right mind would consider an imprisonable offense). Its generally recognized that people in the state prisons mostly belong there. The same is less true for those in Federal prisons.

Abelard Lindsey said at September 28, 2015 12:34 PM:

One further point about the state vs. federal prison populations: The vast majority of prisoners in the state prison system are in for long-recognized common law offenses such as rape, murder, assault, and various kinds of property crime (e.g. car theft, etc.). Prosecutors of these kinds of crime must demonstrate intent on the part of the defendant. Many of the federal laws, and particularly administrative regulations, are enforceable such that a defendant can be convicted without the prosecutor having to show intent to commit any crime. It is this reality of the federal criminal system that the Slate article completely misses, or ignores.

Brett Bellmore said at September 28, 2015 2:50 PM:

Slate is, after all, a 'liberal' media outlet, and as such is dedicated to the expansion of government power. Limiting federal crimes to malum in se offenses, requiring proof of intent, or worse, limiting federal crimes to topics where actual federal jurisdiction is granted by the Constitution, would constitute a massive reduction in federal power, and a mortal blow to the regulatory state.

You can't expect Slate to acknowledge something that awful, or even pursue a line of reasoning that might result in people thinking such things.

Seth W. said at September 28, 2015 4:40 PM:

"I think we should consider colonies rather than prisons as ways to separate the violent and the sexual predators from the rest of us."

I think this is one of the most stupid things I've ever read. Shallow and childish. Lack of any ability to think in a deeper way and relate causes and effects.

Your thoughts are similar to those of Hitler and Stalin. However, considering some of the posts I've read around here I'm pretty sure many would even agree with you.

One would expect you to be serious before posting any message on your own parapundit.com. Show a little more restraint and moderation of emotions Randall. Gotta be a little more responsible pal.

Engineer-Poet said at September 30, 2015 6:59 AM:

Have any more logic-free invective you want to unload while you're here, Seth W?

What set you off, anyway?  Are you a kiddy-diddler?  It's okay, you can level with us.

Dr. Doom said at October 1, 2015 6:03 AM:

This is just Gubmint propaganda by Obamas best buddies in the media. Of course, fools like Rand Paul are on board too. Now that the racist black guy is ginning up his race war, he needs to release some soldiers from the Penitentiary System. Bland Rand is going full retard with the poor blacks who dindu nuffins and need to get out of jail free schtick. They really want a race War don't they? Do they have a trick up their sleeves, or are they just too stupid at this point to consider the possibility of another Civil War?

CamelCaseRob said at October 1, 2015 2:09 PM:

Is Seth W. a SJW making opening salvos at Randall?

Seth W. said at October 1, 2015 2:51 PM:

This is one of the dumbest posts from Randall yet. And his paladins like Engineer-Poet don't say much either; this funny midget calls my ideas illogical with his little "sarcasm", but he can't come with one of his own.

Is this Engineer-Poet, another alias of Randall Parker? Hmm. I wonder.

Engineer-Poet said at October 1, 2015 3:16 PM:

Is Seth W. a paid operative of the prison-industrial complex, which profits enormously from private prisons and would implode spectacularly if exile islands became a cheaper alternative?  Or is he just afraid of being sent to one himself?

Joe Walker said at October 2, 2015 8:08 PM:

Quote: "Lots of former Catholic priests would be on hand to give religious communion"

Are you saying that there are no pedophiles amongst other religious groups? You really should do some research into the problem of child abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn sometime.

Randall Parker said at October 4, 2015 11:52 AM:

Joe Walker,

There are pedophiles in all populations as far as I know. But the requirement that Catholic priests do not marry certainly changes the sorts of people who choose to become a Catholic priest as compared to, say, an Orthodox priest.

WJ said at October 5, 2015 10:56 PM:

The number of incarcerated Americans quadrupled in the 20 years between (roughly) 1984-2004, and yet we're shocked - shocked! - that it was somehow concurrent with a drastic decline in the crime rate. The incarceration rate started leveling off a few years ago and has even begun to fall. Magically - magically! - the crime rate is climbing again.

The United States (parts of it anyway - you know which parts) still has a very high crime rate compared to the rest of the First World. That tells us that we still don't have enough people in prison.

bingo said at October 5, 2015 10:58 PM:

"Catholic priests.....on hand...."

WJ said at October 5, 2015 11:12 PM:

"Agree, but the Overton window seems to be closing on capital punishment. I'm sure the Supreme Court would like to outlaw it if the esteemed justices could figure out how to get around the fact that it's specifically authorized by the constitution."

LOL, you think that document any longer has binding power on the SCOTUS? They're just looking for an excuse to declare the death penalty "cruel and unusual." Currently 19 states have no death penalty. If and when the share of states without a death penalty reaches the magic percentage of 50% - Nebraska, of all places, just voted to abolish theirs (though it was over the governor's veto, and now faces a ballot measure to reinstate it) - the Supreme Court will declare the death penalty cruel and unusual. Leftists no longer use the prescribed methods of amending the Constitution - they use whatever measure of "public opinion" is most in their favor.

The real danger of losing the death penalty isn't the loss of the death penalty itself. It's that fear of the death penalty causes a lot of truly guilty murderers to plead guilty to accept life sentences, and removes the chances of them going free. Further, if you cheapen the "price" of a first degree murder conviction you have to lower the sentence for every other lesser crime proportionally.

Big Bill said at October 28, 2015 9:24 AM:

Israel uses the "colony" approach. Put incompatible people in a walled ban lieu, let them select their own rulers, and have their own police forces so they can govern themselves as they see fit. They are within the boundaries of Israel proper, but the rules are different.

Heck, why keep out women from the Alaskan prison colonies? Send criminal women there, too. Think of it as a New West Bank or New Australia.

Another approach would be to bring back the English tradition of "outlawry" to the USA. Declare people "outlaws" -- outside the law. In other words, someone with no legal recourse. Someone who can be killed out of hand without recourse to the law. This is what those old Wild West posters meant when they said,"Wanted - Dead or Alive".

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