Thursday, November 14, 2013

Land of the Thousands to never be free

Yesterday I wrote about the faux outrage of the membership of certain countries to the rather fauxesque "United Nations Humans Rights Council", noting that the Americans who always need a another reason to vent, just manufactured another, while ignoring their own nation's drone program.

But maybe while we pat ourselves on the back about how "human rightsy" we are, we could look at a few ugly truths at home too.
At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.”

A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159.

Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. Some, like him, were given the most extreme punishment short of execution for shoplifting; one was condemned to die in prison for siphoning petrol from a truck; another for stealing tools from a tool shed; yet another for attempting to cash a stolen cheque.
Sadly, no one will be surprised to find out the overwhelming majority of these individuals -- the perfect example of individuals deprived of a basic human right, forever -- are non-whites.

But hey, we have every self-justified right to criticize everyone else.

[cross-posted at Firedoglake]


Contisertoli said...

Ah, the "blessings" of a for-profit prison system. With the added benefit of helping to keep racism alive and well in the US.

Brian M said...

That's what I don't understand. Prison is EXPENSIVE. Even when privatized (of course, when privatized, the money doesn't flow so primarily to the guards but to the profiteers, but). How is imprisoning everyone "shrinking government"?

pansypoo said...

education funding to be cut as well. YAY! reagadumbics!

until we get back to not cutting, america is doomed.

Montag said...

There used to be such a thing in this country as petty theft, which, in the old days, meant a week or two in jail, restitution, if possible, and a warning to tone it down or the next time, it would be a month in jail.

Now, petty theft is treated like a capital crime. My favorite on this is Illinois, which added a specific law prohibiting taking self-serve gas without payment--calling for huge fines and years in jail, regardless of amount. This was pushed through by the gasoline vendors' lobby.

So, in one case, a rather numb character stole $28 worth of gas, was spotted having a broken taillight by a cop, and instead of stopping for that infraction, he lit off in a hurry because he thought he was being flagged for stealing the gas--a much bigger penalty.

Led the cop on a chase outside the cop's jurisdiction, where the cop was unfamiliar with the roads. The cop was not wearing his seatbelt, hit a bump at 100 mph, went airborne, lost control of the cruiser, was ejected and had the top of his head removed by his cruiser as it barrel-rolled into a cornfield. So, the end result was one cop dead, and an involuntary manslaughter plea, for what should have been a fine and restitution, and, at most, a few days in jail on a misdemeanor for petty theft.

Add in the perverse incentive of private prisons, and there's going to be lots of adverse consequences to this sort of escalation of punishment.

Anonymous said...

"..........while ignoring their own nation's drone program."

You really have to appreciate President Obama for his stepping up the drone program in eliminating terrorist scum !!!!
Additionally, all reasonable people have come to the realization that Obama has been absolutely brilliant in keeping the Guantanamo Bay facility open.
Ya gotta love it when the America haters lose! Which is precisely what they always do
Olives and Arrows