An editorial from Eduardo Porter of the New York Times prompted this blog. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/business/economy/in-the-us-punishment-comes-before-the-crimes.html?_r=0 Porter shared the statistics in the growth of the prison population over the last 40 years. In 2012, an estimated 2.2 million people were in America’s prisons and an estimated $80 billion was spent on prison and jails.
That was about the only thing Porter got right in his article. The tired cliché of racism and poor policy was his dominant theme.
Last week Senator’s Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) stated “that as many as 85% of the people who go through the criminal justice system struggle with drugs and alcohol” http://www.rollcall.com/news/-232507-1.html For a reporter to miss that startling statistic when commenting on the prison population is unconscionable.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a mental illness. Porter did not report on the systematic closings of mental health institutions since 1960. Our country has traded mental health care for prison care.
The marketing and selling of every addictive substance available has reached highly sophisticated levels. The drug companies rationally drug our children and adolescents, the marijuana, tobacco and alcohol companies hook each new generation with greater tenacity and the “pain doctors” and “psychiatrists” addict the adults. The schools and colleges remain silent as the Mexican drug cartels pour billions of dollars of illegal drugs onto our streets.
To stop drug distribution takes one of two approaches. Singapore (death penalty) has a minimal drug problem. Education (preferable) remains a concept out of the reach of most of the reporters and quoted experts.
Let the marketing, selling and distribution of the drugs flow and then complain about a rising prison system that is a direct result of our drug and alcohol policies in this country.
Major publications continue to allow the glamorization of the accomplices as the prison population grows and then rationalize the outcomes based on racial prejudice? Where have the scholars in this country gone?