The Rich Get Richer And The Poor Go To Jail
From John Whitehead at Counterpunch:
Now Sessions has given state courts the green light to resume their practice of jailing individuals who are unable to pay the hefty fines imposed by the American police state. In doing so, Sessions has once again shown himself to be not only a shill for the Deep State but an enemy of the people.
Renewing federal incentives for civil asset forfeiture was not enough for Atty. Gen. Sessions. The American Injustice System must squeeze every last drop of blood from poor American turnips.
This is not justice.
This is yet another example of how greed and profit-incentives have not only perverted policing in America but have corrupted the entire criminal justice system.
As the Harvard Law Review concludes:
[A]s policing becomes a way to generate revenue, police start to “see the people they’re supposed to be serving not as citizens with rights, but as potential sources of revenue, as lawbreakers to be caught.” This approach creates a fugitive underclass on the run from police not to hide illicit activity but to avoid arrest for debt or seizure of their purportedly suspicious assets… In turn, communities … begin to see police not as trusted partners but as an occupying army constantly harassing them to raise money to pay their salaries and buy new weapons. This needs to end.
Crime rates go down and incarceration goes up:
Ask yourself this: at a time when crime rates across the country remain at historic lows (despite Sessions’ inaccurate claims to the contrary), why does the prison population continue to grow?
The prison population continues to grow because of a glut of laws that criminalize activities that should certainly not be outlawed, let alone result in jail time. Overcriminalization continues to plague the country because of legislators who work hand-in-hand with corporations to adopt laws that favor the corporate balance sheet. And when it comes to incarceration, the corporate balance sheet weighs heavily in favor of locking up more individuals in government-run and private prisons.
It ain't cheap and families, children and entire neighborhoods pay the price:
According to The Atlantic, “America spends $80 billion a year incarcerating 2.4 million people.” But the costs don’t end there. “When someone goes to prison, nearly 65 percent of families are suddenly unable to pay for basic needs such as food and housing… About 70 percent of those families are caring for children under the age of 18.”
More money! More money!
Then there are the marked-up costs levied against the inmate by private companies that provide services and products to government prisons. Cereal and soup for five times the market price. $15 for a short phone call.
Here are two examples from my personal experience in L.A. County Jails: a 25 cent Top Ramen costs $1.15. Two tablespoons of peanut butter in a sleeve are 65 cents.
Don't forget penalties, fees and interest!
Washington state charges a 12% interest rate on all its criminal debt. Florida adds a 40% fee that goes into the pockets of a private collections agency. In California, penalties can raise a $100 fine to $490, or $815 if the initial deadline is missed. A $500 traffic ticket can actually cost $1,953, even if it is paid on time.
Fighting crime has nothing to do with law enforcement:
Now you can shrug all of this away as a consequence of committing a crime, but that just doesn’t cut it. Especially not when average Americans are being jailed for such so-called crimes as eating SpaghettiOs (police mistook them for methamphetamine), not wearing a seatbelt, littering, jaywalking, having homemade soap (police mistook the soap for cocaine), profanity, spitting on the ground, farting, loitering and twerking.
There is no room in the American police state for self-righteousness. Not when we are all guilty until proven innocent.