We're number one! We're number one!
August 18, 2003 10:52 AM   Subscribe

We're number one! We're number one! From a source quoted in the article: "We have the wealthiest society in human history, and we maintain the highest level of imprisonment. It's striking what that says about our approach to social problems and inequality." (apologies for the usual US-centrism)
posted by alumshubby (103 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
And we do not have the lowest crime rate.
posted by Foosnark at 11:08 AM on August 18, 2003


With Asscroft in power, we're definately on the road to a crime-free, Jesus loving America. Let the eagle soar!
posted by sharksandwich at 11:19 AM on August 18, 2003


We really should start executing more people. That'll lower the imprisonment rate. I was promised a Running Man game show future with neckbands that blow people heads off. And Sub-Zero! Where the hell are my psychotic asian hockey playing executioners?

Fuck, I'd be happy with Dynamo for goddsakes. Let's get the future rolling, people.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:20 AM on August 18, 2003


If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.
1 in 3 for blacks vs 1 in 17 for whites, that's some failure of society as a whole.
posted by imh at 11:21 AM on August 18, 2003


Well as far as the prison issue goes, it's a simple equation of severity of drug laws + increasing profitability of corporate-run prisons.

Not trying to be deliberately snarky or anything, but it seems most nations that have stricter drug laws than the U.S. are the ones that simply execute you for them, hence the lack of prisoners.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:21 AM on August 18, 2003


Actually Luxembourg is the wealthiest society today. Not sure about all of human history. How does one compare wealth between eras?
posted by blue mustard at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2003


+ increasing profitability of corporate-run prisons.

Does anybody know of a list of companies or products that are made using prison labor? I've been googling for one but have been unsuccessful so far.
posted by jsonic at 11:27 AM on August 18, 2003


Well, here's something we might want to ask ourselves: Why do so many people prefer prison to life on the outside? I'd be willing to be there is a hard core, perhaps one third of all prisoners, who just dig being in prison. I would bet that they are violent, brutal men, who simply prefer a violent, brutal environment. These may be men with little imagination, who prefer to inhabit a world with the fewest possible choices. Rather than live in a world ruled by courtesy, consensus and reciprocity, they feel more comfortable in a world of strict rules enforced by violence. Maybe these men prefer a hypermasculine environment with opportunities for rape, to the outside world, where men and women trade social attributes and negotiate modes of living. Maybe the pressures and responsibilities and expectations of adult life make the outside world are more impressive and imprisoning to them than jail -- where they can be themselves among others like themselves. There may be another third of all prisoners who don't wholeheartedly enjoy the prison environment, but may pass through periods of life when they find it easier to handle than the responsibilities of outside life. How else to explain recidivism? If you've ever been in jail once, and you've got an ounce of sense, you will never, never, never do anything that will land you back there again. Believe me. Unless you like there.
posted by Faze at 11:29 AM on August 18, 2003


jsonic, not sure about state and local prisons, but the feds set up a corporation for managing prison labor: Federal Prison Industries, Inc., aka Unicor.
posted by blue mustard at 11:33 AM on August 18, 2003


Ahhhhhhh. Through the power of Faze's reasoning I see clearly. Americans love prison!!!!! No wonder the success of The Shawshank Redemption and Oz.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 11:36 AM on August 18, 2003


"Land of the free" indeed.

In order to minimize confusion that phrase should have some sort of trademark sign next to it, you know, so people will KNOW it's a slogan instead of taking it literally.
posted by clevershark at 11:38 AM on August 18, 2003


How else to explain recidivism?

But seriously Faze, couldn't this just be a lack of visible/viable alternatives in poor areas.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 11:41 AM on August 18, 2003


Much of this due to our insane drug laws (many of which you lefties can thank the Democrats for, thankyou). Legalize (and regulate) recreational drugs and you suddenly cut the crime rate by an astonishing degree. The same goes for our other absurd "morality laws" governing prostitution, gambling, etc.
posted by mrmanley at 11:45 AM on August 18, 2003


Couldn't this just be a lack of visible/viable alternatives in poor areas? Not really. If you live in the U.S., you know that most poor areas away from the big east coast cities like NY and Philadelphia, are really pretty nice compared to poor places elsewhere in the world, and thanks to tv and other media, I can't imagine the poor American who can't grasp the concept that there is such a thing as a straight world, and that it offers rewards to persons of all races and nationalities who can control their tempers, not hit one another, and not try to get away with anything. Admittedly, the drug laws are unjust, but no one puts a gun to your head and forces you to smoke crack. Millions of poor people go through their entire lives without smoking crack, without hitting people, and without pulling anything illegal. These are people who don't want to go to jail.
posted by Faze at 11:56 AM on August 18, 2003


mrmanley, one of the reasons drugs are illegal is that addiction to them can ultimately effect others in the society at large, e.g. if you OD someone ends up either paying for your treatment / rehab or in the worst case, funeral. Those 'lefties' were perhaps trying to protect people..?
Admittedly legalizing them and then adding a little tax into the equation would help solve this, but who in government would be brave enough to suggest that?
I agree about prostitution, usage of a condom removes the chance of society at large being harmed by the practice.
posted by imh at 12:00 PM on August 18, 2003


Americans love prison!!!!! No wonder the success of The Shawshank Redemption and Oz. dr. octavious -- I know you're being sarcastic, but I actually think you've produced a kind of cultural proof of what I'm saying. The popularity of these programs demonstrates the powerful pull of the prison mythos, and its attraction to those who may wish to be dominated or dominate in a world of simple definitions and violent enforcement. These programs allow middle-class people to enjoy brief, tantalizing trips into this "thrilling" world.
posted by Faze at 12:02 PM on August 18, 2003


but no one puts a gun to your head and forces you to smoke crack
True, tho if you're poor and live in a poor area and get asked every day if you sell drugs by people from without the area, how long before you start dealing?
posted by imh at 12:03 PM on August 18, 2003


You appear to have crap laws and crap schools and a crap economic system, where if you fail to learn how to survive 'pro-socially ' [did I just invent a word?], you end up sewing mailbags. That won't rehabilitate you, so ... revolving door, in ya go again. 3 strikes an' you are in for 25 years.. for what? Nicking a Mars bar? A ten bag of weed?

What did Ken Lay get, again?

imh: mrmanley, one of the reasons drugs are illegal is that addiction to them can ultimately effect others in the society at large, e.g. if you OD someone ends up either paying for your treatment / rehab or in the worst case, funeral.

- How much weed do you need to smoke to OD?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:07 PM on August 18, 2003


I'd like to add that in my experience, working a lot of temp jobs with lower-middle class white people, people honestly believe that prisoners have it too good. They argue that prisoners get to watch tv, exercise, go to school and get a college degree; this is the honest belief of, I would bet, a majority of Americans.
posted by crazy finger at 12:07 PM on August 18, 2003


Isn't it true that employers will check for a criminal record? Many ex-cons lack basic skills such as literacy and if they are denied entry into even the most menial of jobs, what other realistic option is there except crime?

Other developed countries shuffle these people through welfare systems, which are cheaper and more humane than prisons.
posted by dydecker at 12:08 PM on August 18, 2003


Yes, employers do check for criminal records, and some types of jobs require a check and also bar individuals with certain types of records.

I worked for a couple of years as a criminal records clerk.
posted by crazy finger at 12:10 PM on August 18, 2003


"Land of the free" indeed. clevershark -- Paradoxically, the enormous prison population in the U.S. may in fact be testimony to the incredible freedom we enjoy here. It's no secret (ask any existentialist) that freedom is scary, and a whole lot of freedom is really scary. African Americans today have more life choices open to them today than at any time in history. So with all this freedom, why are so many of them choosing prison?
posted by Faze at 12:10 PM on August 18, 2003


dash_slot: saw Eric Schlosser read from his latest book, Reefer Madness, about the economy of marijuana and he quoted medical evidence (forget the source, sorry) claiming you would need to smoke 100 pounds of marijuana per minute for at least ten minutes to potential overdose.
posted by xmutex at 12:12 PM on August 18, 2003


- How much weed do you need to smoke to OD?
Dunno, fancy finding out? :-) Ok, ok, I'd widened the argument to more serious drugs than weed.
posted by imh at 12:14 PM on August 18, 2003


man, am so high now that I didn't see xmutex's reply...
posted by imh at 12:16 PM on August 18, 2003


As far as the legalization of drugs is concerned, I will only say that I find it difficult to understand how so many intelligent people rush to the argument of defending casual drug use.
Folks, our nation just went through a period in which smoking became villified, smokers became outcast, and the dangers of tobacco are clear. At the same time, our nation has been dealing with the taboo of alcohol abuse for decades and the only thing which is certain is that a vast number of Americans are alcoholics and nobody wants to talk about it.
Now we've also got huge problems with drug abuse and we have had problems for years with uncountable lives destroyed and yet a lot of people want to grant drugs the legitimacy of the law to allow for a boom in the number of users and addicts and a boom for underage drug abuse.
I understand that by legalizing recreational use we'd be able to keep our prisons clear, but promoting drug use certainly won't help ex-cons who are trying to go straight and get a job; it certainly won't help kids who get introduced to drugs at a younger and younger age.
posted by crazy finger at 12:19 PM on August 18, 2003


So with all this freedom, why are so many of them choosing prison?
Probably because there just aren't enough openings in the NBA. If they hadn't got all uppity in the 1960s, life would probably be better for them, huh Faze?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2003


the enormous prison population in the U.S. may in fact be testimony to the incredible freedom we enjoy here

Aside from the murder rate, crime rates in the U.S are broadly similar to other Western nations. The U.S is an anomaly only in terms of the number of criminals it imprisons. How is that a testament to incredibly short-sighted government policy rather than "incredible freedom".
posted by dydecker at 12:31 PM on August 18, 2003


Oops. That last sentence should read:

It seems to me to be a testament to incredibly short-sighted government policy rather than "incredible freedom".
posted by dydecker at 12:32 PM on August 18, 2003


if you OD someone ends up either paying for your treatment / rehab or in the worst case, funeral.

This is my least favorite policy-making argument ever. It sucks for a few reasons:

1. The built-in reductio ad absurdum: this argument can be used to argue for the prohibition of any behavior that entails any sort of "unnecessary" risk. I can hurt myself skateboarding, jogging, smoking, drinking, using a wood-burning stove, traveling recreationally, or riding my bike without a helmet. If I'm uninsured and can't afford to get my body mended, society will end up paying for my injuries. Should all of these activities be therefore prohibited? Travel allowed only for legitimate economic purposes? Exercise restricted to low-impact pilates and stationary bikes? Absolute prohibition of dangerous drugs, tobacco, alcohol, high-fat food, preservatives, potentially carcinogenic or allergenic coloring agents?

2. The subtext of economic discrimination. It is, of course, not true that "if you OD someone [else] ends up...paying for your treatment". Rather, if you can afford to pay for your own treatment, you end up paying for it. In other words, the cost of risky behavior falls upon society only when the person undertaking said behavior is not sufficiently wealthy to pay for the consequences himself. Should we therefore allow rich people to use as many drugs as they desire, since they can afford their own treatment? (This is, in fact, kind of what we do: not many wealthy, or even middle-class, drug users are imprisoned for drug crimes.) Isn't the inherent unfairness of this approach bothersome (and inconsistent with the demands of the 14th amendment)? To remedy this unfairness, should all of our laws be based on a lowest common economic denominator (see my point 1)?

3. So now our laws should be based entirely on the economic consequences of actions? An economist's wet-dream, surely, but not a great way to run a society where we value such un-economic principles as liberty, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness.

At the same time, our nation has been dealing with the taboo of alcohol abuse for decades and the only thing which is certain is that a vast number of Americans are alcoholics and nobody wants to talk about it.

I would also argue that it's also certain that the prohibition of alcohol led only to widespread organized crime, political corruption, and the criminalization of a basic human impulse. Cross-reference this historical lesson with the current prohibition on drugs to see why we intellegent people favor the repeal of drug prohibition.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:35 PM on August 18, 2003


heh; I just misspelled "intelligent". how ironic.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:36 PM on August 18, 2003


Folks, our nation just went through a period in which smoking became villified, smokers became outcast, and the dangers of tobacco are clear. At the same time, our nation has been dealing with the taboo of alcohol abuse for decades and the only thing which is certain is that a vast number of Americans are alcoholics and nobody wants to talk about it.

Tobacco and alcohol are also two of the worst drugs for you. They're also two of the drugs with the least effect; at least, certainly the least positive effect.

yet a lot of people want to grant drugs the legitimacy of the law to allow for a boom in the number of users and addicts and a boom for underage drug abuse.

What makes you think this will happen? At least in this country, people have the fear of drugs pounded into them from such an early age that most of 'em don't want to touch the stuff. (Of course, when they do, and find out that everything they were taught about drugs is bullshit, THAT's when things get dangerous.) Why don't, instead of excessive criminal penalties and indoctrinated fear, we educate our society about drugs, so that informed adults can make their own choices?

Not to mention that a lot of drugs just aren't that addictive. What about marijuana? Psilocybin mushrooms? LSD? MDMA? I mean, these are all Schedule I drugs. (Cocaine and opium are schedule II, oddly enough.)

Don't throw underage drug use at me, either. It's already happening-- the "Think of the children!" approach isn't very convincing. Parent your own kids; don't make laws so you don't have to.

I found a terrific essay on drug legalization some time ago that I was trying to find again... I believe this is it, although the formatting here is terrible. There are so many benefits to society at large from legalization. Didn't we learn anything from prohibition?

p.s. No one said drug use had to be promoted, merely available to informed adults.


p.p.s. Oh, and what mr_roboto said.
posted by nath at 12:43 PM on August 18, 2003


But mr roboto, prohibitions failed because alcohol use was insanely common before the ban and thus nearly impossible to successfully ban. Furthermore, alcohol use was socially acceptable before the ban, providing more reason for the ultimate failure of prohibition.
In the US, drug use is not as common nor socially acceptable today as alcohol use was before prohibition. So why legally legitimize drug use now, leading to more drug use in the short term, when alcohol is such a problem?

I'd also like to give an example on tough-on-crime laws in NH regarding alcohol use. Up until and through the 1980's, my state of New Hampshire had a terrible drunk driving problem and lots of people were dying as a result. Then, in the late 80's and 90's (and continuing into the present), drunk driving laws have been ratcheted up several notches and the drunk driving epidemic has been greatly reduced. I rarely argue for harder sentences, but this example is interesting and I think it applies well to drugs.
posted by crazy finger at 12:44 PM on August 18, 2003


This article is not new news, where's their solution?
posted by thomcatspike at 12:45 PM on August 18, 2003


Faze,

I can see your reasoning (that the only place violent people fit in is in violent settings - ie prison), but I don't think anyone "chooses" to go to prison. Your line of thinking ignores is the conditions that leave people no choice but to behave violently in the first place. So to say that going to prison as a "choice" is ignoring the real problems and is something like "those animals like to be in the zoo," a line of thinking I thought was abandoned 30 years ago.
posted by Quartermass at 12:48 PM on August 18, 2003


But mr roboto, prohibitions failed because alcohol use was insanely common before the ban and thus nearly impossible to successfully ban.

And it's been possible to successfully ban other drugs? We're going on what; 80 years of marijuana prohibition? I'm sure those laws will kick in any time now.

So why legally legitimize drug use now, leading to more drug use in the short term, when alcohol is such a problem?

Where are you getting this idea that drug use will increase if drugs are legalized? I hold that drug use is highly unresponsive to the state of the law. If heroin becomes legal tomorrow, would you go out and get a habit started? Neither would I.

Then, in the late 80's and 90's (and continuing into the present), drunk driving laws have been ratcheted up several notches and the drunk driving epidemic has been greatly reduced. I rarely argue for harder sentences, but this example is interesting and I think it applies well to drugs.

It so does not apply well to drugs! Penalties for drug possession have increased steadily since the sixties with no discernable effect on rates of use. The drug war has been won! By the drugs!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2003


From the UN Center for International Crime Prevention's Seventh Survey (PDF, Section 16.01):

United States (Incarcarated rate per 100,000 inhabitants):

1998: 620.41
1999: 635.47
2000: 638.15

Compare this with:

Australia

1998: 105.88
1999: 113.36
2000: 113.09

Colombia

1998: 108.82
1999: 108.59
2000: 121.79

Hong Kong (post-handoff)

1998: 179.28
1999: 171.78
2000: 176.80

Malaysia

1998: 332.23
1999: 353.89
2000: 339.90

Russian Federation

1998: 678.18
1999: 726.00
2000: 632.57 (less than U.S.!)
posted by ed at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2003


Faze: I'll try to make sense, I've not finished my recuperative coffee treatment for the day.

People do not enjoy prison. Prison is not fun. Prison is not a relief to the existentialist nightmare that terrorizes American blacks.

America is a complex set of cultures and ideas. We have a mainstream culture of fear, with an undercurrent of hopelessness, all surrounded in images of unreachable wealth and prosperity. Many youths, especially youths borne from low socioeconomic areas, feel there is no way for them to succeed in modern America. They turn to the moment, to drugs and crime, in order to get what they can get and go. They realize they are going to get caught and locked up, but hell, many people are getting locked up for nothing, why not try to have some fun first?

Blacks are arrested at a higher rate, given longer prison sentences, sentenced to death more often and are more often the victims of police violence. Doesn't the statistic 1 in 3 blacks have been in prison raise an eyebrow? Do you really think blacks, as a culture, enjoy prison?

Many people do become "institutionalized." This isn't the same as enjoying prison, but a situation when being under constant control becomes a way of life. Many prisoners do have problems adjusting to the outside now that the whole schedule and system they've been living within is suddenly out of reach. Many of these people do commit crimes and end up back in their old cell. This isn't because they enjoy prisons, but a curious sort of brainwashing or socialization to the prison environment.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:03 PM on August 18, 2003


Isn't it true that employers will check for a criminal record? Many ex-cons lack basic skills such as literacy and if they are denied entry into even the most menial of jobs, what other realistic option is there except crime?

Absolutely. I was a probation officer for a while (less than a year, as I got too fed up with the privatization of probation going on in Oregon), and it amazed me how off-base my ideas about "recidivism" were before-hand. Most (I'm speaking antecdotally, but an overwhelming majority of my clients fit this) people who go back to prison don't go because they repeat their previous crime. Their re-offense is almost always a probation violation which would not normally be a crime, like drinking alcohol, missing an appointment with someone, or having had smoked weed (even if they were originally in for domestic violence or something else not directly related to drugs).

My googling is not so productive right now, but I recall seeing a list of different private-sector prisons a year ago. Wackenhut is the biggest player on the admin. side, and Intel is the biggest corporate "customer" of slave prison labor. This message is being brought to you by prison=labor microprocessors. This is nasty, IMHO, but nowhere near as screwed-up as privatizing probation (which is basically a social service program).

In very simple terms:
In a privatized probation program, the offender is required to pay a weekly fee (between $100 and $300) for his "services." This is not waived if they don't have a job, and they are forbidden from the undocumented day-labor jobs on which ex-cons often depend. The only clients I had who payed regularly with no problems were the clients who were originally setenced for selling drugs (hmm...). I quit the day that I sent my 20th person to prison for not paying my company hundreds of dollars. This, combined with my employer's plan (now in effect, I believe) to actually use a commission-based model for paying case managers, killed any sense that I was helping people to sort out their lives or helping society to re-accept past offenders. The only thing more disheartening than that was the fact that these programs are spreading to all 50 states.

It's an easy sell to taxpayers, as the cost to the city is zilch. It's easy to set up a sweetheart deal with a client-referring judge who wants to avoid all those pesky questions that "real" POs ask.

My apologies for the long post, and the falsely co-opted "air of authority." I hope that someone out there has a compelling social argument in support of private-sector law enforcement (aside from the fact that it is cheaper to pay untrained assholes like to me to administer probation-service delivery than it is to properly train union law-enforcement officials).
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2003 [2 favorites]


My point about legalization of drugs is not that we should endorse such behavior, just that we shouldn't criminalize what is essentially a public health problem. I personally don't think drug use should be made into a moral choice; you're neither bad nor good for choosing to indulge in such things. It is an unhealthy choice -- in the case of heroin, X, or cocaine, a potentially lethal one -- but then so are sports like skydiving or bungee-jumping.
posted by mrmanley at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2003


People don't chose prison, they chose to take a chance. Imagine if built into the state lottery, there was the 1 in 500 chance that you could go to jail. What kind of people do you think would still play? Only the most desperate. So goes the drug trade, which is directly or indirectly responsible for the massive prison population. If you dream of a better life, and see the shortcut of black-market entrepreneurship as the best/only/fastest way for you to get there, you are not choosing to go to prison, but rather gambling that you won't go to prison.
posted by cell divide at 1:20 PM on August 18, 2003


"Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things." D.Rumsfeld

Isn't that what America is about?

(Apologies for the usual European->leftist rant, but I'm drunk so forgive me...)
posted by hoskala at 1:24 PM on August 18, 2003


wlwoodwiles -- Thank you for your response. However, I would never say that "blacks, as a culture, enjoy prison." I made no generalization about African Americans at all. I would assume that any given individual African American is no more likely to enjoy prison than myself. What I'm talking about is not "enjoyment." What I am saying is that certain brutal, violent, hypermasculine people (they may be of any race) will experience a certain level of psychological comfort in prison that they might not experience outside. They may not be "enjoying" themselves, but they are in a world that they are emotionally equipped to handle.
posted by Faze at 1:30 PM on August 18, 2003


Ignatius's post scares the living shit out of me!
posted by dash_slot- at 1:34 PM on August 18, 2003


Does anybody know of a list of companies or products that are made using prison labor? I've been googling for one but have been unsuccessful so far

Try googling prison industrial complex labor
posted by TedW at 1:34 PM on August 18, 2003



I made no generalization about African Americans at all.

Eh?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:37 PM on August 18, 2003


African Americans today have more life choices open to them today than at any time in history. So with all this freedom, why are so many of them choosing prison?
posted by Faze at 12:10 PM PST on August 18

I didn't mean to imply any racism on your part, but I was reacting to this particular statement of yours.

What I am saying is that certain brutal, violent, hypermasculine people (they may be of any race) will experience a certain level of psychological comfort in prison that they might not experience outside. They may not be "enjoying" themselves, but they are in a world that they are emotionally equipped to handle.

See, I just don't buy that. I would believe that some people spend so much time in prison that they develop a need for the schedule and structure of incarceration. Before being sent to prison they may have been normal functioning adults, but after 25 years in the system people often become "institutionalized." The same thing happens to monks, nuns, cultists, or any people living under a well defined structure and very limited contacts with the outside world.

You seem to be implying that some people are just hard-wired to be violent, which may be true, but I would bet this is a very small portion of the prison population, and a smaller percentage of the population at large. The prisons of the US aren't filled with the "super-predators" but with dopers, losers, the mentally ill, the physically abused, the badly educated ie. all the people America wants to sweep under the carpet and forget about.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:43 PM on August 18, 2003


Off-topic a bit:

Ignatius J. Reilly, tell me you're kidding. Please. If your description of the Oregonian probation system is accurate, they might as well do away with it altogether and just put people straight into prison and keep them there until their sentence is up. I am generally in favor of governments privatizing those services that make sense to privatize, but that is just creepy.

Yeah, what dash-slot- said.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:51 PM on August 18, 2003


Does anybody have a link to prove that the Democrats are responsible for the insane drug laws? From what I can tell, Bush and Ashcroft are going far beyond anything any Democrat has ever passed.
posted by destro at 1:54 PM on August 18, 2003


dash_slot-
You're lucky I arbitrarilly stopped typing. There was a day when I sent a retarded adult to prison for nonpayment (his original crime, one of my favorites, was having consensual sex with another retarded person, which because retarded people are deemed 'incapable' of consent is prosecuted like sex between two minors, wherein essentially the first side to complain to the cops 'wins' while the other side gets prosecuted) though he was abiding the other rules of our program swimmingly, while being forced to scale back my oversight of a man who had sexually molested an entire block full of children under 8 because he had payed his dues in advance.

Plus, they never even let me have any Trailblazers players on my caseload.

Incidentally, once you have learned to joke about child molesters and false imprisonment, you canpretty much joke about anything. I once ate an entire bag of M&M's while making sure a guy didn't stab me as the sherriff's deputies dismantled the meth lab in the shack he lived in.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:58 PM on August 18, 2003


dash_slot -- I said "So with all this freedom, why are so many of them choosing prison?" That question refers directly to the statistical reality that African Americans are wildly disproportionately represented among the prison population. Since this reality is quantifiable, it's not a generalization. But I don't want to sound like some guy who likes to defend himself. All I'm proposing is that it might be time to reframe the prison argument in terms of individual responsibility. Like all of us who screw up in life, prisoners can look back, if they want, and see the whole decision tree that landed them where they were. I am by no means advocating harsh punishment, or defending our horrid prison system. The government may have no control over whether or not an individual commits a crime (that is his or her own choice) but our government has COMPLETE control over whether or not our prisons are safe, healthy and compassionate environments. That being the case, we as a society certainly bear moral culpability.
posted by Faze at 1:59 PM on August 18, 2003


deadcowden-
I know that my leftish stance on most issues makes it easy to write the following off as socialist babble, but probation is the perfect example of the enormous gulf between which privatization schemes look good on paper and which look good in real life. People like efficiency, and for good reason, but that does make it easy to convince the public of insane notions like the idea that the criminal justice system should be free or profitable.

And you're wrong that they might as well throw them in prison. That costs money, whereas private sector probation is not only free to the state, but also makes a lot of money for political campaigns and high-roller investors (one needs a lot of capital to start a prison).

Financial conflict of interest causes problems almost whnever it can. Why introduce it into an arena that is so transparently beholdent to public interest?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2003


Democrats are responsible for the insane drug laws?
Don't know who to blame, but California has had the 3 strikes your out law for more than ten years now, please correct me if wrong. True ending blame: money.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2003


Democrats are responsible for the insane drug laws?

Passed by Democratic Congress, signed by Republican President. Red herring.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:16 PM on August 18, 2003


mrmanley's revisionist history.

Most of our Canadian conceptions of the War on Drugs are the result of the American War on Drugs. Ronald and Nancy Reagan's 1986 'declaration' of the War on Drugs mixed metaphors of war, illness, crusades and religious righteousness in order to galvanize a nation into action against illicit drugs. George Bush, carrying the same theme, further made the issue both a domestic and international one (Elwood, 1994).
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:17 PM on August 18, 2003


Wulfgar!:

Clinton was a pretty enthusiastic drug-war particpant also. And the drug laws were passed by Democratic-majority legislatures. So don't shovel that "It's all Reagan's fault" B.S. at me.
posted by mrmanley at 2:23 PM on August 18, 2003


Why can't we just agree that both US parties are completely asinine when they try to formulate drug policy? Sniping over whether it's the Ds or the Rs seems pretty counterproductive, especially since both parties are part of the mess.
posted by COBRA! at 2:28 PM on August 18, 2003


"[...] I find it difficult to understand how so many intelligent people rush to the argument of defending casual drug use."

Um... Because it's the intelligent thing to do?
I cannot fathom how a person's use of his or her private body for his or her own purposes is something that should be a matter of the government, much less the judicial system - as long as these purposes hurt no one else.

Drugs are much less harmful than a lot of the stuff we are force fed with (fast food, sedate lifestyle, reality tv) but still our governments insist on spending huge amounts of money to fight a battle that's lost from the start, victimizing and incarcerating countless moral and upstanding citizens in the process.

One of the favorite arguments by the proponents of strict drug laws is the "secondary effects", or the effect drug consumption has on the user's surroundings. The prime example is parents who are saddened by their sons/daughters wasting their young lives, and drug use should therefore continue to be punishable by the law.
This argument is:
1. Emotional.
2. Bullshit - most parents would rather have their offspring toking on the reefer than wasting away in the county jail.

Legalize it already.
</rant>
posted by spazzm at 2:34 PM on August 18, 2003


COBRA!:

You said what I should have said. Bravo!

It's going to be a long slog to get any sane drug-policy passed in this country simply because the whole issue is verboten. It's akin to advocating animal torture, or child labor. It just won't fly, given the generally-conservative viewpoints of most voters.

It's going to be several decades at least before we see a truly liberalized drug policy come out of the US government, lacking some truly epochal event that forces the issue sooner.
posted by mrmanley at 2:35 PM on August 18, 2003


Faze: governments also have complete control [it's ok, I can read upper AND lower case] over whether to make victimless actions into crimes or not. On balance, I go for NOT.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:35 PM on August 18, 2003


IJR's post really depressed the hell out of me. I knew "corrections" in this country was bullshit, but I had no idea it had gotten that brazen.
posted by alumshubby at 4:01 PM on August 18, 2003


You can find a lot of very sobering stories written by prisoners on the Net, often through the penpal sites.

Prisonerlife.com has some information about Seth Ferranti currently serving an 25 years for dealing LSD. In his own words.
posted by dydecker at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2003


The Rolling Stone article on the site has an overview of Ferranti's case.

It's important to remember there are individuals behind the statistics.
posted by dydecker at 4:07 PM on August 18, 2003


You should also read the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. In their words, the purpose of the journal is "to bring the knowledge and experience of the incarcerated to bear upon more academic arguments and concerns and to inform public discourse about the current state of our carceral institutions."
posted by Jairus at 4:08 PM on August 18, 2003


Prison health care (such as it is) is also privatized, with predictable results. Harper's August issue has a chilling article about prison health (not available online, but the summary can be found on this page)
posted by stefanie at 4:21 PM on August 18, 2003


It's important to remember there are individuals behind the statistics.

Boy, are there ever.

Confession:

I have a personal motivation for the FPP. I have a younger brother in the joint, you see. He's in there for attempted murder x2. He's had an undocumented history of increasingly odd behavior -- aaahh, fuck it, I'll just say he's mentally ill, I've been around enough to say "close enough" -- and a few years ago on our dad's 78th birthday, little brother shot him and our oldest brother, injuring the former seriously enough to further weaken him in his already serious illness and nearly killing the latter. I don't expect to see him for a couple of decades yet. The last I checked, he's in a wheelchair due to some kind of spinal degeneration, has found Jesus, and is even harder to communicate with than ever, which is really saying something. He basically refuses to accept any concept that he did anything wrong.
posted by alumshubby at 4:21 PM on August 18, 2003


My god, alumshubby, what you've been through. What your family has been through!

It's strange - we all expound with such passion and conviction here. Yet unlike in real life where you sometimes come to be more familiar with the circumstances in a person's life that shapes or colors opinions, here we mostly just see the opinions, words on a page, and not the person. That was brave of you to share such a personal and difficult experience.

mjjj gives alumshubby a hug!

on topic, my sister is a psychologist at a maximum security prison. By and large, these are very violent, hardened people. She is troubled by the lack of programs that help to transition someone before they are let out. And they are let out. Many of the transitional programs fall victim to budgets, politics (can you say "Willie Horton"?), or parole boards that hold on to people til the last minute because of intercession by the victim...then when the sentence is up, the doors are opened and a violent prison vet who has lost any productive community ties is let out with a few dollars to his name. Recipe for disaster. Whether your philosophy is one of punishment or rehabilitation, it simply makes sense to see that some type of transitional program be in place prior to the release of a longterm prisoner.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:43 PM on August 18, 2003


I wanted to respond more, but I had a dinner to attend. Anyway, I do want to elaborate on my views by saying that although I think drug use should still be a criminal offense, the penalties should be changed to make more sense. Most importantly, I think that maximum security prison is the least effective place for most drug criminals and I think that medical treatment, such as rehab, make a lot more sense.
I'll agree that adults are old enough to be able to do what they want to, but there are a lot of things that people learn as they get older and if people can be deterred from using drugs, perhaps they'll have fewer regrets. I know that I made some mistakes when I was younger, my friends did as well, and knowing what I know now, I could have made a lot of people's lives much easier, but I didn't.
posted by crazy finger at 6:08 PM on August 18, 2003


If anyone has access to the Harper's August 2003 article, I'd appreciate it if you could mail me a copy (moeller at scireview dot de).
posted by Eloquence at 6:38 PM on August 18, 2003


crazy finger: Why should my growing a plant, and then smoking the leaves of it make me a criminal?
posted by Jairus at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2003


crazy finger said:
Anyway, I do want to elaborate on my views by saying that although I think drug use should still be a criminal offense, the penalties should be changed to make more sense. Most importantly, I think that maximum security prison is the least effective place for most drug criminals and I think that medical treatment, such as rehab, make a lot more sense.

I think what makes the most sense, however, is letting free people do whatever the fuck they want with their own bodies.

I know that I made some mistakes when I was younger, my friends did as well, and knowing what I know now, I could have made a lot of people's lives much easier, but I didn't.

And I'm sure everything would have gone better if you and your friends had been imprisoned, or compelled into entering a "medical treatment" program.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:17 PM on August 18, 2003


Maybe having stuff and using it ought not to be a criminal offense -- just exchanging money for it? I'd rather see -- and more to the point, pay taxes for -- drug abuse as a public-health issue than as a law-enforcement and corrections one.
posted by alumshubby at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2003


"I know that I made some mistakes when I was younger, my friends did as well, and knowing what I know now, I could have made a lot of people's lives much easier, but I didn't."

How would yours or anybody else's life have been any easier if you where sent to prison?

I find it very strange that some people openly declare that yes, they made a 'mistake' and got away with it, but others should be punished for doing that same mistake.

I think there's a name for that sort of thing.
posted by spazzm at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2003


Do'h. What mr_roboto said.
posted by spazzm at 8:21 PM on August 18, 2003


I would like to commend this tread for not descending into troll terrority. Thank you. That is all.
posted by iamck at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2003


BTW, you guys can stop bickering over whether the 'war on drugs' is the fault of the Republicans or the Democrats. It's been a bipartisan fubar for thirty years.

IMO, the real underlying reason for the WoD is an underlying puritanism in the American character, much more so than in any other developed country. This puritanism expresses itself in different ways, depending on one's political leanings, but it is always suspicious of pleasure, and insistent on trying to protect people from themselves.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:30 PM on August 18, 2003


Why should my growing a plant, and then smoking the leaves of it make me a criminal?

Dude, smoking leaf is criminal. Smoke the bud!
posted by lasm at 9:52 PM on August 18, 2003


So, I guess that proves it then.
posted by HTuttle at 9:55 PM on August 18, 2003


I think we need to institute some harsh felony penalties for people who, in the course of creating legislation or the enforcement of laws, try to fsck with civil liberties. make it fair, even: 3 strikes.
posted by dorian at 10:35 PM on August 18, 2003


I would like to commend this tread for not descending into troll terrority.

Nope, just bitter dad ranting at the TV territory today.
posted by y2karl at 10:44 PM on August 18, 2003


Dorian, I've always thought that any congressman who sponsors a bill later judged unconstitutional should be summarily barred from office. It's hard to imagine by what means such a measure would become law, though.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:03 PM on August 18, 2003


I agree, what you do with your own body is not proper fodder for criminal penalty, but legalization is frought with two massive perils that I've never seen a response for. First, what then, becomes of the massive criminal enterprises which are currently built up around drug dealing, which have a compendium of other criminal activities (extortion, assault, murder) built into their framework? Are we to believe that when selling and using crack is no longer a one-way ticket to the pokey, the folks who currently control the crack market are going to turn to peaceful, legitimate means of garnering market share and moving their product? Do they have the ability? There is no evidence upon which such a determination could be made.

Second, many who are pro-legalization state that "decriminalizing drugs doesn't have to mean promoting drug use" but what limits will be placed on the promotion of a product which is not illegal to purchase or use? Alcohol ads are everywhere except television, cigarette ads are, as well, and cigarette companies even underwrite sporting events. (Though the Winston Cup is going bye-bye soon, the Virginia Slims/WTA connection is still going strong.) After legalization, why wouldn't the National Marijuana Collective underwrite rock tours the way Budweiser does now? In the mold of Joe Camel, why wouldn't we see Sparky Lighter or Ned Needle, used in ads "targeted" to adults but known by kids everywhere as the symbols of Soulless Corp. Crack or International Heroin, Inc.?

I don't ask these questions to be alarmist, but because it seems easy to say "decriminalize/legalize" but there are obstacles -- even greater than the mass embrace of the War on Some Drugs -- to "simple" fixes to this vast problem.

On an entirely different note, in Ignatius J. Reilly's first frightening post, he said:

Their re-offense is almost always a probation violation which would not normally be a crime, like drinking alcohol, missing an appointment with someone, or having had smoked weed (even if they were originally in for domestic violence or something else not directly related to drugs).

Now, call me a hard-nosed bitch (no, really, it's all right) but dammit, am I supposed to cry? You're on friggin' probation. You've either already been in jail or you've dodged that bullet and been given the gift of probation instead. Avoiding weed and booze and making your damned appointments are not difficult things, particularly when they're the conditions that keep you out of jail. My sympathy well does not run deep enough to cover that. Being sent to jail for failing to pay a private company to manage your probation because you can't get a legitimate job, yes. Doing unnecessary crap because you're too much of a slackass to take the initiative to view probation as an opportunity for you to prove that you can keep your nose clean, no.
posted by Dreama at 2:35 AM on August 19, 2003


very sobering thread. There's gold in them there prison populations.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:38 AM on August 19, 2003


what limits will be placed on the promotion of a product which is not illegal to purchase or use? Alcohol ads are everywhere except television, cigarette ads are, as well, and cigarette companies even underwrite sporting events.

You can quite easily have an advertising ban on certain products. Amyl Nitrate's perfectly legal but I've never seen it being sold anywhere but sex shops and I can't say I've ever seen a mainstream advertisement for it.

why wouldn't the National Marijuana Collective underwrite rock tours the way Budweiser does now?

Would that be such a bad thing?

why wouldn't we see Sparky Lighter or Ned Needle, used in ads "targeted" to adults but known by kids everywhere as the symbols of Soulless Corp. Crack or International Heroin, Inc

As IF any country would accept ads for heroin. There's just no way we'd stomach it. As if we'd even allow such businesses to form. It would be very easy to stop the large-scale commercialisation of crack or heroin because the government has a lot of control over what businesses can and can't do. Legalisation of use doesn't have to mean commercial exploitation. That's a really big leap.
posted by Summer at 4:07 AM on August 19, 2003


I find it very strange that some people openly declare that yes, they made a 'mistake' and got away with it, but others should be punished for doing that same mistake.

I think there's a name for that sort of thing.


Who says anybody got away with anything? And I'm not advocating locking people away for drug use- the point of my post was that I think that rehab is important.
posted by crazy finger at 4:18 AM on August 19, 2003


Much of this due to our insane drug laws (many of which you lefties can thank the Democrats for, thankyou).

Them bad, bad, old Demoncrats!

Thank you soooo much for your valuable contribution to the thread mrmanley.

Hell, I always thought Nixon was a Rethuglican!

Legalize the weed, socialize the need.

End the practice of privatizing profit and socializing risk.
posted by nofundy at 5:31 AM on August 19, 2003


Put the T-shirts and posterboard down... and back away, back away.
posted by Witty at 5:37 AM on August 19, 2003


"Who says anybody got away with anything?"

Oh come now, what's that supposed to mean?

"And I'm not advocating locking people away for drug use- the point of my post was that I think that rehab is important."

A former teacher of mine who had previously worked in 'rehab' said that the difference between forced rehab and prison was that one didn't get electro shock treatment in prison.

But then again, maybe he was trying to scare us.
posted by spazzm at 6:34 AM on August 19, 2003


"First, what then, becomes of the massive criminal enterprises which are currently built up around drug dealing, which have a compendium of other criminal activities (extortion, assault, murder) built into their framework?"

If we take a lesson from history, I guess the same thing will happen to the drug trade as happened to the bootlegging business after prohibition was ended.
They've got two choices:
1. Go legit.
2. Get crowded out by the lean, mean, legal companies.

Jack Daniels or Smirnoff is, as you may have noticed, not produced by the Cosa Nostra.

The idea that an organization should continue to be criminal after it's business is legalized is, to say the least, preposterous - the mafia resorts to violence because it cannot sue people for non-payments, not because murder is a superior business model in terms of income.

And of course, as soon as a business is out in the open, the PR aspect has to be considered:
"Gee, who should I buy my next dime bag from? The money-laundering, violent, unreliable mafia or the shop where I by all my other groceries?"

I think you get the point.

"Second, many who are pro-legalization state that "decriminalizing drugs doesn't have to mean promoting drug use" but what limits will be placed on the promotion of a product which is not illegal to purchase or use?"

That's a valid point. But it's a smaller problem for the government to ban advertising for a product, than to ban the product itself. Some scandinavian countries have bans on alcohol and tobacco advertising, even though these products are legally for sale, for example.
posted by spazzm at 6:48 AM on August 19, 2003


As someone living in a country which has recently decriminalized pot, I'd like to say that there's not (and won't be) ads for pot anywhere, you can't (and won't be able to) buy it at the grocery store, and the 'drug underground' really hasn't changed in any way, shape, or form, except now you don't go to jail for smoking a plant.

...doesn't anyone else see how absurd that is? In the US, you can go to jail for smoking a plant.
posted by Jairus at 7:00 AM on August 19, 2003


"In the US, you can go to jail for smoking a plant."

I believe it's also possible to go to jail for eating a plant, as well as certain species of fungi.
posted by spazzm at 7:08 AM on August 19, 2003


True, true... not to mention, the growing of said plants...
posted by Jairus at 7:11 AM on August 19, 2003


...doesn't anyone else see how absurd that is? In the US, you can go to jail for smoking a plant.

Well, if blowing things out of proportion helps your argument, then go for it. But despite what you may want to think, people don't go to jail for smoking a little reefer.
posted by Witty at 7:39 AM on August 19, 2003


Also, jail and prison are quite different.
posted by Witty at 7:42 AM on August 19, 2003


State by State Marijuana Laws

Maijuana Decriminalization Talking Points

Under federal law, possessing a single marijuana cigarette or less is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine, the same penalty as possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine or crack.
REFERENCE: J. Morgan and L. Zimmer. 1997. Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence. The Lindesmith Center: New York, 42.

In several states, marijuana offenders may receive maximum sentences of life in prison.
REFERENCE: NORML's State Guide to Marijuana Penalties.

A recent national study found that blacks are arrested for marijuana offenses at higher rates than whites in 90 percent of 700 U.S. counties investigated. In 64 percent of these counties, the black arrest rate for marijuana violations was more than twice the arrest rate for whites.
REFERENCE: J. Gettman. 2000. United States Marijuana Arrests, Part Two: Racial Differences in Drug Arrests. The NORML Foundation: Washington, DC.

Police arrest more Americans per year on marijuana charges than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
REFERENCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2001. Uniform Crime Report: Crime in the United States, 2000. Table 29: Total estimated arrests in the United States, 2000. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC.

More than 734,000 individuals were arrested on marijuana charges in 2000. Eighty-eight percent of those arrested were charged with marijuana possession only.
REFERENCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2001. Uniform Crime Report Crime in the United States, 2000. Table: Arrest for Drug Abuse Violations. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC.

Almost 5 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana since 1992. That's more than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington DC and Wyoming combined.
REFERENCE. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States (1993-2000). Table: Arrest for Drug Abuse Violations. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC.

posted by y2karl at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2003


Wow. Thanks, y2karl.
posted by spazzm at 8:55 AM on August 19, 2003


Now, call me a hard-nosed bitch (no, really, it's all right) but dammit, am I supposed to cry? You're on friggin' probation. You've either already been in jail or you've dodged that bullet and been given the gift of probation instead. Avoiding weed and booze and making your damned appointments are not difficult things, particularly when they're the conditions that keep you out of jail.

Yeah, but as a society we have to ask ourselves if prison is the right place for stupid people. It's harsh, but true. Some people are fucking idiots, and we don't have to like them, buyt ought we incracerate them? I mean, if someone is a danger while on probation, then lock 'em up, but does someone smoking a joint need to be the fulcrum on which their 10-year armed-robbery setence swings? People do go to prison for small violations. Sometimes for any violations. I personally know people (whose crimes were more serious than weed, for sure) who went to prison after a marijuana PV, whereas they would not have otherwise. Is it their fault? Yes. Do they deserve to have their lives ended because they smoked a plant? I guess you know what my answer to that is.

Read y2karl's link. Marijuana laws are serious, unless you're a white teenage kid who the cops think is just living out his wild youth. But if you are a young black or hispanic male, be prepared to have your pants prosecuted right off. We have to ask ourselves if someone (even a probationer) smoking weed does more harm to society than locking someone up for years in a violence and criminal behavior camp (or prison), at tremendous cost to the taxpayers and to the loved ones of the offender.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:05 AM on August 19, 2003


The idea that an organization should continue to be criminal after it's business is legalized is, to say the least, preposterous - the mafia resorts to violence because it cannot sue people for non-payments, not because murder is a superior business model in terms of income.

Well, maybe. Gambling is legal in Nevada, but there has been continuing mafia involvement in the gambling industry. Many honest businessmen may be reluctant to enter 'sin' industries, legal or not, which leaves openings for criminals.

But even if the criminals get out of the drug business, they may find other ways to do mischief. Some people believe that Prohibition was the start of today's organized crime. After Prohibition was repealed, the mafia just got involved in other areas. What will drug kingpins and street dealers do if drugs are legalized? I dunno, but I'll bet most won't go to work at the local widget works.

I'm still in favor of legalization of psychoactive drugs, I'm just saying it won't make current criminal infrastructure evaporate, at least not right away.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:40 AM on August 19, 2003


"Gambling is legal in Nevada, but there has been continuing mafia involvement in the gambling industry."

That may be true, and if so it may be because collection of gambling debts is notoriously difficult (Scroll to the end).

"After Prohibition was repealed, the mafia just got involved in other areas."

That may also be true, but I think you have noticed that the number of shootouts at the speakeasies have declined drastically.

If the drug trade is legalized and regulated, there'll be fewer amateur meth-labs blowing up and killing innocents, fewer crack-houses guarded by armed thugs and fewer gang shootouts over turf.
I'm not saying that legalization will solve all our social problems over night, but keep in mind that a lot of the problems we attribute to drug use are actually caused by the fact that drug use and trade is illegal.
posted by spazzm at 3:34 PM on August 19, 2003


Damn. That's supposed to be:
That may be true, and if so it may be because collection of gambling debts is notoriously difficult (Scroll to the end).
posted by spazzm at 3:36 PM on August 19, 2003


Gambling is legal in Nevada, but there has been continuing mafia involvement in the gambling industry.

or you talking about the legitimate gaming industry or the black-market gambling industry, i.e. sports betting or gaming outside of Nevada and Atlantic City (or specifically designated areas like riverboats and Detroit)?

if the former, do you care to post a source? i was under the impression that gangsters were pretty much out of the legitimate gaming industry.

the idea that "Many honest businessmen may be reluctant to enter 'sin' industries, legal or not, which leaves openings for criminals." is ludicrous. why would they be criminals if they're engaging in a legitimate practice? the hand-over-fist monetary reasons (of gambling, alcohol, marijuana, etc.) provide more than enough incentive to follow the law.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2003


mrgrimm, I think gangsters are pretty much out of the legit gaming industry today. But they were a problem during the 40's, 50's, and 60's.

Oh, as an example, one of the major casinos on the Strip, the Flamingo, was built by Bugsy Siegel, who was later murdered, possibly because he didn't pay off the money he borrowed to build it.

This article argues that the mob connection to Las Vegas is overblown. But it also sort of makes my point:
Many of the city's early casino industry figures, Schwartz said, had been driven to the city by Sen. Estes Kefauver's crackdown on organized crime and illegal gambling in the early 1950s. Schwartz described many such figures, such as Meyer Lansky, as investors. "It was like an investment for him ... it wasn't about control," he said. And in the beginning, they were the only ones willing to invest in the business of gambling.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:05 PM on August 19, 2003


Statement: But despite what you may want to think, people don't go to jail for smoking a little reefer.
posted by Witty at 3:39 PM GMT on August 19


Rebuttal: Under federal law, possessing a single marijuana cigarette or less is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine, the same penalty as possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine or crack. posted by y2karl at 4:11 PM GMT on August 19
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*crickets*
posted by dash_slot- at 5:03 PM on August 20, 2003


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