U.S. prison populations rise 2.6%

It’s a growth business, all these new prisons, yes it is. The U.S. now has more people than ever in prison and has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In some states it’s gotten insane.

In Montana, 85 percent of the state’s female prisoners are incarcerated because of meth-related offenses.

As one who once was addicted to meth, I hope those women can get genuine help. Yes, you have to want to get clean and only you can do it, but if there’s a helping hand available then what seemed impossible becomes doable. Someone who worked in front-line recovery homes and rehabs once told me that in his opinion the ones who made it back were the ones who had a safety net to fall back on. They had someone who still cared. Or they found A.A. or N.A. and got a built-in support system.

But most prisons aren’t interested in reform. So the convicts just keep returning. For 85% of women in prison in Montana to be there because of meth is beyond epidemic. Something is way seriously wrong. It’s not just women in prison, it’s kids beaten and abused by addict parents, prostitute moms, meth labs that become hazardous waste sites, etc. Meth is a nasty, ugly drug. There aren’t many old speed freaks. There’s a reason for that. Rehab is the way to get people off drugs so they don’t return to prison. But most prisons now aren’t focused on that.

The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group, reports that the U.S. incarceration rate in 2004 was the highest in the world, at 724 per 100,000 population. Second was Russia, at 532 per 100,000.

The highest in the world! The U.S. has a booming prison-industrial complex that keeps a lot of contractors wealthy building new prisons, and politicians well-greased with ‘campaign contributions.’ It’s corrupt to the core. You did know that construction is a time-honored and quite effective way to play hide-the-money, right?

Also from The Sentencing Project:

Black males born today have a one in three chance of going to prison during their lifetime, compared to a one in seventeen chance for white males. These trends have been exacerbated by the impact of the “war on drugs,” with three-fourths of all drug offenders being persons of color, far out of proportion to their share of drug users in society.

At the Federal level, prisoners incarcerated on a drug charge make up nearly 60% of all inmates. Since 1980, the number of drug offenders in state prisons has increased thirteen-fold, and drug offenders now comprise one-fifth of all state prisoners. Most of these persons are not high-level actors in the drug trade, and most have no prior criminal record for a violent offense.

The U.S. prison and justice system is demonstrably racist, demonizes minor league drug users, and by its refusal to try to get addicts into recovery is making the drug problem worse, not better. But without lots of prisoners, their gravy train would end, wouldn’t it?

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