August 25, 2002
JUST ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I reported Department of Justice figures showing that one American in 32 was under supervision by the criminal justice system, and remarked:
How many people have to be under direct supervision of law enforcement before you have a police state? Whatever the number is, at the current rate of growth it won't take us long to get there. According to these DOJ figures one out of 32 American adults -- over three percent of the population -- is in jail, on parole, or on probation. This represents a whopping forty-nine percent increase over the last ten years. Most of this growth appears to come from nonviolent drug offenses. Another example of how the Drug War is leading -- in this case directly, not metaphorically -- to the creation of a police state.
Okay, I don't want to go over the top. But really -- prisons are hellholes for the most part. And some people deserve to be in hellholes. But not all that many. Certainly not this many. I think that future historians will look back on this mass imprisonment the way we look on the internment of Japanese-American citizens in World War Two.
That still stands -- and it's a bigger, though far less remarked-upon, injustice than any that are involved in the War on Terrorism.
TalkLeft has this year's figures, which unsurprisingly aren't any better. I guess I should be glad they aren't worse.