A recent story by Kathleen Miles at Huffington Post about Federal prison populations is another in a long line of stark illustrations of what is wrong with not just our criminal justice system in the United States, but of what is wrong with our government as a whole. Nominally the story is pretty straight forward: an “infographic” breakdown of Federal prison population by type of offense. To anyone following such social and legal stories, it comes as no surprise that the failed “War on Drugs” accounts for a substantial number of prisoners. What is more interesting is the story between the lines. It is a tale of sound and fury, told by a devil living in details, of class warfare, corruption, and the rise of fascism and fall of freedom. Let’s look at those numbers and what they reveal . . .
Here are the graphics:
The big manifest story is in the numbers for non-violent drug offenses (50.1% of the Federal prisons population) and its next largest contender in immigration offenses (10.6% of the Federal prisons population). At a grand total of 60.7% of the prison population, it isn’t hard to see that convictions are skewed in favor of jailing people for charges in a “war” against our own citizens that even the so-called experts are finally being forced to accept the reality of as a failure to stem drug use and a group of crimes that are really just malum prohibitum statutory offenses in an area of law that has been decried as dysfunctional by immigration professionals and experts for years. One class is jailed over what is at its core a public health problem and the other class is jailed because our immigration system is so broken it cannot address the realities of an ever mobile ever global population. To say that is manifestly unfair, unjust and inequitable is not an outrageous claim and may indeed be a bit of an understatement.
But what do these numbers indicate about the priorities of the Department of Justice in pursuing prosecutions of crimes with actual victims – unlike drug and immigration charges? Say . . . banking, insurance, counterfeiting and embezzlement charges like the kinds of crimes that ruined hundreds of thousands of lives and brought the world economy and the domestic economy to its knees?
Why only 0.4% of all Federal prisoners are being held for convictions related to banking, insurance, counterfeiting and embezzlement charges.
Criminal enterprise a.k.a. organized crime (of which, the CDL debacle that led to the near collapse of the world banking system arguably qualifies as well)?
That’d be a mere 0.2%.
Yes. The numbers show an outrageous injustice in the drug and immigration incarceration rates. That is without question. But it may even be more outrageous an injustice that the numbers seem to reflect that the DOJ isn’t interested in prosecution of financial crimes with both real victims and global systemic impacts we are still reeling from and may be for some time to come.
What do you think?