Kyle A. Lohmeier
Government is, among other things, a massive waste of resources; it steals the valuable property of productive people and then wastes it on poorly-thought-out adventures that it pursues as inefficiently as possible, as institutions tend to do when they’re spending other people’s money. It’s hard to imagine a single bigger waste of taxpayer money – or greater abuser of human rights – than the penal system of the United States. So, naturally Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided the best thing to do with America’s penal system is make it even worse.
“The Trump administration called for tougher charges and longer prison time for criminals in a move to return to strict enforcement of mandatory minimum-sentencing rules, according to a memo the U.S. Department of Justice released on Friday,” Reuters reported.
Why? No, really. Why? On no planet does this policy decision make any sense whatsoever.
Despite its abject insanity, Sessions has directed prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” which are usually going to be victimless drug crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences.
“It ensures that the Department enforces the law fairly and consistently, advances public safety and promotes respect for our legal system,” Sessions wrote in the memo dated Wednesday and released today, according to Reuters.
Yep, nothing promotes respect for government and law enforcement among the peasantry like locking up their sons and daughters for undercutting Big-Booze and Big-Pharma’s protected monopolies on legally purchasable buzzes.
Of course, Sessions and the Trump regime are able to make this policy decision because the underlying federal laws support their actions and have since the mid-1980s. All Sessions did was rescind the policy directive of former Attorney General Eric Holder who, under direction from then-president Obama, advised U.S. attorneys to not seek top charges in minor drug cases specifically to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences. In addition to making federal prosecution policy less of an affront to all notions of basic human rights, the directive also sought to ease prison overcrowding which, in turn also helps save taxpayers’ money.
Logically, the Obama-era policy makes a lot more sense, and objectively it must, which is why there exists exactly no political will in Washington D.C. to make them permanent by changing the draconian federal drug laws themselves. And now it looks like the new sheriff in town is going to enforce the letter of those laws, lucky us.
According to a 2012 study by the Vera Institute of Justice, each and every prison inmate costs taxpayers $31,286 per year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were more than 2.2 million Americans locked up in cages as of 2013. That comes to $69,464,305,800 total per year, roughly, to warehouse about one percent of the adult population of the United States, most of whom didn’t hurt the person or property of anyone else – 46.3 percent of inmates are there for drug offenses, 8.4 for immigration offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Of course, not everyone gets a cage, so there are an additional 4.75 million Americans on probation or parole; making for nearly seven million Americans total stuck at some point in the penal system. And, if anything on Earth bears repeating, it’s this: most of them are in the system for crimes that hurt the person or property of no one else. If that fact alone isn’t enough to make one an anarchist, I’ve no idea what else could.
Of course, private prisons are a big business in the United States. The very notion of such an enterprise should be absurd in a supposedly free and capitalist country. There just wouldn’t be enough “customers” in a country that reserved prison for just those people who actually hurt the person or property of another human to make such an enterprise all that worthwhile. A mere 15.3 percent of inmates are serving time for crimes against property, a further 16.9 percent for “weapons, explosives, arson,” which seems a rather broad and vague category, but is nevertheless one of the ones listed on the BOP’s stat sheet. Taken together, inmates serving time for homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and sex offenses total 11.8 percent.
Clearly, in a truly capitalist and actually free country, private prisons would be a terrible business to be in. The fact that the USA is really a corporatist oligarchy means for-profit prisons make all the business sense in the world.
The reasons drugs are illegal is because they hurt Big-Booze and Big-Pharma’s profits. So, when, and only when, a nation has a corporatist government that protects Big-Booze and Big-Pharma at all costs does a for-profit, private prison industry make any sense. In fact, it makes a lot of sense, in the most cynical and twisted way imaginable, because the government will go out with guns and bring you a steady stream of new “customers” in chains and then pay you exorbitantly to warehouse them. And now, the deal just got even better, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to make sure they get booked for the maximum stay at these facilities and then send us peasants the bill.
Trump Train passengers, this is your final deboarding call.