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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ye old right wing

i was just reading the paper this morning when i was struck in the head by a cudgel of stupidity. apparently, our esteemed congressmen think that the private institutions who run prisons and jails accross the country are just not quite fat enough. now we want to imprison people for being black or latino. officially, they want mandatory minimums for "gang" crimes. i'm so flabbergasted that i don't even know where to begin on this one. the inherent racism? that gang activity actually sprung out of the prison system in the first place? that mandatory sentences (i.e., the rockefeller drug laws) have proven to be the worst blight on young urban minorities since slavery? that mandatory minimums do nothing to eradicate gang activity?

that anyone would see mandatory sentences as a way to curtail gang violence is completely incomprehensible (think wallace shawn in the princess bride)! in new york state, social workers (and anyone else who actually thinks for two minutes about the state of the correctional system) are trying to come up with ways to repeal mandatory drug sentences because a) they don't work, b) they virtually eliminate judicial discrimination, c) they have engorged an already overcrowded (and shall i add extremely expensive) prison system, and d) did i mention, they don't work!

mandatory minimums basically take away judicial discretion when it comes to sentencing. so, for instance, if an mother of four with no history of violence is caught muling so she can afford to feed her kids, her circumstances cannot be considered when it comes time for sentencing. If this is the third time she's been caught, she automatically gets a minimum of 12 years (that's twelve years that her children are living without a mother!). for those that argue that harsh minimums discourage people from committing the crime in the first place, i say "show me the numbers!" the kids who are choosing a life of crime aren't going to be dissuaded by minimum sentences. in fact, you're much more likely to turn a kid who made a dumb mistake into a hardened criminal by making sure that he gets well acquainted with kind of folks who spend their lives behind bars.

at least randy forbes is being honest about why he wants the bill. he said, "the crime-probability ages are 15- to 24-year-olds, and if you take the person off the streets for that period then the statistics go enormously away in terms of perpetrating additional crimes." hey, with that logic, why don't we just screw the bill and put all 15 to 24 year olds behind bars! while we're at it, let's just make it a crime to be black or latino! who the fuck elected this shmuck to congress??

anyway, that will lead me into my whole divesting washington of politicians theory... that's one for another day.

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