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Land of The Free


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68 replies to this topic

#1 of 69 drobbins

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Posted February 29 2008 - 05:48 AM

Does anyone else find it ironic that the USA, "the land of the free" and the leader of freedom movements world wide, has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world? This is the CNN Story based on the study.



#2 of 69 KevinGress

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Posted February 29 2008 - 06:10 AM

To be honest, it makes a lot of sense. People are free to live their ideals, and unfortunately, with that, some choose to do stupid things or break laws.

What a lot of people don't want to accept is that with freedom comes responsibility to act in a civil and beneficial manner.

Add to that, a lot of totalitarian regimes are quick to permanently remove those they deem to be an infection to their society.

So, it's understandable given that our country constantly debates within itself what should require punishment and how lax or how severe that punishment should be.

#3 of 69 Dave_Brown

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Posted February 29 2008 - 06:56 AM

Land of the Free does not mean "free to do whatever the hell I want." It gets perverted into that beleif often enough, though. Freeom of speech is the same thing, people think it means they can say whatever they want and not be held accountable or have to suffer for their words and/or actions.

In simple terms it means as long as you abide by the laws in place, you are free to say or do whatever you want regardless of how the government might feel. The fact that we are allowed to bash, critique or flat out curse politicians is an example of that. You don't have to worry about the government knocking on your door and dragging you off in the middle of the night because you are anti-abortion in your beliefs. Go and blow up an abortion clinic, though, and you deserve to be put away for a long time.

#4 of 69 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted February 29 2008 - 09:12 AM

Quote:
You don't have to worry about the government knocking on your door and dragging you off in the middle of the night

You do, however, have to worry about being sued for libel or defamation if you publicly insult someone, or getting a fat lip if you say something nasty about a guy's mom in a bar. Posted Image

As you said, freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences. It generally means no prior restraint on what you say, and little or no government action based on "mere words" or other forms of speech. But your fellow citizens are perfectly free to express their opinions of your speech by celebrating you, shunning you or taking you to court. The First Amendment only defines the limits of what Congress (and by later amendment, state governments) can do.

Regards,

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#5 of 69 drobbins

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Posted February 29 2008 - 03:31 PM

I just think that it is ironic that over the generations:
    [*]The USA is founded with the idea that all people should be free.[*]We use that freedom to elect leaders.[*]The leaders pass laws governing what is "acceptable behavior" that is needed for the general good of society.[*]The result is a society that ends up jailing (taking away their freedom) 1% of the adult population, the highest in the world.
I agree that it is be better than the societies that just kill those who the leaders deem a threat to the general good. But doesn't it also make you wonder about the effectiveness of our system? To what extent is our system deterring crimes? Or are too many things here a crime that leads to jail? What is it about our "free" society that puts such a high percentage of the population behind bars? I don't have the answers, I just think that it is weird.

#6 of 69 Holadem

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Posted March 01 2008 - 12:15 AM

Here is another fun stat: 5% of the world's population, with a quarter (!!!) of the world's incarcerated population.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
I don't have the answers, I just think that it is weird.
It is weird. That acknowledgment is the first step toward the improvement of any situation, and it is a step most are unwilling to take.

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#7 of 69 JohnRice

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Posted March 01 2008 - 12:49 AM

I guess I'm a little (pleasantly) surprised this thread has been able to stay open. Nice to see discussion stay on track.

I do have a few comments. How on earth can we possibly know how many people are incarcerated around the world? After all, the greatest offenders of rights are hardly going to reveal this accurately, not to mention just eliminating them, which by this stat makes them look better, not worse. It's seriously worth considering.

As has been mentioned, freedom means the ability to break laws more readily. Of course, this doesn't explain why very similar countries such as GB and Canada don't seem to have our level of law breaking, or at least incarceration.

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#8 of 69 Blu

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Posted March 01 2008 - 12:57 AM

When I got robbed TWICE and I knew who did it by a witness I wanted that guy to go to jail and have his freedom taken away.

He was never arrested and I STILL want him in jail.
So what is your point drobbins?
Would you be happier if criminals would be free to run the streets and rob people who obey the laws!?!?!?

Good grief dude, think about what you are saying. A lot of people are in prison because they COMMITTED A CRIME! When they are in jail they aren't committing another crime!

If you don't want to go to jail you are free to get your act together and get a job and become a productive member of the HTF society.

#9 of 69 Brandon_T

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Posted March 01 2008 - 01:01 AM

I agree Blu. We are given so many freedoms, including the freedom to obey or not obey our laws that are set forth by our system. If you CHOOSE not to obey the laws, then you become incarcerated. I have no problem with that. I have more of a problem with across the board mandatory sentencing for things like non violent drug offenses, which by the way makes up something like 70% of our prison population. Anyhow thats my worthless .02.

#10 of 69 Holadem

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Posted March 01 2008 - 01:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu
Would you be happier if criminals would be free to run the streets and rob people who obey the laws!?!?!?
No Blu, no one is saying or implying such a thing.

I suppose such bizarre hyperboles are inevitable (now waiting for the other inevitable "YOU HATE AMERICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! RHAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!" post.)

Quote:
Good grief dude, think about what you are saying. A lot of people are in prison because they COMMITTED A CRIME! When they are in jail they aren't committing another crime!
This is true. But here are the facts: compared to similar countries, we have a record number of people in jail, and a lot more criminals running around still breaking the law.

Does that not give you pause? No one is accusing anyone of anything. I have seen no blame assigned. And the this thread would be closed the moment anyone did that anyway.

But man, beyond the reflexive defense, can you truly look at those numbers and not see that something is wrong? Because that's all some of us are saying.

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#11 of 69 Blu

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Posted March 01 2008 - 01:52 AM

Why would it give me pause to have criminals in jails?

When wasn't the prison population at a all new high? It probably sets a new record every year. Our population will also probably be at a all new high every year.

Again if you are free to break the laws and there are consequences to breaking the laws if you are caught.

In my case he wasn't even arrested but that doesn't mean he'll stop breaking the law until he is. As you said yes there are people still out breaking the law.

Build more prisons.

#12 of 69 RickER

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Posted March 01 2008 - 02:01 AM

You know, many countries just kill the people that break laws, or worse, that they dont like. And i am sure they dont get a jury of their peers. No one to incarcerate then.
Some of you guys act like its a bad thing to lock people up, that break the law! Its not so bad when you look at the alternatives.

#13 of 69 Lew Crippen

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Posted March 01 2008 - 03:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickER
You know, many countries just kill the people that break laws, or worse, that they dont like. And i am sure they dont get a jury of their peers. No one to incarcerate then.
Some of you guys act like its a bad thing to lock people up, that break the law! Its not so bad when you look at the alternatives.
This premise (many countries) is (for the most part) not correct. Most (and all of the first world) countries do not execute criminals. While you are correct that rhere are many justice systems that do include a trial by jury e.g. Singapore), that does not mean that there is no criminal system and that no one gets sent to jail.
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#14 of 69 RickER

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Posted March 01 2008 - 03:42 AM

Point well taken Lew, but it would be hard for me to respond without getting this thread locked. This thread may be a lock candidate anyway, it has political undertones to it.

#15 of 69 Glenn Overholt

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Posted March 01 2008 - 03:48 AM

I think that the problem is just that we have way too many laws. We end up catching people breaking the silly ones, and this way our law enforcement agencies don't have the time to work on capturing the real criminals.

Glenn

#16 of 69 Jay Taylor

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Posted March 01 2008 - 04:31 AM

Our local media pointed out that a significant part of the rise in incarceration rate is the minimum mandatory sentences that more criminals are receiving.

To me this is preferable to releasing murderers with a 15-year sentence in only a few years because they supposedly found something that we're not allowed to discuss on this forum.
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#17 of 69 drobbins

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Posted March 01 2008 - 06:07 AM

Quote:
He was never arrested and I STILL want him in jail.
So what is your point drobbins?
Would you be happier if criminals would be free to run the streets and rob people who obey the laws!?!?!?
Of course not. There are obviously crimes that need punishment: murder, robbery, etc... These people have shown that they can not function normally in our society. Our system just takes them and gives them a "time out and sit in the corner". There is a large percentage (I don't have the data) that are in a revolving door situation. Our system does not or can not correct their behavior. There are others though that the system does detur from repeating their mistakes.
I don't want to get side tracked with a DUI debate, but the NY times said that Texas has about 5,500 people in jail for DUI including those who never caused an accident. Another touchy topic, is the "war on drugs" working, or are we just filling our jails? Here in KY the crime rate increased 3% in the past 30 years but the state's inmate population has increased by 600%.

Quote:
But man, beyond the reflexive defense, can you truly look at those numbers and not see that something is wrong?
That is where I was heading with this thread. The "leader of the free world" having the highest % of people whose freedoms are taken away from them. I am in no way suggesting that murders, rapists, etc. should not go to jail, but only wondering why that rate is higher in the USA especially when compared to similar free societies. I don't think we would be comparing apples to apples comparing USA to China.

#18 of 69 Chuck Mayer

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Posted March 01 2008 - 06:37 AM

You can keep putting quotes around the free, drobbins, but we're srill free. You are confusing rights and laws. Take a look of civilization prior to 1776, and you should be AMAZED at the progress the entire world (and the USA) has made in 232 very short years.

I agree with Holadem's points, that we should take that mark as a challenge, and determine why we have so many people incarcerated. What are the crimes, what are the sentences, and what is the recidivism rate? Try and solve some bigger problems, and we can probably decrease that number.

I still take umbrage (and amusement) at the OP's contention that we really aren't free...that this is some secret police state where we aren't free. While I would agree we aren't the most free country, we certainly started the trend, and we do OK even considering the economies of scale that differentiate us from our smaller allies.

As for those elected leaders determining what actions are deemed OK, yes, that's called the Constitution Posted Image
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#19 of 69 Keith Plucker

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Posted March 01 2008 - 06:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
...The result is a society that ends up jailing (taking away their freedom) 1% of the adult population, the highest in the world.

The impression I am getting is that you think this is bad, is that correct? If so, why?

The only reason I can think of would be because of the costs involved. In California, the estimates I have read indicate that about 30% of the prison population is made up of people that have committed crimes and happen to be here illegally. So deporting them and securing our borders would be a good first step in reducing the prison population and the costs associated with maintaining it. Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania have a similar problem. In any event, regardless of the costs involved, I would feel more uncomfortable with not jailing criminals for their crimes that I am with a questionable statistic.

I will say that instead of sending billions of dollars of aid to foreign countries to fight "the drug trade" we would be better off keeping the money here to fund drug treatment programs and what not.

-Keith
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#20 of 69 Steve Schaffer

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Posted March 01 2008 - 08:04 AM

This is a really ticklish subject to comment on without violating forum rules but I'll take a stab at it.

First I'll say that we should not be comparing the US figures to those of totalitarian nations or third world countries, just to other industrialized nations with democratic governments (i.e. Europe, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Australia, etc.)

We perhaps need to look at what's different between the US and these other first-world nations.

Many of these nations have immigrant problems similar to our own, especially in Western Europe, yet don't have such a high percentage of incarcerated people.

These nations have less out-and-out poverty than the US, better education systems with higher education being much cheaper, fewer or lower penalties for "victimless crimes" like simple drug use,
much better social services, and (dare I say it) more rigorous gun control laws. They are able to do this because their economies are not drained by the need for maintaining superpower military establishments.
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