Washington D.C. — On Saturday, economists in U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration released a report detailing the adverse effects on the economy derived from locking non-violent drug offenders and criminals behind bars.
For decades, a guiding philosophy of authoritarians was that locking more people up would result in less crime. This has created a prison state in the U.S., which represents 4.4% of the world’s population yet houses 22% of the world’s prisoners.
Since 1980 alone, the US prison population has skyrocketed by nearly 5 times.
H0wever, the negative effects of such a totalitarian approach to drug crimes and other victimless offenses is having a staggering economic impact on the United States.
According to a report by Reuters, economists are “of one mind” that packed prisons, excessively long sentences, and insufficient reentry programs “are counter-productive to our economy as a whole in addition to hurting the people involved,” Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters in a call on Friday.
On Monday, administration officials, economists, business leaders, and scholars will discuss the Council’s findings at an event hosted by the White House, the American Enterprise Institute think tank, and New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
The United States can reap greater economic benefit through investments in police, prisoner education, and job opportunities for ex-prisoners than it can from putting additional funding toward prisons, the Council’s report said.
The research from University of Michigan economics professor, Michael Mueller-Smith, has proven that prison terms don’t rehabilitate a criminal and turn them into a law-abiding citizen.
The US penal policy just doesn’t appear to be working. The criminal world is expanding, despite more and more criminals being incarcerated and isolated from society.
The American practice of imprisoning people for even the most trivial offenses, not only ruins lives but tends to act as a college for crime.
Up to 75 percent of former prisoners are rearrested within 5 years of their release date.
This revolving door of creating and processing criminals fosters the phenomenon known as Recidivism. Recidivism is a fundamental concept of criminal justice illustrating the tendency of those who are processed into the system and the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
The impetus behind the mass incarceration in America is the War on Drugs. The illegality of drug possession and use is what keeps the low-level users and dealers in and out of the court systems, and most of these people are poor black men. As Dr. Ron Paul has pointed out time and again, black people are more likely to receive a harsher punishment for the same drug crime as a white person.
The War on Drugs takes good people and turns them into criminals every single minute of every single day. The system is setup in such a way that it fans the flames of violent crime by essentially building a factory that turns out violent criminals.
Calling it rehabilitation is a sick joke as the mere act of locking someone in jail for a victimless crime is almost a guarantee they will never be able to enter the workforce again.
When drugs are legalized, crime and gang violence drops — drastically. Not only does it have a huge effect on the localized gangs in America, but the legalization of drugs is crippling to the violent foreign drug cartels too.
Until Americans educate themselves on the cause of this violence, uninformed and corrupt lawmakers will continue to focus on controlling the symptoms.
We will see more senseless killings and more innocent lives stripped of opportunity by getting entangled in the system.