Last week I saw on the TV news that, for the first time in American history, one out of every 100 of us are presently incarcerated. A full one percent. And, further, the rate of incarceration is growing faster than the population. Right now, we have a higher percentage of people in prison than any other country in the world. 2.3 million of them.
And there’s another four million or so currently on parole or probation.
Understand, this includes all Americans. So, if you were to factor out, say, everybody under the age of, I dunno, ten, and assume that none of those were in jail (with the possible exception of a few in Texas & Florida where they consider those kids to be “adults”), then that takes that percentage even higher. And growing.
If this trend continues, sooner or later, everybody will be in jail. I gotta wonder: When that happens, who’s gonna feed the prisoners? Furthermore, that just shoots the heck out of your chance for a parole or early release, because there won’t be anybody outside the bars to let you out. A week, tops, and everybody’s going to starve to death. That’s cold, man.
Say we get down to a dozen un-imprisoned people in the country. How are they going to make up a judge, jury, prosecutor and defense attorney for those last folks? Then, you’ve got to have somebody to take them down to the jail and lock ‘em up. I just don’t see how this could work.
Wha’d they do?
In 2004 – the last year for which I could find statistics – only about 52% of those folks in the orange jumpsuits were there for violent crimes. 21% were there for property crimes, and 20% were there for drugs. I have to assume, since they list them separately, that those “druggies” were there for non-violent drug offenses. If that 20% figure is current, we’re talking about 460,000 people in the slammer for buying, selling, or doing them. A big chunk of those (I couldn’t find the stats, because, frankly, I’m too lazy to look too hard for them.) includes folks involved with a recreational weed that is purported by many to be less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. But those are legal. Go figure.
Seems like we’ve just got a thing about locking people up. You know, to rehabilitate them. Because everybody knows those people who finally get out of prison become model citizens. Prison fixes them. This may be why the town of Brattleboro, Vermont has passed a resolution to arrest George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney, should they ever show their faces in town – for war crimes. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that one, but I really don’t see how it’s doable either. The town has something over 12,000 population (meaning, I guess, that about 120 of them are in jail), so how many cops could they have? Can you see Barney walking up to the Secret Service dudes in the dark glasses, telling them to step aside so they can snag the Dubyuh and cart him off to the pokey? But, say he prevails. GWB goes to jail, court, and then to the Big House. Cheney comes to town to rescue him and they grab him too. Now they’re both making license plates. Eventually, by the numbers, the rest of us join them.
Would they still be President and Vice President? Couldn’t they just pardon themselves? Who’s going to use those license plates? This is so confusing.
My goal, at this point, is to hold out and be the guy who slams the door on the next-to-last guy. Then, when everybody else is in there banging on the bars with tin cups, I’m going to go to all your houses and steal your stuff. What are you going to do about it?
Once I’ve got it – having nobody to sell it to – I’m going to let everybody out again.
Except Bush & Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, one little fat guy I used to work for, and that puppy-chucking soldier from YouTube. And maybe, out of the goodness of my heart, I’ll leave a few of those really mean violent bad guys in there to keep them company.
It’s good to be king.
© 2008 Rick Baber