Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jailhouse Rock

I love where I live, but I won't pretend that we don't have our challenges.

In my little Tennessee county, the County Fathers (I say that because our only County Mother retired last go round) are considering a new jail. Our schools are overcrowded and falling apart, they gave our biggest park to an RV developer, our water systems are more than questionable, their idea of development is another damned traffic light, but a new jail is foremost in the minds of the mental giants running this place.

If I seem harsh let me point out that individually, our commishioners aren't too bad, but put them in one room and call the session to order and their I Q's collectively plummet.

I have a proposal...Let's put all the County Commisioners in a class at Roane County High School for one month. maybe a Civics class would be good. Of course we would have to start one because I'm told they don't teach Civics at Roane County Schools any more. Anyway, after a month, I'm thinking the priorities would change. Even a few days of those over fifty bladders standing in line in the principal's office waiting on the bathroom key might change some minds about who ought to be taken care of first.

Frankly, most thoughtful people who study the problem might conclude that we don't even need a new jail in the first place. A quick look at the books indicates that it isn't overcrowded, except for a few minutes every Saturday night while they process the same old crowd. There are very few folks in our jail that the public actually needs protection from.

Around the country, after an orgy of jail building, they found that crime went up, not down. but someplaces have made some surprising discoveries.

The WaPo has a relevant piece that I hope folks around here will take a look at:

In the past few years, legislators in such conservative states as Louisiana
and Mississippi have passed sentencing reforms. Kansas and Nebraska are
reconsidering prison expansion in favor of far less expensive drug treatment.
The United States annually spends about $60 billion on prisons.

"Crime is down and people realize, sure, we can lock up more people,
but that's why your kid's pre-K class has 35 kids -- all the money is going to
prisons," Jacobson says. "There's a sense of urgency that for the first time in
two decades, we can talk about whether it makes sense to lock up even more
William J. Bratton, Giuliani's police commissioner in the
mid-1990s -- now chief of the Los Angeles Police Department -- directed his
officers to make swarms of misdemeanor arrests for fare beating, pot smoking,
gun possession and the like, charges that result in much shorter incarcerations.
Felony arrests, by contrast, dropped sharply, which meant far fewer city
residents were sent to the high-security Upstate prisons.

City and state prisons in New York also turned aggressively to drug
treatment and mental health counseling. They did so as a matter of enlightened
self-interest. The city prison system is the second-largest mental health
provider in the nation; only the Los Angeles County system surpasses it.

Commissioner Horn got his start decades ago as a prison guard. Now he
occupies the executive office at Rikers Island and is a national expert on what
is recognized as an American specialty: mass incarceration.
"I leave it to
the economists and the moralists to decide if we've paid too high a cost to
imprison," Horn said as he walked out of a shadowed prison block. "But New York
proves you can lock up a lot fewer people and get a pretty big impact."


Other Fun Stuff:

The top ten best functioning Democracies in the world, based on 60 factors divided over five general categories; free and fair election process, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

1. Sweden 9,88
2. Iceland 9,71
3. Netherlands 9.66
4. Norway 9,55
5. Denmark 9,52
6. Finland 9,25
7. Luxembourg 9,10
8. Australia 9,09
9. Canada 9.02
10. Switzerland 9.02

Why aren't the US and Great Britian on the list? We got failing marks in...

Civil Liberties and Fair elections..

When the new Congress is sworn in they will almost immediately start investigations on danged near everything, since the Bush Administration has been the most closed and secretive in american History. As revelation after revelation hits the fan, whether or not to Impeach will be the question. Are the Neo-Cons worried? Here's the inside joke:

I want them sweating so badly they have to come out with a deoderant called Right-Wing Gaurd: "strong enough for a elephant but made for a pig".

Here's the process for those who were wondering:

The House Judiciary Committee deliberates over whether to initiate an
impeachment inquiry.

The Judiciary Committee adopts a resolution seeking authority from
the entire House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry. Before voting, the
House debates and considers the resolution. Approval requires a majority

The Judiciary Committee conducts an impeachment inquiry, possibly
through public hearings. At the conclusion of the inquiry, articles of
impeachment are prepared. They must be approved by a majority of the

The House of Representatives considers and debates the articles of
impeachment. A majority vote of the entire House is required to pass each
article. Once an article is approved, the President is, technically speaking,
"impeached" -- that is subject to trial in the Senate.

for a good rundown on the prospects try this:

As always, Peace,


1 comment:

  1. A key factor in the high rankings of those Scandinavian countries is the fact that they are socialist democracies, whereas the United States is a capitalist democracy. We have seen how far capitalism can go, but now it is on the decline.