May 5, 2014 by Liberty
Whenever I have a drug prohibition conversation with my brother the same general idea eventually comes up. I say that it’s disgusting how we’re treating people with medical problems. Bare in mind, the vast majority of drug addicts have abuse and psychological problems in their past. (Anyway, that’s hardly the point so don’t dwell on it.) He then comes back to me with the old, “They committed a crime so they deserve to be in prison for it.”
This is one of the scariest things to hear come out of someones mouth. It suggests breaking an arbitrary rule deserves punishment. That means, people that helped slaves escape from slave owners deserved to go to prison. That gives Saddam the right to have killed his own people. It’s the law of the land. Somehow, that makes it good. Now, I won’t even bring up Hitler. (Okay… kinda did.) My point is that this is a very scary belief to have because it is so far from any rational truth.
Crimes, by legal definition, are not bad things. Criminal activity does not make something ethical or unethical. Unethical activity is not necessarily a crime. They have absolutely no connection in reality. While most people believe they have some major correlation, I even doubt that.
The criminals being locked up in the prison system today are not there because they did anything wrong. Everyone of them is included in that. They are there because they’ve done something the government has defined as wrong and the government chose to prosecute them.
The criminal is not defined by ethics. The criminal is defined by what we define as a crime.
Crime of Demographics
One of the worst crimes in the United States of America is to be a man. Yea… I know that’s a bold case to make but bare with me and just try to see the point. In the United States, less than 7% of the prison population is female. That suggests that there are vastly more male criminals in the United States than women. That does not, however, suggest there are more unethical men than unethical women. That says absolutely nothing about that.
In fact, if something does say something about the ethics it’s the fact that men get prison sentences that are 60% longer than the average woman’s sentence for the same crime. You can also look at the ridiculous difference in the application of the death penalty too. Or in the chances of being found guilty. All of these are consequences for being male. This all suggests that being born with a penis is a crime in itself.
What does society define as a crime anyway?
Is it paternity fraud? One in ten children aren’t the child of the man they think. Talk about fraud. That’s 18 years of support women steal from men. On top of that, that puts a child’s life at risk because they don’t have a real medical history. This, of course, is not a crime that’s prosecuted.
However, if you get in a consensual fist fight, you can go to jail. If you commit fraud in the workplace for less money, you can go to jail. Crimes are not defined to attack protected classes of people (like women in this case.) Crimes are mostly used to attack everyone else. Men aren’t the only ones getting the shaft though.
While being born a man might suck, don’t you dare get born a black man. Talk about a demographic crime. The numbers are absolutely insane when it comes to blacks and “criminal” activity. The drugs that show up in black neighborhoods get prosecuted hard. The drugs that show up everywhere are treated with a soft touch.
By far, the most dangerous drug in the world statistically is alcohol. Despite that, it’s completely legal while less dangerous drugs like cocaine are prosecuted hard. (The government is even responsible for some of it.) Cocaine is not prosecuted because it’s a worse drug, it’s because it happens to be used by the wrong people. By the way, how often do you see steroid stings? It’s another white guy drug that’s barely ever prosecuted.
A white man has a 4% chance of going to prison in their lifetime. A black man has a 28% chance. Keep in mind, not all of this comes down to how people define crimes. Some has to do with location, poverty, and a boatload of other factors but it’s still absolutely ridiculous how biased the definition of crimes are.
These other factors actually make a major difference though.
Prosecution Defines The Crimes
One of the oddest things about this whole discrepancy is that the problems are designed to grow themselves. When the drug war started, the statistics were in. Everyone knew where the police would end up finding the most people doing drugs. Everyone knew that black people would end up targeted.
Think about this. If you’re a logical police force looking for convictions. Where are you going to go looking for drug crimes? You certainly wont be going to the nice neighborhoods. They actually have the money to get prescriptions and they don’t buy from people on the street.
On top of that, even if you found the criminals, who is easier to prosecute?
It’s significantly easier to prosecute a poor person with a public defender than a middle class person (especially when they’re white because juries are less likely to convict.) So, the smart thing to do is go to the poor neighborhoods and look for black people. That constant onslaught of black people to the drug war casualties list just encourages cops to continue and juries to convict more. (It must be because black people commit more crimes… right?)
The prosecution of the prosecuted becomes a self-fufilling prophecy.
Naturally, it gets even worse. (It always does. Doesn’t it?) Statistics show that when people leave prison, they’re significantly more likely to be a criminal than when they’re getting put there. When a criminal gets put out on the streets, they are looked down on.
The world doesn’t like a former criminal. This conviction and ethics error causes many criminals (even non-violent ones) to struggle getting back into the real world. Getting a real job can become almost impossible and there is no legal way around it. You need to tell them you’re a criminal. Or, of course, you become a criminal.
When you can’t find a job, you end up in the same position or a worse position than when you got sent to prison. Eventually, those prosecuted for drugs need to head straight back to the drugs to either make their living or make their pain go away.
The prison system has just made a lifetime criminal. In many cases, it takes an ethical criminal and turns them into an unethical person.
We cannot define criminals as bad people. Being bad doesn’t get someone put in jail. Look at the bankers responsible for the largest financial collapse in history. There wasn’t one prosecution in America. Look at the comfort that criminals like Bernie Madoff live in compared to the men who stole $100 out of a cash register for food for their kids. Ethics have absolutely nothing to do with what the government does.
While a CEO would go to jail for making false promises to investors, politicians make false promises to voters virtually every time they open their mouths. George Bush is responsible for killing thousands of people based on evidence he knew to be false. I don’t see any prosecution their either.
Do not fall for the illusion that there is some logical correlation between ethics and criminality.
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