The Politics of Fear

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By Brother Bey , Fraternal Order of X-Offenders | November 1, 2009

President J.B. Johnson’s Crime Commission influenced a proposal that was legislated as “The Safe Street and Crime Control Act” in February 1967. However when the proposed Bill was passed in 1968 the name was changed to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act. The bill provided grants to the states rather than cities, funds were provided for the creation of riot-control units without police training, which promoted civil liberties violation such as wiretapping/bugging without court orders, the admission of coerced confessions which violated the 5th Amendment of U.S. Constitution. Finally this legislation exempted Law Enforcement Agencies from having to meet the requirement of Title of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which denies federal grants to agencies or organizations that discriminate. {{more}} Investing In CrimeThe Ronald Regan Administration increased financial allocation resources for its Criminal Justice War on Drugs Budget in 1981 was Billion by 1997 under the Bush Administration the War on Drugs Budget was Fifteen Billion. Historical – Social OverviewOur nation is a nation of laws and not men; however, the data indicates that it is primarily the men that disproportionately violate the law.Society is a social organism and within this organism there are institutions that have been mandated to provide the functions of developing norms, morals and folkways that are conducive to conformity. When these formal institutions fail there missions, such as the home, school and the church, then the informal institutions manifest themselves as institutions of social control i.e. Law Enforcement, Courts and Corrections. Since social behavior requires social learning then it is conclusive to say that all behavior is learned behavior. All people learn what they live and live what they learn.The Rising American Prison PopulationResearch indicates the rising American Prison Population between 1980 and 1999 the number of people in prison or jail or parole in the United States rose from fewer than 2 million to more than 6 million, a threefold increase in less than twenty years. The number of people in prison grew by an even larger percentage, increasing from just fewer than 320,000 in 1980 to more than 1.7 million in 1999. Crime in AmericaAnnually more than 600,000 individuals are released from prisons throughout this nation. The population of Washington, D.C. is less than 600,000 residents.Believe it or not the truth will set us free. Historically the British sent their criminals to the Americas or Australian penal colonies. Remember that history is the best qualifier. However today in America when people go to prison, 90% or more are at some point going to be released, contrary to popular belief. Notice I did not say that the prisoners leave prison and return home. Why? Some releases are truly leaving home and returning to prison , depending upon their physical, mental and spiritual institutionalization while they were induced, sedated and medicated with the process of incarceration. The majority of the incarcerated population entered the Criminal System with histories of mental health and or substance abuse issues, are poorly educated, unemployed and a victim and or perpetrator of violence. Many are also repeat offenders with a relative, friend or significant other in their life that has been arrested and or convicted for unlawful behavior. Upon release most of the releasees go directly back to at risk family, friends, and community that support sick anti-social behavior. We believe based on our experiences that the behavior will not change until the thinking changes. Very few releasees have received educational services, job training or substance abuse treatment, as correctional agencies have prioritized building new prisons for community and social nonconformists. The annual 600,000 releases are concentrated in the most economic challenged communities, particularly African American communities. The travesty is, the fatherless children that may inherit the criminal “BOYtality” as opposed to the perceived Rites of Passage i.e. MENtality.StatisticsU.C. R. Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the nation report crime statistics to the F.B.I.Criminal Offender StatisticsPrevalence of imprisonment, nationally, as of Dec 31, 2001 there were 5.6 million adults who had served time in state or federal prison, including 4.3 million repeat offenders.Lifetime likelihood of going to adult prison 32 % for African American males 17% for Hispanic males 5.9% for White malesCorrectional StatisticsIn 2002, 6.7 million of the nation’s population was either in jail, on probation or parole.At year-end 2002, there were 3,437 African American male prisoners per 100,000 African American men in America compared to 1,176 Hispanic males per 100,000 Hispanic men and 450 White males per 100,000 White men in America.Probationers – Community supervision instead of incarceration.Parole – Conditional release after serving a portion of prison term.Incarcerated Parents and their ChildrenIn 1999, an estimated 721,500 prisoners were parents to 1,498,800 children under age 18.Re-EntryAt least 95% of all state prisoners will be released from prison at some point. 80% will be released t parole supervision.Nearly 33% of state prisoners released, as of 1999, were drug offenders, 25% were violent offenders and 31 % were property offenders.84% of all released prisoners reported being involved in drug or alcohol at the time of offense, which lead to their incarceration.56% had one or more prior incarcerations and 25% had 3 or more prior incarcerations.14% were determined to be mentally ill.12% reported being homeless at the time of their arrest.Recidivism 1994 statistics Released prisoners with the highest re-arrest rates:Robbers 70.2%Burglars 74%Larcenists 74.6% Car thieves 78.8%Illegal sale/possession of a fire arm 70.2%The Business of Crime – Could there be a correlation between economic power and a county’s incarceration rate???Between 1980 and 1993, Presidents Ronald Regan and George Bush Sr., cut federal spending on employment and training by nearly 50% while corrections spending has increased by 521%. How do we reconcile the fact that spending for prisons has increased from 6 billion to 150 billion, while the murder rate remains flat? All crime is down 11 percent, yet the number of prisoners has increased from 500,000 in 1980 to more than two million in 2001 a 400% increase.Since 1990, the United States has been constructing enough prison facilities to hold an average of 92,640 new beds per year and these beds are not cheap. As of 1998 the cost of creating a new maximum-security bed was $70,909, for medium security it was $49,853 per bed and for minimum security the price was $29,311 per bed. This incredible amount of money being pored into prisons has lured some of the largest construction firms in the world into the business. Underwriting prison construction by selling tax-exempt bonds is now estimated to be a 3 billion dollar industry.Another piece of the prison industrial complex is the exploitation of prison labor by private and state owned companies. Convict labor is seen as efficient and economical, as Senator Phil Graham stated “I want to turn every federal prison in this country into a mini industrial park.”The Drug BusinessDepending on whose research you use the sale of drugs annually on the low side is 100 billion and 500 billion on the high side. The War on Drugs began in 1971. Over the past three decades America has spent 30 trillion on law enforcement. That means that America spends 1 trillion a year or almost 30 billion a day to wage this War on Drugs. The Wars on Crime and Drugs has also led to the institutionalization of racism by defining the crime problem as a problem of young black men and women.