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The Carceral Problem Is Getting Worse

The criminal justice reform bill, hopefully dubbed the First Step Act, represents a real accomplishment — a positive development in otherwise conservative times. It is all the more remarkable that a reactionary president, who ran a tough-on-crime campaign, is now poised to sign the bill. …

Mass incarceration is no doubt the most glaring feature of the punitive turn. But the punitive state is not only about prison. Sex offenders represent a rapidly growing subset of the prison population, not doubt; their numbers help keep the system bloated. But sex crimes also have provided a laboratory for the development of prison conditions beyond prison walls: a high-tech system of continuous surveillance and control.

The current news, then, has to be read against the latest number of listings on public sex-offender registries, which have ballooned to more than 912,000 — a 4.8 percent increase in listings in the last year. If sex offenders were a city, they’d rank twelfth in size, just below Austin, Texas. Full Article

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  1. Eric

    This is an outstanding article, kudos to the author. The statistic that “the incarceration rates for blacks has declined, while the rates for white has risen,” this was a behind the scenes calculated act by congress to free themselves from the thorn in the side of the high incarceration rates of blacks, and they found their answer in the sex offender, especially CP offenders who tend to be white middle and upper middle class. With the onset of the computer and the CP explosion congress found its gold mine to help alleviate the problem of black incarceration rates. They immediately imposed the mandatory minimums of 5 years, while Holder and Obama pushed the crack cocaine reductions acts and viola! instant demographic change in the federal prison system. I was part of this and I saw the demographic change. In 2011 and 2012 bus loads of blacks were sent out for resentencing while bus loads of whites, almost exclusively CP offenders took their place. It was obvious to everyone what had just happened and is still happening. The new criminal reform bill excludes pretty much every single offense involving sex, weather contact was made, or even if no sex took place. I think Trump is feeling a little guilty for his promiscuous life and needed to prove that he is self-righteous to the Christian conservatives by slamming and giving no forgiveness to people who made a poor choice around their sexuality (kind of like he did multiple times).

    • Gralphr

      To be fair, it was proven blacks were being racially targeted, considering whites use drugs just as much, it seem to avoid prison. It used to be tough on drugs, (mainly crack) and many blacks received long prison sentences. Crack (made from cocain) and mainly used by blacks gave more time than being found with cocain (mainly used by whites). Black drug user meant prison, but now that meth (mainly used by whites) is taking its toll on white communities, it is no longer a “tough on crime” not to and more of a “let’s help these victims” rehab NOT prison is the answer. So in the end it meant blacks and drugs equal criminal and whites and drugs meant victim needing help. Yes, it was racist and those blacks treated differently in courts do indeed deserve relief.

      • Eric

        @gralphr…Ok, to be fair to me, please point out in my comment where exactly that I made any reference whatsoever about racial disparities in drug sentencing. The comprehensive matter of my post is what this board is about: Unconstitutional laws and abuse of those charged or convicted of sex crimes. My comment was my factual personal experience. There is probably a board that deals with inequalities in drug sentencing somewhere if that is where your interest lies.

        • Gralphr

          I wrote that in response to your post appearing to say since their letting black people out of prison, their making up for the lost inmates by grabbing people with CP, etc. I merely stated those people are due relief due to the racism in why they received such long sentences. I seriously doubt that’s why people accused of sex crimes are going to prison. The truth is theres always a war on something and sex crimes is the new war. Hell, you can go back 20 years and even homosexuality wasn’t as mainstream as it is now; things change. I’m sure you didnt mean it in the way I read it, but I just wanted to point out those are two very different situations.

  2. Will Allen

    America is not a free country.

    We need to fix the entire concept of freedom in America and what it actually means to be a free country.

    No drug should be illegal. It is not our business what other people want to put into their bodies. We need to stop all of these people who love pretending that they are more moral than other people and think it is okay to make money from imprisoning people.

    People who get off on controlling other people are immoral.

  3. New York Level 1

    This is really important. Jacobin is one of if not the biggest voice on the American Left, which has been woefully recalcitrant when it comes to tackling the injustices meted out to people convicted of sex offenses.

    This might be the article that “normalizes” a more frank and open discussion of the pariah status and hyper-criminalization of people convicted of sex offenses.

  4. New York Level 1

    *amongst the left, I mean

  5. David Kennerly

    Great piece from Professor Roger Lancaster who also wrote “Sex Panic and the Punitive State.” I’m glad that he mentioned Galen Baughman’s current situation as he awaits his possible lifetime incarceration/civil commitment as a “sexually violent predator” in Virginia despite having never been “violent” or “predatory.” Roger pointed out the mendacity of that term, something which we often need to remind ourselves.

    • Gralphr

      I agree. Its asinine one is called a predator solely based on the age of the victim. In no way does that mean they will commit another crime. The very word predator makes one think of an individual with multiple victims, one who kidnaps, violence, etc. In many states you can have multiple victims and not be labeled a predator due to the victims being adults. It s also asinine that predator status means life on the registry for the individual, when you can have multiple victims over a certain age and not have lifetime registry requirements. Its nothing more than people feeling one should suffer more, not based on real world science.

  6. miker

    Damn I really like this statement,

    “But sex crimes also have provided a laboratory for the development of prison conditions beyond prison walls: a high-tech system of continuous surveillance and control.”

    So true, this is really the state just spreading the prison industry. The monster is just growing ten fold every decade and now, and has been, spreading its tentacles world wide. I just like the way that was stated.

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