Friday, February 29, 2008

We're Back And The Insanity Goes On and On And On!

Good Day and welcome to leap year edition Discover Insanity. We've been away for a couple of days on business in San Diego and were unable to get the blog done while down there. Besides, it seems the news hasn't been all that great lately. I got a laugh yesterday when at a press conference our wonderful President Bush hadn't heard that gas prices may go up to $4.00 by summer! Does that really surprise anyone? But this fact will - Four states - Vermont, Michigan, Oregon and Connecticut - now spend more on corrections than they do on higher education! Yikes. For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars. How's that for a solution?

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 - one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it's more than any other nation. The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending!

And here's the fact that'll really get you. Getting tough on criminals has gotten tough on and me! According to the report, the average annual cost per prisoner was $23,876, with Rhode Island spending the most ($44,860) and Louisiana the least ($13,009). It said California - which faces a $16 billion budget shortfall - spent $8.8 billion on corrections last year! Yes folks, billions. more people are behind bars mainly because of tough "three-strikes" laws. While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine. The racial disparity for women also is stark. One of every 355 white women aged 35 to 39 is behind bars, compared with one of every 100 black women in that age group.

I guess we should be proud that the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation. Proudly, we are also is among the world leaders in capital punishment. These sad facts reflect a very distorted set of national priorities...maybe, just maybe, if we invested in our children and education, kids who now grow up to be criminals could become productive workers and taxpayers. Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen. I'd have a better chance of winning a wet t-shirt contest at Hooter's! And then they'd have to incarcerate me!