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Letters: Why the disparity?

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  • ECR Burke, VA
    Jan. 9, 2013 6:21 a.m.

    Great letter Miriam. I agree with your premise and think we definitely need to think about the costs and the benefits of our prison system. I remember as a high school senior visiting the state prison (in a neighboring state) on a field trip. I was amazed that we got to speak to two different prisoners. One was in prison for second degree murder and the other was in for possession of marijuana. Yet both of them had been sentence3d for the same amount of time. That was over 40 years ago and hopefully things have changed since then.

    Two factors impact the current situation. One is that we have better law enforcement, and less corrupt, than most any other country and so we are more likely to apprehend criminals, thus we have more prisoners. But second, many of our prisons today are run by for profit organizations. It was said that the strength behind the Arizona legislation relating to illegal residents was the fact that a for profit prison was about to be built and there was money to be made by rounding up more prisoners. And so, as always, money plays a part.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    We have a underlying red thread in this country where some money interests like to keep us scared. They scare us into watching the news for fear of missing that thing they promise to show after the commercial, they scare us into buying guns, they scare us into spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined and they scare us into locking up marijuana and other drug users up while the CIA trades drugs for guns and influence.

    Sure rehabilitation would be cheaper but not nearly as profitable.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:23 a.m.

    So the United States, the leader of the free world, leads the world in incarceration rate. No big surprise there. We also lead the world in gun violence, obesity, health care costs, military spending, national debt, and who knows what else? And maybe all of them are related. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:24 a.m.

    Good thing to spend more on the military as defense is part of the constitution. We need to be protected. And people go to prison do to crime not ratio. If you don't want to do time don't do the crime. Good criminals are locked up.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    Curmugdeon is there a better country than the US. You have a right to complain though without any repucussions. How can we make this countrty better. CAn't think of better country myself.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    Spending more on the military is certainly NOT in the constitution.

    In fact a standing army was not the intent at all. The second amendment has roots in requiring military service from every able male not in preparing to fight the government as the t-party believes.

  • UT Brit London, England
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    @higv

    I have lived in a few countries around the world including the US. No its not the greatest country (if such a thing can be actually measured) I am afraid and you would struggle to find many indicators that would show it to be either.

    I have heard from Americans that the US is the greatest country but I personally find this baffling considering most who have said this have never lived anywhere else.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    Rehab costs $15,000 a month without detox, $25,000 a month with detox services.

    Incarceration costs about $47,000 per year, or about $4000 a month.

    It could be worth paying 4-6 times as much for rehab instead of incarceration, if it was highly effective. But it is not. Hard drug rehab success rates are about 2%. Other types of rehab are really no more effective than incarceration at improving behavior.

    So it really makes no sense to pay 5 times as much for something that works no better.

    As far as people being jailed who shouldn't be, I have seen how hard it is to get the neighborhood drug dealer in jail only to have him back in business a week later. Seems like it should be easier to get people in jail, not harder.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Many crimes in this country are committed as result of our entitlement culture. Morality, ethics, and consequences are becoming a thing of the past. People feel that they don't have to earn what they get, they are entitled to it. Theft, fraud, and other such crimes are rampant.

    If the government won't take it away from someone else and give it to them, they will do it themselves illegally. This mentality affects all classes of society from the guy who holds up the 7-11 to Bernie Madeoff.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:59 a.m.

    Why is there such a disparity?

    ==========

    For starters --
    America tends to be a Me-Myself-I, Everyman for himself, self serving, selfish, Better me than you, where greed is the Law of the Jungle.

    Countries with lower crime rates are "Socialist", where no man is an Island, we are all in this together, all-for-one-and-one-for-all, we are each responsible citizens of Society.

    Don't believe me?
    Take for example the attitudes of some for lives basic necessities -- Healthcare, Food, Clothing and Shelter.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Screwdriver

    You misrepresent the intent of the second amendment. Read the intro to the Bill of Rights. It gives the context, and it is part of the Constitution.

    But I am all for arming all able bodied and SOUND MINDED citizens as a military force as needed.

  • George Bronx, NY
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    @joe
    How do you square your claims with the statistical reality that crime rates are very low compared to the past?

  • Noodlekaboodle Millcreek, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    @Cristian 24-7
    Ummm, where did you get that number? $15,000 a week for rehab? Maybe if you go to Cirque Lodge(expensive celebrity rehab in Park City)I know a reputable hospital here in salt lake charges closer to 1,000 a week for outpatient rehab and 2-3,000 for inpatient rehab. Which is a lot of money, but no where near the amount you are talking about.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    Curmudgeon,

    You forgot to mention most religious among our peer nations. You know, that wonderful Christian goodness where punishment is a supreme value?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    Welcome to ALEC's view of the future. (American Legislative Exchange Council.)

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    So let me gt this straight...

    with more Freedom we get more crime, more incarcerations and therfore less Freedom.
    yet, with less Freedom we get less crime and less incarcerations and therfore more Freedom?

    There must be something to do with a "moderation in all things" moral of the story in there somewhere...

  • Ford DeTreese Provo, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Dear helpless in government vehicle,

    Maybe you missed the recent Economist study that compared countries on eleven different standards to see where on earth is the best place to be born. The U.S. came in 16th. Predictably, Switzerland, Austria, the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, Australia, and, especially, Canada, came in ahead of us. There are countries on earth that actually do have a clue. We could learn something from them if we weren't so arrogant about American exceptionalism.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    You can argue about punishment all that you want, but why not start with the "crime"?

    When someone does something that endangers society, is found guilty, is sentenced to "pay" for that damage, why shouldn't he/she spend time out of society, locked up in a place where he/she can do no further damage to society?

    Do drugs not hurt society? Do drug users not commit crimes to pay for their drugs? Do drug users not hurt society when they drive impaired? Do drug users not damage society when they work in an impaired manner?

    Prisons are not only for "punishment", but, more importantly, they keep people who have no regard for society's rules out of society.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    The problem is we put bad people with bad people, don't give them any skills, release them back into the population without a job or home and act surprised when they return to their old life style.

    Prison's focus should be on making these people productive members of society, teaching them a skill they can use to support themselves in the general public. Giving them decent problem solving skills, and setting them up for success.

    Ignorance breads poverty breads crime.

    Are there dangerous people that should not be let back out into the general populations, absolutely! That is why they have a life sentence. But for the majority of the prison population, this is simply not the case.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:20 a.m.

    @Curmudgeon
    "gun violence"

    Not true. It is one of the worst for the industrialized world (better than only mexico brazil and russia I think) but gun violence rates are much worse in a decent number of nations, particularly a lot of central american ones.

    "obesity"

    We're actually not the worst for that. Some of the polynesian island nations are worse.

    "national debt"

    In terms of total amount of debt, yes. In terms of debt:GDP ratio, no.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    Given the choice --

    Food, Clothing, Shelter, College Education, and Healthcare - Prison.
    Starving, naked, Homeless, ignored, despised, and dying - Free and on the street.

    Not everyone going to prison is a criminal.
    Many are just desperate, and have lost hope and have little options.

    I recall a few years ago, an fully employed Aerospace Engineer with cancer robbed a bank for $1 so he go to jail and get the treatment he needed because his health insurance [yes, he had insurance] denied him coverage.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    Ok, Mike Richards, let's start with the crime - but then let's move on to the next phases, rehab and renewal.

    You have illustrated my point beautifully. Punish and leave it at that, that's what we do.In our mostly Christian nation, we thirst for blood, drool over punishment, and even create aberrations such as sex-offender registries where not one offender will ever, ever be able to see the end of punishment because it is for life.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    stupid pot laws are a big part of it.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    We have the best criminal justice system money can buy.
    The rich for the most part do not go to prison.
    Are the rich more honest than the poor?
    The rich pass the laws, and they do not pass laws; that would put themselves in prison.
    How many people went to prison over the bank and Wall Street bailout?
    1.5 trillion dollars lost and no one went to prison for it.
    How often is a CEO put in prison for pollution violations? Which do kill people?
    Why is the owner of the Crandall mine not in prison for nine counts of negligent homicide?
    When was the last time a car dealer went to prison for communication fraud?
    Prisons are used by the rich; to keep the poor under their control.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    Mike Richards, once again you only highlight the parts of drug abuse you think are important. As usual there is plenty more to the story than you are saying. I do see however you want to imprison more people, just like Christian 24-7 you both believe more of the same strategy that isn't working will work, if we just do it more.
    Sorry, the strategy is failed (for the drug war) more of the same WILL NOT WORK, and HAS NOT WORKED.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah
    You can argue about punishment all that you want, but why not start with the "crime"?

    When someone does something that endangers society, is found guilty, is sentenced to "pay" for that damage, why shouldn't he/she spend time out of society, locked up in a place where he/she can do no further damage to society?

    =================

    The problem is COPORATIONS now have all the rights of a person, but
    they don't pay up, can't be locked-up, or can't be executed.

    Heck - even AIG after getting all that Government hand-out bail-outs, turns right around and is now suing the Government for not giving them more money $$$ faster.

    But go ahead Mike, we all know you think the Gadiantons are Democrats, and not Corporations.

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    Jan. 9, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    Freedom comes at a cost, and that is living with individual choices. Americans have more choices in life than anyone else. That's why we have so many in jail -- freedom to make poor choices.

  • UT Brit London, England
    Jan. 9, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    @Thinkin\' Man

    Need to do some more thinkin I reckon. You have the biggest prison population on the planet.

    When I lived in the States I didnt feel any more or less free than I did in other countries. Usually when people start talking about freedom (such as "they hate us for our freedoms") its usually because they dont want to actually look into problems.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    As someone who has lived in and traveled to more countries than anyone I know (50+), I find it very hard to believe from those who boast that "America is the best ever!", that they have ever observed anything but the US. While I'm glad to be a US citizen, I deplore what is shameful and don't pretend that America does no wrong.

    Our enormous prison population is shameful, and alll we need to do is look around to see that we can do better.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 4:28 p.m.

    UT Brit
    London, England

    EDM
    Castle Valley, Utah

    ============

    Agreed.

    Although I haven't enoyed visiting 50,
    I have been to a couple dozen anyway.

    Even been shot at in a few [I was in the US military].

    America is pretty good,
    put far from being perfect.

    I've seen lots of places that do better in a number of different ways.
    We have alot of things that can be improved upon.
    That's called PROGRESSION.
    and Conservatives don't like it - they think regression is better.

    Being arrogant, and falsely believeing we have ALL the answers,
    and ALL othem are the right ones is flot out stupid, IMHO.
    [Prideful is how the Book of Mormon and LDS leaders would put it.]

    BTW - Serving in the USAF was the best "Socialist" experience of my life, as was my LDS mission in an Asian.

    And FYI --
    My experience in life has taught me that not carrying an assault rifle or being saluted at were the best ways to keep yourself from being shot.

  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    The disparity in our incarceration rates versus most of the rest of the industrialized world really comes down to two things:

    First, we (Americans in general) have raised "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" to an art form. Invariably, some heinous outlier case will come along, and after a lot of hand-wringing and bluster, we demand our that lawmakers "get tough" on whole classes of offenses that are in any way even remotely related to the heinous outlier case. Consequently, we end up with a number of non-violent, less-destructive crimes that are classified the same as much more serious violent or destructive crimes.

    Also (and this ties in closely with the first issue), we seem to have a real affinity for "mandatory minimum sentencing". Mandatory minimum sentencing couples the desire to "get tough" on crime legislatively with fears of judicial leniency, often resulting in disproportionally long sentences for crimes that have been "enhanced" by certain factors (was a gun or certain type(s) of drug involved? was it near/at a school? etc.).

    It really is shameful.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:08 p.m.

    What about the crooks on Wall Street who stole the retirement funds and tax dollars? Why haven't they gone to jail? What about the crooks from ENRON?

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    ...Do drug users not commit crimes to pay for their drugs?

    10:02 a.m. Jan. 9, 2013

    ============

    MOST drug users a regular joe's.
    They work 9-5 jobs, and most are white-collar workers.
    They don't steal or commit crimes to "pay" for their drugs.

    You wouldn't recognized 95% of the "scarey" drug users all around you.

    You shouldn't be surprised at all to discover your wife, one of your kids, a close friend or relative has or currently does drugs.

    Oh - did I also mention Mike,
    that I know 1,000 times as many people taking "legal" drugs than illegal.
    And I know 100 times as many who've gone to jail for stealing for "PERSCRIPTION" drugs, than for illegal weed?

    Good Latter-Day Saints - who attended church weekly - sitting at the point of the mountain for Perscription meds.

    So don't give me your twisted and warped opinions...because they are reflecting reality at all.

  • tlaulu Taylorsville, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2013 6:49 p.m.

    The reason the U.S have higher rate of incarceration compared to other countries of the world is because we have more to steal from here in the U.S.