Monday, October 15, 2012

"Your Turn in the Pokey"

When I first heard about Laissez Faire Books I immediately listed it first on my links on my right sidebar.   But even if you are not interested in reading whole books about freedom and liberty the occasional articles are well worth a read.

Your Turn in the Pokey
by Douglas French

Proponents of liberty argue over what parts of the economy or society government should not touch. Government should get out the education business, stay out of health care, and even leave roads and infrastructure to the private sector.

But when it comes to criminal justice, even many libertarians think government should supply the police and court system. And truly, government controls the criminal justice system. The results are tragic.

The government determines who is a criminal and who is not. The rate of violent crime has fallen, but some commentators guess that each of us commits three felonies a day. Mothers, fathers and grandmothers are being locked away for decades because they bought too much Sudafed in too short a period of time.

For instance, Diane Avera of Meridian Mississippi a 45-year-old grandmother must serve a year in jail unless she wins her appeal.

Diane was arrested and sentenced to jail in Alabama for buying cold medicine because authorities believed she was going to use it to make methamphetamine.

Being needlessly snared in the nation’s drug war has been a nightmare for Ms. Avera, a woman who does personal care for the sick, disabled, and elderly. “I keep thinking I’m going to wake up, but I never do.”

This wasn’t against the law until the second Bush administration made it so.

Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs” kicked off in 1971, and four decades later, America is the world’s most prolific jailer. There are 2.3 million Americans behind bars, the result of a trillion tax dollars spent and 45 million drug arrests made. The results: plenty of drug use, plenty of drugs, and a criminal justice system dependent on an increasing number of lawbreakers to pay salaries and benefits.

And their results are predictable.

Public safety is no longer the issue. The incentive at city hall is to lock up nonviolent offenders to make arrest quotas. Catching violent criminals is too time-consuming and costly. What has grown is the criminal justice industrial complex: a huge law enforcement and judicial system leviathan that feeds on an ever increasing crop of petty laws and legislation.
 Read the rest here.

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