30 December 2019

[Ryan Ralston] - The Police State Part II: US v. THEM (minus loyalty)

US V. Them Pt II

1. One in four American adults has had a sibling incarcerated. 
2. One in five American adults has had a parent incarcerated. 
3. One in eight American adults has had a child incarcerated.
4. 6.5 million American adults have an immediate family member currently incarcerated.
5. Jail and prison populations in the US are four times larger today than in 1980 (directly correlating with the onset of the declared war on drugs), with more than 1.5 million Americans in state or federal prisons on any given day.
6. 451,000 American adults, on any given day, are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses. 
7. Admissions to local jails have exceeded 10 million annually for the past two decades.
8. The US continues to incarcerate more of its citizens than any other country in the world, spending $273 billion each year on law enforcement, courts, and corrections. 
9. The US economy loses $87 billion annually in GDP due to mass incarceration.
10. More than 4.5 million Americans can’t vote due to a past conviction. 
11. The US has 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its incarcerated population. 
12. 113 million American adults have an immediate family member who is formerly or currently incarcerated. 
(The above cited facts were taken from a Cornell University study and a report in USA Today)
Every American, Democrat$ and Republicans$ alike, are being adversely impacted by our current police state. 
In the American criminal justice $ystem, an individual’s means dictates the outcome of their case, and ultimately unequal access to justice. This is due, in part, to the fact that many individuals charged with a crime, lack the funds to hire effective legal counsel to protect their constitutional rights and navigate the case through a profoundly flawed system. This exploitation leads to an increase in excessive incarceration rates for the poor. Coupled with the disheartened certainty the budget for the public defender’s office is being cut, all while maintaining steady funding to prosecutorial offices, Georgia is facing its second civil rights crisis. 
For instance, in Newton County, an individual (first time offender) is arrested and charged with possessing $10 worth of marijuana, outside the venue of a municipality like the City of Covington (their fine is twice as much at $1435), the fine for the misdemeanor offense is $600. If that same individual hires a defense attorney it will cost approximately $2000. The associated probation fees (if convicted), supposing the individual cannot afford to pay the fine in its entirety at the time of conviction, and is placed on one year probation until he or she is able to do so, averages $80 a month (to include the cost of any court stipulated drug-screening). So in actuality, that individual could end up paying roughly $3800 for possessing $10 worth of marijuana. It should also be pointed-out, because Newton County does not have a State Court (based on population), misdemeanor marijuana possession cases fall under the jurisdiction of the Probate Court. The Probate Court of Newton County utilizes a private, for-profit probation company, CSRA Probation Services. The following was taken directly from their website, “Our services are generally offender funded which results in no cost to the courts or the taxpayers.”  In theory, that sounds like a positive. In government speak, one could described it as “win-win.”  
Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors want the reputation of being crime fighters (without having to address the catalyst for the social issues plaguing their communities, such as poverty and the mental health crisis), a philosophy deep-rooted in the belief that minority communities are inherently dangerous, and by default, deserving of mass incarceration. 
Minority communities have a disproportionate regularity of interaction with law enforcement, higher rates of school suspension, increased dealings with the juvenile justice system, being denied the opportunity to a lesser sentence during plea negotiations, higher rates of probation and parole revocation, and greater chances of being denied bond.  
Minority communities are 50% more likely to have a family member who is formerly or currently incarcerated, and three times more likely to have a family member who has spent at least 10 years incarcerated. 
Higher rates of incarnation does not reduce crime, even violent crime such as armed robbery or assault. Yet law enforcement and prosecutors self-promote, exploiting data collected from uniformed crime reporting, while simultaneously stroking their egos, as campaign fodder to feed the electorate. Their refusal to speak about mass incarceration rates in minority communities and the need for criminal justice reform, compounds an already dire state of affairs. 
Shamelessly they ignore the fact an individual sent to prison and later released, oftentimes returns to their community more troubled and violent, with increased chances of being diagnosed with depression or other mental health issues. That individual is unable to gain employment to sustain an acceptable quality of life at/above the poverty line, all while paying excessive probation or parole supervisory fees. 
The proportion of individuals who have had an immediate family member incarcerated increases as income declines. An American adult with an income of less than $25,000 per year is 61% more likely than adult with an income of $100,000 or more to have had a family member incarcerated, and three times more likely to have had a family member incarcerated for one year or longer (a felony conviction). The rich get richer and the poor, poorer. 
Incarceration imposes additional financial stressors for family left behind. They assume the burden of replacing lost income and other financial help while the individual family member is incarcerated. 65% of those impacted families are unable to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, and medical care while their family member is incarcerated. This destabilizing effect not only negatively impacts the involved family, but their community as a whole. This can be especially devastating for an already drained minority community. 
Currently, Americans owe the criminal justice system over $50 billion in debt (probation or parole supervisory fees and fines). 
Frightening still, the seven US states with the highest incarceration rates are all in the South, where access to quality health care and functioning public schools is limited. 49% of adults living in the South have had an immediate family member incarcerated for at least one night, compared to the national average of 45%.
Georgia ranks within the top 3. The current adult prison population is: 53,094. The current adult probation population is: 410,964. The current adult parole population is: 24,413. The black offender to white offender ratio is: 3.2: 1. 
Returning to CSRA Probation Services. Upon closer scrutiny, the company exemplifies how an institution fails the people it is supposed to serve.  They offer no rehabilitation or assistance for those requiring support gaining employment once their sentence is completed or dealing with mental health issues. CSRA Probation Services cares about one thing: collecting fines from non-violent probationers. Most of whom are there because they could not pay an excessive, court mandated fine for: Speeding, DUI, Driving While License Suspended, and Marijuana Possession (m). 
For Newton County Probate Court to use an offender funded service like CSRA, only guarantees: 
  1. More exploitive criminal justice practices in the lives of poor Newton County citizens. 
  2. There is no intent to address the social issues plaguing minority communities within Newton County.
  3. There will be no discussion about true criminal justice reform and mass incarceration. 
  4. There exists no incentive for change.
  5. As long as Newton County citizens are arrested, charged, prosecuted, and ordered to probation, funding the day-today operation of CSRA Probation Services, the status quo remains an accepted practice.
Thus goes the vicious revolving door of the criminal justice $ystem. 
(Some of the data included was provided by research completed at Equal Justice initiative. A 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that challenges racial and economic injustice. EJI was founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson)

- Ryan Ralston