Saturday, January 19, 2008

America's gulag

By Libby

While George and Condi are roaming through the Mid-East, pounding the podiums with limp rhetoric about freedom, justice and democracy, the hard facts at home tell a different story.
For the U.S. as a whole, the number of people serving life without parole for offenses committed as minors is 2,225. According to an editorial in yesterday's LA Times (which is, I think, far surpassing its rival the NYT in terms of quality of opinion page content), not only have these kids received lifetime sentences for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 17, but they were also sentenced without the possibility of parole. Which means there is absolutely zero possibility that they will leave prison alive.
How many children are incarcerated for life in China or Russia or in any other repressive regime, you ask? " According to Human Rights Watch, there are only 7 people outside the United States who were sentenced to life in prison while minors." That's seven total in the entire rest of the world which I suppose shouldn't be so shocking when one considers our overall prison population is number one on the planet. We incarcerate more people for drug offenses alone than the whole of Western Europe does for all crimes combined.

As Bean points out, somewhere along the line we lost the concept that prison was supposed to rehabilitate and not just punish offenders, but hey, they have to keep the prison-industrial complex oiled somehow and so far, no one has figured out how to funnel our tax dollars into the system without also providing the warm bodies that overcrowd the prisons. [via]

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