table OF contents LAW & DISORDER PART II
The Spectacle of the Scaffold: why we love crime and what we should do about it Why Orange Jumpsuits Donâ€™t Come With White Collars white collar crime in america Revisiting Meganâ€™s Law is registering sex offenders constitutional Have You Seen? Capital And Punishment why the death penalty is justice The Discussion: Amnesty International An Interview From The Inside questions for an inmate You Go To Jail, I Collect $200 Dollars turning crime into capital
Editor-in-chief Joshua Grant
Managing Editor Jonathon Saia
Artistic Director Mika Watchaa
Staff Writers: Alana Kuwabara, Tylla Bradley, Stephen Saia, Heather Mingus, Laura Sheehan, Zachary Hughes Contributors: Gabriel Finnochio, Elizabeth J. Sparenberg, David Paulino, Robert Rood
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THE SPECTACLE OF THE SCAFFOLD: WHY WE LOVE CRIME AND WHAT WE SHOULD DO ABOUT IT Jonathon Saia
uly 5th, 2011. We had been waiting for three and a half years. Every deposition, every juicy bit of gossip, every over-analyzed clip of the defendant’s apathy in the courtroom was leading up to a unanimous guilty verdict. The American people wanted her to die. And then Nancy Grace told us she was innocent and Jesus wept. The Casey Anthony trial has been touted as the most important judicial event since O.J. Simpson was similarly acquitted for a heinous crime. In both cases, television shows were preempted, magazine covers ubiquitously showed us their faces, and every one in the country had an opinion. Following her verdict of Not Guilty, Anthony was voted the Most Hated Person in the World; 15 years later and the name O.J. can still make our blood boil. But why? Why did we care about them in the first place? O.J. is easy. He was the perfect storm of sensationalism. Famous, adored, attractive person pulls the rug from under our feet. We couldn’t believe it was true. We felt betrayed, lied to, and wanted to know why. Not only that, but here was a black man who
killed a white woman. Race was at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the Simpson trial, especially after Det. Mark Fuhrman admitted to having used the “n” word in the past. The idea of racism superseded the idea of justice and illuminated the racial divisions in our country. If O.J. were found guilty, the system was racist. If he were found innocent, a man got away with murder. And we refused to be seen as racist. Even now, the outcry is drawn on racial lines. In 2004 for the tenth anniversary of the criminal trial, NBC conducted a poll concerning Simpson’s guilt: 87% of the white people can-
vassed believed that O.J. did it; not surprisingly, only 29% of the black people did. Thankfully, Simpson has dug his own grave, writing the ludicrously incendiary book If I Did It, laying out how he would have killed them – which the Goldman Family has exploited to the nth – and gotten himself 33 years in prison for armed robbery; a sentence so stringent because, as many of us believe, he got away with murder. Casey Anthony, on the other hand, was a nobody; just
another young, pretty girl, from Florida, sponging off her parents, strapped with the consequences of having unprotected sex. Until she killed her daughter. But thousands of children die every year, many of them at the hands of their parents, so why was she different? Two words: Nancy Grace. For the half a dozen of you who didn’t see any of the Anthony trial, Nancy Grace is a salacious, bombastic, yellow journalist who uses her nightly forum to “investigate” missing child cases, talk down to guests, and present us with melodramatic, MTV style video packages designed to make the accused look their absolute worst. That said, without Ms. Grace, little Caylee’s remains may have never been found. It was her obsessive persistence to convict “Tot Mom” that kept the investigation moving – and in the minds of the American people. Ironically, like all publicized murder cases, the focus shifted from the victim to the accused. As much as Grace claimed she was “seeking justice for Caylee,” it is impossible to divorce her quest from its outcome: she made Casey Anthony a celebrity. Of course this is nothing new. We have always loved, as Foucault called it, “the spectacle
of the scaffold.” As far back as the Romans, we have been lining up to see people get eaten by lions, burned at the stake, quartered, and beheaded. We know the names and faces of Nero, Caligula, Elizabeth Bathory, and Vlad the Impaler better than we do the saints. Countless books have been written about the Nazis and serial killers. And in many of our homes, we hang a naked dead man on our walls. If you asked people to name some of the most famous people of the 20th century, chances are the names Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Leopold and Loeb, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Jack Kevorkian, Terri Schiavo, Lorena Bobbitt, Jon Benet Ramsey, Michael Jackson, and, of course, O.J. Simpson would be somewhere on their lists. But again, why? Why do we care about these people? Most people would say the media. True, the media dictates the news, tells us what is important and what is not. But they have to know that there will be an audience. And what about the centuries that CNN didn’t exist? The days before the New York Times and Facebook? Our obsession with crime and criminals didn’t begin in the 20th Century. It didn’t even begin with the printing press. Some of man’s earliest cave drawings are depictions of battle. What the 20th century’s technology has brought us is immediacy. No longer must we wait for the latest Marquis de Sade to be smuggled into our town by
“As far back as the Romans, we have been lining up to see people get eaten by lions, burned at the stake, quartered, and beheaded.”
way of fake book jackets and bribery; we have 24 hours of violence, tragedy, carnage, and despair at the click of a mouse every second of every day. Plus, something that we forget in our blanket blame of the media is that we are the media. The media is not made up of aliens from some alternate galaxy (although some could argue where Grace or Ann Coulter hang their hats); the media is made up of people like you and me: parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, conservatives, liberals, independents, gay, straight, black, white, men, women, young, old. The media gives us what we want because it too is what they want. So why do we want it? What is it about these horrible things that make us watch? Let’s examine them closer. What fascinated us about Charles Manson and the Tate/ LaBianca murders was the outright lunacy of the crimes. Manson wanted to instigate a race war that in a convoluted ideology would see him as the leader of the world, which prompted a two-day killing spree in the Hollywood Hills.
Actress Sharon Tate, pregnant wife of Roman Polanski, and a few of her wealthy, white friends (including Abigail Folger, heir to the coffee fortune) were slaughtered in a gruesome way that Hollywood has been trying to duplicate ever since. And of course the media circus that followed with camp outs, swastika carvings, Messianic claims, and an utter ambivalence for the consequences only fueled their fame and our desire to see them. What fascinates us today is not that a famous person was killed – she was a B-star at best – nor really even that she was pregnant (our allegiance has shifted to Lacy Peterson for that quota), but how his accomplices have changed. How did Leslie van Houten go from Homecoming Queen to stabbing a woman 16 times? Inversely, how did Tex Watson and Susan Atkins go from being cold-blooded assassins and psychotic derelicts – Atkins had sex with a man who shot himself at the moment of climax, dying while inside of her, to which she described as her greatest orgasm – to Born-Again Christians? The Manson Murders make us look deep into our own humanity and wonder, “Could that happen to me? Could I ever lose my sense of self and become wrapped up in abhorrent behavior?” Similar questioning explains our fascination with Patty Hearst. Ted Bundy makes us address our bias for attractive people. We simply feel they are above suspicion or immorality. Same goes for Scott Peterson. In 1977, Bundy broke out of prison and people actually printed
up t-shirts that said, “Run, Ted, Run” to support his escape. We didn’t want to believe that the man we may have dated or fantasized about last week could actually kill us when we weren’t looking. Bundy also brought the debate of violent pornography and its effects to the table, using it as his defense. If he never would have watched violent pornography, he might not have committed the murders. So should we ban pornography to save ourselves from the Ted Bundys of the future? Leopold and Loeb were two attractive, upper class young men from very affluent families who decided to kill a teenage boy just to see if they could. They had no motive other than hedonism and a feeling
of superiority. Should we fear the intelligencia? And how can we hope to protect ourselves when the least likely of people could be our killer? This was part of what was so shocking about Jeffrey Dahmer, a man with no violence in his background from a good, normal family – who happened to eat people and sleep with dead bodies. Again, how do you get from A-Z and will it happen to me? John Wayne Gacy was the model citizen. He was involved in local politics, a pillar of the community, and entertained children at birthday parties. He also raped and killed 33 boys and buried them in his house. Gacy falls under the “Kane Effect”: can you ever truly understand another person?
JFK showed us that no one, not even the President of the United States, is beyond reach. His death was violent, tragic, and public. We have analyzed those 486 frames of the Zapruder film more than any movie a Bergman or a Welles ever made, still almost 50 years later trying to discern its truth. How could it happen? Why did it happen? And will it happen again? Lee Harvey Oswald was not only the accused assassin of our beloved President, but the first man ever killed on live television. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein continue our fascination with Hitler. How can one person get so many others to do their bidding? Manson, Jim Jones, and Marshall Applewhite are microcosms of this
phenomenon. Also, Hussein and bin Laden, being foreigners, were not as tangible or controllable as a BTK or a DC Sniper. We feared them because they were out of our jurisdiction; therefore, felt helpless to defend ourselves. This is why their deaths, in addition to their symbolic weight, gave us such pleasure. Jack Kevorkian and Terri Schiavo ignited debates about the rights and qualities of life. If I can choose to live, why can’t I choose to die? Lorena Bobbitt put Freud’s “castration complex” to the test. Jon Benet Ramsey – and Casey Anthony – brought out the parent in all of us in order to understand how you could kill your own child. And Michael Jackson – like O.J., Robert Blake, Phil Spector, Paris Hilton, Kobe Bryant, and Lindsay Lohan – forced us to look at our idolization of celebrity and their special treatment within the judicial system. But there has to be something more to all of this than just “morbid curiosity,” right? Philosophers, psychologists, pundits, media critics, and lay people have tried to discern a definitive reason why we love violence and crime and aggressive behavior when it can simultaneously create such a negative visceral reaction within us. Even more than understanding why we love violence, though, we as a culture are obsessed with trying to figure out the effects of our violent
media. Does violence beget violence? Bundy thought so. The parents of the Columbine victims thought so. But how do you explain the millions of people that watch violent media and don’t commit violence? Can we still consider Aristotle’s Catharsis Doctrine as a valid explanation? Is viewing violence a way of purging ourselves of our animalistic tendencies still bubbling ‘neath our skin after millennia of evolution? And is there something about being American – the nationality of most of the world’s famous serial killers that makes us more violent? Is it our obsession with guns as Michael Moore thinks? Or something deeper?
Nietzsche thinks that, “dreadful experiences raise the question whether he who experiences them is not something dreadful also.” Darwin would say we love to see others suffer because it eliminates a competitor. One could deduce from Freud’s idea of masochism as sadism turned inward that we need to witness terrible things to counteract our guilt brought upon by our superego’s need
for dominance. There are innumerable factors that make us tune in to atrocity after atrocity, but there is one that unites them all: the anxiety of death. No matter who we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what we accomplish, we all share the knowledge that someday we will die. When we acknowledge death by watching Saw, The Human Centipede, Hostel or play Mortal Kombat or sit on the edge of our seats for the most gruesome details of Caylee Anthony’s remains, we are reminded that we are very much alive. We have stared into the face of death and conquered it. We fear and admire killers like Gacy or Bundy – and by extension Jason and Michael Myers – because they have the dual power to inflict and evade death, out there among us, ready to kill – and conquer death – again. We are jealous of their power over death and long to understand and channel it. We yearn to see death because death has been hidden from us. Gone are the days of public executions in the town square. How many of us watched Saddam Hussein’s hanging? How many of us clamored to see a photo of bin Laden’s demolished head? How many of us slow down to see a car accident on the side of the road? The closest most of us can get to death is through media. Not even funerals, with our attempts at recre-
ating the way they looked in life, allow us to stare death head on. Is it any surprise we watch videos like Faces of Death or boxing matches or the Indy 500 or jump out of airplanes or mountain climb? Where else can we experience death and live to tell the tale? Arendt argues in On Violence that the “praise of life and the praise of violence” are the same. “Have not men always equated death the ‘eternal rest,’ and does it not follow that where we have life we have struggle and unrest?” Take this and counter it with the idea of Thanatos, or the Death Urge: if life is seen in the context of pain, death is a relief from that. The next time you watch a horror film, ask yourself, “Am I identifying with the killer or the killed? Am I enjoying their suffering to feel like a conqueror of death or because I long to be dead myself?” So if watching trials, viewing horror movies, reading Stephen King novels, playing Call of Duty, or writing letters to Richard Ramirez in jail are all to overcome our fear of dying, should we look upon them as having negative effects on our culture? If the media is sensationalist because the human race is sensationalist do we need to change the format? Does Videodrome have the
don’t buy the inevitable Casey Anthony tell-all or watch the Barbara Walters Special. But if you acknowledge that even though we are at the top of the food chain, we still harbor biological and social traits that need to be addressed, then violent media and the exploitation of crime should – and must – be here to stay.
right idea or does Network? Part of the reason we love to hate violence is that it taps into our basest emotions. We like to forget that we were once animals, roaming the hills for survival. The human race is supposed to be better than this. Yes, we are evolved. Yes, we are intelligent. Yes, we do have opposable thumbs. But we’re still animals, endowed with survival instincts, sexual urges outside of acceptable society, and selfish genes that allowed our ancestors to make it through the centuries. The beauty of America is that we have choices and with each purchase, each Neilsen rating, each principal that manifests to action, we are voting. If you feel that society should be “above” sensationalism and the glorification of violence,
But where can it go from here? Will we return to gladiator days and public executions? Or is this even a “return” since UFC fighting and football and trials airing on HLN are barely a step removed? What can we see that we already haven’t seen? We’ve seen dead bodies ad nauseum, rape, degradation, childbirth, live suicide, live murder, torture, open-heart surgery, fat sex, midget sex, geriatric sex, kiddie porn, beastiality, sadomasochism, scat, watersports, fisting, bukake, double penetration, every millimeter of the human body, and the construction of a creature out of humans by sewing someone’s mouth to another person’s ass. If we asked our grandparents if they as children imagined a world where sex, crime, and violence in all of their glorious forms would be commonplace, chances are they would say no. What will our grandchildren ask us? Whatever forms crime and its representation take on in the second half of the 21st century, chances are we will say yes.
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WHY ORANGE JUMPSUITS DONâ€™T COME WITH WHITE-COLLARS By Rob Rood
ust recently, a former accountant at Microsoft, Randal Ray Seal was convicted of stealing more than one million dollars from the company over the course of his employment. He was ordered to pay back the amount stolen and spend two years in prison. Seal, is reported to have said his crime was to punish his former cooperate employer. He became disillusioned with his supervisors when they became uninterested in the holes in the bookkeeping system he showed them, so he started exploiting them. Perpetrating White-Collar crime is like the banker cheating in a game of Monopoly. The kid has to pay back what
he got caught with, but he or she still keeps whatever properties they bought earlier in the game, and any money that they passed to someone else for landing on their property is as good as gone. Blue-Collar crime is more like someone else in that same game, blatantly trying to take another playerâ€™s assets. The game will probably stop right there, and if it resumes it will do so most likely without the offender, whose properties and finances are now forfeit. So why the huge difference in the consequences of WhiteCollar crime and its Blue-Collar counterpart? Notable Criminologists such as pioneer Edwin Sutherland have estimated that the financial impact of White-
Collar crime is greater than all other forms of crime combined. Despite its overwhelming capacity to irreversibly upend the lives of its victims and sway economies, WhiteCollar crimes are not directly violent, and while that does not lessen the damage it has done to scores of victims, it does affect the psychology of juries and legislatures. Violence is primal and for most people it evokes an instinctive biological response that the wide arching financial crimes of the modern world do not. White-Collar crime often benefits from the fact that the victims are either large groups of people or faceless organizations. The closest thing a corporation has to a face, in the
absence of an iconic foundthat although it is er, is a logo. That makes it certainly better to be “White-Collar crime often hard for juries, judges, and financially well enlawmakers to empathize dowed than not, the benefits from the fact that the with the victims. As Whiteimmense pleasure victims are either large groups Collar crimes tend to exploit of a wealthy lifestyle multiple people and instituis largely illusory. No of people or faceless tions, it benefits from this one is arguing that organizations. The closest thing zipping around a phenomenon. Another factor that needs to lake on a jet ski isn’t a corporation has to a face, in be considered in the discusfun, or how cool it the absence of an iconic sion about punitive conseis to drive around in quences of White-Collar a Ferrari, but most founder, is a logo. “ crime is who commits them. people become jaded The perpetrators of to activities they White-Collar crimes can do at whim. tend to be of higher That is the socioeconomic status nature of addicthen the perpetrators tion; we habituof so-called street ate to the thrill crimes. They are more and things no likely to have friends longer provide in high places and the same level be better connected of oomph when to lawyers, judges, we “win,” but the and lawmakers that drive persists can make their jourto achieve that ney through the legal same boo-yeah system much smoother feeling. The thrill than those without of success is those social connecaddictive. Collar crimes then those who tions. With the added resourcaren’t, but not everyone jumps es including the ability to afford But suddenly having an inat the chance to commit fraud. quality legal counsel, if they crease in your financial standWhy do individuals, already so even make it to trial, they are ing can lead to a temporary successful in their own right far less likely to be convicted, increase in your life satisfacenter into these scams? and when they are found guilty, tion. It has even been found they serve less time than those that after receiving a promoResearch by psychologist with lower income and social tion, winning a sports match or Daniel Kahneman and others status. getting a significant raise, men have found once an American receive a temporary boost in Individual makes $60,000 a Criminal theorists like to point testosterone, and all the asyear, additional income beyond out that White-Collar criminals sociated benefits that come that point does not significantly are largely opportunists. If with it (just think of it as a short contribute to greater life satisthey see the chance to break term “mojo” boost). But the effaction. Granted, in the current the bank, for whatever reason fect of success is temporary. economic times, that seems they go for it. Research in the like a lot, the critical finding is field of Behavioral Economics We also judge our current wellthat having more money does shows that cheating is actually being, whether it be financial or not make you happier, but it the norm among people. Indiemotional, based on our memeliminates the unhappiness viduals holding White-Collar ory of how we personally have that comes from not having it. jobs are axiomatically better done in the past. On top of positioned to commit Whitethis, the amount of happiness It’s important to recognize
we get from our successes in life are relative to those around us. If you surround yourself with other highly successful people, the scale at which you measure your success is far different than that of the low college student that just got a 30-cent raise at their part-time job. Combining these factors of having the drive for success, with a diminished sense of joy from the same accomplishment, along with needing to do better then you had in the past, and the need to do better than your peers, primes an individual for attempting greater risks. Throw in an unexpected financial hardship, (that can be easily covered up so no one knows you shouldn’t be doing as well) creating a personal sense to avoid that specific embarrassment (even if its not your fault) and the opportunity to exploit a situation and you have a recipe for a brand new White-Collar criminal. There is another proposed fact that has a far graver implication: sociopathy. The label Antisocial Personality Disorder conjures up the image of a lone member of society, desolate and retreated from their peers and society, drafting schemes of misguided rage and death. The truth is the kindest friendliest person you have ever meet could not give a damn about watching you get hit by a bus, and only act concerned because they wouldn’t look normal if they didn’t, and feigning empathy is socially advantageous. In The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout presents the estimate that 1 in 25 people are socio-
paths. Unlike the Hollywood archetype, few sociopaths are actually killers, and not all killers are sociopaths, but for them, life is a game; other people, their emotions, and relationships are all objects to be manipulated in order to ‘win the game.’ They have the potential to be either monsters or demigods. They have the complete capacity to dedicate themselves, life, limb, and reputation, to any cause, even if that cause is entirely selfish. The qualities of a sociopath can be a powerful catalyst to the mix of conditions that can lead to corporate crime. All that aside, many WhiteCollar criminals that are caught make a common claim that they never intended it to go so far. Madoff exclaimed that he tried to start transitioning his fund to legal trading but found it, “too difficult,” to make the amount he had promised. Seal said he had originally intended to present the cash he had embezzled to his supervisors to show them that the accounting flaws deserved their serious attention, but then he was laid off, and both he and the money left the company. The accounting loopholes Seal identified and exploited at Microsoft certainly speak to the importance of oversight. Imagine you could commit a crime in which there would be no traceable evidence: you would have more money, others would have less. No one could easily connect the two, and no one could ever prove the correlation as causation. That is the world of White-Collar crime without regulation. It’s a game of Monopoly where no
player sees how much money any other player has, and no one ever sees the banker exchange money from the bank. If no one sees the exchanges, how can anyone tell if they were all legal? As the evidence for corporate crime often exists on a paper trail or email that may accidentally get deleted, or the allegations come entirely from a whistleblower who will receive a torrent of assaults on their credibility, identifying WhiteCollar criminals requires a different set of law enforcement skills then those needed to pull over someone speeding on the freeway. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the primary federal regulatory agency tasked with overseeing the US financial markets. Generally, the SEC operates by passive regulation. Publicly Traded Companies operating in the financial markets submit quarterly reports to the SEC. If something in the reports doesn’t seem right, or they get a credible tip, then the SEC supposedly investigates and keeps the records on file. But there have been some problems with maintaining those records at the SEC. According to Darcy Flynn, a whistleblower that formerly worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wall Street regulatory agency has been deleting emails and records, despite a warning last year from a federal judge to cease, since under the law these records are required to be maintained for at least 25 years. Flynn alleges that more
than 9,000 files on preliminary investigations have been destroyed since the 1990’s, and among them are documents relating to the preliminary investigations of disgraced Bernie Madoff, AIG, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Wells Fargo, and the hedge fund SAC Capital. When the agencies that are supposed to be enforcing the law are violating it, there’s a serious problem. Even aside from the deletion of records, the SEC has faced allegations of ineptitude from both within the agency and by the handful of criminals it caught. After his arrest, Bernie Madoff is reported to have said he was surprised at the SEC’s lack of due diligence, alleging the regulator never investigated his stock records, which would have clearly revealed something was amiss. The current Inspector General of the SEC, H. David Kotz, has since revealed there had been a total of six failed investigations since 1992 of Madoff caused by worker incompetence or outright ignoring whistleblowers. Harry Markopolos, a private fraud investigator, tried to warn the SEC for years that Madoff’s Investment firm was possibly a Ponzi Scheme. In 2005, he sent a dossier of his investigations, citing amongst numerous other red flags, that Madoff’s supposed invest-
ment returns could not be achieved using any known investment strategy. The public response from the SEC was to have Madoff simply register as an investment advisor. Markopolos asserts that it was not the effectiveness of SEC that finally caught Madoff, but rather Madoff’s schemes finally reaching the point where he couldn’t keep then hidden. But the inadequacy of the current regulatory agencies is not proof that regulation in general is ineffective and that less regulation is the answer. It
is important to note that regulation is not a dichotomous issue; the issue is not just how much regulation is needed, but what type of regulation is most effective for the circumstances. Just as a tourniquet isn’t appropriate for a head wound, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to bandage a wound. Different types of regulation are appropriate for different circumstances. Misha Glenny in his July 2011 Ted Talk, noted a regulation method created ironically by
criminals trying to establish a system of trust for doing business with other criminals. Cyber Criminals on carderworld. com created an escrow system where a third party verified the quality of the information being sold and ensured that the money was good, then processed the transaction. In effect, a third party was tasked with conducting duediligence and product quality testing. This is not passive regulation, as the financial market has now, it is active mitigated trading. For a real world example, this is where you agree to buy a car from a dealer and the mechanic across the street is actually the one that officially processes the sale. If the car’s a lemon, or if the purchaser can’t afford the payments, then the mechanic disapproves the sale. It does not even have to be centralized, providing incentives are high enough for the third party to ensure both the purchaser and the seller are exchanging good assets. The catch is that if the integrity of the third party is compromised by having associations with a suspect seller or purchaser, then the system collapses. There needs to be some sort of leverage on the regulator to make sure the deals are fair. By making the escrow regulators (either government
controlled or independent) of hedge funds both financially responsible and legally liable for the transactions they approve, it provides a level of accountability. It wouldn’t need to verify which strategy was better in a given market trend (although it could, which would make regulators also raters) it would simply need to verify the strategy could work, and that the money was actually going where the fund manager says it was. Under such a system, Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme would have been significantly more difficult. To refresh everyone’s memory, in Madoff’s scheme, he would deposit client investments into a personal business account at Chase Manhattan Bank. Having promised high returns to
investors, Madoff would pay “returns” directly out of the same account. The scheme was functionally never selfsustaining. Under an escrow system, Bernie would have never had the opportunity to touch the money. He would not only have had to demonstrate to the regulators that his nonexistent investment strategy worked, but to avoid a black box scenario favored by conmen, he would have needed to reveal the strategy itself so the regulators could assess if it was viable. Regulators could have taken Madoffs strategy with the known stock market values and run simulations to assess the viability of his returns.
of an organization falls due to White-Collar crime. His victims included the wealthy and famous, and despite clawback suits from authorities trying to reclaim some of the payouts, nearly half of Madoffs investors actually made gains on his scheme. Madoffs defense attorneys recommended a seven-year sentence; the judge metaphorically said ‘poppycock’ and awarded Bernie the 150-year sentence he earned, adding that Madoff had been less then cooperative with the investigation and that there were likely co-conspirators that he was protecting, a claim that many people close to Madoff, including his secretary, support.
But Wall Street likes its secrets, and Bernie is a standout exception in which the head
Wall Street does not have the monopoly on White-Collar crime. Insurance fraud is large-
ly implicated as being rampant in the medical field. Fraud is different than medical practitioners putting patients through unnecessary tests, which although that in itself certainly puts a drain on insurance providers, is a different colored horse. Fraud is when service providers or medical clinics charge insurance companies for procedures and tests that they never performed. Under current federal and state laws regarding patient access to medical information, medical providers are required to provide copies of medical records within 15 days to patients if they ask for it, although patients may never be told of this. Providers can charge a fee for copying, and postage if it is mailed, but you do have the legal right to see your scans, patient records, and the like. You also have the right to request that your medical provider edit or amend your medical records. Please note, even though the patient has the right to the request, the medical provider is not legally required to comply. If they refuse, the patient then has the right to formally add a statement detailing the requested change, and the reason for wanting the change made. If a patient feels that a heath care provider has denied their rights, the patient can file a formal complaint against the Provider with the Office for Civil Rights, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Since most patients never go through the hassle of acquiring copies of their medical records, the perpetrators of insurance fraud can routinely tack on a few extra tests and procedures to the invoice sent to insurance companies and
hope it never gets caught. One way to make this a tad more difficult for would be fraudsters would be amending the law to make providing copies of medical records compulsory and unwaivable, meaning providers cannot persuade patients to opt out of receiving copies of their records. Insurance providers can then send patients a copy of the invoice sent from their healthcare provider, and if there are any discrepancies, all the information is there in
“Identifying White-Collar criminals requires a different set of law enforcement skills then those needed to pull over someone speeding on the freeway. “ the patient’s hands to make a case against their provider. If the records were sent digitally, someone could even make an app for comparing the records sent to each party. Of course just like emails that could reveal insider trading that get deleted, medical records get “lost.” The destruction of evidence in corporate crime presents an interesting challenge because it actually is a separate criminal charge that requires the prosecution to prove that a crime was being committed in the first place. When records that can reveal White-Collar crimes, committed either by individuals or corporations, rest solely in a company database, it presents
trouble for investigators and the prosecution because it is often difficult or impossible to demonstrate that the destroyed records actually pertained to the case. It’s hard to put handcuffs on a server, and there is a whole other set of technical and legal complications that could come from authorities cloning company databases that are suspected of containing relevant case information, but that may be what regulators and the courts need to end up doing to preserve potential evidence. It’s the same situation for small groups where only one person is keeping a close eye on the financial records. Reducing the capacity for White-Collar crimes may require a fundamental change in the laws regarding how companies, non-profits, and maybe even individuals maintain their financial records. Again, there are those who cry that regulation is choking off the economy and limiting the capacity for financial growth, but this depiction is like a black and white picture of a sunset: it really doesn’t capture the essence of the situation. Legislative changes beginning in the 1980’s relaxed mortgage lending rules and gave the Banks and Wall Street enough rope to hang themselves and everyone else with the Subprime Mortgage Backed Securities and Housing Bubble crisis that resulted. Thanks to the creation of mortgage backed securities, banks and lenders tossed around the risk of questionable loans like a game of hot potato, only someone replaced the potato with a grenade and never realized that everyone was standing within the blast
radius. Given the history of previous financial crises, the banks bet, more or less correctly, on a bailout to keep the bulk of them afloat. (For a detailed overview of what lead to the crisis, Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera painstakingly pieced together the picture of what lead us to where we are now in their book, All The Devils Are Here) This behavior was anticipated. In a paper published in 1993 by later Nobel winning economist George Akerlof and co-author Paul Romer, reviewing the financial crisis of the 1980’s, the authors demonstrated that failure to prosecute WhiteCollar crime and then bailing out failing economic institutions creates a double incentive that lends to more White-Collar crime. Citing that investors in the Securities and Loans industry operated in a manner consistent with “looting,” effectively treating any losses as, “someone else’s problem.” The downside with the subprime mortgage crisis is that despite the unscrupulous, deceitful practices that went on, thanks to lobbying and deregulation in the name of saving struggling financial markets, the majority of what happened on Wall Street that lead to the crisis was legal. Self-regulation does not work, the ironclad financial secrets of high finance need to be replaced with open books and regulators need the authority to kick in doors. Having regulators that can’t do anything, either by their own culture of ineptness or by lack of proper funding and authority, is like using a cardboard cutout as home security. The moment someone knows it’s
a shoddy place holder that’s just there for the look of security, then the doors are wide open for damaging behavior and the regulator just presents the false image that things are under control.
somewhere between $300 Billion and $660 billion each year. The reason for such a wide range is that due to the nature of corporate crime, we do not know the full extent of the crimes.
When the laws and institutions of a nation are not in harmony with the behaviors that bring social prosperity, they must be replaced with laws and institutions that are. Organizations that have only one person that oversees the financial books or have poor oversight are subjective to exploitation. When an accountant complains about loopholes or problems, supervisors need to pay attention. Due to the fragility of evidence of some White-Collar crimes, like internal emails and other company communications, it may be feasible that for certain industries, backups could be automatically stored and maintained by third parties outside of the company. This should also apply to the regulators of those industries.
But the importance of reigning in White-Collar crimes can only be underestimated, as such crimes that exploit others generates the economic conditions among the victims and their families that increase the likeliness of an individual to commit Blue-Collar crimes. Just as abuse begets more abuse, where the abused are more likely to become abusers in the future, crime begets more crime, victims are more likely to become future perpetrators. Disturbingly, there is some research that suggests there is an inverted relationship between the frequency of White-Collar crime prosecution in a given geographic area and the severity of sentencing issued, meaning the more corporate crimes are prosecuted, the sentences become more lenient. If the punishment of incarceration is meant to be a deterrent, then legislators need to up the mandatory sentencing rules for corporate crimes. Although White-Collar crime lacks the visceral imagery of street crimes, and its victims get mixed into a faceless mob, it is possibly one of the most serious issues the world will address this century.
We don’t need less regulation. The arguments between more or less are absurd. The discussion really needs to be broken down into three parts: first being what types of regulations are most effective in specific scenarios, second what infrastructures are needed to meet the realities of regulating those scenarios, and third what the cost to benefit analysis is of both implementing those regulations and not implementing them. Today, the FBI and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that the cost of White-Collar crime falls
REVISITING MEGAN’S LAW BY DAVID PAULINO
he Sexual Offender Act of 1994 requires that people convicted of a sex crime must register their name, address, and other information with their local municipality. The people under this registry are required, for a time based on the nature of the crime and how the State enforces it, to give periodic reports on any changes in their lives: a new address, change of names, location and description of employment, pretty much anything that would allow authorities to apprehend them for questioning if any sex crime is committed, or the person at question plans to move near a school. The information is available through different means, whether by your state’s local Internet database, or pamphlets and newspapers communicating the existence of a sex offender in the near vicinity. How the public reacts is, of course, out of their jurisdiction. The exact nature of their crime and what constitutes a sex crime gets lost in transition; the average, law-abiding citizen wants to know who their neighbor is, what crimes they’ve committed, especially when it involves the safety of their kids. They have the right to know, even when the person in question becomes an aberration to be avoided like leprosy. Even if the crime does not fit the registration. The Sexual Offender Act of 1994 is better known as Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law was
named after Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old child abducted, raped, and killed by a man previously convicted as a sex offender. The family had no knowledge that a man with a history of committing sex crimes had moved into their neighborhood. The argument is that if families are informed, then they can protect themselves. Sex offenders are given three days to register with the po-
lice after being released from prison. The law is interpreted differently from state to state. Some states require sex offenders to place signs in the windows of their residences. Others do nothing more than provide information for the public online or at police stations. However, is the law constitutional? Jim Love, who authors a website called PrisonerLife. com, argues that Megan’s Laws are not only unconstitutional, but exist “to fit political agendas, preying, for the sake
of votes, on the most unpopular of all crimes.” Megan’s Laws exist to protect citizens from sexual predators because criminals are presumed to commit the same offenses upon release from prison. However, Aaron Larson, Attorney and Manager of the ExpertLaw project, counters this argument by stating empirical evidence that, “The low recidivism rate of sex offenders is the best kept secret in today’s society.” Part of the reason that sexual offenders have a low recidivism rate is because not everyone who is considered a sexual offender is an actual criminal. Larson explains that, “some states require registration for ‘statutory rape’ offenses, even where the offender is close in age to the victim, and the sexual activity was consensual.” In these cases, the offender is not out to do any bodily or emotional harm, but because of an arcane law that prohibits an eighteen-year-old – barely legal to smoke and go to war – to have sex with a sixteen-yearold, the teenager’s forced to register as a sexual offender, thus being exposed as something that they’re not. Statutory rape is understandable when the offender is an adult of influencing age and the victim is too young to understand what sex is; however, if the offender and victim are two or three years apart and had consenting sex, then is there really an offender and victim? And what about the teenager’s life? How will they be able to
“Part of the reason that sexual offenders have a low recidivism rate is because not everyone who is considered a sexual offender is an actual criminal.”
cope with the tarnished image that they are a sexual offender, often to a supercilious public that determines that all sexual offenders are bad people that should be treated as untouchables? Will they have any success in life when on every job application, or potentially on school and community center bulletin boards; they are branded as sex offenders? There is also the issue of privacy and protection. Megan’s Law guarantees that families are able to protect themselves from criminals potentially dangerous to their children, but how about the criminal at hand? Who ensures that they won’t be the victims of hate crimes, of some father that decides to become a vigilante and take the law into their own hands? That’s why, as Larson states, “Megan's Laws seem to discourage sex offenders from complying with registration laws.” How is the public protected from sex offenders when they’re too afraid to go through proper protocol? Furthermore, how can a sexual offender receive rehabilitation
if they’re labeled criminals and deviants for the rest of their lives? “The Good Lives Model of Offender Rehabilitation,” published in 2005 by the University of Wellington, focuses on “relapse prevention, a cognitive-behavioral approach that focuses on the identification and management of high risk situations that could lead to relapse.” The report examines the rehabilitation theory, how therapy works, and how the assessment process works. What are human norms is discussed, as well as understanding why sexual deviation arrives, and how to deal with sexual urges when they arise. Sexual deviances, like paraphilia, fall outside of what is normal human behavior and are treated as impulsive control disorders. Doctors are sympathetic and conscious of the fact that this is a disease that must be treated, just like drug or alcohol addiction. They understand that sexual offenders experience shame in their urges, so the question is not that they intentionally want to engage in criminal acts, but are unable to control themselves. Success is also reported, where criminals who have gone through therapy and have served their
time have not relapsed. Megan Kanka is an example where law enforcement could have done more to help families protect their children against a sexual predator on the loose. However, cases like this and Leiby Kletzky, who got lost on his way home after leaving summer camp and was abducted by a man with a clean criminal record, are rare. On the contrary, most victims know the offender, teaching us that education is part of the answer. Its effectiveness is also at fault, as studies show that registration has not made our country a safer place; too many people are considered sexual offenders, thus overloading local municipals with too many people for police to manage. Until we can redefine what a sexual offender is, and make a point to differentiate between predator offenders and non-predator offenders, Megan’s Laws stand as inefficient pieces of legislature that cannot be managed by police officers and serves to stigmatize a lot of people who shouldn’t be considered criminals in the first place.
HAVE YOU SEEN........?
THE ACCUSED (Dir: Jonathan Kaplan, 1988)
woman walks into a bar. She is sexy, trampy. She stands in the doorway like a gunslinger at the OK Corral and surveys the room. Who will it be? A drag from her cigarette and away she goes. The woman spots her friend. They drink. They laugh. She catches eyes with a man at the bar. And another in the booth behind her. I should take him home and fuck him. More drinking. The man at the bar slinks his way into their booth. She flirts. She craves the attention. The two of them rise and go into the backroom. Follow me boys. The man in the booth behind her obeys. Her girlfriend stays behind. A dark room, illuminated by cheap overhead fluorescents and the reflection of videogames. The threesome plays a round of pinball. The man at the bar kisses her. Touches
her. She pulls away flirtatiously. The woman is pinned down by You will play by my rules. some, cajoled by others. Her mouth is covered to keep her They smoke weed. They laugh. from screaming No. After the He kisses her. Touches her. A man from the bar finishes, the song comes on the jukebox. man in the booth has his turn. Watch me dance. She moves. “Get in there, college boy,” the Seductively. Surrounded in a others yell. “Make her moan!” room full of men, she lives for No. the eyes that follow her shoulder straps, hoping to betray A third man is tested to prove whatever ounce of modesty his masculinity. The woman is she, as a woman, is supposed the way. He enters her. No. to have. Come dance with me. She pulls the man from the bar Finally, the woman breaks free into her. They kiss. They touch. and runs screaming from the bar. Some of the men leave, But then something changes. others remain for another The woman realizes the condrink, seemingly unfazed by sequences of her actions. She their actions. The woman is wants to stop. The man from examined at the hospital and the bar does not. She pushes met with various levels of him. Hits him. Tells him no. But skepticism and compassion. he remains undeterred. Her And why wouldn’t she be? She face and her body are in clear is Sarah Tobias, a woman with resistance of his advances, but a less than stellar reputation to the man – and the mob of of being fast and loose. Plus, men – the wheels have already she was drunk and high and been set in motion. Sex is dressed provocatively. Even if going to be had. Whether she she were raped, how could she wants it or not. prove it? Could she overcome
the sentiments that somehow she had it coming? The Accused is loosely based on a true incident called “Big Dan’s,” named after the bar in which the rape of Cheryl Araujo took place. The film presents us with three attackers and an additional five or six onlookers, as well as a full bar of unaware or uninterested patrons. Araujo’s rape was committed by six men in a next to empty bar, in where the bartender attempted to intervene, but one of the rapists kept him from it. Also, the real case tried the rapists as two smaller groups due to technicalities in their testimonies, whereas, the film would have prosecuted the three rapists as one group. But they never get to trial. Given the accountability of Sarah as a witness and the flirtatious behaviors she exhibited, her lawyer, ADA Murphy (Kelly McGillis), bargains a plea deal (under the strong suggestion of her superior) for reckless endangerment, which carries a lesser sentence of two to five years and will see them most likely released in nine months. Sarah is outraged. She wanted to tell her side of the story. Murphy figures out a loophole in her mistake that allows the case to be continued: prosecute the ones who watched. If they can prove the spectators witnessed a rape, the rapists’ sentences
would be commuted. But she is not merely going after them for watching. She is going after them for criminal solicitation. If they had only watched, it may today fall into the Duty to Rescue or Good Samaritan laws, which require viewers of crime to report them (The most famous pop culture example of this is the Finale of Seinfeld), but given that this film takes
place in Washington in 1983 prior to the passing of their Duty to Rescue law (1987, perhaps passed, in part, due to this case), this would not yet be a prosecutable statute. Even if the film were made now, Duty to Rescue laws are not upheld in America as they are in others countries like France (further enforced as
a result of Princess Diana’s paparazzi fueled death.). Criminal solicitation, however, is promoting, encouraging, or facilitating someone to commit a crime. And that, if Sarah is to be believed, is something of which they are most definitely guilty. The Accused introduces us to an adult Jodie Foster. Already famous and lauded by the time she was 14, capable of holding her own against an in his prime Robert De Niro, Foster floundered to make the transition to older roles, despite, ironically boasting a career playing kids and teens wise beyond their years. Even with an Oscar-nomination under her belt (Taxi Driver), she had to audition for the role that would go on to win her her first Academy Award. (Two years later, she would have to audition again for the role that would net her her second: Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs). Foster plays the gamut here from sex kitten to tyrant to sympathetic to pathetic. She creates a full character that could have been laughable in the hands of a lesser actress. (I wonder how original choice Sigourney Weaver would have been as Sarah. Would she have been able to exhibit the same vul-
nerability as Foster? Would her stature and dominant presence she displays to perfection in all of her roles been able to be reigned in enough to be a believable rape victim? Or would we be waiting for her to whip out the flamethrower? And what about Kim Basinger? Or Molly Ringwald? Would this film even be known today if either of them had accepted the role?) Kelly McGillis as Murphy is sufficient, but nothing to write home about. At the time, she was fresh off the successes of Witness (1983) and Top Gun (1986), but today she is all since forgotten. She has continued to work, but mostly in unknown television projects. Without the iconic works like Ellen Barkin or Ally Sheedy that give them a nostalgia or kitsch factor, McGillis is one of the innumerable actresses who never really made it out of the 80s. In actuality, Sigourney Weaver should have played Murphy. It would have been a natural fit in a year that saw her receive two Oscar nominations for strong women (Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist and Katherine Parker in Working Girl). The strongest asset beside Foster’s performance is the beauty of The Accused’s structure. We are told that a rape happened, but don’t see it until the final twenty minutes of the film. We are left to draw our own conclusions regarding Sarah’s believability and her role in the event. Part of me feels it would have been a stronger choice to never show the rape, but what would this accomplish? If the theme of the film
is culpability, which I believe it to be, then we must know for certain that Sarah Tobias was raped. Leaving this ambiguous would change the film’s message. The spectators’ blame proves prominent by having the flashback of the rape happen not during Sarah’s testimony, but during Kenneth’s, one of the patrons in the back room of the bar who watched his best friend help gang rape a woman. The natural assumption is that we would be asked to align with Sarah. She deserves our sympathy and compassion. And her presence does make us address a common cynicism we hold in blaming rape victims for their own misfortune. But the film is called The Accused and not The Victim. This is not to say we are meant to align with her rapists or the inciters; the film does not paint them in any heroic light. We are, however, led to align with Murphy and Kenneth. Throughout the film, Sarah is constantly accusing Murphy of not being on her side, taking the easy way out, or cutting a deal. It is this accusation that causes Murphy to defy her boss and face potential career suicide to see that truth wins the day. Kenneth is accused of staying silent. He is a good-natured college kid who tried to help before; he made the 911 call the night of the assault. But his best friend faces the maximum penalty of five years jail time if the crime is proved as rape. What should he do? The character’s youth serves as a symbolic crossroads between maturing with a compassionate sense of social responsibility or the individual hedonism of
turning a blind eye. Through Kenneth, we, the audience, become the accused, forcing us to reflect on the times our selfish fears and ambivalence have obstructed justice and serve as a reminder for us to do what is right above all else.
CAPITAL AND PUNISHMENT Gabriel Finochio
here is, in our capricious culture, an insidious and isolated idea called “Humanitarianism” that has affected the psyche of our civilization. The idea is a modern one and had its genesis in the nineteenth century under the influence of the French philosopher Auguste Comte. The essential belief that he described is the worship of the “great being”—Humanity. This emphasis on Anthropolatry is meant to focus attention on the perfection and happiness of Humanity through human methods and efforts. The trouble is, however, that almost every practical thing in our society that this idea has touched has turned to stone, that is, it has become heartless. The most inhumane policies and procedures now affecting us are those proposed by the Humanitarian. But because there is not enough room in all the books of the world to demonstrate the idiocy of this belief, I will limit myself to dealing with only one of those quite cogent, but quite insane, proposals. It concerns the idea of Capital Punishment.
The Humanitarian Theory on Capital Punishment proposes that it is barbarous and immoral to punish a man for crimes on the basis of his guilt, and that that basis is merely the negative action of revenge and not the noble action of rehabilitation. Therefore, the only legitimate motives of punishment are to deter other criminals by example or to mend the criminal from his crime. And because the Humanitarian is helplessly and hopelessly
caught in the narcissism of his philosophy, he is predisposed to the belief that crime itself is a merely pathological disorder, and therefore, the “mending of the criminal from his crime” becomes merely therapeutic. Now the only real issue at the root of the Humanitarian Theory is simply that it isn’t
human, that is, it isn’t moral. It is based upon the subjective stances of Humanity, not upon the objective truths of Morality. In contrast, however, the idea of Justice is a moral idea; it is eternally preoccupied with the ideas or right and wrong; it is perpetually pursuing the facts and fancies of life in order to reach the right fact and the right fancy; it is continually calculating the various aspects and prospects of society. Justice is truly the only idea that is completely synonymous with the word “Progress”; that is, it is the only idea which is always correcting itself and improving itself. Coincidently, it seems to be the only idea that the modern world does not associate with Progress. A few thousand years ago the Jews were given a law that proscribed an “eye for an eye” as the guiding principle of justice. And a thousand years later Christ fulfilled that law by proscribing that we “love our enemies”. But a few decades ago the modernist Gandhi said, with Tolstoyan logic and ignorance,
“an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” It seems that he had been blinded to the profound truth about the foundation of justice. Justice is based upon objectivity; in essence, it is based upon the idea that truth exists; and that truth forms the basis of reality and deserves to be sought and known in order to give every crime, in every context, a fair trial. Had Gandhi understood the meaning of justice he may have understood why Justitia, our Lady of Justice, is blind; he may have also stumbled upon that very great and grave reason why she carries a sword. The Humanitarian does not consider these characteristics of Lady Justice; he cannot, for is too focused upon Lady Macbeth. For he is much too preoccupied with the endless labyrinths of the criminal’s soul and not enough with finite boundaries of the crime. There are times when I wish the Humanitarian was blind so that he could see the error in his own neurosis and the truth of his client’s circumstance. Now it is quite important that we (that are sane) are not blinded, because we need to observe and contemplate those characteristics of that bold and brave woman who represents our system. The first observation is, of course, that she is blind; and this, again, simply means that her judgment shows no partiality or favoritism to the man accused of the crime. Now this condition of obstructed vision is essentially a rebellion against materialism. It is the defiant charge that there is more to this world than meets
the eye. It is the iteration and example that it is better for you to enter into life with no eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. Therefore, the first consideration of Lady Justice is that she is an intensely spiritual person recognizing in man the dignity that is inherent within him and which can never be removed, even to death; his soul. If a man must be given the dreadful sentence of death, at least his sentence maintains his dignity. It is a pronouncement of condemnation and of restoration. It says that he must be given human death; which also means that he must be given human dignity. He will die as every other man will die; not, as the Humanitarian would have it, live like no other man will live; traduced by a gamut of scientific tactics whose application intensifies or lessens according to the whims of his torturer, the “psychotherapist.” It is, therefore, the materialistic exceptionalism that the Humanitarian Theory advocates that is at odds with Lady Justice. The Humanitarian wants to see the man that he tortures; he wants to touch his flesh and invade the catacombs of his soul. He is not satisfied to know that the man is a man; he is not satiated to know that the man committed the crime. The Humanitarian would not only remove the blindfold from Lady Justice, but he would fix a microscope to her eyes. The second characteristic of Lady Justice that is perverted by the Humanitarian Theory is the weighing scale. Now as there are two separate balances, which check and compliment the each other,
so there are two uses for that primal and enlightened mechanism in a court of law. The first is to present and weigh all the evidence. One of the most excellent ways to process and ponder that evidence was developed in the mediaeval period and is known as a trial by jury. The idea of the jury is that a man must be convicted, in symbol, by the conscience of his community. If a man is found guilty then it should be evident (as the word implies) to all; hence, the requirement of a unanimous verdict. The Humanitarian Theory, however, proposes that a man can only be convicted, in fact, by the specialist of his subconscious. Only the doctor that can scientifically and psychologically analyze the defendant is privy to the truth; and this is first false weight of the Humanitarian Theory. Now I am not necessarily suggesting that Humanitarians disbelieve in the idea of a jury, although some may; but nature of the Humanitarian Theory logically implies that the person best qualified to properly reside over a case in question is the one who can most accurately determine what is likely to deter or cure the criminal. Therefore, because opinions on these issues are outside of the realm of jurisprudence, this cannot be the judge; and since these opinions are obviously outside of the grasped of the ordinary man, the jury is also ostracized. The position of penal pontiff ultimately falls upon the shoulders of the specialist in the science of psychotherapy; it must be a penologist. The other abstract aspect of the weigh scale is that, given
the sentence, the even the penalty should be proportionately balanced. There must be fixed degree’s of consequence just as there are fixed degree’s of crime. If the nearest grocery store were to attach random prices to each identical can of pea soup, there would be a public outcry among the senior citizens; nay, there would be revolutionary war. This is because the idea of integrity is attached to the idea of justice. If the sun rises on Sunday then it ought rise on Monday. Likewise, if the penalty of a transgression is different for every similar action then the product is moral anarchy. The whole point of considering the penalty for an offence is so that a permanent penalty can be ascribed to that offence. A judge who decides to act outside of orthodox interpretation of the law is denounced as an activist judge because he is saying that there is no permanence to the law. The Humanitarian Theory proposes that every proverbial judge be an activist judge; that every sentence be unique even if it is for the same crime. This kind of arbitrary adjudication and experimental entropy is an assault on the second application of the weighing balance: the consistency of conviction. The third characteristic of the Lady of Justice is that she is armed with the symbol of action and consequence, which a sword. Now the Humanitarian Theory desires that she be armed with the symbol of science and progress, which is a scalpel. But the sword is the only thing that can defend
and enforce a law, and the very idea of establishing a law is consonant with enforcing it. But because the Humanitarian Theory is a quite modern theory, it is, like most modern theories, sentimental. The very term “punishment” is repulsive to the Humanitarian. He views it as a vindictive and archaic idea that, if taken to its logical end, will leave all of humanity without eyes. Of course, he is right, in the sense that, according to the idea of punishment,
if all of humanity deserved to have their eyes gashed out, then they may perhaps do that. The problem is that the Humanitarian doesn’t ever contemplate the kind of apocalyptic transgression that humanity would be guilty of to deserve such a fate. Would all of humanity spitefully and simultaneously pluck out each other’s eyes? The absurdity of the question is obvious. The truth is that the basis for punishment is surrounded by the idea of just Desert; does the criminal deserve the punishment. In fact, the concept of Desert
is the only link between justice and punishment; without it there is no justice at all; there is only judgment or speculation, which thrills the Humanitarian. The Humanitarian will object here and say “What about punishment as a deterrent to crime or as a cure to rehabilitate?” And that question is an excellent one; however, it does not have anything to do with the idea of justice. Nobody talks about a “just deterrent” or a “just cure”, simply because they only wish to have a “deterrent” or a “cure”. Justice is concerned with the idea of Desert, and punishment is merely the means by which that concept is appropriated. Punishment is, therefore, necessary for the process of justice to be complete. Now the chief objections to Capital Punishment by the Humanitarian Theory are that it makes no attempt to rehabilitate the criminal and that it assumes the role of infallible authority. The problem with these objections is that they are not based upon the only excuse for punishment at all, which is expiation. This is the meaning of the old Jewish idea of an “eye for an eye”, and it is rationally the only relevant idea for dealing practically with crime. Take for example the curious case of John Wayne Gacy. This man raped and murdered 33 boys between 1972 and 1978. Now the question for the humble Humanitarian is, “How many eyes must be taken before one is required?” In other words, how many lives must be taken before one is required? Gacy, who, adamantly denied his guilt, although being thorough
conviction beyond a shadow of doubt, should have been given his just Desert so that expatiation could take place. The truth is that Gacy’s life was not enough to pay for the diabolical damage and destruction that he caused. His atonement is only through his minimal repayment; which was the forfeiture of his own life. Now consider the case of another Capital crime; the .44 Caliber Killer David Berkowitz. He was convicted of, and has admitted to, killing six women and shooting seven others in New York City between 1976 and 1977. He was sentenced to six-consecutive twenty-five years-to-life sentences, and after serving over thirty-four years of prison, he has been eligible for parole every two years since 2002. But because of his firm conviction that his sentence was in some way just, he has refused parole for the past ten years.
He knows that his crime was larger than his sentence and his conscience is prodding him towards some semblance of expatiation. As the unparalleled Russian novelist, Dostoesvky, wrote about the protagonist of his monumental and masterful work, Crime and Punishment, “If he has a conscience he will suffer for his mistake. That will be punishment as well as the prison.” The paradoxical perspective of the Humanitarian Theory is that, although it is unwilling to make an allowance for the calculated process of retributive justice, it gladly accepts the peculiar process of irresponsible injustice. The same people that condemn the procedure of Capital Punishment exacted upon a guilty human life will condone the procedures of abortion and euthanasia exacted upon an innocent human
life. There certainly is a problem in our society with Capital Punishment; only the problem is not with the criminal, the problem is with the crime.
“Punishment is, therefore, necessary for the process of justice to be complete. “
THE DISCUSSION: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FOUNDED IN 1961, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IS AN ORGANIZATION THAT WORKS TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS WORLDWIDE. WITH MORE THAN 3 MILLION SUPPORTERS, ACTIVISTS, AND VOLUNTEERS IN MORE THAN 150 COUNTRIES, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IS CHANGING THE WORLD TAKING ON ONE INJUSTICE AT A TIME. MERCUTIO MAGAZINE WAS ABLE TO GET INTO CONTACT WITH BRIAN EVANS, A MEMBER OF THE DEATH PENALTY ABOLITION CAMPAIGN, TO TALK ABOUT THE INJUSTICE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND HOW A CHANGE NEEDS TO BE MADE.
There are few topics that can spark a heated debate between two people or groups of people.... capital punishment is one of them. Why do you think this is such a divisive issue? Is it a question of valuing life? Or a question of how we view justice? It is a question of both, and debates about it are so heated because it usually involves terrible crimes, the viciousness of which is highlighted in order to achieve or justify a death sentence and execution.Â Having said that, for the general population, capital punishment is mostly not an issue of primary importance, as things like the economy, jobs, wars, etc., are of much greater concern for most people. I've often heard people say that they were not in favor of capital punishment generally, however if a crime is particularly heinous, or if it was their loved one, they would reconsider? Can one take this position? Is the belief in capital punishment a black or white issue? Capital punishment is a system, so you can't pick and chose when to support it and when not. Limiting the death penalty to the "worst of the worst" is an ideal that has never been achieved in the real world, as other factors like race (of the perpetrator or the victim) and economics (the ability of a defendant to afford an experienced, well-
resourced attorney) are more likely to determine whether a death sentence is issued than the heinousness of the crime. It is not a black and white issue. You can support, or "believe in" the death penalty, in the abstract, yet still vote for abolition because you believe it does not work. I think that many Americans are currently at this point in their views on the death penalty. There is a myth perpetuated by those in favor who claim
that the death penalty is simply a question of economics. It is less expensive to put a prisoner to death than to house them for several years. Is there any truth to this claim? Wherever it has been studied, the death penalty has been found to be substantially MORE expensive than life in prison or other alternatives. This is due to the costs incurred not only with appeals and more expensive housing on death row, but also at the original trial, which, in capital cases, is really two trials in one: a guilt/innocence phase, followed by a sentencing
phase. How did you personally get involved with Amnesty International, and specifically in the area of capital punishment? I went to Graduate School at the University of Texas in Austin, and I became involved in opposing the death penalty there in theÂ late 1990s, early 2000s, when the number of executions and death sentences were at their height, and the flaws in the Texas death penalty had become too numerous and too egregious to ignore. We've heard countless times in the news of prisoners being put on death row in the past, only to be released after advancements in evidence collection has proven their innocence. However, now in the age of CSI, does the argument still stand that innocent people are put on death row? There have been 138 people released from U.S. death rows due to evidence of their innocence since 1973. Most of these cases of innocence were not discovered due to DNA however, as murder cases do not necessarily provide the kind of scientific evidence that, say, a rape case would. As long as factors like faulty eyewitness testimony, police or prosecutor misconduct, or inadequate legal defense still exist (and they always will), wrongful convictions will con-
tinue to occur in capital cases. How is the belief in capital punishment reconciled with spiritual beliefs? Is it generally those who consider themselves religious who support this idea? If so, where does this notion come from? The official position of most religious faiths is either opposed to the death penalty or in support of it only under limited circumstances; however, this is not necessarily transmitted to the beliefs of the people professing those faiths. Notions like "an eye for an eye" are often cited to justify capital punishment, just as notions of mercy or the sacredness of human life are cited to oppose it. Does the threat of the death penalty reduce crime rates? Is there a rule as to which crimes receive the death penalty as a sentence? There is not evidence to support the theory that the death penalty reduces crime rates, or violent crime rates, or murder rates, any more than life in prison. In fact, while murder rates have declined significant-
ly in the U.S. during the last two decades, they have fallen faster in states WITHOUT the death penalty. The vast majority of murders do not result in a death sentence, and for those that do, the majority of the time an execution never occurs, so there is little deterrence value in a punishment that is so rarely used. For deterrence purposes (and for many victims' families), it is better for a punishment to be certain than for it to be harsh. In California, for example, over the last dec-
ade, an average of 46% of all homicides have gone unsolved each year. Focusing on solving more crimes, rather than meting out harsh punishments on rare occasions, would be a much better policy for all concerned. Does race play a role in death penalty sentences? Nationally, and in most states, a disproportionate percentage of death sentences are
handed down for convicted killers whose victims were white. To the extent that death sentences reflect the value our society places on the victims, this statistic points to a racial bias in our society in terms of whose lives are more worthy. Internationally, how does America compare in it's handing down of capital punishment sentences? Are we more or less humane? What forms of execution are still around? No form of execution is humane. In general, the changes in forms of execution that have taken place in the U.S. (from hanging, to the electric chair, to lethal injection) have been for the appearance (not the reality) of humaneness. Lethal injection may look painless, yet, if administered improperly (as it has been), it can cause excruciating pain, but a paralytic drug in most lethal injection protocols prevents witnesses from observing it. Many countries still employ hanging or firing squads; a few still resort to stoning for particular types of crimes. Saudi Arabia still beheads condemned prisoners with a sword. When we see the death of
Saddam Hussein on YouTube and the reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden, would you say our views of justice have changed since 9/11 or that we more of a blood thirsty society? If one were to judge just by the administration of capital punishment, one would conclude that since 9/11 the U.S., and indeed the world, has become less bloodthirsty. U.S. death sentences and executions have both declined sharply since the year 2000, and the number of abolitionist countries in the world continues to increase. However, the level of bloodthirstiness in our society, or our views of justice, should NOT be judged just on our declining use of the death penalty. Tell me about the work that you do with Amnesty? Are you trying to put an end to capital punishment? I am the Campaigner for Death Penalty Abolition at Amnesty International's USA section. We are trying to put an end to the use of the death penalty here in the U.S. and around the world. Will there ever be a time when capital punishment is forbidden around the world? How will this come about? Just as other grave human rights abuses like torture and slavery are forbidden around the world (yet, sadly, still practiced), I believe that executions will one day fall into this same category. Two-thirds of the world's nations have already either abolished or ceased to use the death penalty, and use of and support for capital punishment has been steadily declin-
ing in the U.S. for a decade. The death penalty is increasingly seen, if not as a serious human rights abuse, at least as an ineffective, unnecessary or socially destructive policy.
“No form of execution is humane.”
AN INTERVIEW FROM THE INSIDE MERCUTIO WAS GRANTED ACCESS INSIDE A FEDERAL PRISON CAMP TO FIND OUT FIRST HAND ABOUT BEING A RESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN PRISON SYSTEM
My knowledge of the prison system is quiet honestly limited to what I've seen on TV (OZ, Prison Break, Shawshank Redemption, The Longest Yard). Would you say this is an accurate representation? First, let me say thank you for giving me this opportunity to do this interview. As you know, I'm currently doing time at a Federal Prison Camp (FPC). I was sentenced to 112
months for one count of medical fraud, but to answer your question about the way society views prisons from what is seen on TV is totally wrong. Prisons are mostly made up of people who made very bad choices. TV and media outlets would have you believe that murder, drugs, and even rape is an everyday way of life for those that are locked up... it's simply not true. Also, politicians like to grandstand with this
tough on crime agenda, but what they have done is created a system of first time non-violent offenders with no way out and no help. Now do not get me wrong, there are times when bad things happen, but most days itâ€™s peaceful. Take us through a typical day for you. Is every part of your day scheduled? A typical day for me starts about 5:30 am with my morning devo-
tion. Then, it is off to work at 6 am. I work food service in the dish room. It's breakfast, then a break before lunch. I work out for about an hour to an hour and a half. Then, it's back to work from 11:00 to 12:30. After lunch, you pretty much have the rest of the day off until the 4:00 national court, and then it's back to work for the afternoon dinner at 5pm. Once the last meal is over, the day is over and it's downtime until lights out at 11pm. Are there any kinds of rehabilitation services offered or options for prisoners to get into groups to better themselves? AA? Group therapy? Etc. The answer is yes and no. Most services have been cut due to budget short falls. Programs such as AA or other drug and alcohol programs are standard. The federal system also has certain programs that are licensed or certified by the U.S. Labor Dept such as HVAC, auto mechanic, dental hygienist, just to name a few. Most prisons offer something; one just has to take advantage of the services. As far as the education goes, the federal system is big on a person getting their G.E.D. Which they believe is a gate-
way to higher education and not coming back to prison. There are several programs designed to help re-integrate ex-offenders back into society. One such program is the pre-release class, which goes over basic needs such as housing, job search information, and halfway house services. If I'm not mistaken, there are some re-integration programs signed into law by the President G. W. Bush back in 2007. Under the Second Chance Act, most inmates who have a strong family support system in place have a greater rate of success than with traditional government help. There was a man who recently committed a crime just to get access to prison healthcare. How would you rate the system of care in prison facilities? Is access to treatment simple? For the person who committed a crime just to get healthcare, first shame on him and second it only goes to show you the decline in America. Nevertheless, to get any type of real healthcare one would have to be close to death. When cases require hospitalization, it could take months and sometimes years. Just to see the dentist
it's over a year-long wait, not to mention eye care, which is even longer. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst compared to a developing nation, the prison gets a 9. If you come in the system in good health...pray and stay active and hope to leave in good health. Are you or have you ever worried about your well-being? If so, why? If not, who or what ensures your safety? To be honest, no. At the camp level, most guys are working on going home so the propensity for unwanted behavior is few, but when something happens you have to be on your guard. The main thing is to show respect towards one another. I show respect, but I also give respect. Perhaps the worst thing to do is call a man out of his name. â€œBitchâ€? is the forbidden word. As far as safety, prison guards are taught to react not to prevent. Are gangs, violence, and racial conflict a part of daily prison life? Is this simply a Hollywood perpetuated myth? Prison is perhaps the most racially segregated place on earth; Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites ...everything is done according to race.
Blacks eat with Blacks and Whites with Whites and so forth. Everything is handled with a political flair, but when it comes down to it, Hollywood got this one right. Gangs play a very important role because it could mean the difference between life and death for some. Now there is one thing that can unite all races and that is the person who harms a child, especially the child molester “chomo”. One last note ...homosexuality is a dualism in prison. There are those who have been in lockup for a very long time and will engage in homosexuality but do not consider themselves homosexuals but simply surviving because life in the federal system is just that life, and yet there are those that are just homosexuals and have created their own gang for survival and protection. All in all, the gang problem is the worst of all things. How are prisons classified? Are there some better than others? Do you have a choice into which one you are sent to? State vs. Federal prison? Prisons on the federal side are classified on levels from high to low and then camp. The highest being a SuperMax or ADX housing.
The most dangerous and violent inmates, who have more than one life sentence, are there. Next you have the USP (United States Penitentiary) – The Pen. Murderers, rapists, and some with life or very long sentences over 300 months. Next down you have medium-high to medium prisons those with less than 300 months also housing the usual violent inmates. After is the low or Federal Correction Institution (FCI); a mix of inmates at this level could be a first time offender or another inmate that has worked his way down from a higher level due to good time or years left to do on his sentence. There are a number of reasons for a level change. Last, we have the Federal Prison Camps (FPC), which is for people with less than 10 years. It is more or less just a warehouse for inmates with very little to do, but still have time. It is the safest of all levels. As for a say in where you will end up, it's all based off the length of time you are given. The more time... the higher the level. The less time you get or I should say the closer you are to going home, you could be in a near home release location. State vs. Fed? Depending on the case, it could very well be a state case that could
overlap with Federal laws and the feds have the higher authority. Besides email access, what are some other privileges provided within prison? Education? Applied skills? Etc? There are some privileges like visits, or commissary, and basic cable. Education is not one of them. Unless you and your family can afford schooling, then classes can be taken through distance learning. Other than that there is not much more. Btw the email system came online in 2009; perhaps in the next decade we might be able to have twitter. I've heard ex-prisoners speak of a special way of counting time as to not go crazy while on the inside. Are you familiar with this idea? How does it work? I think every one has come up with their own way to do their time. Some people only work their body leaving their minds a wasteland. While others react, watch TV, or play tabletop games all day. Where as others learn to paint or play an instrument, basically one must find something to do other than the time. We like to say, “ I did the time, the time did not do me”. As for my-
self, I teach classes on parenting, GED prep, and money smart classes. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading... right now I'm reading Kings, Kaisers, and Tsars which is about Queen Victoria's three grandsons and what lead to the first World War. What kinds of reforms would you like to see made in the prison system? As far as the question on reform, it has been proven that education is the best reform. Second only to jobs. When you take a look at the high number of Blacks and Hispanics that are being incarcerated, one of the main causes is lack of education coupled with a drop out rate of over 80%. The nation has a real problem. When we live in a society where the first things to be cut when cities, states, and districts are under pressure to bring down cost are education and healthcare; when there is a lack of opportunity for young men, you create a system of survival. Prevention reform should become a major concern for lawmakers at every level. On the other hand, parents could create the best reform models by simply being involved in their children's lives. It saddens me what is
happening in our black community the way we see our young men and women on TV and in movies. For example Basketball Wives...these young successful black women are seen fighting and calling one another bitches and hoes. BET which airs videos of young rich black men selling and singing about dope while our black young women walk around half-naked with men throwing money at them. Or gangster movies like Get Rich or Die Tryin’. It's constantly money and hoes. This is our community raping the minds of the young... it really is a 21st century chitterling circuit and parents are just letting this happen when we do not take full advantage of what we already have in place – free public schools, our local churches, and other organizations – and hold those accountable for a hand up and not a hand out. Only then can we become a thriving force. Perhaps there is not a simple reform solution, but we have to start somewhere and the home is the best place. Giving people long sentences, the death penalty, or unequal treatment (especially black men) has led to a police state, which says lock everybody up and throw away the key.
Change has to come. America has to wake up and take hold of the less fortunate and do something.
“Giving people long sentences, the death penalty, or unequal treatment (especially black men) has led to a police state, which says lock everybody up and throw away the key.”
YOU GO TO JAIL, I COLLECT $200 DOLLARS: TURNING CRIME INTO CAPITAL Joshua Grant
“Get your pencils out. You're about to learn how to make a lot of money, really fast.”
ollywood and the criminal justice system. Who would every imagine these two segments of society would have anything in common. Of course, we witness the dog and pony show that is a celebrity court case and I, myself, have sat down to enjoy hours of gritty yet entertaining prison dramas like HBO's Oz and Fox's Prison Break. However, the relationship between these two giant industries runs much deeper because they in fact share a common interest: turning prison into profit. The Hollywood machine makes no qualms about its business being about bringing in the bucks. A shirtless cast of A-list hunks fighting for their survival is guaranteed to fill movie houses across the country. But how, might you ask, does the criminal justice system turn a profit? You're probably thinking to yourself, it would be unethical for a government entity to make money from sending people away, and you would be right. However, the beauty of this country is that not everyone has to agree. When the chance of riches is thrown into the equation, sadly, ethics is left behind. This is what happened in the late 1970's when four businessmen conceived the idea of the private prison. Most of us have very little knowledge of the prison system. Why would we? We don't have the intention of going so who cares how it functions? Although, in order to understand a private prison, one must understand the concept of prison itself.
Prisons date back as far as ancient Egypt. Dungeons, as they were called back then, were used to confine criminals until corporal or capital punishment could be administered. The prison system as we know it did not come into existence until the 19th century when utilitarian Jeremy Benthem developed a building design known as â€œpanopticon.â€? This design allows an observer to observe all inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they were being watched. It was this notion of observation and control that introduced incarceration as part of a prisoner's punishment rather than simply a holding cell. From Benthem, the correctional rehabilitation system was born.
How does this happen, you might ask? Conventional wisdom points to three factors:
This form of corrections is still used throughout most of the Western World. Many industrialized nations have also opted to deal with their non-violent offenders outside of the prison walls through drug rehabilitation programs, community service, and well-managed probation and parole. Unfortunately, America has moved in the opposite direction. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States is harsher on criminals that any other rich country. At any given point, there are between 2.3 and 2.4 million Americans circulating behind bars. In other words, one out of every 100 adults is doing time. The United States incarcerates five times more people than Britain (the home of the prison system), nine times more than Germany, and 12 times more than Japan.
Private prisons began in the late 70's/early 80's when crime was increasing due to the country's War on Drugs. Increased incarceration on smaller drug related offenses led to overcrowding and rising costs. This new expense became quite a problem for federal, state, and local governments. Politicians were looking for a way to decrease correctional spending. They did not have to fret very long. In 1983, the Corrections Corporation of America was born. Founded by businessmen Tom Beasley, Dr. Robert Crants, and T. Don Hutto, the CCA offered to take some of the burden of off the governmentâ€™s hands. One year later, the CCA received their first contract in Houston Texas.
1. People are sentenced for far too long. 2. The system criminalizes acts that should not be criminalized. 3. Unpredictability. Many laws, particularly federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them. It is clear these play an important role in our overcrowded prisons, but only holds water if you are referring to those housed within state or federal institutions. For those who have the luxury of being sent to private prison the reason for the numbers is much easier to define: Money.
Since then, the CCA along with other private prison corporations (Cornell and the GEO Group), now boasts up to 60
facilities and more than 72,000 inmates bringing in roughly 55 billion dollars a year. This money is then funneled into the bank accounts of shareholders and some of America's biggest corporations. When you're making money like this, you want to make sure business stays booming. How is this done? It's not as difficult as one would think. Get your pencils out. You're about to learn how to make a lot of money, really fast. According to Joel Dyer, author of the The Perpetual Prison Machine, three factors must be in place to ensure the private sector a constant stream of revenue: 1. The accelerating consolidation of the media 2. The rise in influence of political consultants 3. The prison industrial complex, which refers to the collection of interests, whose financial well- being rises and falls with the size of the prison population. Together, these three developed a method to turn crime into capital. During the 1980's, news networks achieved high ratings by focusing and dramatically increasing their coverage of violent crime. This is not to say that there was no cause to be alarmed, but the idea of being shot while walking down the street was a bit of an exaggeration. Besides the high ratings, the lingering side
effect was Americans became concerned about their safety. According to behavioral scientists, many Americans still believe crime to be one of the biggest problems in the United States today. Even though, according to Justice Bureau statistics, we are much safer now than ever before. This anxiety of crime and the development of polling systems led to politicians using being tough on crime as a means of getting elected. This led to criminal justice policies such as “three strikes” laws
and “truth in sentencing.” However, it wasn't just the politicians desire for a safer America that created this criminal crack down. It was also the promise of deep pockets. Private Correctional Corporations send lobbyists all over the country, encouraging judges and politicians to be tough on crime. This self-interest and greed create the prison industrial complex. Send them to prison. I make a profit. I cut you in. The business of turning crime and prisoners into profit has become one of the fastest growing industries in the na-
tion, an industry with hundreds of billions of dollars available to anyone who can get a contract. Corrections is now the fastest growing category in most state budgets. Let's get specific. Where does the money come from? To understand that, one must witness the enormity of the prison industry. A simple Google search will bring up industry mail-order catalogs, newsletters, and dates for conventions and trade shows. It is estimated that over 1000 corporations attend these annual events each year, hoping to get a contract to have their wares used in the facility. There is even a Corrections Yellow Pages that lists companies by goods and services offered. Picture Comicon, but with prison wardens and orange jumpsuits. Supplying goods and services to prisoners, guards, and police is a massive market. Getting an exclusive contract could take your small business to Fortune 500. Since 1990, the United States has been constructing prisons facilities to hold an average of 93,000 beds per year. Consider getting the contract to provide soup, toilet paper, or bread for 93,000 people everyday for five years. Companies like Dial and Crest have been known to sell $100,000 dollars of their product to one jail alone. VitaPro Foods, which supplies
Texas prisons with a soy based meat substitute, had a contract of $34m dollars a year. Often times, phone companies stand to make the most from prison contracts. When you or I shop for phone service, we look for the companies with the cheapest rates and lowest fees. We want to be able to call without worrying about receiving a jaw-dropping bill at the end of the month. Imagine if your phone company gave you a percentage of the profits they made off your calls. The incentives for choosing a phone provider would be different. This is how the system works in prison. Phone companies pitch their payphones to prisons across the country, but instead of prison owners looking for the provider with the
lowest rate, they look for those with the highest. When a loved one calls you from prison, the call is generally placed collect, which means the recipient is paying all of the charges, leaving no expense to the prison itself. If the arrangement is made, which it most always is, that the company will kickback a share of the profits, choosing an inexpensive provider is out of the question. Every time a man calls his wife or child to say, â€œ I love you,â€? the prison and phone company are making money hand over fist. Despite the giant healthcare contracts, medical treatment leaves much to be desired. Lawsuits upon lawsuits have piled up as families of inmates sue over the care provided to their loved ones. HIV and AIDS
patients are not given access to expensive drug cocktails to help combat some of the disease's effects. Those afflicted with cancer find themselves receiving the bare minimum in chemotherapy and other treatments that fight cancer-causing cells. Needless to say that having a life threatening illness in prison is quite often a death sentence. Have a van or bus lying around? You can make a killing in the prison trade by providing transport. As beds overcrowd and new prisons emerge, transporting prisoners is a daily activity. Transport companies vie for huge contracts, in which they charge a flat fee per head, to move prisoners back and forth across the country. In order to maximize profits, trans-
port companies want to move as many prisoners as possible, but doing so in very few trips. This creates a system in which a prisoner could spend weeks being bounced around from one holding facility to another. Left in the care of untrained guards, abuse of prisoners during transport is the norm. It isn't just corporations who are benefiting from incarcerations. The public sector is doing well also. Over the last 20 years, there has been a steady increase in law enforcement salaries, state of the art equipment, and overall numbers since the War on Drugs. Prison guards salaries have consistently increased year after year as their responsibilities increase due to the influx of new tenants. Prison workers unions have become some of the strongest supporters and lobbyists for tougher laws. State law-enforcement budgets have quadrupled over the last 20 years as money is funneled into the system so that politicians can be tough on crime. Cities often boast of the number of police officers they have on the beat. This propaganda reinforces the belief that having strict laws and more police is keeping you safe at night. This is a lie. There is no evidence to prove that an increase in police presence has a direct affect on the crime rate. A study done by Purdue and Rutgers University estimated that a 10% increase in the number of people behind bars would reduce the crime rate by only 0.5%. Interestingly enough, states that lock up the most people see an increase in crime. How? Small time inmates emerge as more accomplished criminals.
Instead of rehabilitating into productive citizens, they are becoming learned in the ways of big time crime. Perhaps the most vile of this entire money making machine is the use of prison labor. Unicorp is the government body that produces products with prison labor. The company websites informs of annual sales being over $500 million dollars a year. Prison jobs
â€œThe question then becomes how do we lower crime, cut prison costs, and stop the unethical practice for the prison trade?â€? include sewing, construction, manufacturing, telemarketing, canine training, license plate making, producing airplane parts, and making logos for Lexus. Companies like Microsoft, Spalding, IBM, Compaq, Texas Instruments, AT&T, Victoria's Secret, and Chevron to name a few, all profit from prison labor. So let's assume you simply don't care how prisoners are treated. Hey, they broke the law. They deserve whatever punishment they receive. It's not my problem. Actually, it is. It's costing you. Public records show sending a person to prison could cost anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000 a year. A Pew Center study on the states illustrated how money is lost. In the State of Washington, for example, each dollar invested in a new prison in 1980 averted more than nine
dollars of criminal harm. By 2001, as the emphasis shifted from violent criminals to drugdealers and thieves, the cost benefit ratio reversed. Each new dollar spent on prisons averted only $0.37 centsâ€™ worth of harm. The last report released on prison expenditures reported that day to day prison expenses totaled to $28.4 billion dollars. This breaks down to about $22,650 per inmate a year ($62.05 per day). Medical care, food service, utilities, and contract housing comes to $7.3 billion a year; that's 26% of a prison's operating budget. Now take those numbers and multiply them times the 2.3 million Americans incarcerated and you will see where your tax dollars are going. Want to cut spending? Just found a place to do that. Those in favor would argue that this cost is why private prisons are necessary, but how will profits continue to be made if crime rates decrease? Will everyone eventually pass through the private prison system? Will new laws be created to ensure an increase in inmates? Or will people simply start going to jail for ridiculous crimes like illegal cable hookup or jaywalking? None of us want to find out. The question then becomes how do we lower crime, cut prison costs, and stop the unethical practice for the prison trade? For starters a less punitive system would work better. By eliminating mandatory sentences, re-instating substance abuse and community service programs, having an effective probation and parole program, we could dramatically
decrease our prison population. The majority of people in prison are non-violent first time offenders.... mostly drug users. Drug reform is about more than the freedom to smoke a joint in the park. It is about fixing a broken system. President Obama has recently made an attempt to put an end to the War on Drugs, and create some laws and reforms that can actually put an end to the perpetual prison system, all of which he did within about 18 months. 1. He reversed the government's antagonism to state medical marijuana laws. It is now up to local authorities to determine whether medical marijuana facilities are operating legally. 2. He also supported ending the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs, reducing the number of drug related HIV/Aids cases. 3. He pushed to repeal the crack/powder disparity. This will have a vast affect on the racial gap currently plaguing our prison system. Drug users will become equal in the eyes
of the law. The next step should be ending the prohibitive marijuana laws. Minorities suffer in a disproportionate number compared to white America. Arrests for marijuana possession, typically of tiny amounts, account for 44 percent of drug arrests nationwide and disproportionately affect African-Americans. Few are being sentenced to long prison terms, but most are acquiring criminal records that will handicap them for life.Â Forty percent of Americans, possibly more, now believe that marijuana should be legally regulated and taxed. The money saved from these new practices could attack crime at its root. Extra funds could be shifted to crime prevention social programs such as education and welfare aid to children, combating the poverty rate, which is from where most crime begins. However, this is only a small step and organizations have been fighting for this reform for decades. We also need a change in the way our media and political
systems work. News organizations shouldn't be committed to making profits rather than being committed to informing the public with accurate information. A hunger for high ratings helps keep people in prison. There must also be meaningful and intelligent debates in the political sphere. This can only be ensured if politicians did not allow themselves to be compromised by campaign donations. This country must also examine its relationship with minorities and the poor. We can longer be a country who believes in every man for himself, or a society that depicts minority groups as the scary, violent others. Hegemony is a powerful force and media images stick in the minds of disenfranchised youth. Very often, if you call someone a thug, they eventually become one. Sadly, like most fundamental changes that take place in this country, we always seem to have to learn the hard way. As we stand at the precipice of economic ruin, it is time for this country to have a serious talk about the driving force of this nation and the direction we want to take in the future. Capitalism is a beautiful thing when regulated and controlled; it has made a country great. But when a rich, industrialized nation who believes so strongly in freedom and democracy, begins to lock up its citizens for profit, the question becomes is it really worth it?