Letter to the editor

by Terry Evans |
Sep. 12, 2016, 9:10am

This is a letter to the editor submitted in response to a column authored by Mark Pulliam, entitled: "The Beguiling Myth of 'Mass Incarceration'"

That article is dishonest: It ignores the numbers as the numbers prove the USA engages in mass incarceration.

Some context:

American justice: incarceration rate of 700 per 100,000. France, Canada, Italy are all around 100-120 per 100,000. Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland are all around 60-80.

In concrete terms: 35,000 in prison and jail in South Carolina - 42,000 in Canada with 35 million people. 60,000 in prison and jail in Arizona - the same as Italy, a country of 60 million. Louisiana has 40,000 under sentence and 10,000 in pre-trial detention - Norway has the same population as Louisiana and has 3000 people incarcerated. Louisiana literally cages 16-17 times as many people as the Norwegians do - if that is not mass incarceration, what is? The USA even cages more people than the Soviet Union did at the height of the Gulags or China during the Cultural Revolution.

Rehabilitation is actually based on positivism, the original branch of conservative criminology. Think about it: CBT to change distorted thinking practices, substance abuse treatment, courses on how to set boundaries with peers and partners, sex offender treatment, job training, educational upgrading, anger management, insight oriented therapy….These are all based on the underlying theory that people commit crimes as they lack coping skills, have distorted thinking, lack capacity to function in society or have an underlying emotional problem driving their criminal actions. Rehabilitation is about treating the reasons someone commits crimes and thus making them less likely to reoffend.

There is a reason crime is so out of control in the USA vs Canada, Australia and Western Europe….Our strategies work….Public sex offender registries, the death penalty, sex offender residency restrictions, life sentences for shoplifting, mandatory minimums, police shooting people at 40 times the rate of German police and 100 times the rate of Finnish police…If these worked your country would be safe….It is not; with murder rates bizarrely higher (3-8 times) than other Western nations.

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