Friday, October 13, 2006

TCJC Hits YouTube with Solutions to Texas Prison Capacity Crisis

Texas has ten times the incarceration rate of Communist China, so says this flash-slide show produced and narrated by Dominic Gonzales of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. The short clip describes for viewers the key facts about Texas' current overincarceration dilemma.


Perhaps some of Grits' friends out there in bloggerdom can help spread it around. (Conflict alert: I work closely with TCJC, and Dominic is a friend.) It's nice to see some of the information you've read on Grits presented in a less wonkish, more digestible format. I thought he did a good job of capturing the essence of the short-term crisis facing the 80th Texas Legislature next year: Spend half a billion on new prisons, plus tens of millions more each year to staff and run them, or fix Texas' broken probation and parole systems. The choice seems obvious to me, but last year the Governor didn't think so.

Anyway, check it out then pass it on to a friend. And sign up here to receive updates from TCJC on Texas criminal justice issues and the group's activities.

17 comments:

Celtictexan said...

I sincerly doubt the validity of the claim that Tex. has more prisoners than China. China in fact probably has more political prisoners than all crimes in Texas together. Then again China executes most of its prisoners. Probably has less crime.

There is much about letting criminala walk the streets on this blog. I suggest all watch this

http://mfile.akamai.com/12948/wmv/vod.ibsys.com/2006/0728/9591734.300k.asx

Gritsforbreakfast said...

They're citing the RATE of incarceration, not the total number of those in prison. It sounds close to right from what I've seen, e.g., this source says China incarcerates 118 per 100,000, while Texas incarcerates about 1,035 per 100,000. See this Grits post on the topic. Never doubt that the United States incarcerates more of its people than any other country, by far.

Anonymous said...

You know, Celtic's right that China's criminal justice policies, especially on executions, closely match his philosophy, but isn't it interesting how that philosophy turns out to be Communist totalitarianism!

If you're so envious of Communist dictatorships because of "less crime," Celtic, definitely move there and enjoy the amenities!

Totalitarianism DOES reduce crime. But the tradeoff in freedom is never worth it.

Celtictexan said...

-Totalitarianism DOES reduce crime. But the tradeoff in freedom is never worth it.--

Freedom is guaranteed by our constitution. What is always forgotten is that responsibility is also required.

The question is, whether or not, we are going to be a nation of laws or anarchy. After all anarchy is the purest form of freedom. Every single law in the world in some ways takes away the freedom some person believes they should have. And if there are going to be laws then, that law should be enforced. Hte punishment must be of a degree of sufficiency to ensure a near total obedience to said law. If the law is going to be trivialized or selectivly applied then it should be repealed.

Freedom and the right of all people to live in a civil and respectful society are not contradictory.

Celtictexan said...

Grits-- I looked at your links. I was particularly struck by this one comment.

when God laid down the law in Exodus, by contrast, He could only come up with ten

There is not a single law in existence that does not relate in some way to the ten commandments. And I will say that many laws exist to negate the ten commandments, but still they relate. There are many laws, mandatory car insurance for one, that exist to allow others to steal from the people. But that is another and complicated discussion. Many laws exist that allow corporate greed (theft)to exist. Another complicated discussion.

I have doubts as to the accuracy of the prison counts in places like China as obviously it is a closed society. Only they know how many are locked away. But even if true, and in some ways I could believe it true, the underlying factors would be the true reasons. And I don't mean that the laws are unjust or whatever. I'm talking about the breakdown of the family.
Judicial activism, Lawyers who want the high crime rate that they so greatly profit from. And I believe my last sentence to be a conspiracy of the highest magnitude. I think that the fact that the US has the highest per capita number of Lawyers is no coincidence as related to the high crime rate.

The countries with low incarceration rated, seem to fall into two catagories. Those with a homogenous culture and those that are very poor and unable to enforce law at any appreciable degree. As a consequence of the poverty and inability to enforce law, they are the most violent and dangerous places in the world. Which in turn is the reason they are so poor. An unending cycle.

A perfect example in our own coutry are the inner cities. They exist in near Anarchy. Every attempt to restore order is met with cries of racism and brutality. The police back off and the anarchy and poverty grow. Activist howl that the police do nothing. An unending cycle.

The solutions at this point are difficult maybe even impossible, multiculturalism is rapidly producing a Balkanized America.

Social decay and strife is everywhere and much of what I read here will only speed that decay. Legalizing dangerous drugs, uncontrolled immigration, releasing criminals to prevent overcrowding, all these things are moving us to anarchy. A time when we too, will be to poor to enforce the laws. A time when we can no longer afford the cost of the absolute and total failure of current social programs that reward irresponsibility. A time when we too will be locked into the poverty and violence that will destroy us as a nation.

The problem is not to many laws or even a lack of enforcement. The problem is a lack of true punishment. A true and absolute demand for individual responsibility.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Celtic: So if we need to build three new prisons at a half billion dollars to enforce the laws the way they are now - and we operate on your assumption that what we have now is lax, not "true punishment," then Texas would need to spend maybe $10 billion or so, plus another couple billion in annual operating costs perhaps (I'm ballparking) to dramatically increase sentences. Are you willing to pay that while the schools are underfunded?

The GOP-appointed US Supreme Court won't appear to allow your execute-em-all scheme. Blame them, not me, or "liberals." But perhaps you're willing to settle for endless tax increases to pay for more prisons? Now that I think of it, Celtic, it'd be a good idea if every time you start calling for tougher penalties, you added the phrase "And I want my taxes raised right now." Without that addendum, all the tough talk sounds shrill and hollow.

And once you do that, be sure to say what taxes you want raised, and by how much. You speak as if prisons are free and executions could ever occur effortlessly with no mistakes. Neither assumption is true, and if they were the Constitution would by then be a meaningless relic.

Your sentiments on these topics, while welcome, are frequently pretty unrealistic, and with respect, often laughably false. They do help gin up the comments, though, so don't go 'way. ;) Best,

celtictexan said...

You won't agree with my proposals but here they are.

First of all for those sentenced to prison, I will agree with some things said already. I would make the sentances much, much shorter. But that time would be spent in absolute misery and torment. When those sentanced came out they would never, ever entertain the thought of it being some manly ritual, or no big deal, as is often though by so many these days. The thought of returning would be a fear that would never leave them and one that they would communicate to their peers.

I would adopt the three strikes you out principal. Only the third strike would not be life, it would be loss of life. The prison itself would be simple brick and a leg iron fastened to a wall that they would never leave until their time is up. Much cheaper.

Those convicted of drug dealing or heinous crimes such as child molesting murder etc. would be immediate death at conviction. Taxes would go down, way down. As recidivism would basically cease to exist. Prisons could be torn down much to the chagrin of the prison unions/lobby which as you have pointed out are ridiculous. They would get their fair trials. Not allot would change there outside of mandatory sentancing.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg a GOP nomination? Give me a break. And just to clear the air about me, I'm not a republicon or a democrap, I am a conservative and will vote for whoever most reflects my views. One improvement to the voting system I would like to see is, a none of the above box. But that is another issue.

It took 40 years for the most idealistic of the now old hippy's to get us to the mess we are in today it might take that long to get us out. But one thing is for sure your way isn't working.

And one other thing, to say schools are underfunded is ridiculous beyond belief. The US spends vastly more per student than any other country in the world, and you know it. Private schools with half the budget turn out far better educated students than the public schools do. Home schooled with no or very little government money turn out the best educated of all. The ills that plague our schools are the same as those that plague society in general. Lack of discipline and personal responsibility and accountability. Not lack of money. That dog won't hunt.

Your sentiments on these topics, while welcome, are frequently pretty unrealistic, and with respect, often laughably false. They do help gin up the comments, though, so don't go 'way. ;) Best,

I'm not laughing but Thanks anyway.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Celtic: You say that "your way" isn't working? What makes you think I'm in charge?

Oh, and you might want to check the 8th amendment regarding your "torment" proposal. It's very interesting to me the way you almost fetishize the Constitution as the equivalent of "freedom" then promote something like this that's completely abhorrent to its principles. That said, you're not alone.

Finally, the US Supreme Court is definitely dominated by conservative appointees right now, RBG notwithstanding, and since they won't allow your execution scheme (not "liberals"), do you have any more realistic proposals?

Otherwise, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. Best,

Celtictexan said...

Celtic: You say that "your way" isn't working?

The policies you support.

As far as the 8th amendment, I'm sure your awareof the debate over the words and, and, or.

I think you know me well enough by now to know which side I would fall on. Whether or not a certain punishment is cruel relates directly to the degree of the crime IMHO.

The Supreme Court and the legal system in general is obviously an extremly complicated debate. The courts are the most powerful and at the same time the weakest link in the three branches of government. Whether the recenly but only slightly improved SC turns out to be conservative or neocon remains to be seen. The upcoming hearing on partial birth abortion will be an important indicator of that.

The original intent of the founding fathers was a judiciary of impartial members. Something that is all but impossible, as the unending debates over nominees proves and widely varying decisions in similar crimes proves. The judiciary will never work as intended as long as any but strick interpretations, are produced. Each member of the SC should be along the lines of Bork. And even then, I'm not so sure the many and gross violations of the constitution, through judicial activism would be ever corrected, as so much weight is given to Starry Decisis. I could list many examples and will get back into it later not enough time now.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You want a court full of Borks, but even Bork didn't make it on the court. Your comments, Celtic, remind me of a line from the character Marlo in The Wire to a security guard soon before he had him murdered for "back talking." "You want things to be one way, but they're the other."

Forget for just a moment the way you think things SHOULD be. The question I try to explore on Grits is: What should be done given the way things are? So if the GOP-dominated court won't let you execute tens of thousands of drug dealers, for example, what then? Besides complain that they're "liberals," that seems to be where your arguments end. Or am I missing something?

Celtictexan said...

You want a court full of Borks, but even Bork didn't make it on the court.

The liberals who controlled the select committee shot him down. As they have already selected the "living" version of the constitution to get the things passed and changed that would never happen if they had to do it in the congress as intended.

I'll try to watch "The wire" so as to understand your analogy, but I rarely watch TV programming. Funny that word programming, but that's another subject.

The question I try to explore on Grits is: What should be done given the way things are?

I am impressed with your blog as I have said, and am pushing it where ever I go. The fact that you are spending so much time with me, as prolific as you are with your writings, is impressive. I suspect you have a very high rate of traffic. In the interest of "freedom of speech" most liberal blogs ban or ignore me.

A perfect example would be PDiddies, "Brains and Eggs". He edited my first post then banned me. But if you look through his posts all you'll see is zero comments. He should in fact change the name to the,"No comment blog".

But back to your statement. You do indeed explore what should be done to solve what we both agree is a failed and failing Nation. But to me it seems to be in the way of bigger helpings of the same failed policies. I offer another way. Really I just push a return to strict interpretation of the constitution. The biggest failure to me of the liberal policy in effect, for the last 40 years, that has got us where we are, is the notion that equality can be legislated. In a free country, men will never be equal, and in a country where all men are equal, there will never be freedom.

So if the GOP-dominated court won't let you execute tens of thousands of drug dealers, for example, what then?

Again I don't care if the court is dominated by Gop or Dem's. I care that the men who serve do so as intended by the Founding Father's, or in liberal parlance the old dead white guys. I care that they do not legislate, but uphold law. And there would not be tens of thousands of executions. I suspect that after the first ten or twenty it would become a dead trade.

While fetishize the Constitution seems to reflect disdain, I do indeed consider it to be the the best document ever wrote by man. By 1960 it had produced the greatest, richest, most powerful, and respectful country in the history of mankind. Now our country is dominated by two parties, and three branches of government, that are both and each full of liars, thieves, and perverts. Parties that unfortunately reflect what America has for the most part become.

Besides complain that they're "liberals," that seems to be where your arguments end. Or am I missing something?

I don't know, maybe we are all missing something. Maybe if our schools returned to teaching the three "R's" and American citizenship, rather than social engineering, our kids would begin to learn and act responsibly again. Maybe if mass media programing went back to shows like "Father Knows Best" instead of the "Simpsons" or the "Family Guy", households might become families again instead of single parent homes. Then again maybe it's just the natural way, as all of past history shows, that great nations turn from traditional values, rot from within and fall. All I do know is that what is happening now is another dog that just won't hunt.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"The fact that you are spending so much time with me, as prolific as you are with your writings, is impressive.

Actually, since some of your arguments are quite common, it's very useful to me to have an opportunity to probe and prod. I consider blogs in some ways mini-focus groups that helps develop and refine political messages over time, and that doesn't happen if you don't engage in debate.

I have deleted comments by two commenters in the past, BTW. Not all of theirs, but a handful of specifically offensive ones. (One of the guys was a drug task force cop who lost his $$$ and was really P.O.ed.) My criteria is this: if a comment contains only a personal attack and no actual argument, it gets deleted. Any argument at all, and I'm generous with the definition, I let the commenters be, and any strong argument I try to respond to if other commenters don't. A lot of these issues get little attention, so it's good to run the traps with opponents' arguments here before taking them into the policymaking arena.

You also mentioned: "I suspect you have a very high rate of traffic."

I've been averaging about 550 visitors per day recently, which I think is pretty good. On the other hand, Kos get twice as many visitors every day as I have en toto since I started Grits two years ago, so everything's relative. Best,

Celtictexan said...

I read Kos some also. It's totally whacked. I don't even bother. You do at least seem to have consistancy of purpose. Wrong headed or not, half the flow of the number one liberal blog is admirable. I predict good things for your blog and your excellent management.

I'm surprised at the lack of response to your question about why we blog. I hope you saw mine. I thought that would fill up fast. Apparently few know why.

Your party, and I assume you democrap, has been totally hijacked as best demonstrated at Kos. My ex party has lost its way. Just drifting. If you have time please read my post ,here and here

Where, by the way, do you find my thoughts common? I'll admit I don't.

A lot of these issues get little attention, so it's good to run the traps with opponents' arguments here before taking them into the policymaking arena

LOL, my one disappointment with you is lack of point by point response, as I have the same philosophy as you mention above. You are denying me that.

I was on a 48 episode entitled "Fathers Fight Back". I spent quite a bit of time in front of the Virginia legislature trying to make divorce and child custody issues more fair. The group I started with was, "Fathers United for Equal Rights". For political reasons, and against my advice it was changed to "The Children's Rights Council". I learned the hard way that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Without going into detail women squeak much more than men. It is horrible what is being done to children in the name of political correctness. I.E. Dan Quale and the Murphy Brown dilemma. But that is another story. It is however the beginning of my recognition that the courts care little about right or wrong truth or lies, certainly not for the well being of children. It only cares about law. And the law represents the political climate at the time.

Anyway I've got my finger in many pies so I can't be here all the time. But I hope you don't mind an occasional visit. Best to you also.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Celtic - on the point by point response, sorry, but I'd never actually post on the blog if I did that! Other times, other commenters have responded to your points as I would.

On underfunded schools, BTW, I noticed the Senate's most conservative member Steve Ogden recently say "We've created a $7 billion hole for public education financing, and we've got to replace it with something," he said. "And that promise goes on for a fairly long time."

On the courts, I don't think it's QUITE as bad as you say. I just think they're politicians, no different from legislators or Congress, and viewed from that perspective their actions make a lot more sense.

Glad you're enjoying the blog.

Celtictexan said...

I just think they're politicians, no different from legislators or Congress, and viewed from that perspective their actions make a lot more sense.

The federal courts often are called the guardians of the Constitution because their rulings protect rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Through fair and impartial judgments, the federal courts interpret and apply the law to resolve disputes. The courts do not make the laws. That is the responsibility of Congress. Nor do the courts have the power to enforce the laws. That is the role of the President and the many executive branch departments and agencies.

To say they're politicians, no different from legislators or Congress makes makes no sense at all and is totally anti constitution. It deprives the people of democracy. There in lies all the problems. Perhaps by focusing on this issue you might solve the rest.

Anonymous said...

Just to drop in on this interesting conversation, I was one writer for a strictly local issues Blog which helped defeat a religious based, private prison with substantial taxpayer liability. One of the issues we looked closely at was incarceration rates. Measured by rate, not total, and allowing for huge fabrication by the "closed" societies, the US rate is over the top, and Texas leads most of the US.

To other issues, I am a Republican of long service who has, a)never voted a straight ticket, and b)is about to change affiliation. I will fulfill my promised obligations and then I am free.

The two party dominance has been mentioned in this debate. Has anyone noticed the end of Bush's term will mark 20 years of two family dynastic rule, with Hillary's still likey election extending that possibly another 8? Adams and the Tafts just thought they did well.

Celtictexan, just a thought here, but anyone who wants an illegal drug in America can already get it. Over a Trillion dollars into the drug war, the street prices of illicit cocaine and heroin are lower, in UNADJUSTED for inflation dollars than they were in 1980, and the purity is sufficiently higher we have more OD's. We cannot keep drugs out of our prisons.

The better news, by most accounts, actual drug use is about the same as it was before the old Harrison Act, when one could buy the crap over the counter, roughly 10-12%. Workplace testing has been under 5% for 15 years.

My point, for the money spent, the war in Iraq has been a stellar success compared to the drug war.

celtictexan said...

I was one writer for a strictly local issues Blog which helped defeat a religious based, private prison

Why, in reality would you oppose this? Why would you oppose anything that might work considering the failure of the current system? And don't give me the separation of church and state crap, as that does not exist except as interpreted by the activist courts.

The two party dominance has been mentioned in this debate.

Big money special interest groups have got to be removed from the election process or things like this will just get worse. Again all ballots need a none of the above box. As it is now the only real choice in most peoples minds is the least of two evils.

We cannot keep drugs out of our prisons.

We could, we don't.

Workplace testing has been under 5% for 15 years.

Drawing conclutions from places that test for drugs would be ridiculous as obviosly these are going to be people who clean up and stay so to get the job. It would be silly to compare it to times when drugs were legal also. Lets take a random sample from the people on the street then compare it to the 50's.

"My point, for the money spent, the war in Iraq has been a stellar success compared to the drug war."

True if you believe that the effort to stop drugs has been sincere. Way to many profit from the drug trade, form the government through the professtion, to the man on the street. None who are in real power want it stopped. From that perspective the drug war is a stellar success.

10/18/2006 12:49 AM