The Land of the Free?
Beatrice E. Rangel
The United States leads the world in highest number of incarcerated people per 100,000 inhabitants at approximately 754 per 100,000. This nearly is 19% higher than the rate of the next-closest country, El Salvador (614 inmates per 100,000 people), and far higher than the rates of other heavily populated nations such as Brazil (324 per 100,000) and India ( 30 per 100,000) . In Europe incarceration rates are less than a quarter of the U.S. rate: In England, there are 142 inmates for every 100,000 people, while France and Germany incarcerate 102 and 77 people, respectively, for every 100,000 residents.
Incarcerated population began to grow in 1990 when it jumped from 773,000 to 1.1 million to continue to expand to todays 1.5 million people . Youngsters make the majority of the US incarcerated population while most crimes are drug related. To be sure, 59% of young people under custody have committed drug related offenses, while 38% of imprisoned individuals and 38% of jailed individuals have also omitted drug related offenses. And the numbers seem to be mounting by year. Statistics indeed show that while reported violent crime rates have decreased by 50% since 1990, incarceration rates have grown by 500% over the same period. Needles to indicate that minorities represent the lion’s share of incarcerated people with 59% of all incarcerated individuals being either black or Hispanic.
Given the lack of visibility of this development little attention seems to be paid today by the US talking heads and media pundits. The problem however is serious and impinges on our national security. Because as drug related offenses grow so does social tensions and stress over police services. Drug distribution networks as we all to well know professed no fidelity to flag or countries, they purse economic advantage at whatever cost. And the cost is lives of innocent people caught in crossfires between gangs; development obstacles to small enterprises catering to the budgets of low income populations. These establishments are favorite prey for extortion by drug gangs.
In terms of values drug gangs promote the rent extraction culture that debilitates innovation and self-progress. In terms of healthy social growth they distort values by engaging in human trafficking and economic initiative by trading counterfeit goods. Finally, jails act as crime colleges refining and perfecting crime techniques among inmates. Thus as our jails, prisons and correction centers continue to experience the rate of growth in incarceration.
Unfortunately for the future of the United states this clear and present danger has been completely overlooked by the protest movement that correctly started demanding justice for the on-camera murder of George Floyd himself a victim of conditions surrounding minorities in the US. Lack of opportunities, disjointed families and the deterioration of public education have created optimal conditions for drug gangs to corner most youngsters into drug distribution and consumption. And while we discuss whether to do away with police forces or retrain them two obscure forces besiege the US.
On the Norther corner organized crime from Asia has set up shop in Canada and taking advantage of extensive a desolated borders to introduce drugs and people in the United States. Heroin , precursors and basic inputs for production of methamphetamine are regularly introduced in the US via Canada. Interviews with 50 gang lords imprisoned in Canada suggest that primary targets for their expansion strategy were small businesses and young people.
Then in the South there is Mexico and its nefarious web of drug cartels whose leadership engage u brutal practices that include bombing cars; public executions; torture; extortion and disappearance of individuals. Mexican drug cartels not only promote violence in low income neighborhoods in the US but they are the distribution arm for Colombian coca producers; engage in money laundering in the Caribbean and in weapons; human and illicit minerals trade through Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Through Panama they have created a very sophisticated networks of corporate structures to hide the ownership of cash and other assets. In the US low income neighborhoods they recruit vigilantes.
In short, Transnational Organized Crime is slowly and silently taking over the US. This seems to me to be a greater menace to democratic institutions than the police. It would thus follow that we concentrate in devising ways to curtail their profits as wisely counseled many moons ago by Professor Milton Friedman. But I am afraid I sustain a very unpopular and minority vision of our problems.
Published by laht.com on June 15, 2020
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