Thursday, March 08, 2012

The United States as a Garrison State with More Guards than Teachers and More People Proportionately Locked Up Behind Bars Than Any Other Nation

Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev in Garrison America point out that the Department of Labor predicted in 2007 that the United States would have more private security guards than teachers in 2012. Has that come to pass, and what does it say about the society in which people live in America?

America also has proportionately more people locked up behind bars than any other nation, as reported by The Economist at Crime and Punishment in America in Rough justice: America locks up too many people, some for acts that should not even be criminal.

The conclusion that the American law enforcement system is an abject failure is epitomized by the recent story of an Arizona sheriff requiring jail inmates to wear pink underwear.

America, America ... what has become of thee?
A pink laughing stock for the world, rather than a land of the free?

See in this regard Martha Neil's posting at ABA Journal Law News Now in Sheriff Arpaio’s Pink-Underwear Policy May Violate Rights of Unconvicted Inmates, 9th Circuit Says.

Are they writing "may" ??? Incredible. Frankly, I am less concerned with that errant sheriff, and more concerned with fungible, ineffective, and ponderous courts unable to take action to put a stop to such nonsense in its tracks. Perhaps we should require members of Congress to wear pink underwear until they correct the laws to make rule by fiat by law enforcement officials a crime and so put an end to egregious violations of human rights and human dignity.

Read also The Economist in its Democracy in America section on American politics and The perverse incentives of private prisons.

It is time to reread the wisdom in Ben Trachtenberg's essay on Incarceration Policy Strikes Out, which was selected by the ABA Journal Board of Editors as the winner of the 2009 Ross Essay Contest.

Read also the comments there....

Here is the question:
  • Are prison and jail systems in the United States sensible instruments of the criminal law, deterring heinous crimes and locking up violent, dangerous persons who are a clear threat to society?
    -- or  --
  • Are correctional facilities opportunities for third parties to reap a profit by putting people into jails and prisons who have no rationally justifiable reason for being there and who would certainly be better served, if guilty of non-heinous crimes or misdemeanors, by community service outside such incarceration facilities?
In many cases the answer to the question is surely not the former, and in many cases, increasingly, surely the answer is the latter.

Law and Cinema: The Top 25 Legal Movies of All Time

Vote for your own favorites at the link below!

Richard Brust has a hit posting at the ABA Journal Law News Now with his

The 25 Greatest Legal Movies.

The films were chosen by 12 prominent lawyers, judges and academics in the media and entertainment or related fields, and account for 31 Oscars and  85 Oscar nominations, so this is surely a good selection, though of course there will be differences of opinion about both the rankings and the selection.

You can also view the "panel of judges" -- unfortunately only one woman, which surely biases the results in favor of male-favored movies -- plus 25 top Honorable Mention films in addition.

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