Victimless Crimes Part II

An interesting reversal fortune has befallen tens of thousands of inmates in jails all across the country. Law enforcement budgets artificially inflated due to 9/11 hysteria have lost their charm a decade later. Reality has finally forced legislators to bring budgets and expenses back in line with revenues.

Paying to house millions of inmates all across the nation at an average cost of close to $50,000 per inmate per year takes on the features of a luxury item in budgets, even in formerly sacrosanct areas where over bloated egos and pompous asses have managed to plunder and waste public funds for decades. When it is their own pensions and insurance policies that are in danger of shrinking or their perks disappearing legislators scramble to ensure proper funding. The first things to go from the budget are the things that never needed to be in the budget in the first place.

So who are the beneficiaries of our budget shortfalls? Actually they are in huge measure inmates accused of or convicted of a group of crimes called “victimless crimes”. These are crimes like pot possession or prostitution. No specific person or property was harmed in any way during the commission of the alleged crime. These are crimes of a moral nature, the definition of which changes frequently over the years. The beneficiaries of an early jail release from our prison system are people who would not have been in jail anywhere in Europe, for example, or in Asia. We are busting the public bank enforcing immature, antiquated moral laws created  by a few moral dictators leading from a pulpit. Laws written to modify (or add a fun tax to)  common social behavior.

Uganda, a tiny little country in Africa, finally got tired of wasting money chasing pot criminals and became the first country in the world to legalize pot for everyone. Now the government is making money regulating the sale of pot in Uganda like we do with liquor in this country . All that red ink is now turning into green ink on their bank and budget balances. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and in this case innovation. By taking the lead in this area Uganda will be fast tracking its economy and will begin catching up with the world in education and health care in no time.

So are we, as a society, really putting ourselves at  more risk by releasing millions of our people from our prison system? Do we really need to be spending in the neighborhood of $50,000 per person per year rather than release people guilty of victimless crimes back into society? If people have more sex and smoke more dope do I really care? Do you? Do we really need to afford public servants earning $150,000 year in salaries and benefits to sit and watch people in cages all day? Why are our jails filled with cameras if we don’t trust them enough to use them? Are we really this paranoid?

Issues like these need to be brought to the attention of the public. Unfortunately “good” news is “bad” news for networks and newscasters. The fact that crime rates have been on a decade-long decline is seldom mentioned as long as law enforcement basks in the euphoria of 9/11 hysteria. The fact that huge numbers of people recently released were apparently incarcerated for no good reason or benefit to society will continue to go unreported. The reason is obvious. To suggest to the public that we need fewer numbers of policemen, fewer judges and far fewer jailers just seems, well, un-American. This is probably one of the smartest things we could do to be saving money around the country. Unfortunately that would also be un-American.

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Victimless Crimes

Almost everybody understands a robbery or murder. These are crimes, no question, and the people who commit these types of crimes are criminals. Everybody understands violence, or threats of violence, and the people who commit these types of crimes are also criminals, no question. The only question in my mind is how long do we keep these people in cages?

Unfortunately, most crimes are not that well defined. There is always a gray area between what the law says is illegal and what people think and do. If you can visualize a crime pie you’ll see that a gray area covers the entire pie. No part of the pie is absolutely guilty nor is any part positively innocent.

The victimless crime is in my opinion a crime apart from other crimes. Wikipedia defines “victimless crime” as a term “used to refer to actions that have been ruled illegal but do not directly violate or threaten the rights of another individual.” I googled the term victimless crime and discovered this top five list of someone’s.

  1. Soliciting Alms Without a Permit: (panhandling) (That’s ALMS, not arms. ed)
  2. Failure to Dog or Cat or Ferret Vaccination (expired pet vaccination tags)
  3. School Attendance Law Violation ( woman withheld child from school to provide better education at home)
  4. Failure to Secure Child Under the Age of 16 (seat belt removed by teen while car in motion)
  5. Possession of Marijuana (legal in some states; possession laws in some states ridiculous)

All of the above incidents resulted in someone being taken to jail in handcuffs. The fact is, folks, we are bankrupting ourselves with our outsized and overblown criminal justice system. My question is simply this. Are we out of our freaking minds? We are, in my very informed opinion, wasting money by the trainload incarcerating nonviolent defendants whose crimes don’t include any victims.

The European people, who over the many centuries have grown far more mature than we, have come to realize that people do not need to be put in cages for violations which have no victims. They spend the money saved by not putting people in jail on free education and healthcare for their citizens and vacations that last on average 2 to 3 times longer than ours.

In my opinion this European attitude toward public priorities makes total sense. In some places in our country attitudes are beyond ridiculous. So people, let’s get a grip on the idiots (I am sorry but there is no other more suitable name for the people who write ridiculously counterproductive and horribly expensive laws) who are wasting our money on false pursuits.

Consider paying for a trip for yourself and your family to the beach instead of paying to send someone to jail. On average we’re spending close to $50,000 per year to keep someone in a cage. Freeing half the people in cages in our country would make no difference whatsoever to your life should they be released.

Here’s what a change of priorities would look like to me.

First we let every nonviolent offender currently housed in our prison system out of jail. Gee, we could save enough for free higher education for the entire nation with this move. For victims of fraud or theft we could actually afford a relief fund.

Now let’s let all the low-level druggies, potheads, and prescription perpetrators go free. With that move we now have enough federal and state savings to give everyone within our borders free healthcare.

And last, let’s let all the sex freaks out of jail. Forget about sending women to jail who don’t require a “lasting relationship” to become intimate. And as for their counterparts, let’s forgive men for being shallow and superficial and for believing that a “date” need not last longer than 20 minutes to be worth the price of an evening. Why is that anyone else’s business anyway?

With that last move toward saving money we can now afford to give everyone in the country an extra 10 days (stretched out to two weeks with weekends) paid vacation. Finally, I have some skin in the game! This works for me and mine!

So people let’s change the laws on victimless crimes and give ourselves and our children a better future with the money we save. Make sense; sound fair?

For a look at some startling statistics follow this link:

www.libertariannews.org/2011/09/29/victimless-crime-constitutes-86-of-the-american-prison-population/

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