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Record of Public Offense…

Short of the universal struggle for democracy, the largest and most important future organization for civil and human rights in American may well be felons.  If so, the next major anti-discrimination group will be those with a record of public offense:  The 15 millions-or-so felons in and out of the American gulag.

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated these stats, but with a tip-of-my-hat to Sidney Gendin, I’ll do so in this article.

To begin with, let’s do away with one conservative myth:  According to the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (USDOJ-BJS), all violent categories of crime have declined to the lowest records ever recorded.

Property crime rates have also declined.  Together, these categories include: Homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary  and theft (of the felonious types).

Federal prison stats for the percentage of prisoners convicted of violent crimes is at 8%; property crimes at 6%; drugs at 51%; and public order crimes at 36%.

State’s focus more toward social predators.  Violent convictees in state prison stand at 52%; property crimes at 21%; drugs at 20%; and public order crimes at 7%.

The main sources for this article are the BJS, the BOP, the PEW Center, the Census Bureau, and a variety of Internet citations.

Conservative Daydreams...

US jails hold a most current daily average of 767,620 prisoners; state prisons 1,404,053 (or more); the federal prison system 210,039 (as of March 3, 2011); Territorial prisons 13,576; Indian Country jails 2,135; juvenile facilities 92,845; and military facilities 1,652.

ICE targets immigrants.  With secret locations and few reporting requirements, it’s difficult to pin down their numbers.  As of last May, they had 11,226 detainees on record.  My best guesstimate would be 10-times that number today.

Then too, we have a plethora of foreign and secret prisons here and around the world.  A list of sites and populations from WikiLeaks and US gov’t whistleblower sources would read far beyond this format.

Over 30 different nations cooperate in holding US prisoners secretly and otherwise.  The US military has over 20 prisons in Afghanistan, and private contractors even more.  And this doesn’t count the CIA’s black sites.  There are prisoners held on ships at sea and even on land-based cruise ships.

Some sources cite 20,000 such prisoners, but again, I’d estimate 10-times-or-more that number.

The total (without adding all the secret stuff) is:  2,503,145 verified prisoners in the American gulag.  The total number of felons by count in the US under the direct supervision of the criminal justice system, which includes jails, prisons, parole and probation, is right at 7.5 million.

The unknown number is how many felons all-toll are there in the US?  (Many convicted felons either don’t serve time and/or have completed it.)  I think a reasonable estimate would be double the active number…probably much more.  So let’s say a total of 15 million.

Of course, we don’t exist in a vacuum.  We come from certain communities (where most of us have normal status and to which we will return), and we have families.  I guess a low-ball of 3-each concerned family, friends and supporters.  That comes to a total of some 60 million souls who have a direct interest in our welfare and in reforming the criminal justice system (counting ourselves).

That 60 million—or whatever the totals are—represents every single demographic one can imagine.  Age, sex, orientation, race, class, and mental and political disposition.

What spark will it take to ignite their focus, concern and action?  Such a mass cannot be created without consequences.

Socio-political focus on mindless authoritative discipline and cyclic abuse by retribution & punishment always brings about destruction sooner or later.

What we seek is justice & reconciliation.  When prisoners and felons reconcile with our respective communities, and vice-versa (as once was the raison d’être for the civil rights movement), such a force will be irrepressible.

               Dr. Publico 

Category: Prison Stats
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  1. […] to focus my analyses on issues related to the criminal justice system.  And I believe—given the mass base of prisoners and our families, over 50 million—that we’ll be a significant force in any future democratic […]

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