Why US Prisons Are So Overcrowded

Tyler Durden's picture

On the day that California's Governor Jerry Brown asks federal judges to lift an order to release prisoners to reduce overcrowding, this brief clip seemed extremely appropriate when considering just why it is that the US prison population is so high (as we noted most recently here). Professor Daniel D'Amico provides some insightful color, noting that fully 24 percent of inmates in U.S. prisons are non-violent drug offenders. The drug war has been adding to a growing U.S. prison population for the past 40 years. Today, the United States holds more human beings in prisons than any other country, both as a percentage of the population and in counting total numbers. The war on drugs has led to significant increases in the U.S. prison population and he argues that perhaps this is an ineffective way to address drug use in America. An interesting dilemma on the day when another 'freedom', that of gun ownership, is up for potential prohibition.

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We are all prisoners to this fukked up system now aren't we?

fuu's picture

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.

DaveyJones's picture

so where's my ping-pong table?

donsluck's picture

You should only deride the prison experience if you've been there. It's like the Tea Partiers saying taxes are torture.

LFMayor's picture

They're overcrowded because no one has seen fit to implement my revolutionary Involuntary Organ Donor program as of yet.  You see, once IOD is enacted, those corneas, livers, kidneys and bicuspids currently being wasted in the bodies of Non-Useful Beings will be harvested and given to deserved individuals.  That little girl waiting on a healty liver may in fact be the very person who gives us FTL (faster than light travel) and gets us off this rock. Who better to ensure her productive future than some filthy pedophile?

So call your representatives now, and demand that they support the IOD program. 

They sought to commit crimes against society, now they will recompense the very people that they chose to oppress, so that Justice may be served.

This has been a community service message from the Lunatic Fringe.


LFMayor's picture

I see we have at least one NAMBLA operative out there.

HurricaneSeason's picture

Sounds more like MENGELE to me.

LFMayor's picture

You just dropped that Nazi trump card, didn't you?  Ace in the hole, that.

HurricaneSeason's picture

It just sounds a little more scary than the crackheads. I didn't think there was anything more scary or unpredictable than the crackheads, but I haven't heard of them cutting out body parts and selling them on Ebay, yet.

Matt's picture

And after it is implemented, you will be incarcerated for Jaywalking because some police officer has an organ quota to fill.

Also, stem cells produced from your own fat cells to produce same-DNA replacement organs so you don't have anti-rejection drugs and have a suppressed immune system for the rest of your life, seems superior to using previously-owned organs from junkies.

secret_sam's picture

Hep C and HIV are just added bonuses.  Let the free market set the price on organs, and may the buyer beware.

Sophist Economicus's picture

Let's be clear, these drug offenders are non-tax paying entities that are the backbone of the huge underground money laundering/black-market -- that is the no-no our beloved government will not tolerate, EVER

buzzsaw99's picture

drug offenders are non-tax paying entities

so are corporations

A Lunatic's picture

So are Federal employees.....

A Nanny Moose's picture

Let's draw the battle lines where they shoud be drawn. Between the producer class, and the parasite class.

Matt's picture

Does a crack dealer count as a free market entreprenuerial producer, or a parasite on society, taking advantage of the weak?

A Nanny Moose's picture

How is the crack dealer taking advantage of anybody? He is providing a product/service to someone who desires that product/service.

The presence of more exotic drugs/forms of drugs can be traced to the prohibition itself. If it can't be picked from the closest weed garden, then users circumvent the law.

The only ones taking advantage of people are the Drug companies, by eliminating competition for their failed products.

Matt's picture

I don't think you understand how addiction works. An addict does not choose the product. Here specifically we are talking about refined drugs rather than weaker plant forms, as well as prescription medication.

Whether a person gets an oxycontin treatment for pain from an injury or uses cocaine or heroine once by choice, once they are addicted, their ability to choose not to use may be virtually eliminated.


Umh's picture

Taxing corporations is a flat tax. I suggest we only tax corporations.

seek's picture

Actually, I would bet if you did a real analysis the drug dealers are tax positive to an economy (I'm not saying they don't impact the economy negatively here, however.) Presumably someone who is otherwise unemployed that becomes a drug distributor is earning a profit from this, and those profits are spent in the local economy, much of which is taxed.

What's not getting taxed is their income. This is one of the reasons sales taxes are so attractive to economies with low income tax compliance rates. Of course in the US the governments want both.

HurricaneSeason's picture

With half of the country not paying any income taxes, it seems like the average drug dealer in prison wouldn't owe any income tax anyway. Lots of undeclared cash like restaurant income and waitress tips.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Think of all those jobs created in the PIC, and LEO careers. The drug counselors, lawyers, gun manufacturers.

To your point, I would counter with the economic uptick in 1934, right after repeal of The Volstead Act in 1933. I would also offer the second dip in TGD 1.0 correlates nicely with the Marijuana Tax Act (among other taxes imposed at the time). Not that these are the only levers pulled at the time, but it does beg the question about individual liberty, and economic activity.

dick cheneys ghost's picture

The whole country is a black-underground market. Congress sets the example.

fourchan's picture

the failed drug war will be the label pasted on our times by a future successful america.  a failed american state will be caused in part by it.

-1Delta's picture



in colorado i can now smoke a joint (legally)..... but may lose my "right" to own a gun.

But honestly... .i could always smoke a joint.... and i will ALWAYS have a gun : )

facicts hypocitical fucks



A Lunatic's picture

Remember the Prohibition Mother Fuckers.............

Yen Cross's picture

 A Lunatic, we all appreciate your enthusiasm. Keep up the good work!

Racer's picture

So why do the banksters not get prosecuted for laundering drug money? Because they want to keep the drugs racket going so they can imprison the sheeple for cheap labour for corporations...  and they can't take time off work either....

HurricaneSeason's picture

I think there is a $2 trillion heroin business in Afghanistan for the last 10 years and the banks and military own it, along with the roads, airports and airspace. When we leave the Taiban will burn the poppy fields and some of them are 25 square miles and can be seen from space. There are many dead people and addict prisoners from those fields and they supply 90% of the worlds heroin.

sangell's picture

No, they were convicted of drug crimes because that is the easiest charge for prosecutors to win convictions on. Most are low lifes who have a series of prior arrests for drug possession, drug dealing, theft, and other charges. Since it is far easier to obtain proof ( they have the drugs on them) than it is to get witnesses to testify to drug sales, theft, robbery etc they go down on the possession charge much as Al Capone went down on income tax evasion.

HurricaneSeason's picture

I used to live in a prison community. They had 2 plus an old "historic" one that they would have halloween celebrations for the kids at and wanted to turn into an amusement park: Prison World, bring the whole family. Funding couldn't be found for some reson. There were really good paying jobs in a community that had none and they would always scream for more prisons. Lots of overtime and you got to be in that prison a lot. One of their prisons may close this year due to state funding, it will be heartbreaking.

legorf's picture

Legalize pot, crank up tax revenues doing so and get rid of the national debt instead of financing criminals.


Did alcool prohibition worked out in the 30's? Oh wait, I forgot, these are politicians, ideology is way more important than rationality.


Gazooks's picture

debt's no problem


it's a means


to confiscation


of freedom


control, bitchez


a state of mind


in a cell


or out






DaveyJones's picture

24 percent of inmates are non-violent drug offenders

but 100 percent of CIA agents are violent drug offenders (at least with production).

lunaticfringe's picture

Get ready assholes...there are more of us coming.

LongOfTooth's picture

Is that just another way of saying "grab your ankles"?


imapopulistnow's picture

Step One:  Make an easy-to-use form of heroin in a pill.

Step Two: Lie and claim that it is hardly addictive so the FDA will approve for wide use.

Step Three: Hire VIP politicos to "consultant contracts", set up a new "pain management" industry, "educate" doctors on the profitibility that comes with repeat (aka addicted) patient visits.

Step Four: Employ K Street and all of the comparables in the State Capitols.

Step Five: Those who do not overdose and die, will go to jail either for using, dealing, or stealing to pay for using.

Step Six: Jails are full.

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

FDA approval part will be easy these days. If you invent a new food additive chemical, all you need to show is it's "generally accepted as safe". There are law firms who provide just such a service as independent third parties who say "yup it's safe".

Look up brominated vegetable oil. Banned in Europe and Asia, but yep included in US soft drinks for these very reasons. Nice!

Ballin D's picture

Heroin is an opiate.  Most pain killers today are opiates and basically heroin in a pill with slightly varying strengths and modes of action.  We're long past the FDA approval point and looking at step 7

Yen Cross's picture

 let's stick to the Spirit, not the writ. of the post. P{oint being, people are being Incarcerated to gain wealth. (not worthless fiat)...

  It's about wealth, Eg; land, resources, transportation, geographic advantages, ect... GRABS

  Spear tips or Viagra/ It's exactly the  same.

fuu's picture

May your new year be profitable sir.

EverythingsSuper's picture

Don't be stupid Mr. Loyala Univ. professor. You're too stoned to understand that if the War on Drugs be stopped, just like the War on Terror. The police state power would severely weaken, the militarization of the regime would lessen and a whole lot of enforcement grants/lobbies/monies would be lost. That's something you don't make up by scraping your sensimilla buds Mr. Professor. That's something you create problem, reaction, solutions for with raw power, something that few Americans will have very soon!

-Your local ZOG official.

ekm's picture

I recall that alcohol prohibition during the 30s went pretty well. Consumption of illegal alcohol was higher than prior to prohibition.


Now, what do you think it's going to happen if guns were to be banned?

Yen Cross's picture

 EKM guns aren't consumable, mind altering substances. 

  Guns are protection, just like spears for  { Neanderthals } were. ;)  I didn't junk you.

Jack Burton's picture

We are no longer free people, we only are allowed to live outside of the government prison system if we are able to track and obey the thousands of laws that exist, many of which are of dubious value. Prisons have become profit centers. For the privately owned prisons, the more thrown in jail the higher the profits. For corporations and small business, getting contracts with the prison systems for goods or services is highly profitable and beats competing in the free market. Even unions have gotten is on the action, as prison guard unions lobby heavily for stiff jail sentences for minor offences and for new laws, especially drug laws that can trap citizens and get them sent to jail where prison guards get huge paychecks and benefits for holding Americans hostage.

To sum up, putting Americans in prison profits many. And it gives politicians great satisfaction to wield great power over citizens.

Also, one of the biggest lobbiests for manditory prison for minor drug offences is the alcohol distilling and botteling industry. This is a proven, but little know fact. The brewers lobby politicans hard for making every substance but alcohol illegal. Check into it, you will find this has been true since at least the late 1930's.