GOP on mass incarceration: ‘it’s all good’

Howling mad Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is frequently referred to as “America’s dumbest congressman,” with justifiable reason. Gohmert told Fox News guest host Ed Henry, ‘It’s A Real Shame’ That People Want To End Mass Incarceration Of Non-Violent Offenders:

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) questions U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in WashingtonRep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) over the weekend lashed out at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for calling to end mass incarceration in the United States.

Last week, Clinton had broken with policies of her husband’s presidency and called to “end the era of mass incarceration.” Since 1983, the number of black men in U.S. prisons have increased 231 percent, compared 198 percent for white men.

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When it came to non-violent drug offenders, Gohmert argued that it was a “real shame” that Democrats would not want them to be incarcerated.

“But I can’t help but wonder,” Gohmert added. “There are Democrats that have worked real hard to make sure felons, in some places, can start voting. Maybe [Hillary Clinton] needs their votes.”

If Louie Gohmert is “America’s dumbest congressman,” then what is Willard “Mittens” Romney’s excuse? Mitt Romney: America Doesn’t Have An Incarceration Problem:

romney say anythingDays after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laid out proposals for criminal justice reform at Columbia University, former Republican candidate Mitt Romney took time to criticize the presidential hopeful’s comments about Baltimore and mass incarceration.

In her speech, Clinton argued that “without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be in poverty,” before diving into the unemployment rate of formerly incarcerated persons, and the exorbitant costs of state prisons. She called for the United States to “end the era of mass incarceration,” and discussed the failures of mandatory minimum sentences, the need to invest in probation and drug diversion programs, and the impact of high incarceration rates on African American communities in particular.

Yet, during a Fox and Friends segment, Romney attacked Clinton and even denied that mass incarceration is a real problem:

I was concerned that her comments smacked of politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there. When she said we’re not going to have mass incarcerations in the future, what is she referring to? We don’t have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel. They’re given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes?” he asked.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, there are 208,859 federal inmates, slightly below a national high of 219,218 in 2013. On December 31, 2013, there were 1.57 million inmates in federal, state, and county prisons and jails. According to some estimates the number of people behind bars is closer to 2.4 million (the 2013 figure excludes many individuals who served short county jail sentences).

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, the United States has 5 percent of the World’s population, but nearly 25 percent of its incarcerated population.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker checked out Clinton’s speech, and awarded it a rare Geppetto checkmark for accuracy. Does the United States really have 5 percent of the world’s population and one quarter of the world’s prisoners?:

“It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.”

– Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), speech on criminal justice at Columbia University, April 29, 2015

During Clinton’s recent speech on criminal justice, she cited a widely quoted statistic about the share of prisoners in the United States compared to other countries. [S]he is not the only 2016 presidential candidate to have used this comparison. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in his criminal justice proposals with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also uses this figure.

These two politicians are among countless others who have used this statistic for several years. Yet it sounds dubious and disproportionate. Is it accurate that the U.S. accounts for about 5 percent of the world population, but about 25 percent of the world’s prison population?

The Facts

The United States population was 319 million as of July 4, 2014, according to the U.S. Census. That accounts for about 4.4 percent of the approximately 7.1 billion world population, which confirms the first part of this claim.

The second part comes from the World Prison Population List, published by the U.K.-based International Centre for Prison Studies. It is considered the go-to source for the breakdown of global prison populations. The most recent report, the 10th edition, used data from 222 countries from September 2011 through September 2013.

There were 2.24 million prisoners in the United States as of Dec. 31, 2011. That accounted for about 22 percent of the global prison population (10.2 million). About half of the prisoners in the world were in the United States, Russia or China.

So the numbers check out, give or take a few percentage points. (Clinton, we should note, was careful to say “less than five percent” and “almost 25 percent.”)

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The numbers are more startling using a different measure in the report: the prison population rate. Criminologists say this is a reliable way to compare incarceration practices between countries.

The United States had the highest prison population rate in the world, at 716 per 100,000 people. More than half of the countries and territories had rates below 150 per 100,000. The United States had a much higher rate compared to other developed countries: about six times Canada’s rate, between six to nine times Western European countries, and between two to 10 times Northern European countries.

Decades ago, the United States’s prison systems set a model for European countries. Then the U.S. trends reversed, and incarceration rates soared. Many factors led to this increase, said experts who advocate overhauling the criminal justice and sentencing system.

Public policies enacted in the 1970s through the 1990s led to stricter federal sentencing laws, more enforcement and more imprisonment. Mandatory sentencing laws also contributed to longer sentences. These policies were intended to reduce crime by keeping people behind bars, or deterring them from crime through the possibility of lengthy prison terms. Prison also became a means to treat a host of mental and physical health issues and drug abuse, said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

In recent years, more states have decided to move away from the “get-tough-on-crime” approach. Instead, states are trying to reduce prison population, reclassifying high- and low-risk offenders, and using community-based resources for lower-risk offenders.

Phillip Bump at the Washington Post breaks it down with charts and graphs. Hillary Clinton hopes to undo the mass incarceration system.

It should be noted that both Louie Gohmert and Willard “Mittens” Romney appeared on FAUX News, whose business model is to scare old white racists with tales of scary Black people, who are all “thugs” and criminals at FAUX Nation. Mass incarceration is their answer to Black people voting and threatening their continued dominance of white privilege in America. FAUX News is transparent in its race baiting news coverage.

3 responses to “GOP on mass incarceration: ‘it’s all good’

  1. Just out of curiosity, who referees to him as “America’s Dumbest Congressman”?

    • I hope you are not expecting a response to that question. It sounds like an AZbm special name calling excercize to me. If there is one thing he loves doing more than anything else, it is adding demeaning terms to his enemys names. He considers it extremely clever. And yes, I know that most of us left that behind when we graduated from middle school, but not all of us did so.

  2. How about mass incarceration for republican tea bagger saboteurs and seditionists. Remember its kent state day 45 anniversary may 4 1970.