Antonin Scalia once said that no one had ever been executed in the US for a crime they didn’t commit. Well, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review is devoting its entire spring issue to the case of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed by the state of Texas in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez. Their…
(4.) We give prison sentences for smoking marijuana, but not for billion-dollar fraud
About half of our world-leading prison population is in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Americans have also been arrested for handing out free food in a park. Mothers in Ohio and Connecticut were jailed for enrolling their kids in out-of-district schools. As of 2003 in California there were 344 individuals serving sentences of 25 years or more for shoplifting as a third offense, in many cases after two non-violent offenses.
How does the market deal with this steady tide of petty crime? It strives for more. The new trend of private prisons is dependent on maintaining a sizable prison population to guarantee profits, with no incentive for rehabilitation.
As the number of inmates has surged, the people who devastated countless American lives “get out of jail free.” The savings and loan fraud cost the nation between $300 billion and $500 billion, about 100 times more than the total cost of burglaries in 2010. The financial system bailout has already cost the country $3 trillion. Goldman Sachs packaged bad debt, sold it under a different name, persuaded ratings services to label it AAA, and then bet against their own financial creation by selling it short. Other firms accused of fraud and insider trading were Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, Countrywide Financial, and Wells Fargo. The New York Times reported in 2008 that the Justice Department had postponed the bribery or fraud prosecutions of over 50 corporations, choosing instead to enter into agreements involving fines and ‘monitoring’ periods.
“I am driven by two main philosophies, know more about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (via crookedindifference)