The Prison/Rehab Racket

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The Prison/Rehab Racket

Postby budman » Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:59 pm

The Pasaden Star-News wrote:
More California prisons? Don't build them

The Pasadena Star-News
By Fred E. Foldvary
July 3, 2006


AS long as California's prison population keeps growing, the state has to provide more prison facilities. In his State of the State address, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for the construction of two new prisons to provide space for 83,000 new prisoners over the next 10 years. The governor declared, "We must keep the people safe. I say build it."

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (the prison guards' union) also advocates building two new prisons. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuez has initiated legislation (AB 2902) to issue bonds to pay for the expansion of California's prisons. These bonds would not require voter approval.

The state's prisons are indeed crammed to overcapacity. The Department of Corrections has reported that the 33 state prisons are overcrowded by 188 percent. Some inmates have to sleep in hallways, gyms and classrooms. Overcrowding in prisons makes prisoners more frustrated, inducing greater violence. Prisoners join gangs for protection, and the gangs threaten the staff. Crowding also spreads disease. Already overburdened, the state's prison medical system was placed in federal receivership in 2005.

California's spending for prisons this year will already be greater than $8 billion to confine over 170,000 prisoners. State spending on prisons has zoomed by 65 percent during the past three years. With the state budget already in deep deficit, more bonds for more prisons will increase the state's interest payments, which eventually have to be paid from taxes.

The alternative to an increase in this public expense is to reduce the prison population. One reason for the growth of the prison population has been the Three Strikes law and mandatory sentencing guidelines. Such rigid sentencing requirements imprison criminals whose third crime is not proportional to the punishment. The discretion of judges can be faulty, but rigidity is not an effective remedy, as it creates its own injustice and social costs. A reform of these sentencing rules would reduce the prison population. Also, as suggested by the prison guards' union, the state could have an early release for prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Another way to reduce the prison population is to reform the parole system - to develop alternatives to prison for the thousands of parolees who violate conditions of parole, often for minor technical violations.

These reforms would help, but they do not confront the fundamental problem with California's criminal law: It turns victimless acts into crimes. A marijuana grower and user who does not drive under the influence of mind-altering substances does not harm others. He or she is no more a threat to society than a person who legally consumes alcohol. Decriminalization would eliminate the expense of catching, trying and incarcerating drug makers and users and would also reduce thefts by addicts.

Other victimless acts that have been criminalized by California state and local law include prostitution, gambling and nudity. In 2005, some women removed their tops in a political protest called "Breasts Not Bombs" in Sacramento. The California Highway Patrol warned that baring their breasts could result in their arrest and inclusion in the state's list of sex offenders. Officials at the Sacramento County District Attorney's office also pondered whether to list the women as sex offenders. The D.A. did not file charges, but the threat to do so puts women in California at a risk of being put in prison and listed as sex offenders just for going topless even as a political protest. Does this law keep the public safe?

Drug use, prostitution and gambling are crimes only because they offend the cultural values and beliefs of some persons. Yet there are many offensive acts and depictions, such as violence and T-shirts with crude messages, that are not crimes. In a truly free society, speech that is displeasing is nevertheless permitted, as the test of liberty is the tolerance of acts that some find disagreeable. If we truly want liberty, we have to tolerate activities that we may find disgusting but that do not involve force or fraud.

The decriminalization of these acts would reduce the prison population and also free up police resources to focus on theft and violent crimes. The governor well said that we must keep the people safe. This goal can be accomplished better by criminalizing only acts that coercively harm others. Californians should tell their representatives, "Don't build them." Instead, release and don't arrest those who have committed only victimless acts.

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<i>Fred E. Foldvary teaches economics at Santa Clara University, where he is also an associate of the Civil Society Institute. His main areas of research include public finance, public choice, social ethics, and the economics of real estate.</i>

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Tools for Education and Awareness on the War on Drugs

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:51 pm

PRWeb.com wrote:
Sunset Holding Co., Partners with Sacred Cow Productions to Help Deliver Tools for Education and Awareness on the War on Drugs

<span cass=postbigbold>Kevin Booth's American Drug War: The Last White Hope to be released on DVD May 27th</span>

New York (Billboard Publicity Wire) March 26, 2008 -- The new controversial film AMERICAN DRUG WAR, premiered on Showtime March 5th, and is creating a storm of controversy surrounding the content. Filmmaker Kevin Booth lost his mother to alcoholism, a friend to nicotine, and a brother to prescription pills.

The Sustainable Action Network's goal is to raise further awareness about the effects of privately run prison systems. Don Lichterman, the founder of the Sustainable Action Network says that "once prisons became privatized in America, and started trading on Wall Street every day, the facts show gross examples that in order for these prisons to make money every year; they need to fill their facilities." The prisons need to be filled with people in order create profits and revenues for these private companies. Lichterman then says that "Kevin (Booth) spells this out in such an easy to understand way in his documentary film that audiences will be captivated."

There are not enough rapists and murderers to fill the hundreds of private prisons located in many states in the US. The "trickle down" effect is a natural one considering the main bi-laws of any corporation is to create revenues for that company. Since there are only so many people that commit violent crimes, the incarceration of non-violent offenders using drugs becomes an easy target for the criminal justice system.

The staff at the Barack Obama campaign has recognized this failure by answering Booth saying they "will review drug sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the blind and counterproductive sentencing of non-violent offenders." Obama also supports the use of medical marijuana calling the War on Drugs a "failure."

This issue is especially relevant today. During the Bill Clinton Presidency, millions of people were incarcerated into the prison system. Hundreds of private prisons were also built all over the United States during that span of time. The documentary film cleverly allows the former drug czar Barry McCaffrey to tell that story, who under the Clinton administration arrested over four million people for using marijuana. Those non-violent drug offenders are still in privately owned, highly profitable prisons today.

If you want a clear and concise look at this issue, the Kevin Booth award winning documentary is the perfect film. "This documentary needs to be available for the public to see," says Lichterman. (Kevin) Booth will utilize (Don) Lichterman's resources with Sunset Records (www.SunsetLabelGroup.com) and the Sunset Home Visual Entertainment (SHE) (www.SunsetHomeVisual.com) Distribution system. Sacred Cow is distributed by the exceptional Indy Film and Documentary Distribution Company, Passion River (www.PassionRiver.com). Currently, the American Drug War film is playing on Showtime all month and is also available at Showtime On-Demand.

This current rotation and future DVD release is coming off the heels of an unprecedented FOUR (4) consective festival wins for best Documentary Film. Filmmaker Kevin Booth spent over four years seeking the answer to why three of the closest people in his life, had all died in ways that made him think about the "War On Drugs" and whether it is working in the United States. Booth interviewed world leaders and activist Ralph Nader, libertarian Ron Paul, comedian (and non violent drug offender) Tommy Chong, the proclaimed originator of crack cocaine Ricky Ross (from federal Prison), former drug czar Barry McCaffrey, a former CIA Agent, a State Senator, County Sheriffs, Top Ranking Police Officers, lawyers, incarcerated prisoners and judges that stand on the frontlines of the war on drugs.

Prison jobs are not limited to cleaning highways, parks and making license plates. Many prisons field telephone calls and some telemarketing is done from prison facilities in the United States. Lichterman then asks, "When was the last time we had people working for other people for pennies or no money?" Lichterman ends by saying his "point is that if you are purposely filling these facilities with non violent people just to have them at capacity every year, and then that same system in turns has these same people do various work labor, then that is a failure".

Just as Lichterman was astounded by finding this out by watching Booth's documentary, the answers Booth heard on his journey shocked him over the past few years. The AMERICAN DRUG WAR: The Last White Hope examines the longest and costliest so called war in the U.S. history.

Starring in interviews is Tommy Chong, Freeway Ricky Ross, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Mike Ruppert, General Barry McCaffrey Celerino Castillo III, Judge James Gray, T Rodgers, Joe Rogan, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader , and Jello Biafra. For promotion copies of the DVD film and for press related issues, please contact Jennifer Billings (Jennifer.Billings @ SunsetHolding.com) and / or Kevin Booth (kevinbooth @ adelphia.net)

Check the Showtime listings for the AMERICAN DRUG WAR film which premiered this month on Showtime.

The Showtime Network has also made this important film available at Showtime On Demand for everyone to order at any time during the week.

Starting on 04/20/2008, the American Drug War: The Last White Hope DVD will be made available exclusively at www.SacredCow.com, the www.SunsetainableActionNetwork.org web site and at the Sunset Music Store. The Passion River Film Distribution Company will be servicing retail for the DVD on the official street date of 5/27/2008. The DVD is filled with over three hours of bonus footage.

<span class=postbigbold>About Sunset Holding Co.:</span>
Sunset is one of the leading independent record labels and entertainment companies in the world. The Sunset Group of Entertainment Companies, and its global operation, acquire, develop, and distribute major music recording artists, home visual entertainment products, online-digital entertainment technologies and music and filmed entertainment worldwide. Sunset's four major divisions are the Sunset Distributed Label Group, the Sunset Strategic Marketing and Licensing Division, the Radio Sunset Network and the Sunset Filmed Entertainment Division. All corporate information can be found at www.SunsetHolding.com. The Sunset Home Visual Entertainment (SHE) web site is www.SunsetHomeVisual.com.

<span class=postbigbold>About Sustainable Action Network</span>
Started in 2007, the Sustainable Action Network is set up to formulate laws to govern the way we live on this planet. Founded by Don Lichterman, this organization is set up to implement laws for corporations to follow ethical guidelines for how they run their businesses. Laws for a Sustainable society will protect the worlds eco system and these laws will create the advanced understanding, the development and the implemention of international sustainable laws. The office web site is at www.SustainableActionNetwork.org.

<span class=postbold>About sacred Cow</span>
In the early 80's a core group of friends consisting of young, idealistic philosophic musicians and comedians decided to stop waiting for Hollywood to call and produced a weekly TV show for Austin cable access channel 10. Over twenty years later Sacred Cow still works long and hard to distance itself from any sort of organized movement. Founder and Producer Kevin Booth started out in the music business in the late 80s when his band Year Zero signed a major contract with Chrysalis records. While living in Texas, Kevin went on to produce several records, music videos and short films. Today many people know Kevin from his work with the late great comedian Bill Hicks. The official Sacred Cow Productions web site is www.SacredCow.com.

<span class=postbold>About Passion River</span>
Since 1998, Passion River has been devoted to acquiring, distributing, and representing independent film projects for both the U.S. and foreign markets. Passion River offers "indie," documentary, and art house filmmakers with customizable modes of distribution and co-branding opportunities to effectively reach their niche audiences. Passion River attends various film markets such as American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA, Cannes Film Market in Cannes, France, and VSDA in Las Vegas, NV to actively showcase independent films to worldwide home video and broadcast distributors. Passion Rivers official web site is www.PassionRiver.com.

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