Treating Medical Problems with Incarceration

Treating Medical Problems with Incarceration
Posted by CN Staff on March 10, 2008 at 09:49:48 PT
By Paul F. Campos, Syndicated Columnist
Source: Metrowest Daily News
USA -- If you knew nothing about Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama other than that Clinton is a 60-year-old white woman and Obama is a 46-year-old black man, you could still calculate the odds that each was in prison.It won't come as any surprise that someone like Obama is, in this crude comparison, more likely to be found behind bars than someone like Clinton. What should shock people is how much more likely we are to incarcerate a 46-year-old black man than a 60-year-old white woman.
Here's one way of picturing the answer: During football games, the University of Michigan's stadium hosts about 111,000 people. If you filled the place with randomly selected 60-year-old white women, around 10 of them would turn out to be prison inmates. If you did the same with 46-year-old black men, about 5,500 would be current residents of our prisons and jails.In other words, if we took into account only race, gender and age, Obama's chances of being in prison would be 550 times higher than Clinton's. Here's a good question for a presidential debate: "Do you think 46-year-old black men are 550 times more likely to deserve to be in prison than 60-year-old white women?"I derived these statistics from a report published by the Pew Center last week. The report got a lot of media attention when it revealed that one out of every 100 American adults is in prison. That's startling enough, but not nearly as shocking as the fact that more than 10 percent of black men between the ages of 20 and 40 are incarcerated.But of course other factors also play a powerful role in determining whom we choose to lock up and for how long. The most important of these is socioeconomic class. Poor people go to prison, while people with money, with rare exceptions, don't.The extent to which we ignore that reality is highlighted by a glaring omission in the Pew Center's otherwise excellent analysis: There literally isn't a word in it about poverty. One would never guess, from reading the report, that a key factor in determining whether you go to prison and for how long is if you use powder cocaine rather than crack, or if you rob the U.S. Treasury instead of a gas station, or if you are represented by a team of private lawyers rather than a single overworked public defender.I assume the report's failure to mention such matters involves a strategic silence. It's hard enough to get Americans to focus on the amazing explosion in the size of our prisons (we have 400 percent more people behind bars than in 1980) without upsetting people further by pointing to the role that class bias plays in these developments.We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the prison population continues to grow, despite a plunge in crime rates over the past 15 years. Nearly 1 million Americans are behind bars for non-violent crimes - many of which are "crimes" only because of what political scientist Scott Lemieux has labeled "the war on (some people who use some) drugs."The report does mention some encouraging developments. Even Texas, where voters have had an almost unlimited appetite for paying taxes to build and staff more prisons, is finding the costs of locking people up so high that it's beginning to experiment with alternatives to prison.The most rational alternative would be to stop treating drug use as a criminal offense. A small minority of users of mind-altering substances become addicted to those substances. They should be able to get medical help for what ought to be considered a medical problem, instead of one of the main justifications for keeping 2.3 million Americans behind bars.Paul F. Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado and can be reached at:  Paul.Campos Colorado.eduSource: Metrowest Daily News (MA)Author: Paul F. Campos, Syndicated ColumnistPublished: March 10, 2008Copyright: 2008 MetroWest Daily NewsContact: mdnletters cnc.comWebsite: Articles:Prison Nation Ratio of Americans in Prison Prison Industry: Big Business or Slavery? 
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Comment #8 posted by rchandar on March 11, 2008 at 10:52:39 PT:
they've got that one like a carrot-and-stick. There were several ads and infosheets done by substance abuse researchers dating back to the 1970s where they claimed that "one marijuana cigarette is as toxic as twenty tobacco cigarettes." 1990s anti-drug videos did the same: they showed as "evidence" lungs of pot smokers that were much more cloudy than those of people who smoked only tobacco.and yet, no conclusive evidence has ever proven that pot smoking causes cancer. Simple. It's never been proven, and probably never will. Strange how there's no database or thorough medical study that estimates how many pot smokers die of cancer. Very curious. And notice how few MJ smokers complain of cancer symptoms; that, too, is fishy. 250,000 Americans die of lung cancer every year; how many of them smoked pot? There's no study that even tries to examine this.In other words, the health card is an overplayed and underproven card. It is true, of course, that many MJ smokers also use tobacco. Also probably true is that if you're an MJ user, you shouldn't smoke "schwag," which is often preserved under dirt, left in trash cans, or preserved with chicken feathers. Schwag is probably harmful to your lungs because it does have contaminants; but clean green bud probably doesn't, unless it's been sprayed with pesticides. But cancer? No, though they've been "trying" to "prove" it for almost 40 years now. Anyways it has no basis in practice simply because very few MJ smokers will go through more than two or three cigarettes in a day, and/or may not smoke every day. I'm a cigarette smoker, pack a day; trust me, nicotine is much more addictive than THC. 
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Comment #7 posted by lombar on March 11, 2008 at 03:31:15 PT
Officially Heretics 
So the witch-hunt may continue. Unbelievable.
Vatican Creates New List of Deadly Sins
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 10, 2008 at 18:51:15 PT
John Tyler 
It's been an interesting day in the news. I think he came out against it. He doesn't seem like a very nice person. I'm glad he endorsed Clinton.
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on March 10, 2008 at 18:43:06 PT
slightly off topic
In the news
It seems that Gov. Spitzer of New York was caught up as a customer in an expensive prostitution ring. It’s been on the news all day. He said he was sorry he got caught etc., etc. Some are calling for him to resign. When NY recently debated medical cannabis, didn’t he come out against it? I can’t remember which way he was on that issue. If the Lt. Governor takes over, what is that guy’s position?  Will this help or hurt the medical cannabis issue in NY State? 
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Comment #4 posted by paul armentano on March 10, 2008 at 15:25:50 PT
How The Media Lies About Cannabis
According to recent media headlines, a new study proves that smoking pot
poses a greater cancer risk than smoking tobacco. Yet the study in question
actually says no such thing. So how’s this happen? I explore the issue
below. You can read the entire article at the url below or perhaps FOM will post.-- 
Paul Armentano -- Deputy Director
NORML | NORML Foundation----------------------------------------------------------------------------Outrageous Anti-Pot Lies: Media Uses Disgraceful Cancer Scare TacticsBy Paul Armentano, AlterNetPosted on March 10, 2008, Printed on March 10, 2008 Tuesday, January 29 -- three days prior to the
publication of a forthcoming study assessing marijuana
use and cancer -- Reuters News Wire published a story
under the headline: "Cannabis Bigger Cancer Risk Than
Tobacco." Mainstream media outlets across the globe
immediately followed suit. "Smoking One Joint is
Equivalent to 20 Cigarettes, Study Says," Fox News
declared, while Australia's ABC broadcast network
pronounced, "Experts Warn of Cannabis Cancer
'Epidemic.'If those headlines weren't attention-grabbing enough,
one only had to scan the stories' inflammatory copy --
much of which was lifted directly from press
statements provided by the study's lead author in
advance of its publication."While our study covers a relatively small group, it
shows clearly that long-term cannabis smoking
increases lung-cancer risk," chief investigator
Richard Beasley declared. Beasley went on to speculate
that pot "could already be responsible for one in 20
lung cancers diagnosed in New Zealand" before warning:
"In the near future we may see an 'epidemic' of lung
cancers connected with this new carcinogen."The mainstream press, always on the look out for a
good pot scare story, ran blindly with Beasley's
remarks. Apparently not a scribe among them felt any
need to confirm whether Beasley's study -- which
remained embargoed at the same time it was making
worldwide headlines -- actually said what was claimed.It didn't.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on March 10, 2008 at 12:28:36 PT
OT: That Vision Thing, Sin & Scientific Progress
Is Obama Tough Enough?
He's in Political Street Fight.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan, drugs and cloning new sins: Vatican.
March 10, 2008. 
VATICAN CITY: A Vatican official has listed drugs, pollution, genetic manipulations as well as social and economic injustices as new areas of sinful behavior., cloning among Vatican's 'new sins'.
'Social sins' represent a danger zone for the modern soul, powerful archbishop says.
Mar 10, 2008 08:56 AM. 
Ohilip Pullella, 
VATICAN CITY – Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. SMALL. | Business | The dance of the particles.
The dance of the particles.
McMaster researchers are at the bleeding edge of innovation in solar energy technologies.
Mar 10, 2008 04:30 AM. 
Tyler Hamilton, 
Energy Reporter.
HAMILTON–Gianluigi Botton fires up a computer and a mysterious image pops up on the screen. It doesn't look like much. A bunch of blurry white dots tightly packed together on a black background. Kind of like looking through a screen door on a blindingly sunny day. nanowires at root of solar's future.
Microscopic slivers, a thousand times thinner than a human hair, are excellent at trapping light, scientists discover.
Mar 10, 2008 04:30 AM. 
Tyler Hamilton, 
Energy Reporter.
HAMILTON–McMaster University professor Ray LaPierre holds up a thin wafer of silicon with a smooth, jet-black surface that, at first glance, looks like a typical solar cell.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 10, 2008 at 10:20:16 PT
Related Article From The Michigan Citizen
Now is The Time To Liberate Blacks from PrisonsMarch 10, 2008URL:
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on March 10, 2008 at 10:05:31 PT
great column, but......
it's interesting to me that we just can't face the problem straight-on....the group that's being persecuted here really isn't blacks, Latinos, young or old's the people that choose cannabis or other substances for intoxication over alcohol.It's really that simple, isn't it? Somehow we are trapped in this model where the only prejudices we recognize are ethnic or gender. If we can't see the real problem, we'll never fix anything. All illegal drugs combined kill only about 20,000 people per year, for alcohol and tobacco the number is over 500,000.And yet even this reform-minded guy can't state the problem for what it really is: the Drug War is wrong and the some of the worst outright discrimination and scapegoating this country has ever seen.We seem to be trapped in this state where only problems can only be solved, and even talked about, in terms of discrimination against ethnic groups or women.That's a big reason why the fight against global warming is so hard to get going in this country. It's evils are not based on racism or sexism.We can't talk about classism, either, in this country. It's hard to solve problems when you're wearing a blindfold and gagged, and that seems to be the current state of progressives in the USA.
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