Why do you hate prisoners?

Mike Epifani has a compelling piece on antipathy towards prisoners:

Over 6.74 million people are supervised by US adult correctional systems, and tens of millions of people have a criminal record. And to many, their rights don’t matter because “they must have done something wrong.”

Let’s start with the fact that “we spend billions to keep 480,000 people locked in cages without a conviction.” And that abhorrent criminal justice system practice is the tip of the iceberg — this is getting worse, not better. Jeff Sessions just recently reinstated the practice of allowing law enforcement to seize personal property without a conviction or even an indictment.

Did you know that around 95% of convictions are obtained through guilty pleas, and, more specifically, through plea bargaining? That means that only 5% of prisoners receive a fair trial. Most of us have seen it on television: the prosecutor comes in, says that if they really want to take it to trial, they’ll push for the maximum sentencing, but if they plead guilty, they’ll be charged with a lesser crime or receive a shorter sentence. Given the fact that many people who are arrested do not have the resources (time and money) to feel confident in their legal counsel’s chances in front of a jury, they’ll go with the guilty plea just to be on the safer side, guilty or not.

So, if the punishment really fits the crime, what is the justification behind making a deal to release them sooner?
Or does the punishment not fit the crime?
Or are they admitting that, in large part, prisons fail to rehabilitate?
Or is there often not enough evidence to lock up a cash cow (inmate), so intimidation tactics are required?

If you argue that the prosecution wouldn’t even bother proceeding with the process if the evidence wasn’t there to make a conviction…okay…but 95%? Only 5% of people convicted of a crime enact their 6th Amendment right to a trial in front of a jury of their peers? That seems right to you? Well, it’s not right. In fact, prosecutorial strategies when someone decides to take it to trial can be downright abhorrent, including blatantly adding additional charges.

Read more here.



  1. johnson catman says

    Did you miss a link on “Read more here.”?

    The “adding additional charges” link is frightening. I see the convictions were overturned last year. Good on the appeals court.

    I suppose that J.B. Sessions thinks overcharging is a good policy. Fucking republicans.

  2. Chancellor says

    Um, ‘cuz their label implies that they did something bad(I may not know what) and they live in a box(surely they deserve to be there, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there!) so they deserve my contempt. They also wear orange(I loathe orange.)

  3. says

    Because they’re overwhelmingly people of color – duh. Not that I’m racist or anything, it’s just a statistical fact that POCs are more likely to be criminals. Which is why it’s just sense for police to spend more time patrolling areas where POCs live and to pull over or otherwise “interact with” POCs more frequently. By the same token, it’s only natural for judges and juries to be more likely to convict POCs – because they’re more likely to commit a crime. Which is what makes them criminals. QED. /s

  4. says

    The whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing is a lie. It is clearly unconstitutional to lock someone up for months because they can’t make bail, before their trial. What’s that “punishment before trial”? Jurisdictions that cannot offer a fair and speedy trial ought not to be allowed to hold suspects longer than a week unless the defendant has asked for additional time to build their defense.

    A lot of this systemic overload is a result of (what else?) the war on drugs, which is basically “the war on minorities” Natch. The whole system is a joke. Light it with a copy of the constitution and stand back and watch it burn to the ground.

    PS – social contractarians take note: how can someone possibly ‘agree’ to this sort of arrangement?

  5. Siobhan says


    A lot of this systemic overload is a result of (what else?) the war on drugs

    A few people I’ve discussed American politics with are taken aback by my utter contempt for the Republican party. I’ve tried to make them realize that their politics have become strictly nihilist since Nixon. It’s not like this came out of the blue–“post-truth” has been part and parcel of GOP politics for god damn decades, and Canadian conservatives are taking their cue from them.