First – prisons The federal prison population is skyrocketing

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FIRST – prisons

The federal prison population is skyrocketing

James 14 – Crime policy analyst

(Nathan, “The Federal Prison Population Buildup: Overview, Policy Changes, Issues, and Options,” Congressional Research Service,

Since the early 1980s, there has been a historically unprecedented increase in the federal prison population. Some of the growth is attributable to changes in federal criminal justice policy during∂ the previous three decades. An issue before Congress is whether policy makers consider the rate∂ of growth in the federal prison population sustainable, and if not, what changes could be made to∂ federal criminal justice policy to reduce the prison population while maintaining public safety.∂ This report explores the issues related to the growing federal prison population.∂ The number of inmates under the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP’s) jurisdiction has increased from∂ approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to over 219,000 in FY2013. Since FY1980, the federal prison∂ population has increased, on average, by approximately 5,900 inmates each year. Data show that∂ a growing proportion of inmates are being incarcerated for immigration- and weapons-related∂ offenses, but the largest portion of newly admitted inmates are being incarcerated for drug offenses. Data also show that approximately 7 in 10 inmates are sentenced for five years or less.∂ Changes in federal sentencing and correctional policy since the early 1980s have contributed tothe rapid growth in the federal prison population. These changes include increasing the number of∂ federal offenses subject to mandatory minimum sentences; changes to the federal criminal code∂ that have made more crimes federal offenses; and eliminating parole.∂ There are several issues related to the growing federal prison population that might be of interest∂ to policy makers:∂ • The increasing number of federal inmates, combined with the rising per capita∂ cost of incarceration, has made it increasingly more expensive to operate and∂ maintain the federal prison system. The per capita cost of incarceration for all∂ inmates increased from $21,603 in FY2000 to $29,291 in FY2013. During this∂ same period of time, appropriations for the BOP increased from $3.668 billion to∂ $6.445 billion.∂ • The federal prison system is increasingly overcrowded. Overall, the federal∂ prison system was 36% over its rated capacity in FY2013, but high- and mediumsecurity∂ male facilities were operating at 52% and 45%, respectively, over rated∂ capacity. At issue is whether overcrowding might lead to more inmate∂ misconduct. The results of research on this topic have been mixed. One study∂ found that overcrowding does not affect inmate misconduct; but the BOP, based∂ on its own research, concluded that there is a significant positive relationship∂ between the two.∂ • The inmate-to-staff ratio has increased from 4.1 inmates per staff member in∂ FY2000 to 4.8 inmates per staff member in FY2013. The inmate to correctional∂ officer ratio was the same in FY2013 as it was in FY2000 (9.9 inmates for each∂ correctional officer), and the current inmate to correctional officer ratio is down∂ from a high of 10.9 inmates per correctional officer in FY2005.∂ • The growing prison population is taking a toll on the infrastructure of the federal∂ prison system. The BOP reports that it has a backlog of 159 modernization and∂ repair projects with an approximate cost of $342 million. Past appropriations left∂ the BOP in a position where it could expand bedspace to manage overcrowding∂ but not reduce it. However, reductions in funding since FY2010 mean that the∂ BOP will lack the funding to begin new prison construction in the near future. At∂ the same time, it has become more expensive to expand the BOP’s capacity.∂ Should Congress choose to consider policy options to address the issues resulting from the∂ growth in the federal prison population, policy makers could choose options such as increasing∂ the capacity of the federal prison system by building more prisons; investing in rehabilitative∂ programming (e.g., substance abuse treatment or educational programs) as a way of keeping∂ inmates constructively occupied and potentially reducing recidivism after inmates are released; or∂ placing more inmates in private prisons.∂ Policy makers might also consider whether they want to revise some of the policy changes that have been made over the past three decades that have contributed to the steadily increasing number of offenders being incarcerated. For example, Congress could consider options such as∂ (1) modifying mandatory minimum penalties, (2) expanding the use of Residential ReentryCenters, (3) placing more offenders on probation, (4) reinstating parole for federal inmates, (5)∂ expanding the amount of good time credit an inmate can earn, and (6) repealing federal criminalstatutes for some offenses.

Imprisonment inhibits social life---egalitarian politics are precluded by disenfranchisement of the new slave

Gordon 6 – Professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara and the author, most recently, Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power, and People

(Avery, “Abu Ghraib: Imprisonment and the War on Terror,” Race Class 48.1, doi: 10.1177/0306396806066646)//BB

The destiny of the captive The increasing erosion of the distinction enshrined in the eighth amendment between cruelty and decency and between the humane and the barbaric is tied to the production of a permanent prison population. Permanent not only in the sense of always available but permanent also in the sense of perpetuity, of assigning to certain groups of people in the US Blacks, Indians and Latinos – the caste and stigmata of the perpetual prisoner. The modern transatlantic slave system, which cap- tured millions of Africans, inventively introduced permanent or heredi- tary enslavement, thereby making being a slave no longer a temporary social status, however despised or dishonoured, but, rather, a constitu- tive condition of one’s social and juridical being. The significance of slavery to the historical development of the US prison system and to who became and still today most frequently becomes a prisoner is well known.27 But racism, by which I mean ‘group vulnerability to pre- mature death’,28 explains not just who becomes a prisoner but also what the prisoner becomes. In the US, where slavery was most elabo- rated and remained so essential to national development, the fundamental racial ontology of permanent slavery was transferred, after the formal abolition of slavery, to the prisoner. It was prisoners who became, with the scientific legitimacy of criminal anthropology and bearing always the double burden of racialist ontology, an inferior race in and of themselves. ‘The captive’, Orlando Patterson has written, ‘always appears . . . as marked by an original indelible defect which weighs endlessly upon his destiny.’29 And what is the destiny of the captive today? In a word, permanent abandonment. As Ruth Wilson Gilmore has forcefully argued, abandonment is the ‘rigorously coordinated and organized setting aside of people and resources’.30 It is the core feature of the expansion of a parasitic security/war economy rooted in mass imprisonment. Mass imprisonment warehouses surplus labour, that is people, the majority of whom are Black, for whom no room will be made in the legal capi- talist economy. And, by criminalising poverty and resistance to satura- tion policing, mass imprisonment removes from civil society potentially active, angry and demanding political subjects to a remote and closed place where they are civilly disabled and socially dead.31 In both these imperatives, individuals and communities are abandoned to a vast system of social control whose reach extends well beyond its seem- ingly targeted population to us all. At the same time, the so-called free society is abandoned, left bereft of the company and the contributions of these same individuals and communities. From the vantage point of the US, where mass imprisonment and its constituent role in what passes for economic development has advanced to unprecedented and alarmingly taken-for-granted levels, and where African American communities in particular are staggering under the historical weight of what Gilmore aptly describes as ‘rounds and rounds’ of regimes of abandonment, the tendency to permanent captivity is perhaps more evident than elsewhere.32 As I’ve tried to sug- gest, the expansion of super-maximum imprisonment is one important indicator and means. Another is the extension of civil disability. The collateral consequences of felony conviction in the US include loss of civil rights and citizenship rights while imprisoned (or while paroled or on probation) and now, increasingly, upon final release, that is to say, indefinitely: loss of access to the law, to the right to vote, to serve on a jury, to hold public office, to live in certain neighbourhoods, to live in public housing, to associate with certain individuals, to hold certain jobs. Perpetual civil disability requires, in effect, treating the prisoner and the former prisoner as socially dead, as having lost the right to belong; a condition of liminal social existence (a living dead person) lacking public worth, social standing and honour. Upon appli- cation, social death is always permanent, a condition or a taint that appears to belong to the captive (or slave); his or her essential mark, so to speak. And, in this, it is a powerful legitimising and racialising tool for justifying the indefinite imprisonment of people who might otherwise be your neighbours or fellow citizens/residents or friendly, or even utterly strange, strangers. Orlando Patterson rightly called social death an ‘idiom of power’. And he strikingly described how a society’s outsiders foreigners, infidels, prisoners of war – and a society’s insiders – criminals, the destitute – could both be conceived as people who did not and could never belong: ‘The one fell because he was the enemy, the other became the enemy because he had fallen.’ 33

The impact is much larger than just the site of the prison---widespread incarceration undercuts solution-building to complex factors driving inequality---the impact is disposability

Davis 5 – teaches in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California and has been actively involved in prison-related campaigns since the events that led to her own incarceration in 1970

(Angela, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prison, Torture, and Empire, 2005, p. 40-41)//BB

Well the link that is usually assumed in popular and scholarly discourse is that crime produces punishment. What I have tried to do—together With many other public intellectuals, activists, scholars—is to encourage people to think about the possibility that punishment may be a consequence of other forces and not an inevitable consequence of the commission of crime. Which is not to say that people in prisons have not committed what we call “crimes”——I’m not making that argument at all. Regardless of who has or has not committed crimes, punishment, in brief, can be seen more as a consequence of racialized surveillance. Increased punishment is most often a result of increased surveillance. Those communities that are subject to police surveillance are much more likely to produce more bodies for the punishment industry. But even more important, imprisonment is the punitive solution to a Whole range of social problems that are not being addressed by those social institutions that might help people lead better, more satisfying lives. This is the logic ofwhat has been called the imprisonment binge: Instead of building housing, throw the homeless in prison. Instead of developing the educational system, throw the illiterate in prison. Throw people in prison Who lose jobs as the result of de-industrialization, globalization of capital, and the dismantling of the welfare state. Get rid of all of them. Remove these dispensable populations from society. According to this logic the prison becomes a way of disappearing people in the false hope of disappearing the underlying social problems they represent.

Challenging institutional racism is a prior ethical question— it makes violence structurally inevitable and foundationally negates morality

Albert Memmi 2k, Professor Emeritus of Sociology @ U of Paris, Naiteire, Racism, Translated by Steve Martinot, p. 163-165

The struggle against racism will be long, difficult, without intermission, without remission, probably never achieved. Yet, for this very reason, it is a struggle to be undertaken without surcease and without concessions. One cannot be indulgent toward racism; one must not even let the monster in the house, especially not in a mask. To give it merely a foothold means to augment the bestial part in us and in other people, which is to diminish what is human. To accept the racist universe to the slightest degree is to endorse fear, injustice, and violence. It is to accept the persistence of the dark history in which we still largely live. it is to agree that the outsider will always be a possible victim (and which man is not himself an outsider relative to someone else?. Racism illustrates, in sum, the inevitable negativity of the condition of the dominated that is, it illuminates in a certain sense the entire human condition. The anti-racist struggle, difficult though it is, and always in question, is nevertheless one of the prologues to the ultimate passage from animosity to humanity. In that sense, we cannot fail to rise to the racist challenge. However, it remains true that one’s moral conduit only emerges from a choice: one has to want it. It is a choice among other choices, and always debatable in its foundations and its consequences. Let us say, broadly speaking, that the choice to conduct oneself morally is the condition for the establishment of a human order, for which racism is the very negation. This is almost a redundancy. One cannot found a moral order, let alone a legislative order, on racism, because racism signifies the exclusion of the other, and his or her subjection to violence and domination. From an ethical point of view, if one can deploy a little religious language, racism is ‘the truly capital sin. It is not an accident that almost all of humanity’s spiritual traditions counsels respect for the weak, for orphans, widows, or strangers. It is not just a question of theoretical morality and disinterested commandments. Such unanimity in the safeguarding of the other suggests the real utility of such sentiments. All things considered, we have an interest in banishing injustice, because injustice engenders violence and death. Of course, this is debatable. There are those who think that if one is strong enough, the assault on and oppression of others is permissible. Bur no one is ever sure of remaining the strongest. One day, perhaps, the roles will be reversed. All unjust society contains within itself the seeds of its own death. It is probably smarter to treat others with respect so that they treat you with respect. “Recall.” says the Bible, “that you were once a stranger in Egypt,” which means both that you ought to respect the stranger because you were a stranger yourself and that you risk becoming one again someday. It is an ethical and a practical appeal—indeed, it is a contract, however implicit it might be. In short, the refusal of racism is the condition for all theoretical and practical morality because, in the end, the ethical choice commands the political choice, a just society must be a society accepted by all. If this contractual principle is not accepted, then only conflict, violence, and destruction will be our lot. If it is accepted, we can hope someday to live in peace. True, it is a wager, but the stakes are irresistible.

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