Jail is a place of confinement for persons being held in lawful custody under the jurisdiction of a local government such as a county for the confinement of persons awaiting trial or those convicted of minor crimes with sentences less than one year.
A Prison is a place under state or federal jurisdiction for confinement of lawbreakers convicted of serious crimes with sentences of one year to life behind bars.
If you get locked up it will begin like this, they’ll strip you and put you alone and buck-naked into a small, bare room. In a little while the duty gorilla will enter, grin at your pudgy pink body, and put you through a series of very personal and embarrassing body cavity searches. When the guard orders you to take your clothes off, you begin to suspect you have made a mistake. When he said, “Bend over,” you were sure you had. But you did it, stripped, doubled over, and braced yourself. The world looks very different when you’ve got your head between your knees, peering into the face of a state employee who’s peering directly into your backside. But then, it’s not your backside anymore, it’s theirs. The question is, what are they going to do with it? By the time you found out the answer — “spread ’em” — all you want is to go home. They’ll look in places you didn’t even know were places. Ten minutes later you are put in solitary confinement “the hole” in a cold sweat, more scared than you have ever been in your life, with good reason. In two days you could be murdered.
It is late at night and you are all alone. The cell walls start closing in on you. And in the silence around you the panic inside begins to thunder – You are locked in a cage and there is nothing you can do to stop it! No! No! You are to old, to weak, to do anything about this. You break out in a cold sweat, your throat and lips get dry, and with heart pounding away a queasy nausea comes over you. You prepare to do battle with your old enemy FEAR. As your old foe approaches, gathering strength from the loneliness of the late night a paralyzing cloud of blackness insinuates itself over your reason and confidence and you are there alone, naked and defenseless. The onslaught rages inside of you with an unbelievable fury and you are attacked mercilessly singly and in combination by the imaginary terror – your fear of being disgraced, of being physically harmed and beaten, as well as your fear of being seriously medically impaired or even dying. And yet you continue to be. You survive. You are not destroyed. The fury inside you peaks and slowly begins to recede. The worst is over. Dripping with the odor of fear, you begin very gradually to regain your composure, your balance. Eventually you relax the tension ebbs and you slowly regain control. Nevertheless a residue of that terror remains while you are encouraged by your inner voice of reason to explore your new situation. Is it really true that there is nothing you can do that will prevent them from keeping you locked up? As the dawn begins breaking you search your mind for answers…..
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We jail more people per capita than Red China or the former Soviet Union. Our incarceration rate is nearly 50% higher than in the home of the world’s second place incarceration rate: South Africa. Judging by our incarceration rate, the USA is the single biggest police state in the world. Bar none. Our irrational laws are destroying our Constitution, choking our courts, filling our prisons, and turning this nation into the biggest police state in the world. We don’t have a “war on drugs”, we have a “war on the Constitution” and the rights and freedoms we were formerly guaranteed.
Of course, the vast majority of people are completely ignorant of the truth and social consequences of our “drug war.” Of those who have some understanding, most couldn’t care less. Fortunately, however, our holy drug war is damnably expensive, and people will care about that. We are in unstable economic times and all of life’s little clouds, even depressions, have silver linings. Our government is not only broke, it’s legally (to say nothing of “morally”) bankrupt. Our politicians have already started selling the reality of “diminished expectations” to the public rather than the wishful thinking or mean-spirited absolutes that have characterized the last two or three generations of political rhetoric.
If jails and prisons actually worked to reduce crime, they would have worked by now. Instead, the government-sanctioned “git tuff” hysteria claims society is collapsing and the only solution is to build even more prisons. But there’s a clear contradiction here, a deception inherent in having the highest incarceration rate in the world and still claiming crime is rising and we need even more prisons. It’s impossible to look at our growing national incarceration rate and dismiss the contention that this nation is a police state. Is the U.S. the world’s biggest police state? The most brutal? The most oppressive? Maybe not just yet.
But we are clearly headed in that direction, driving full steam toward a fascist utopia of order, obedience, big government, poverty, and jail cells for all. And this rush to the fascism is gaining speed despite the fact that the national crime rate has been consistently falling for over thirteen years.
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