Tougher Drug Laws Mean Nearly 1 in 3 Arrested by Age 23

Raw Story reports:

Nearly one in three Americans will already have been arrested by the age of 23, recent research suggests.

A study analyzing data from the federal government’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that 30.2 percent of 23-year-olds reported being arrested for something more serious that a traffic violation.

It’s the first time since the 1960s that researchers have tried to determine how often young people are arrested. A similar study in 1965 found that only 22 percent reported being arrested by age 23.

* Five times more Americans are incarcerated now than in the 1960s.

Clearly the State is winning the war against the American people it has waged for the past 40 years.  The State hates you, it hates your children, and it will do everything in its power to ensure you remain an obedient slave.  I’m not sure what kind of statistics it will take before the American population wakes up to the fact that they are living in a police state.

Even if you think that drugs should be banned “to protect the children” – the facts of the matter are that your kids will one day become teenagers themselves.  Are you confident that your own kids will never dabble in drugs when you aren’t looking over their shoulder?  Do you want your own children to face the full wrath of the American police state because they took a few hits off a bong at a house party?

But suppose your children don’t touch drugs at all, take a look at what could happen when the police go on a witch hunt:

Unarmed 54-Year-Old Bloodied In Raid, no drugs found, no charges filed.

Arizona Cops Shoot Former Marine In Botched Pot Raid

Police ‘Strike Force’ Shoots Man Armed with Golf Club Over His Roommate’s Drugs

69 Year Old Man Shot Dead In Drug Raid, No Drugs Reported To Be Found

76 Year Old Man Shot Dead In Botched Drug Raid, Son Charged with Simple Possession of Heroin

etc.. etc.. etc..

Copying a previous post I wrote on this subject, which highlights the fact that victimless crime constitutes roughly 86% of the federal prison population.

The 2009 federal prison population consisted of:

Drugs 50.7%, Public-order 35.0%,  Violent 7.9%,  Property 5.8%, Other .7%

Drug offenses are self-explanatory, but the public-order offenses also fall under the victimless crimes category.  Public order offenses include such things as immigration, weapons charges, public drunkenness, selling lemonade without a licensedancing in publicfeeding the homeless without a permit etc..

The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population.  The world population in 2008 is estimated at 6,750 million (United Nations); set against a world prison population of 9.8 million this produces a world prison population rate of 145 per 100,000 (158 per 100,000 if set against a world prison population of 10.65 million).

In 2008, according to the Department of Justice, there were 7,308,200 persons in the US corrections system, of whom 4,270,917 were on probation, 828,169 were on parole, 785,556 were in jails, and 1,518,559 were in state and federal prisons.  This means that the US alone is responsible for holding roughly 15% of all the prisoners in the world.

In other words, 1 in 42 Americans is under correctional supervision.  This constitutes over 2% of the entire US population.  That percentage jumps up drastically if we limit the comparison to working aged adult males, of which there are around 100 million.  Over 5% of the adult male population is under some form of correctional supervision, alternatively stated, 1 in 20 adult males is under correctional supervision in the US.  One in 36 adult Hispanic men is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 adult black men is too; as is one in nine black men ages 20 to 34.

Keep in mind that 86% of those men in federal prisons are there for victimless crimes.  They have not stolen any property, damaged any property or harmed anyone directly by their actions.  Of course, if you are reading this and live in the US, you are paying for all those people to subsist on a daily basis.  Roughly 34% of all prisoners in the US are incarcerated for victimless crimes.

In California in 2009 it cost an average of $47,102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in state prison.  In 2005 it cost an average of $23,876 dollars per state prisoner nationally.

In 2007, 228 billion dollars was spent on police, corrections and the judiciary.  That constitutes around 1.6% of total US GDP.

Of course, being the good economists that we are, we must not just look at the cost to incarcerate and police, but also at the opportunity cost to society that putting all those able-bodied men behind bars creates.  When a man is put behind bars he is obviously incapable of contributing anything to society.  He becomes a complete burden to society while producing nothing in return for the expenses he creates.  He becomes a black void of resource destruction.

I find some dark humor in the fact that those who engage in victimless crime don’t create any real victims until they are put behind bars, at which point they cause the State to steal 47,000 dollars a year from the tax paying public.  In our justice system today, victims are victimized twice.  Once by the perpetrator of the crime against them, and the other by the State which then forces the victim to pay for the punishment of their assailant.

Clearly our society’s notion of “justice” is logically ridiculous.  It’s apparently not OK for someone to steal from you, but its perfectly acceptable for the State to steal from you if the State is going to use that money to punish the person who stole from you. – what kind of asinine system of justice is that?

The only real justice that can be enacted in a free society is either physical punishment that costs next to nothing to administer, such as beatings, lashings, bullet to the head, etc..; monetary punishment in the form of taking the perpetrators property and handing it to their victim, or ostracism by defamation of character.

Putting people behind bars does nothing but squander resources.  It deprives society of able-bodied workers and costs society massive amounts of resources which are stolen from the general public through the coercive theft of taxation.  Consider how much richer American society would be today if it had an additional 5% of the male population working to produce goods and services in the private sector labor force.

Austrian economist Hans Hoppe has put together a fantastic presentation on how society could be organized in such a way as to eliminate all victimless crime while simultaneously eliminating the necessity of the State to steal from the victims of crimes to pay for their assailants punishment.

After you’re done watching Hoppe’s lecture, check out this fantastic comic put together by the Real Cost of Prisons project.

If you are interested in learning more about private law and private defense, listen to this series of essays by Austrian economist Robert Murphy.


  • Akagaga

    “The only real justice that can be enacted in a free society is either
    physical punishment that costs next to nothing to administer, such as
    beatings, lashings, bullet to the head, etc..; monetary punishment in
    the form of taking the perpetrators property and handing it to their
    victim, or ostracism by defamation of character.”

    I’ve never thought about this before, but I instinctively am repulsed by the idea of physical punishment.  Returning to an Old Testament standard of “an eye for an eye” would seem to be going backwards.  In addition, I think the cost would be emotionally high for whoever is charged with administering it – and their family.

    Monetary punishment is reasonable, but again, who is going to enforce it?  How would they enforce it without using violence?

    Ostracism is also reasonable, but with our very mobile society, the ostracized could just move on and repeat their actions on someone else.  This would eliminate the problem in my community, but increase it in someone else’s.

    Another option not on your list is some form of community service, be it picking up garbage or making something to sell and having the proceeds go to the victim.  But this, too, brings up the question of enforcement.

    In fact, as much as I’d like to, I can’t come up with any kind of punishment that would not required violence or the threat of violence.

    Anybody help me out here?

    • I’m actually against physical violence as punishment, but I threw it in there because it is a punishment style that does not involve having to steal from the victim.

      I lean toward ostracism and monetary compensation as being the most effective means of punishing people.  To accomplish this, private reputation tracking services would need to be created by the market.  This is something that would certainly take place in the absence of the State.

      Society would be radically different under anarcho-capitalism, which would allow for radically different modes of punishment for crimes.

    • Another option is to have impenetrable defenses or to be able to dissociate from others by going somewhere else. Both of those are nearly impossible now.

      Having a hard-to-shake reputation is critical to prevent sociopathy from being an effective strategy. In small societies, reputation was hard to shake – there were few places to hide. With large societies, there are a lot of places for sociopaths to hide because the cost of truth discovery is made higher. I’m not against anonymity, but I’m against reputation-blinding anonymity as a general principle.
      As far as violence, I think that defensive violence is acceptable. I have a hard time taking the NAP to it’s logical conclusion because I believe that there can be threats which need to be dealt with ahead of time – for instance if Nazi’s were coming door-to-door to take people away, it’d be smarter to ambush them ahead of time rather than get picked off one by one. To be fair, that example is just an extension of considering initiation of force against others as justifying response.

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