Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2000
Source: Herald, The (WA)
Copyright: 2000 The Daily Herald Co.
Contact:  P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA  98206-0930
Fax: (425) 339-3435
Author: MICHAEL F. MARION, Marysville, WA


Full of non-violent offenders

In the May 18 letters section of The Herald, a puzzled Jack Yoder
asked why two articles about crime seem to contradict each other.
("Crime Statistics; Articles conflicting"). The first article he
refers to is the May 8 article, "Year sees big bite in crime." This
article reports that crime is down 7 percent and has been dropping
each year since 1992, according to the FBI. The very next day he read
the May 9 article, "County grits its teeth, takes on jail question."
This article states that the jail is overfilled and we need to at
least double current jail capacity. So, what is the answer to this
seeming conundrum?

Now, follow this carefully: Statistics show that crime rates have
dropped because non-violent drug charges are not considered when they
analyze crime. Prison population has increased because our prisons are
full of non-violent drug law violators. The average federal sentence
for a first time non-violent drug law violator is 120 months. The
average federal sentence for a person convicted of a violent rape is
67 months.

So, you see, not only do they fail to include drug offenses as crimes
when they make those statements, they are letting violent people back
into society in order to make room in the prisons for "criminals" they
do not even count.

A whole industry has been created around this lunacy, sometimes called
the "Prison-Industrial Complex." There is big money in this, so don't
expect politicians from either major party to do anything helpful. But
what is even more tragic is the havoc that is wreaked upon people that
need help rather than punishment.

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