Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


WASHINGTON-Disgraced media baron Conrad Black is railing against the
war on drugs in the U.S. and lamenting its incarceration rates from
his Florida jail cell.

"The U.S. is now a carceral state that imprisons eight to 12 times
more people (2.5 million) per capita than the U.K., Canada, Australia,
France, Germany or Japan," Black, serving a 6 1/2-year sentence for
defrauding millions from his former media empire, wrote in a letter to
the Sunday Times of London.

"U.S. justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of
private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and
politically influential correctional officers' unions ...," he wrote.

Fruitless attempts to wipe out the illegal drug trade are to blame for
the situation, says Black, taking up a battle cry long espoused by
people with whom he's never been traditionally associated - those on
the left of the political spectrum, including groups like the American
Civil Liberties Union. His libertarian rant seems to be one of the
first times the 64-year-old Black, in jail since March, has publicly
complained about incarceration rates.

It also comes just days after he asked President George W. Bush for
clemency. The U.S. Justice Department says it's considering the
request, although it's just one of thousands of similar pleas on its

In his letter to the Times, Black also says that many of his
co-inmates are "quite interesting and affable, often in a Damon Runyon
way," and "it is a little like going back to boarding school, which I
somewhat enjoyed nearly 50 years ago."
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