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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility
Making convicts into slaves is not the answer.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Because of incarceration's lingering impact, successfully reintegrating into society remains elusive for most who try. As a result, "[ex-cons] cost society all over again (with) more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more prisons."
The Pew Charitable Trusts "uses public opinion polling and other research tools to produce reports that track important issues and trends." Its new report is titled, "Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility ," focusing on America's burgeoning prison population and enormous cost. Now over $50 billion annually, it "consum(es) 1 in every 15 general fund dollars."
The nation spends recklessly on harshness, leaving little left for society's needs. No wonder Pew found that people today are worse off than their parents at the same age, and "42 percent of Americans whose parents were in the bottom fifth of the income ladder remain there themselves as adults." As for race, Americans of color, especially Blacks, fare significantly worse than whites.
Pew studied the relationship between incarceration and mobility, asking to what extent does it create lasting impediments to economic progress. Overall, how does America's burgeoning prison population affect the American dream? Negatively, in fact, for the vast majority because authorities make it so.
The Growth, Scale and Concentration of Incarceration in America
Over 2.4 million prisoners are in federal and state facilities, local jails, Indian, juvenile and military ones, US territories, and numbers held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities (ICE). Half are for nonviolent offenses, many for political activism, and thousands there are immigrant Latinos forced north because NAFTA destroyed their livelihoods and way of life. They're now persecuted ruthlessly by a repressive nation.
Today, America's prison population is the world's largest, exceeding China's at four times the population and the top 35 European countries combined. It wasn't by accident. It followed the last 30 year shift to the right, the war on drugs, get tough on crime policies, three strikes and you're out, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, and overall judicial unfairness. It's especially impacted society's poor and disadvantaged, people of color mostly, comprising two-thirds of those imprisoned.
As a result, "Incarceration has become a prominent American institution with substantial collateral consequences for families and communities, particularly among the most disadvantaged." Black male high school dropouts are especially impacted. Over one-third aged 20 - 34 are behind bars, three times the rate for whites in the same category.
The Impact of Incarceration on Employment, Wages and Economic Mobility
Former inmates face enormous obstacles. Besides being ex-cons, whatever skills and social networks they had eroded. In addition, many are burdened by substantial financial obligations, including child support, alimony, restitution, and other court-ordered fees. Past studies confirmed it, including Freeman in 1991 finding substantial negative employment effects because of incarceration, and Grogger in 1995 concluding the same thing.
Various others also determined "that incarceration - above and beyond arrest and conviction - negatively affects individual economic prospects," for reasons including:
Incarceration and Work
"Former inmates experience relatively high levels of unemployment and below-average earnings," mainly for educational deficiencies as well as poor work histories. Incarceration greatly compounds these challenges.
Incarceration and Lost Earnings
Former inmates work and earn less than their counterparts. On average, incarceration eliminates around half their earning power through age 48, besides what's lost while in prison.
Incarceration and Economic Mobility
Inmates released from 1986 - 2006 "were significantly less upwardly mobile" than their counterparts. For example,
In addition, "the fiscal consequences of the nation's incarceration boom extend well beyond strained state budgets, impairing the livelihoods of former inmates and, by extension, the well-being of their families and communities."
The Intergenerational Impact of Incarceration
Children are also affected, victimized by their parents' crimes emotionally enough to cause social problems, including juvenile delinquency. In addition, economic issues affect them and their families, disrupted by losing a wage-earner. Moreover, maintaining ties with a confined parent, often distantly imprisoned, compounds a bad situation.
Currently, about half the prison population have children under 18, including over 120,000 mothers. Most are Black or Hispanic, leaving behind about 2.7 million minor children, or one in 28 in the country. In 1975, it was only one in 125.
Past studies show "two factors influenced by parental incarceration - family income and children's educational outcomes - have direct implications for children's future upward economic mobility," including families with incarcerated parents having to scramble to make due.
The damage on children is significant. One study found family income falling 22% with imprisoned fathers, and even after release remained 15% lower. Moreover, Economic Mobility Project data show parental income is one of the best indicators of a child's upward economic mobility chances.
Many children with incarcerated parents also fare poorly in school. One study found 23% with an imprisoned father were expelled or suspended, compared to 4% for their counterparts. Given the importance of educational achievement, the findings are especially troubling, bearing negatively on their chances for upward mobility.
Promoting Economic Mobility
Because of incarceration's lingering impact, successfully reintegrating into society remains elusive for most who try, given long odds unfairly stacked against them. As a result, "they cost society all over again (with) more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more prisons."
Policy makers, however, could initiate good options for better outcomes, including helping former inmates reintegrate productively. Yet, by law, they're prohibited from working in certain industries, living in public housing, and getting various government benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and educational help. Why should be tolerated when efforts should facilitate easier reintegration.
Instead, America races to fill prison beds to satisfy its fast-growing prison-industrial complex appetite, including a private gulag of prisons for profit. Nearly a score of corporation run dozens of facilities with tens of thousands of inmates, about 8% and growing, expected to increase exponentially over the next decade. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Moreover, privatized and public prisons take advantage of modern-day slave labor, producing 100% of US military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags and canteens. They also supply 98% of equipment assembly services, 93% of paints and paintbrushes, 92% of stove assemblies, 46% of body armor, 36% of home appliances, 30% of headphones, microphones and speakers, 21% of office furniture, and much more. And the more filled beds, the more cheap labor for greater profits.
Thus, authorities are inclined to maintain the status quo, not improve it, given their ties to corporate interests. So instead of subsidizing rehabilitation, more prisons are built for war on drugs and other nonviolent victims. They're filled with them, inmates who should be home, employed and productive, not behind bars unjustly.
Some Final Comments
Though tattered and vanishing, the American dream once meant that anyone could succeed with enough effort. No longer, especially from society's lower rungs, former inmates and their children, impacted more by eroded public education, the privatization trend, and the enormous cost of college, unaffordable to growing numbers without help.
As a result, a bad system self-perpetuates, authorities providing little self-correcting help, especially in today's economically challenged environment. Yet research shows workable solutions produce greater equity and prosperity. It remains for federal, state and local officials to adopt them, what so far they've mostly avoided. Society overall loses out, especially those most disadvantaged in it.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on December 1, 2010.