Sometimes someone on a blog just goes rats nuts with rage, and you really enjoy it, especially since it's not you. From a Canadian:
Walk with me a while and imagine you are mad. Crazy. Insane. It's an interesting sort of insanity where you see the world as something other than it is. You are dead convinced that people are out to get you, but these people have almost no means to harm you and fear your retaliation greatly, because you're a powerful person and they are weak.
You believe that you are hale and hearty, but in fact you're ghastly, obese and ill. You think you're rich, but in fact you're poor. You think you have the best doctor around, but in fact your doctor is worse than almost every other doctor and charges 50% more. You think you're tough, and you certainly haven't let the fact that two ninety pound weaklings seem to be able to stand up to you get in the way of that conviction.
You think that you have the most advanced technological toys, that what you have is the best. And once you did, but these days everyone else seems to have more advanced gadgets.
The illness goes deeper though, a deep decay in your brain. The parts of your brain that make most of the decisions for your body think everything is wonderful. They seem only able to take in sensations from the taste buds these days, and for the last thirty years you've been on a rich diet. So your brain thinks everything's great. Your once lean body, packed with muscles, has been replaced by a flaccid one, paunchy and fat, but somehow the key parts of your brain don't know that. They don't feel your sore back, they don't hear the broken down breathing, and they don't see the gut hanging over your belt.
The "you" I'm referring to, as I'm sure many have figured out by now, is the US.
What's that, you say? Nothing about criminal justice or corr sent? Au contraire. (Don't they do some French up there?)
At the end of World War II the US had about half the world's economy. Admittedly that's because Europe had been bombed into oblivion, but even when Europe rebuilt the US was still far, far ahead. The US was insanely rich and powerful. See, when you're rich you can do stupid and unproductive things for a long time. There are plenty of examples of this but the two most obvious ones are the US military and the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs hasn't reduced the number of junkies or drugs on the street in any noticeable way. It has increased the US's prison population to the highest per capita level in the world, however. It has cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It has gutted civil liberties (the war on terror is just the war on drugs on crack, after all). And after 30 years does anyone seriously say, "Wait, this doesn't work, it costs billions of dollars and it makes us a society of prisons"? Of course not. If anything, people compete to be "tough on crime." What's the definition of insanity, again?—Doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results.
The irony of this last quote, though, of course, is that it's what critics of our corrections sentencing policies have been saying since, at least, my first day in it over 13 years ago. It's not just the advocates of our current policies who are guilty of the "doing the same thing" problem. It's also the advocates of change, too. The long time play still goes on:
Status quo: Prison, prison, prison.
Change: Cost, cost, cost.
Status quo: Three strikes.
Change: Smart on crime.
Status quo: Do the crime, do the time.
Change: The ones we fear, not the ones we're mad at.
I mean, seriously, if we all already know the lines before they get said, like a warped version of "Rocky Horror" (is that possible?), then hasn't it just become an unending run of a tired play? Each set of roles may have new actors come on stage, so they're not saying the same thing again and don't see the connection with insanity, but the same things keep getting said. Until that play is changed and the script rewritten to better reflect our reality of what works and doesn't to promote public safety and prevent more victims (both of which don't happen with the play currently running), 13 years from now, some new foreign guy will use criminal justice as evidence in yet another righteous rant. And not recognize how insane he's being.
And the play's ending? Well, he's got an idea on that, too:
But here's what I do know: you can get away with being nuts as long as enough people benefit from you being insane. When the credit cards are all maxed out, when the relatives have stolen even the furniture, when suddenly all the enablers go away then the knee-breakers or the men in white pay you a visit. At that point you can live in the real world, or you can go to the asylum.
I wonder which way the US will go?
So do we all.