BY JOSEPH H. CARTER SR.
In the May 18 book review section of the New York Times, Cole wrote:
“We are less than 5% of the world’s population, but we warehouse 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. Our per capita incarceration rate is seven time greater than France’s, 14 times greater than Japan’s and 24 times greater than India’s.”
Cole reviews a new book by Robert A. Ferguson, An Anatomy of American Punishment, that points out that one in nine U.S. prisoners are in for life and 10,000 for “wholly nonviolent offenses.”
He claims that 50,000 are in long-term confinement despite the fact that the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [that’s six amendments after the more highly regarded and perverted 2nd Amendment] forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” The United Nation’s had ruled that more than 15 days in solitary meets the “cruel and unusual” criteria.
About our staggering costs of government, Cole notes that incarceration costs U.S. taxpayers some $80 billion a year.
He added that in 2007, 1.7 million American children are without parents who are in prison – but he fails to tag a price on that loss.
Ferguson’s book and Cole’s review offer several suggestions for addressing the problems that this journal long has championed and demanded. Cole’s review and Ferguson’s book should be required reading for all members of the Oklahoma Legislature, the Congressional delegation and Gov. Mary Fallin.
Summarizing the problem, Cole opines, “The United States may or may not be the leader of the free world, but it is indisputably the world leader in locking up human being behind bars.”
And Oklahoma leads the leadership in that arena.
– Joseph H. Carter Sr. is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. Reared in west Tulsa in the 1930-50s era, he is author of Never Met A Man I Didn’t Like: The Life and Writings of Will Rogers [HarperCollins] and The Quotable Will Rogers [Gibbs Smith Publishers].