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What Is a Crime? Who Is a Criminal?

Do prisons make you feel safe?

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Prisons are useful for holding the worst of the worst; however, in recent years, this is simply not the case. Mass incarceration, resulting from the War on Drugs and Tough on Crime policies, holds low-risk and non-violent but also more often than not, minority and low-income individuals hostage to our CJ system. For instance, African American and Hispanic offenders are often given harsher and longer sentences than their white counterparts convicted of exactly the same crime. Brock Turner anyone? But most notably: African American and Hispanic people are underrepresented in the overall U.S population (32%), but are OVERrepresented in our prison population (56%) ( How can prisons foster a sense of security when our most vulnerable populations are being targeted (look up "hot spot policing and racial profiling")? The people who answered yes to this question are most likely not as informed on the interworkings (and flaws) of our system. As I like to say, our system works perfectly for all those who aren't directly affected by it. Out of sight, out of mind. If you have the chance, consider reading "Blind Injustice" by Mark Godsey and "The Wrongful Convictions Reader" by Russell D. Convey and Valena E. Beety. The latter book is far denser but provides more statistics and includes far more examples (using legal/law jargon) explicitly detailing the flaws in our system-from sentencing disparities and false (more so coerced) confessions to cognitive biases and tunnel vision. The first book listed is written by a former prosecutor, now turned co-founder and director of the Ohio Innocence Project. In his book, he explains the psychology behind wrongful convictions but also exposes and details the abuse of power exhibited by the law enforcement, prosecutors, and (state-appointed) judges.

1:13 PM | March 18, 2019


Innocent people are being locked up!!

6:18 PM | February 9, 2019


The justice system is so unfair that the people causing the most harm are not the ones in jail

4:16 PM | February 2, 2019


They may temporarily get dengerous people off the streets, but the terrible prison systems make it so people who go to prison are most likely to re-offend rather than become rehabilitated back into society. Why would I feel safer from a system that exacerbates the problem?

4:16 PM | January 29, 2019

Tracy Zemanek

I do not believe that there is a common concept of REHABILITATION.... That is, rehabilitation is not looked at as a common goal... Inmates do thier time and get released to fend for themselves... With supervision.

2:02 AM | January 27, 2019

Cabin Boy

In the case of locking up violent criminals and fraudulent White Collar criminals, prisons do help to provide a measure of physical and societal safety for the free citizens. In the cases where someone is locked up who simply needs counseling or has broken a law that no one cares about (e.g. Marijuana possession) then safety is not a factor.

12:12 PM | December 18, 2018



4:16 PM | December 11, 2018


There's plenty of people who have evaded justice for violent crimes. Prisoners are mainly nonviolent drug offenders and often fails those who were victims of violent crimes.

10:22 PM | September 30, 2018


I was mentally and physically abused in New York facilities in 2013 and 2014. I wrote a 30 Page Letter few months back to the governor of the state of New York to see if they could do something and they would not take any further action. I hate the fucking stayed in New York it sucks they let physical mental abuse happen in their prisons and forensic psychiatric facilities and they don't care.

5:05 AM | July 15, 2018


Because I don't believe that everybody who is a "criminal" is dangerous. On the contrary, the police-states dependence on incarceration as a tool to institute racism and classism makes me feel unsafe.

1:13 PM | June 19, 2018