Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Crime & Punishment in New York State. Part 1.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Fyodor Dostoevsky.

This is part one of a wide ranging series of posts on the subject of crime and punishment in New York State.

Why this series of posts? Who gives a horse’s patoo about criminals and prisoners? Why should you care?

1. Because the U.S. now has the largest penal colony in the world.

2. Because New York State has over 60,000 adult citizens in prison.

3. Because New York State has an additional unknown number of people who are in its charge via probation, parole, alternative to incarceration programs, etc.

3. Because there are thousands of juveniles in New York States held in secure and other youth facilities.

4. Because of the ever increasing number of laws in New York State, which make it more and more likely that anyone can be charged with breaking a law.

5. Because for every person in the custody of the state or under its supervision, there are a larger number of dependents and relatives who are deeply affected financially and psychologically by their custody.

6. Because the line between those in custody and those responsible for their custody is sometimes a very thin one.

7. Because there are some people in prison who are innocent.

8. Because there is a large number of people in prison for minor offenses.

9. Because if prison were used for the violent only, we could drastically reduce the number of people in prison, the number of people working in the prison industry, and the amount of taxation on New Yorkers.

10. Because society never actually forgives and forgets a person’s crime, so ex-cons are often reduced to a life of poverty. The incentive to return to crime is great.

11. Because someday it might be one of your friends or relatives who gets put in prison.

12. Because someday it might be you who gets put in prison.

13. Last but not least, you or a member of your family or a friend may have been a victim of a crime.

When one takes into consideration the number of crime victims and their families, the number of convicts and their families, ex-convicts, parolees, probationers, youths held in detention, prison guards, law enforcement agents, prosecutors, judges, lawyers etc, it is likely that the number of people directly affected by crime and punishment in New York State is close to one million people.

All of us are affected indirectly.


  • Dan this is a great post. There is a desperate need for people to understand what you have written here but sad to say most are oblivious.
    Thank you for pounding away on this issue.

    By Blogger Justice Now, at 5:45 PM  

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