There are several very powerful and hidden forces at play when trying to understand the dynamics at associated with crime and punishment in the USA. However, seldom in the literature will you find a discussion of the moral dilemmas as Fyodor Dostoevsky did in his book Crime and Punishment. Instead, punishment has been reduced to a formula of warehousing human beings as opposed to addressing the situations that generated the crimes.
These warehousing formulas rotate around the definition of crime and punishments. There are two levels to look at the discussion of definitions. First is the words as well as the speaker then follow the money to see from where it flows and to whom it flows.
I have seen it written and heard it said that following the money will make the verbiage more understandable. So it is with the definition of crime and punishment in the United States because that is a living breathing concept that changes every year. The authority to make the changes rests solely with elected legislatures of the state and federal government and approval of the elected executive authority.
Where as they have the power, the force that drives the power is the constituencies with a vested interest or shall we call them the financial stake holders in the definitions. They are the politicians who make the definitions, the men and women whose pay check is tied to those decisions and finally the business that are dependent on those that get paid as well as the out come of those decisions. You could say this is a symbiotic series of relationships where the welfare of the citizen or the long term interest of the nation is not a part of the equation.
At the risk of further poisoning the thought process, here are some links that will start the ball rolling and lead to other links and thoughts that you can follow as they appear in the time you have available. As you read though these links, I suggest you take notes and see for yourself if the same dynamics are at play in your community.
The first link is an article from Wikipedia that looks at the California Correctional Peace officers Association. I think their opening paragraph goes a long way to laying the foundation of any understanding:
“The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), founded in 1957 as the California Correctional Officers Association (CCOA), is the corrections officers’ labor union in California. The CCPOA is widely considered one of the most powerful political forces in California politics. CCPOA made the largest contribution to the No on 5 Campaign in 2008, contributing one million dollars. CCPOA president Don Novey established the union’s tradition of forming close alliances and friendships with political leaders during the 1980s.”
The next link is the voice of the CCPOA and defines their public face.
This link will open a PDF document Crime-punishment and unions that gives a history of the growth of the financial stake holders force as well as the consequences. There is another PDF document that lends another view point California Correrections called Understanding California Corrections. Then from academia comes this little jewel:California Corrections and the Media
Then from the Economist comes this view California reelin’