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Follow the Money through the Criminal Justice System

I usually write about finance but I saw this article the other day on fusion centers and I thought I would share this with you.
We should always follow the money. The way we spend our resources defines who we are. If you as an individual like to buy lots of books, it defines you just the same way you are defined if you like to buy lots of clothes. This nation likes to buy safety and it is under the illusion that it can do so by putting people in jail. According to a study by Office of Justice Program’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 7.2 million people were under federal, state, or local probation or parole at the end of 2006. 298 million people lived in the United States in 2006. The rate of incarceration in prison at year-end 2006 was 501 sentenced inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, up from 411 in 1995. This amounts to 1.5 million people which means 8.7 million people were involved either in prison or on probation in the United States in 2006; that is 3% of the United States population was in the criminal justice system in 2006. That is the highest proportion of population involved in the criminal justice system in the world. In countries such as England, Italy, France and Germany, the incarceration rate is about 1 in 1,000 persons. In the United States it is about 1 in 143 (Justice Anthony Kennedy in a speech before the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, August9, 2003).
The amount of money we are spending to keep citizens in jail is enormous. The cost of caring for all those in prisons is over $40 billion a year (again Kennedy). And this doesn’t include the other costs of courts, probations, and homeland security. Billions of dollars are being poured in Homeland Security and when that happens, the money is often spent to watch Americans in America. The federal government has set up fusion centers around the country who conduct research and investigations on suspicious Americans. Homeland Security tell us: “As of February 2009, there were 58 fusion centers around the country. The Department has deployed 31 officers as of December 2008 and plans to have 70 professionals deployed by the end of 2009. The Department has provided more than $254 million from FY 2004-2007 to state and local governments to support the centers.”
This is getting scary. The ACLU in Virginia exposed a controversial report from Virginia’s Fusion Center assessing the threat of terrorism not just from overseas but domestically. The ACLU, which brought the report to the public’s attention several weeks ago and recently urged government officials to investigate the Fusion Center, had criticized the report for exaggerating the threat of terrorism in Virginia and using baseless generalizations to connect racial minorities, college students, and religious organizations with threats of terrorism in the state. Take a look at this. These types of investigations are being financed throughout the country. The way we spend our money defines who we are. And right now we are spending far too much money on watching Americans whose only crime is to disagree with the political elites of this country.

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