A study by the University of Pennsylvania has concluded that those jailed for minor crimes like cannabis possession become more likely to commit future criminal offenses.
In yet another example of how the War on Drugs has been an industry-scale manufacturing tool of criminal activity, this new study indicates that jailing marijuana users helps to create a cycle of criminal escalation.
The study looked at those who had been charged with petty, victimless misdemeanors, yet were unable to make bail, and therefore had to remain imprisoned until their trial. It found that people in this situation were far more likely to commit another crime in the near future.
Paul Heaton and his fellow researchers at Penn Law looked at about 400,000 cases in Harris County, Texas, where people had committed low-level, nonviolent offenses, such as disorderly conduct and possessing small amounts of marijuana.
They found things got worse for the people who could not afford to pay bail and were sent to jail before their trials.
The group was 23 percent more likely to commit another misdemeanor and 30 percent more likely to commit a more serious felony within 18 months of leaving jail.
Vicimless crimes are gateway crimes.
When you disrupt peoples lives with something as extreme as incarceration you place them on a downward spiral. You ruin their personal relationships, their professional lives and their homes. There is shame, stigma and suspicion that is nearly impossible to overcome. Incarceration comes to define the individual.
Jail is hell on earth. Our faux-machismo culture glosses over the actual truth of incarceration by making it look like a Quentin Tarantino buddy film. Yet the truth is that jail is a loud, sleepless and violent place where you are always on edge. It is a horrifying experience that never leaves you.
For many the trauma of imprisonment may lead to PTSD, which has been found to lead to higher rates of violence in veterans with the affliction. If our jails are giving their occupants mental health disorders, or exacerbating pre-existing ones – then they are doing more to create future crimes than prevent them through such wanton incarceration. And with regretful amounts of irony, getting PTSD for being jailed for a plant that may relieve PTSD puts the justice system at the center of a storm that ruins lives wherever it passes.
On top of this, those not released on bail while awaiting trial for their petty crimes are 25% more likely to plead guilty. Which means that not only are the jail walls eroding their individual liberties while destroying their lives, they are breaking down peoples will, which is the very apex of their freedoms – the ability to choose freely without aggression, and being jailed is certainly an act of aggression.
Elsewhere in the animal kingdom and among our closest primate relatives we can observe that socially deviant behavior, crime, is pretty rare. The same is true of those modern primitive people still living a way of life that is tens of thousands of years old in shrinking pockets around the world. Outside modern humanity we can see that criminality is a rare commodity.
Outside of modern society there are also no police and no prisons. Which means we really need to ask ourselves whether our criminal justice systems are a solution to crime, or if they are its greatest cause. Studies like this one are making more and more of a case that some of the trappings of our civilization, like systematic laws and their enforcement by an ordained class, may be the greatest impediment to actually becoming more civilized.
When the work of the ‘good guys‘ creates more ‘bad guys‘ then who is the greater threat to social harmony, peace and prosperity?