Law and Order

Law and order is critical to having a civilized society, but when it is not based on reason and compassion it turns into something monstrous, as is seen in totalitarian countries. The U.S. in general, and Florida in particular, spends a lot of money pursuing law enforcement strategies that are ineffective, cruel, and expensive. The incarceration rate in Florida is astoundingly high – 8 times that of Canada, and 24 times that of India, yet it suffers from a higher rate of violent crime than any industrialized state in the world. Most of this increase has come from three practices:

  • 1. Jailing the mentally ill, as a result of de-institutionalization.
  • 2. The War on Drugs.
  • 3. Minimum sentencing laws.

See the The War on Drugs and Homelessness for more on this.

A Volusia County Department of Corrections survey of the 100 most frequently arrested inmates was conducted in December 2004. According to data provided by Volusia County, the average number of incarcerations for these individuals was 29.6. Of these 100, only one had been charged with violent offense. Sixty–five of them were incarcerated on misdemeanor charges. (Volusia County Jail Prescription Drug Study – unpublished)

Politicians use law and order as a red–herring issue to get elected and re–elected. As a result, poor policy decisions keep getting made and more prisons keep getting built. In 2008 Florida House Republicans turned down a bill (supported by Charlie Crist) that, according to the FL Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, would have funneled $28 million into drug treatment and saved taxpayers $771 million over five years.

When my neighborhood was Cracktown, almost every house was unpainted. The windows were boarded over or had burglar bars; the yards looked like garbage dumps. Unsurprisingly, after I established a positive trend by rebuilding the core of the neighborhood, many of the same owners transformed their homes into showplaces. Studies have shown that people tend to litter, break windows, or vandalize when they live in a place where those things are commonly done. Our society is like that too. Where we have laws that do not make sense, such as with laws that seek to control behavior between consenting adults, it becomes acceptable to flaunt the law. When we allow laws to be designed by the very same people seeking to exploit the commons for personal gain, it is no surprise we get a ruthless exploitation of the middle class followed by a financial meltdown. When we have an energy policy that ignores clean energy – yet continues to fund petro–dictatorships – we can expect to have a growing military, endless Middle–Eastern conflicts, a shrinking dollar, diminishing global influence, and environmental degradation. Everything is interconnected to everything else, which is why all the issues must be studied and understood in relationship with each other.

For more specifics on law and order click here.