Too many prisoners
The 6th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker

Bangkok, December 18 2000

Dear reader, 

"All over the world in every country you find only poor people in jail. Middle class kids who get into drugs will bribe their way out or fight their way out with lawyers. It is only the poor scum boys who land in trouble because of drug use." (Bangkok Post 3-12-2000).

We live in a crazy society when so many masspeople are in jail. The United States has more than two million prisoners. In the year 2000 one in sixty white men between 20 and 40 years old was locked up but one in eight male Afro-Americans. Four million others were on probation. The total number of Americans under state supervision has risen in four years to nearly seven million, 3.2 % of the adult population. One of three black American youth will see the inside of a jail when they grow up. And in 2006 the number of imprisoned people further increased.

Such figures can be compared with the number of prisoners in the Russian Gulag. The reports about Iraq and Guantanamo seem to suggest that the mentality of the responsible American prison authorities is not very humane. But they do not utter many objections as they did before against the situation in the  Russian Gulag.

On the whole world probably more than 50 million able and healthy people, predominantly men, lost their freedom. The elite, the richer people, stays out of range and knows what to do with people who behave different. 
I propose to exert some direct pressure on the personal life of those persons who are culpable of the situation in which so many men in the prime of their life have lost their personal freedom.

Anyhow a good 2001.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis  (revised in 2006)

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