Stalin, Mark Shea and Imprisonment

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“Gene Wilder and I went to do a film at Arizona State Penitentiary. I was up there six weeks. It was strange, because it was 80% black people, and what’s strange about that is there are no black people in Arizona. I’m not lying, they bus “motherlovers” in. I was up there and looking at all the brothers and it made my heart ache, all these beautiful black men in the joint, g-d d-mn warriors should be out there helping the masses. I felt that way, I was real naive. Six weeks I was up there, and I talk to the brothers, and I talk to ‘em. And thank god we got penitentiaries.

I asked this one, I said, ‘Why did you kill everybody in the house?’ He goes, ‘They was home.’ I mean, murderers. Real live murderers. I thought black people killed people by accident. No, these “motherlovers” was murderers.”

Late Comedian Richard Pryor

Hattip to commenter Nate Winchester who alerted me to this.

As is his wont of the past few years, Mark Shea eagerly has climbed aboard yet another Leftist meme of the moment:

When I contemplate the fact that the Land of the Free has a bigger prison population than Stalin, and I read about such Big Brotherism as this:

“The NIH inventors have developed a mobile health technology to monitor and predict a user’s psychological status and to deliver an automated intervention when needed. The technology uses smartphones to monitor the user’s location and ask questions about psychological status throughout the day. Continuously collected ambulatory psychological data are fused with data on location and responses to questions. The mobile data are combined with geospatial risk maps to quantify exposure to risk and predict a future psychological state. The future predictions are used to warn the user when he or she is at especially high risk of experiencing a negative event that might lead to an unwanted outcome (e.g., lapse to drug use in a recovering addict).”

I’m beginning to think that the American Experiment is winding up as a particularly spectacular display of Truth Cancer, whereby heresy winds up mutating into its diametrical opposite.

 

America started out as an anti-Catholic Puritan culture advertising itself as free of the legalism of papism. It is bidding fair to end as an apostate Puritan culture obsessed with an all controlling state attempt to legislate everything and jail everybody.

But at least it’s still anti-Catholic.

Go here to read the comments.   Shea as usual did not bother to research the statement by Adam Gopnik, that we are jailing more people than were jailed in Stalin’s gulags, in the New Yorker article that he linked to.  If he had, he would have quickly realized that although it is a Leftist buzz phrase, it has no foundation in reality.  As commenter Nate Winchester noted, before he was banned by Shea,  the actual figure is 2.2 million incarcerated rather than six million.  At its height Stalin’s gulags had about five million people incarcerated at one time, although this is only a rough estimate and the figure is almost surely higher.  Considering the mass murder that was part of the gulags, the exact prison population during a year in Stalin’s workers’ paradise  is often reduced to guess work.

The weasel phrase “correctional supervision” probably was included by Gopnik to encompass supervision, conditional discharge and probation in the US.  Most people who encounter the criminal justice system in this country never serve a day in jail.  Supervision is a sentence where a conviction is stricken if the defendant does not run afoul of the criminal justice system within a certain time period, usually six months to a year.  It is used routinely in traffic cases.  Conditional discharge is a form of non-reporting probation.  Probation often involves people who serve very brief sentences in county jails.  About half the people incarcerated in the US are in county jails serving brief terms, usually a few days or weeks and most first offenders, even on low level felonies, never see the inside of a jail.

After 33 years defending criminal cases I know that those who serve longer terms are either people convicted of serious offenses or people who have long criminal histories and have long ago worn out the patience of the local judges who sentence them.  The idea that there are huge numbers of basically law abiding citizens serving lengthy terms in prison is sheer fantasy.  To compare our flawed incarceration system with Stalin’s gulags, where most of the inmates perished by being worked to death or simply shot out of hand, betrays both immense ignorance of the facts and a stunning moral imbecility. 

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24 Comments

  1. Liberal progressive Mark Shea is to Catholic blogging what liberal progressive Rod Adams is to nuclear blogging. They tout themselves as defenders of and expert in their respective arena, but underneath it is only liberal progressive ideology that matters. And interestingly, both have apparently favored Stalin over the US. The first asserts America is evil because it jails more people than Stalin did (a false claim), and the second has asserted in conversation that the Great Holodomor never occurred.
    .
    These liberal progressives are always and everywhere the same. I think they honestly believe the lies that they have conditioned themselves to spout forth. They are true believers, and their faith in unshakable.

  2. The issue, I would submit, is not about the numbers of people jailed, but the number of “black” people committing true crimes against society (not as in the Marxist states–political resistance)
    The horror of the number of blacks in our jails rest primarily (but not solely) upon the shoulders of the liberal anti-God, anti-family establishment that sees but opportunity in this crime crisis that they insist upon perpetrating for their own power. Slavery comes in many forms.
    The rest must unfortunately be laid at the feet of the inner-city community that shuns fatherhood, discipline and responsibility toward self and society under the false allure of government supported victimhood, long proved to be largely a self-perpetuating self-inflicted wound.

  3. Why doesn’t Shea just retitle his blog “Marxist And Loving It!” Nate Winchester, congrats for being banned by Shea! It proves you’re a good person!

  4. Mark-who can’t tolerate bitter fact-clingers.
    .
    I estimate I was banned three rimes before it dawned on me that life is too short to waste time and eyesight on unadulterated, over-wordy bullshit.
    ,
    Over years, my impression was that Nate W. is quite “liberal” and (uncharacteristically for libs) truth–bound. I guess not liberal enough, and too adamant for truth, for Mark-who.
    .
    Dose Mark-who retain his toady, useless idiots defending his crap? . . .

  5. This is such a common refrain lately, that the US supposedly “over incarcerates” people. Just this weekend I encountered this complaint at a dinner party, “why does the US jail more people than any other country?”

    As a 25 year prosecutor, I would concur with Don who points out, and as anyone involved in the criminal justice field experiences, incarceration is truly a last resort and lengthy incarceration (> 1 yr) is reserved for violent criminals (sometimes) or grossly habitual, career non-violent offenders.

    You have to work hard, as a criminal, to get serious jail time. The reality is that all the players, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, know that incarceration is expensive and usually does little to nothing in terms of actual rehabilitation. Hence, there are many non-incarceration alternatives, especially for drug possession offenses.

    The exception to the above is perhaps federal court, where penalties are pretty draconian compared to what similar offenses would net in state court. There are too many federal crimes, and too many of these are punished too harshly. But thankfully, the vast majority of criminal justice occurs on the state, not federal level.

  6. The growth in federal crimes, thankfully, is being noticed and discussed at great length. It is difficult to say, however, whether it will be reversed.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/06/revisiting-the-explosive-growth-of-federal-crimes

    The other side:

    http://law.emory.edu/elj/content/volume-62/issue-1/articles/debunking-claims-over-federalization.html

    Reply to the other side:

    http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/37_1_57_OSullivan.pdf

  7. These liberal progressives are always and everywhere the same. I think they honestly believe the lies that they have conditioned themselves to spout forth. They are true believers, and their faith in unshakable.

    TM Lutas and I had that discussion on an earlier Shea post. He may not consciously make an effort to deceive, but he seems eager to buy into whatever claims are made by people who have deceived him before (plus his seeming inability to post proper corrections in his post). At what point is your repeated gullibility your own fault?

    That Shea repeatedly harps on truth and obsesses over the minutia of lying only makes it further ironic.

    Why doesn’t Shea just retitle his blog “Marxist And Loving It!” Nate Winchester, congrats for being banned by Shea! It proves you’re a good person!

    This is actually the 2nd time, does that make me a saint? lol

    This is such a common refrain lately, that the US supposedly “over incarcerates” people. Just this weekend I encountered this complaint at a dinner party, “why does the US jail more people than any other country?”

    So often by people that want to do away with the death penalty too, which makes it doubly ironic. Next time at a dinner party you hear this, you might ask them: “Well which felon would you have be your neighbor?” If they don’t want them jailed, they don’t want them killed and they don’t want them in the neighborhood, what is to be done?

  8. Mr. TM Lutas was offering the nonsense that prisons are substituting for old-style insane asylums. Asylums housed people with schizophrenia, tertiary syphilis, senile dementia, retardation, and sundries of like severity. It’s a population that has been transferred to other sorts of institutions or is now dealt with as outpatients. He got the idea of prisons filled with asylum candidates from a government white paper which reported that so and so many inmates have a ‘mental problem’. Well, so does the guy in the next cubicle. My nearest and dearest works in an office with 8 f/t employees of which 3 admit to the use of psychotropics and one other is a reasonable wager. Them’s the times we live in. As for jails and prisons, they are shot through with aficionados of street drugs and heavy drinking.

  9. I think one difficulty re federal crime is that contemporary jurisprudence is inspired by notions which render the distinction between commerce and productive activity and between inter-state commerce and local commerce factitious. I recently read about a case in which a man was prosecuted in federal court for trading in pornography. Why in federal court and not an Indiana state court? It seems the digital camera he was using was assembled from parts made outside of Indiana… Humbug begets humbug.

  10. One problem with the federalization of criminal prosecution (and other issues) is that the media is always pushing the process, or at least never calls out politicians who push it. Federalism, it would appear, is nearly a dead letter.
    Yet there are situations where states’ rights and federalism do appear to produce unjust disparities between states. One would think that more frequent use of state legislator conferences and (for some other issues) interstate compacts would fix such disparities without trashing federalism. Media mavens, do your homework!

  11. “ The reality is that all the players, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, know that incarceration is expensive and usually does little to nothing in terms of actual rehabilitation.”
    I did a three year stint as a prosecutor in Scotland (Advocate-Depute). If the panel was (1) in regular employment and (b) had a stable family background and (c) did not have a drug or alcohol problem, the courts would impose a sentence of immediate imprisonment only for the most serious offences. The thinking was that these were the people most likely to stay out of trouble in the future, if given a second chance and statistics appear to bear this out.
    The main exception was cases involving breach of trust or fiduciary duty, where a severe sentence was felt to be necessary to deter others, even though the panel was most unlikely to be in a position to re-offend.

  12. Stalin only imprisoned people “at his pleasure”–since the most conservative estimates are that he murdered 20 million ranging up to a more likely number, 60 million.

    But Mark Shea shows an appallingly uninformed viewpoint, which just a few biographers of Stalin (Simon Sebag Montefiore, “In the Court of the Red Tsar”; Norman Naimark, “Stalin’s Genocides”; or a check of even the official Russian archive’s position is 20 million—so given the typical Russian tendency for diminishing their state’s own crimes, we can safely assume it is at least 3 times that number) could have set straight. If Stalin imprisoned only million who actually survived—they were the lucky ones.

    The viciousness of the Stalin regime really is beyond comprehension: Naimark (a Stanford U. prof, hardly a right-winger) observes, “”In some cases, a quota was established for the number to be executed, the number to be arrested,” said Naimark. “Some officials overfulfilled as a way of showing their exuberance.”

    The brutality applied is beyond our present capacity of belief: In the case of the kulaks alone:
    “They were called “enemies of the people,” as well as swine, dogs, cockroaches, scum, vermin, filth, garbage, half animals, apes. Activists promoted murderous slogans: “We will exile the kulak by the thousand when necessary – shoot the kulak breed.” “We will make soap of kulaks.” “Our class enemies must be wiped off the face of the earth.”

    “One Soviet report noted that gangs “drove the dekulakized naked in the streets, beat them, organized drinking bouts in their houses, shot over their heads, forced them to dig their own graves, undressed women and searched them, stole valuables, money, etc.”

    “The destruction of the kulak class triggered the Ukrainian famine, during which 3 million to 5 million peasants died of starvation.” —Naimark
    ……………….
    Mark Shea is carving a memorial in granite to dedicated to his own idiocy. I really wonder if he is mentally losing his marbles.

  13. “”n some cases, a quota was established for the number to be executed, the number to be arrested”

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag Archipelago wrote of a woman who went to a police station with the young daughter of a neighbor who had been left behind when the neighbor was arrested for the camp quota. “What should I do with her?” the woman asked. Wrong question: the woman found the quota was not yet full.

  14. By the logic of “correctional supervision,” wasn’t the entire population of the Soviet Union imprisoned?

    They didn’t call it a police state for nothing, you know.

  15. Mark Shea -http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2015/11/a-reader-struggles-with-his-faith.html
    “The Church cannot alter the sacraments. The most that may happen is that the Church will face the fact that Caesar has decided to pretend that there is such a thing as gay marriage and that people involved in such arrangements require some form of pastoral care. Would you rather the Church simply reject them and their children? ”
    .
    Somebody is playing with fire.
    The first pastoral care the Church can give to those in so-called “Gay-marriage” relationships is to tell them to cease if they do not want to end up in a very unpleasant place.

  16. Forget Mark Shea. This pope allowed himself to be draped with the symbol of communism and said he wasn’t offended. Liberals are always the same, ignorant or evil.

  17. Cpola’s quote of Mark Shea’s oxymoron:
    .
    “The Church cannot alter the sacraments. The most that may happen is that the Church will face the fact that Caesar has decided to pretend that there is such a thing as gay marriage and that people involved in such arrangements require some form of pastoral care. Would you rather the Church simply reject them and their children? ”
    .
    St Paul’s response in 1st Corinthians chapter 5:
    .
    Turn the sex pervert over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his soul may be saved on the last day.
    .
    St Paul devotes a whole chapter to this and admonishes the Church at Corinth to have nothing to do with sex perverts.

  18. “By the logic of “correctional supervision,” wasn’t the entire population of the Soviet Union imprisoned?” As Solzhenitzyn once observed, the entire country was a prison. Some just had a little less supervision than others.

  19. I have been called a global warming denier but that accusation fails to do me justice. I consider myself to be a liberal fantasy denier. So much nonsense. So much to deny.

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