The Prison Industrial Complex is a theory that describes how the USA has chosen to deal with economically unviable individuals and communities.

The theory suggests governing authorities  have decided that it is better to flood areas of high social deprivation with drugs, watch the inhabitants fight it out, then imprison the flotsam and jetsum.  Why?  It is cheaper than supporting petty criminals through the benefit system and diversionary support system, thus costing the tax payer millions.

Putting someone in jail (£22k in Scotland in HMP Saughton, Edinburgh) is more economically sustainable because the miscreant provides a massive increase in agents of social supervision: wardens, socials workers, lawyers, judges, criminologists, etc.

The Prison Industrial Complex also supports a rapid prison-building program with all the required ancillary services provided by the public, private and third sectors. Thus regenerating local economies previously devastated by economic crises.

Plus, it keeps poor people out of the voting system.  And it stops them breeding during their most fertile years.  Bonus! for the agents of social control.

The theory comes from leading criminologists in the USA who have concluded that strategies like ‘War on Crime’ and ‘War on Drugs’ are nothing less than wars on economically disadvanted communities.  According to Human Rights Watch, “black people comprise 13% of the US population, 30% of people arrested an 40% of those in prison.”

Lets look at the evidence …

Topping the World League in Cocaine

Today, Scotland was officially identified by the United Nations as the country with the biggest cocaine habit in the world.

A study by the UN reveals that more people per head of the population use cocaine in Scotland than anywhere else.

The UN World Drug Report found that 3.7 per cent of the adult population in Scotland used cocaine in 2009, the same level as in 2005 but almost three times as high as in 2000.

By contrast, in the United States, which is perceived to have a huge cocaine problem, the level of usage was 2.6 per cent of the adult population aged 16 to 59.

The global cocaine market is estimated to be worth £60bn and in Europe the number of users doubled to 4.1 million in the last 10 years.

Researchers for the UN said of cocaine use: “The only major European market showing an increase is the United Kingdom. The highest prevalence of cocaine use in Europe is found in Scotland. The United Kingdom is thus overall Europe’s largest cocaine market in absolute numbers with some 1.2 million users in 2009.”

Unofficial figures from government suggest that the overall drugs industry in Scotland is worth £12bn to the economy.

Our intrepid crime reduction special task force is working tirelessly on cleaning up the trade in Scotland.  The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) seized 105kg of class A substances worth a paltry £21m last year.

The official reason for the increase in cocaine use is that Colombian producers have been forced to look for new markets after authorities cracked down on supply chains to the US.

The last party I attended in Edinburgh was a very gregarious affair.  It comprised the usual mix of 30 and 40 year old social workers, middle management bank employees and small business owners in the local community.  By midnight the party was in full flow and everyone was wanting to take it to another level.  A pile of £10 and £20 notes started piling up on the side of the table and furtive mobile calls were being made.

“What’s that for?” I enquired naively. “Well, if you want to chip-in for some coke, please do.”

An hour later, huge white lines were being cut and divided with poetic artistry.  I left, feeling like the designated driver at a Roman orgy, surprised that Edinburgh parties had come to this in such a short time.

Prof Neil McKeganey

Predictions Were Well Known

Yet all this was predicted on January 1st 2006.  Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, said: “We certainly know that there are many, many more people using cocaine than there were even five years ago.”

“COCAINE could overtake heroin in the next few years as Scotland’s main drugs problem, a leading researcher has warned.”

“And it is possible in Scotland that over the next five or so years cocaine could even overtake heroin as the major drug problem.”

Professor Neil McKeganey’s research suggested that more than 50,000 children in Scotland have been exposed to drug addiction at home.

And so it has come to pass.

Remember, when you read the stats that they refer to percentages of total population.  In the USA, they have reduced the stats to population segments to find that a disproportionate amount of black people are enslaved by the prison industrial complex.

In Scotland, we must find the stats that describe the amount of people living in areas of multiple social deprivation.  We would probably find that 40% of economically disadvantaged people in certain Dundee and Glasgow (top of the drug misuse charts) wards are also enslaved by the justice system.

Topping the European League in Sending People to Prison

Scotland sends more of its people to prison on a daily basis than any other country in Europe including Russia and Turkey, according to research in 2005.

Scotland sends more of its people to prison on a daily basis than any other country in Europe including Russia and Turkey, according to new research.

More Scots per 100,000 inhabitants are sent to jail than 48 other countries, including Albania, Austria and Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.

The Council of Europe’s penal statistics place Scotland at the top of a league table of flow of entry to prisons – despite the promises of successive ministers to curb the numbers.

The figures show that 753.9 people are sent to prison per 100,000 inhabitants with England far behind at 253. Second is Switzerland, with Moldova third.

Scotland already has one of the highest per capita prison populations in Europe but this is the first time it has topped any of the European prison league tables.

Topping the World League of Most Violent Countries

Violent crime has doubled in Scotland over the past 20 years and levels, per head of population, are now comparable with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Tbilisi.

The study, based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, found that more than 2,000 Scots were attacked every week, almost ten times the official police figures. They include non-sexual crimes of violence and serious assaults.

The study, by the UN’s crime research institute, found that 3 per cent of Scots had been victims of assault compared with 1.2 per cent in America and just 0.1 per cent in Japan, 0.2 per cent in Italy and 0.8 per cent in Austria. In England and Wales the figure was 2.8 per cent.

Rates of functional illiteracy are record high and growing. About 50 per cent of that figure are “functionally illiterate” – below SQA intermediate level 1 – according to the Scottish Prison Service.

Is any of this preventable?  Is anybody responsible?  Or is this impoverished nation just another statistic in the Prison Industrial Complex?

@finwycherley

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