Money is freedom to many Americans but as the middle-class continues its nose dive we better think twice about financial recriminations. Americans are constantly polled regarding their feelings on crime and criminals. Questions such as, “Do you believe in the death penalty?”, “Should felons be able to vote?”, and “Should politicians be tougher on crime?” Polls are created and surveyed by millions of Americans every day, but the polls forget one thing most Americans don’t understand what jail really means. They don’t know the majority of criminals in the United States are poor-regardless of race. Our prison system has become a quasi-government transfer to care for the poor. Instead of creating jobs for the poor they are imprisoned to feed, shelter and clothe them. Illinois has been feverishly working to amend this government transfer with new bail bond laws. Representative Danny K Davis is now taking it to the national stage. As the most incarcerated nation in the world, it is time for a just system.
Money Equals Freedom
Unbeknownst to swaths of Americans, freedom depends on your income. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, non-incarcerated people make nearly twice as much or more than the incarcerated. Let’s take a quick look at those numbers. A non-incarcerated White male’s average annual income is $47,505 while his incarcerated counterpart averages $21,975. A non-incarcerated African-American male’s annual income is $31,245 while his incarcerated counterpart averages $17,625. A non-incarcerated Latino male’s average income is $30,000 while his incarcerated counterpart averages $19,740.
Now let’s discuss women. They are the fastest rising segment of the American prison population and the highest population in poverty. The average income of non-incarcerated White females is $26,130 while their incarcerated counterparts average $15, 480. The average income of non-incarcerated African-American females is $24,255 while their counterparts languish at $12,735. The average income of non-incarcerated Latinas is $15,000 while their incarcerated counterparts average $11,820. Can you see the differences-it’s nearly double for White males and a huge $10,000 difference for minority males? The women’s average salaries are all below the federal poverty line. The average bail amount set is $10,000 so the common 10% is $1,000 which must be paid for release. How does a person making below federal poverty line income post a bail that’s nearly their entire income for a month or more? It’s virtually impossible.
Nearly 62% of the incarcerated are waiting for trials due to a lack of bond money. According to these statistics Americas has reverted back to the island of debtors. With 8 out of every 10 Americans living paycheck to paycheck, prison is not far away. Adjusting the bail bond system to reflect real American salaries can decrease economic and social ills related to prison.
Free People Stimulate The Economy
The American Capitalist system is small business-up to 90% at any time. These businesses spend tens of thousands of training hours, supplies and innovations to maintain our economy. If 2.2 million Americans are waiting for release due to bail bond economics, who’s going to work? The average cost to lose an employee is generally 20% of their salary. So, when we get into the nitty-gritty politics of economic bail bonds, small businesses receive the bulk of the burden losing millions every year to an unjust system. In a country that loses more companies to off-shoring than to on-shoring the bail bond system is having a significant impact.
Without Justice, the Working Poor Stay Poor
Social ills rise and fall but not for the poor. Poor people live in a vicious cycle that is permeated by a government system that encourages the class system. The equation of undereducation, lack of resources and government debt is an immeasurable obstacle to financial freedom. Upon release, the incarcerated, which again the majority are found innocent as previously stated, must find employment. They re-join their lives as the working poor. After serving substantial sentences-sometimes up to four years awaiting trials, their shelter, source of income and families are nil. The American system expects these people to find jobs again with employers considering them financial a risk. Repetitive jail sentences normally follow the incarcerated. Why would an employer risk the training costs? How do you find a home without money, get to job interviews and eat? The social ills are compiled by a lack of ability to find meaningful and middle-class incomes. According to David K. Shipler’s, The Working Poor, families may be broken apart with husbands, wives, and children living in shelters, with relatives or having moved to another locale for their own work needs. This is the average life of working poor people.
These may seem to be a bunch of statistics and some meaningful explanation but for millions of Americans, they live this nightmare. They are disbanded from family, broken by criminal justice debt and the newly branded “previously incarcerated”. We the people must support changes to the bail system on a federal level. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, bail is not a race thing. We are a jailed nation with Whites at 39%, African-Americans are 40%, Latinos are 19% and Native Americans are 1% per the US prison system. Minorities are grossly overrepresented in jails, but we are all jailed. We must stop this mass incarceration to create a real nation of “We the People”. Call your state and US political leaders to let them know you insist that bail bonds be disbanded. Our nation’s future depends on it.