March 16, 2007

I Like it Here. It's Nice.

From this month's Harper's index:
  • Percentage of American adults held in institutions (prisons or mental) in 1953 and today respectively: 0.67%, 0.68%
  • Percentage of institutionalized adults in 1953 in mental institutions: 53%
  • Percentage of institutionalized adults in prison today: 97%

So, half of those we call criminals today were called mental patients in the 50's. The other possible interpretation is that crime is way up in exact proportion to the amount insanity is way down. Seems unlikely. I discussed these numbers a few months ago with my mom and she thought that the numbers indicate that we are using jails as proxies for mental institutions. There is probably some of that going on but as a whole that explanation feels incomplete.

To me, these numbers indicate that crime and mental health are mere rationalizations for removing people from society. I would go farther to say institutionalization performs some function for society that needs to be justified in clear terms like crime and mental health but probably is much more difficult to understand.

Here's another tidbit from Harper's index that's also justice related:

  • Amount by which the salary of Judge Judy exceeds the salaries of all nine Supreme Court justices combined: $26,000,000

(The photo is from Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Library of Congress)


Diggs said...


the unbeatable kid said...

diggs must be tired from all that working and studying.