Sobering look at how the poor are denied American justice

Originally published at:



The shunning ex-cons experience is called a “social death,” and it makes them harder to re-assimilate into society after doing their time.

Yeah, but let’s please give the originator of that term, and the (still relevant) phenomenon it describes, their proper due.


Why is the default process called re-assimilation, when it’s likely that many were never assimilated. Being poor being how you end up in prison in the first place? If your privatised prison system - paid for by the taxes of those who have assimilated - generates wealth for the few, there are few better ways to engineer your anti-social(ist) agenda (the redistribution of debt) than making assimilation as hard as possible. It’s just thermodynamics.


I have a feeling this meme is going to get even more play than usual over the next few years.


never mind the shitty plea deal system and lack of proper legal defense that gets poor people convicted of crimes they may not have even committed, often without a trial


It’s really amazing how Victor Hugo’s work continues to be relevant. He was talking about some of these same issues in the 19th century, and here we still are.


It’s also that mainstream US culture is hyperindividualized. This is another sector where it’s all too common to ignore the larger contributing context. “If you do the crime, then you do the time,” etc.


The US culture professes to individualism, but does an exceedingly poor job of it, since it cannot handle even the most basic of differences between people. It’s more like mass clueless self-centered infantile narcissism.


Do you think hyperindividualistic would’ve worked better?

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It has more consistency as a philosophy/methodology than what there is now. But I think that people are not truly speaking individual in any case, so it doesn’t ultimately matter.

If the US was actually individualistic or hyperindividualistic, I would argue that it would not be so obsessed with conformist systems such as patriotism, finance, organized religion, etc. - there would not be a “mainstream” at all. Instead the US is a compromise between individualism and collectivism which is the worst of both worlds. All of the naiveté and alienation of dysfunctional individualism, with all of the conformity and oppression of dysfunctional collectivism.


When I started at Symantec in the late 90’s, I worked with a person who was responsive and productive as hell. She did her job well, easily in the top 10%. Perhaps better, but let’s just say top 10%.

When it came time to transition from contract work to FTE (jargon for Full Timed Employee, one with benefits and a bit of security), she was fired that day. She had committed a misdemeanor when she was 18, and it was of course public record.

Virtually all of her co-workers reached out to John Thompson–now the chairman of Microsoft, and a person I greatly admire–and pleaded that she shouldn’t be fired for a mistake made years ago, had already paid her “debt” to society, and was clearly a benefit to our team.

The response was simple, “we have to hold our company to a certain standard”.

Twenty years on it still makes me feel ill. We should have fucking done more, and the justice system in the US is gravely sick.


But surely even a random collection of things of the same species would automatically produce a mainstream as some kind of emergent property? I accept that this might simply be ‘breathing’, but even so …

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I’m told that Jeff Sessions favorite flavor is recidivism.


I will just briefly say for me that’s a “no”. Species is a taxonomic rather than biological/essential thing, natural selection is quite old-school, and that people don’t need to be stereotypically “human” to be people or respected. But those are all topics in and of themselves.

Often, when I post, I seem to need to clarify my entire perspective on life, the universe, and everything which too often derails from the topic at hand. So I prefer to leave it at that for the purposes of this specific discussion.


Then I shall keep you clarifying your perspectives by deleting the ‘of the same species’ part so you cannot use taxonomic vs. quiddity. Nor need I require the things to be alive for a mainstream to emerge from a bunch of things.

Whilst I’ve got you distracted, I can continue my evil scheme.

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While there is a rental house quite nearby that houses excons and some sex offenders and that can cause problems but after close to 20 years living here so far nothing. I don’t go harassing them or wishing ill or etc. After a windstorm one of their cars got some damage from a rather large falling branch and a neighbor commented along the lines of ‘good’ and I was like hey you know they have done their time according to our laws and probably still are on probation their life sucks enough man. I imagine they mostly just want to get on with having a life that doesn’t fuck them over anymore.

ETA: Seattle employers can’t ask about that for job applications anymore. I hope that spreads. I understand it for some types of work but in general it should not matter.


I believe a central tenant of the problem is that a significant number of people believe that criminals are just bad people. It doesn’t matter what led them to where they are now, if they were good, they wouldn’t have fallen, if they were innocent, they wouldn’t have taken the deal.

If you believe people are inherently evil, there is no saving them, there is no way to lift them out of that, and every ‘criminal’ that goes back to ‘crime’ is reinforcement for this perspective. Those who look into this can understand why ‘crime’ is so tempting (it’s an alternative to starving, for one), but many people enjoy their simplistic view of the world.


I know that I am going to get flamed for this, but the most extreme example I can think of is Breivik. I think his sentence is fair. I also believe in twenty years after his sentence is done his psychiatric tests will keep him out of society permanently.

That is one of the aspects I stand in awe of when it comes to Norwegian criminal justice. That is courage, ethical, moral, and hard.

Anyway, getting off topic.


How do I get in on this? I’ll Hench.