What’s the Truth Hidden by the “Super Predators” Lie?

The desire to punish for the joy of punishing, for revenge, or for racist or sadistic domination has always had certain difficulties hiding behind the pretense of punishing for protection from danger. Creating fear of (young, black, male) “super predators” was a propaganda tactic for politicians like Hillary Clinton that bore some similarity to the efforts by politicians like Hillary Clinton to create fear of Iraqi weapons that didn’t exist. The latter was meant to hide U.S. aggression toward Iraq. The former was meant to hide mad, raging punitive vindictiveness that sought to put lots of people in cages for lots of time regardless of the damage done.

One of the difficulties that pretending to punish people for public safety has in hiding real motives for mass incarceration is that the people whom the punishers most want to lock up for the longest time (or execute) are generally the least likely people to commit another crime (even if guilty of the first one). A 2009 study cited in the remarkable new book, Boy With a Knife, found that those who had been incarcerated for homicide were the very least likely to commit any kind of crime. In California in 2011 almost 49% of prisoners released later returned to prison for new criminal convictions, but that figure was less than 1% for those released who had been convicted of murder.

Part of the explanation for this may be that those convicted of murder were kept longer in prison and that older people are less likely to murder than younger people. But many studies have also found that prison has the opposite effect of rehabilitation, that people who learn to survive in prison are learning how not to survive when released, and that being released with the label of “felon” and little to no assistance in finding employment or income makes rehabilitation less likely. But even the theory that age is a factor or a theory that prison actually rehabilitates people cuts against the theory of the “super predator,” of the subhuman monster incapable of reform.

There’s also overwhelming evidence that locking up children makes them more likely to commit crimes as adults. This is true in general, and most children who are locked up are locked up for minor, non-violent crimes, the sorts of crimes that tend to be repeated a lot more than murder does. Yet, the United States, now the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would put an end to such practices, locks up children in adult prisons and tells itself this outrage is justified by the need to protect the public from what Hillary Clinton used to call “super predators.” The U.S. tries about 250,000 children in adult courts each year, not because this serves the children or adults or society, but because of a general sense of hatred of and fear of those children. Wildly out of proportion to actual levels of crime, 62% of the children tried in adult courts are African American.

Boy With a Knife provides this context but principally tells the true account of a crime and its punishment. In 1993 in Massachusetts a white boy named Karter Reed fatally stabbed another boy. Nothing excuses that action anymore than anything excuses flying an airplane into the World Trade Center. But learning the events that led up to it explains it, just as learning what U.S. foreign policy was during the 1990s explains 9/11. Reed was denied a father by incarceration. Reed grew up in a culture of violence and danger. Reed believed, just like the Pentagon, that being armed with deadly weaponry would keep him safe. Reed panicked and lashed out, not bombing Libya but sticking a knife into another boy’s stomach. He did so not imagining the boy would die. Nobody dies from such things on television, after all. He did so in a crowded school classroom full of adults there to break up a fight, adults who were guaranteed to witness his action and to apprehend him.

Karter was tried in adult court and sent away to adult prison following a trial in which he was falsely presented as a monster who had killed joyfully. Beyond the actual crime, which was indeed monstrous, Karter was prosecuted for supposedly being rebellious, anti-social, cool and calculating, enjoying murder and reveling in it — all of which happened not to be true, but none of which had anything to do with the suffering of the victim, the victim’s loved-ones, the witnesses, or the community. How many decades should be added to a child’s sentence in hell for having smiled or for having broken trivial prison rules since being locked up pre-trial? How is restitution made or justice restored by locking a child in a cage until he’s old?

The answer, it seems, is: with great difficulty and struggle and rarity. Karter Reed’s story is one of redemption, of beating the odds, of rehabilitating himself despite prison, not because of it. It’s one of the better stories from among the thousands of stories that we know so little of and that should not have to exist.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
  • I commend this White writer for acknowledging the deep sub conscious meme of race in the American imagination that simultaneously makes desirable, the mass caging of N words at home and Blitzkrieg against any uppity “Negro” leader’s country abroad. The American police state is rooted in the slave patrols and slave punishment. The Drug War was first engineered after Reconstruction to control the Blacks, then put on steroids after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to derail their political evolution. This phony drug war destroyed Black families en masse and created the Black gangs and predators, of which I was a victim more than once. The young Black predators are very real, they were created by the mass imprisonment of Black fathers just as Saddam Hussein was empowered by the CIA. That said, mass incarceration is a fraud based on phony numbers. Police plant evidence on Blacks and lie through their teeth to get them convicted of crimes. http://www.swiftcointalk.org/index.php/topic,51759.0.html

    A politician like Billary is guided only by what increases her power. If mass imprisonment enriches private jails and she gets massive political donations from them, she will support. If she doesnt benefit, she wont. Everything she and Bill have done since they allowed cocaine trafficking at Mena AK has been guided by this rule and it has worked out spectacularly well for them

  • Dec 23, 2015 Glenn Greenwald – Drug Policy in Portugal

    Glenn Greenwald shares his insights regarding drug policy and explains what happened when Portugal chose legalization.

    https://youtu.be/nnUMgJKJurY

  • Jul 19, 2012 – What Happened When Portugal Decriminalized *ALL* Drugs?

    “The government in Portugal has no plans to back down. Although the Netherlands is the European country most associated with liberal drug laws, it has already been ten years since Portugal became the first European nation to take the brave step of decriminalizing possession of all drugs within its borders—from marijuana to heroin, and everything in between.

    https://youtu.be/unu-sbtp65A

    7/05/2011 Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/07/05/ten-years-after-decriminalization-drug-abuse-down-by-half-in-portugal/

    Jul. 17, 2012 Portugal Decriminalized All Drugs Eleven Years Ago And The Results Are Staggering

    http://www.businessinsider.com/portugal-drug-policy-decriminalization-works-2012-7

  • Nov 2, 2015 No, the Police Don’t Work For You

    https://youtu.be/eaNjfeQxSO4

    Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals

    Before the mid-1800s, American and British citizens – even in large cities – were expected to protect themselves and each other. Indeed, they were legally required to pursue and attempt to apprehend criminals. The notion of a police force in those days was abhorrent in England and America, where liberals viewed it as a form of the dreaded “standing army.”
    https://www.firearmsandliberty.com/kasler-protection.html

    CONTINUE DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: http://CopBlock.org/Library

  • Highest to Lowest – Prison Population Total Globally

    Please use drop down menu 1 to choose the category of data you wish to view, and then wait for the page to reload. Once the page has reloaded please choose the continent/region from drop down menu 2 and then press apply.

    Ranking – Title – Prison Population Total

    1 – United States of America 2 228 424

    2 – China 1 701 344

    3 – Russian Federation 672 100

    4 – Brazil 581 507

    http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison-population-total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All

    JAN. 24, 2014 This World Map Shows The Enormity Of America’s Prison Problem

    About 2.4 million people live behind bars in America — the highest number in the world. That’s a little more than 0.7% of the population and more than 700 for every 100,000 people. This world map illustrates how disconcerting that is.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/world-map-of-incarceration-rates-2014-1

  • May 13, 2014 JUST SAY NO…to the War on Drugs

    Every day, more Americans agree the War on Drugs has failed and must change. The Smarter Sentencing Act will save billions of dollars and ease dangerous overcrowding in prisons by reducing sentences for non-violent drug offenders. It will also help strengthen communities and reduce racial injustice.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmBHnk78Q_4

  • MARCH 23, 2016 Former Nixon Aide Admits War On Drugs Was A Big Lie; Was Never About Drugs

    To clarify, it was not Nixon’s police state that was a lie. That was very real. It was the justification used for the war, the fearmongering, and the panic-inducing hype produced by the White House that was a monumental obfuscation.

    http://www.naturalblaze.com/2016/03/former-nixon-aide-admits-war-on-drugs-was-a-big-lie-was-never-about-drugs.html