On Thursday, seven young men, only one over 18, decided to go on a crime spree in Huber Heights a suburb of Dayton Ohio, that used to proudly pride itself on being America’s largest community of brick homes. They were black young men. From Dayton and Trotwood. They’d met playing football as kids. One, the 18 year old, was supposed to be making a recruiting visit to a D-1 school for football this weekend. Instead, he’s in jail.
They robbed a cell phone store. Wearing masks, carrying guns. Pistols to long guns. A gun was thrust into an employees face. Threats were made. They drove off with cell phones.
Think about it for a minute. Cell phones. Devices that by their nature have a unique ID, and act as a homing device when activated. To activate them, you have to connect to one of four cell networks. These devices are infinitely traceable. To be used, they are tracked. Stealing cell phones is stupid. Insanely stupid.
But stupid isn’t their only problem, they chose to rob the cell phone store right in the middle of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team training. So far, they are 0-2 for luck and smarts.
Of the seven, the news reports three had no records, or only misdemeanors. Four had previous felonies. The guns will guarantee minimum three year mandatory sentences. The fact they are black, guarantees even more time will be thrown their way- to set an example, to show we’re tough on crime, to make sure that they learn the error of their not-quite-yet fully formed brains malfunctioning logic managers.
If I steal these cell phones with my 6 friends, we’re somehow going to become….
Does that even start to compute to you? Even if they scored 100 phones, all top of the line, that retail for $1000 each, that’s 100,000, split it six ways and that’s $16,666 each- at full retail, which fenced goods never get.
You know that as a nation we generally suck at math.
But, lets look at the real costs of our seven robbers 15 minutes of fame.
First, we have to wonder, how did they get the guns? How much did they cost? And think, that in this world of CCW and of cops proclivities to shoot young black males with guns (even toy guns- Tamir Rice anyone), that they are all lucky to still be alive and not perforated. We know that guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people- but in this case, people with guns killed at least three years of their lives with a mandatory sentence of three years.
Three years, seven robbers, 21 years of prison which in Ohio, which ranks 25th in the highest cost to incarcerate a prisoner for a year,
Average Annual Cost Per Inmate: $25,814
Average Daily Inmate Population: 50,960
As part of inmate education, prisoners in Ohio now have access to educational videos that can be downloaded to their tablets, which are owned by the prison and distributed to students.
That’s $542,094 of your tax dollars to house, feed, secure and “rehabilitate” seven dumb kids.
Note, this doesn’t include the costs of the damage done to the business, the cost of the cops, the cost of the lawyers, judges, trials, housing in the jail and juvy during the long drawn out process of trials, plea bargains, evidence gathering, detective work. You can throw a figure at it, it will be wrong, but, I’m guessing at least a million bucks will be spent, before a single one heads from Montgomery County to the big house to start doing time.
$1.5M, divide that by 7, it’s about $214,000 each.
That’s your tax dollars being spent, to teach these kids a lesson.
And that’s just with the minimum 3 year gun spec. Add in additional years, for assault, theft, and even the “kidnapping” possibility- and you’ll have many more years in prison. And what happens in prison? Kids, end up living with other criminals. Lots of them. Older than them, bigger than them, more criminally experienced. Prison is no walk in the park, and by the time they get out- at 21 if they are lucky, older if not, they will be faced with trying to get a job, build a life, become a member of a society that already “made an example” of them. Most, will end back in jail, or dead, or lead a very hard life.
Each of them stole $16K- each of us will be on the hook for $214K minimums. Do you see the math fail? How does 15 minutes of stupidity cost us so much?
And how did they get to where they are? Some call it “the school to prison pipeline.” A system rigged to fail young poor kids, to keep a huge corporate beast fed a steady diet of fresh young souls to fill their jail cells. In this country, we think that locking people up is the best solution, or at least our numbers say that- since we lock up more of our citizens in the “Land of the free, home of the brave” than any other 1st world country.
A more reliable way to compare incarceration practices between countries is the prison population rate. Even by that measure, the United States had the highest prison population rate in the world, at 716 per 100,000 people. More than half the 222 countries and territories in the World Prison Population List, by the U.K.-based International Center for Prison Studies, had rates below 150 per 100,000.
Let’s do a little math at the Ohio annual rate: The US has 2,145,100 inmates– at $25,814 per year. That’s $55,373,611,400 per year. $55 Billion dollars a year, that isn’t spent on roads, schools, health care for all, or….
Back in my day, when I was their age, there were still people enlisting in the military who were given a choice by a judge- join the army or go to prison. We were at peace, so it wasn’t a possible death sentence then, and one thing about the military is- it does an amazing job of taking young men (and in my time- women too) and changing their world. All of a sudden, all vestiges of social class, upbringing, status, popularity, athleticism go out the door as you are processed from Jody off the block into a trained defender of god and country. The cost? Which we, as a nation seem only too happy to pay-
A recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report shows that the average cost to maintain an active duty soldier is now $99,000 a year, a 31 percent jump between 2000 and 2014.
So, yes, it costs us more by a factor of almost 4 to maintain a soldier, but we need soldiers, we don’t need criminals. But the problem is, today’s kids from the inner city- looking to escape poverty by enlisting- aren’t even qualified to stop bullets. They’re too stupid.
But today, more than two-thirds of America’s young people wouldn’t qualify for military service because of physical, behavioral, or educational problems.
The services have long required at least a high-school education as a prerequisite for joining.
The Army used to offer GED assistance for recruits who wanted to join. These days, having a felony conviction is out of the question, but so are some tattoos, gauged earlobes, and taking hyperactivity medication. The Pentagon says 71 percent of America’s 34 million 17-24 year old population would fail to qualify for enlistment.
With even that avenue closing to our seven robbers, what is left?
We have historical precedent for what to do with our seven robbers from the Greek menologies:
The Seven Robbers (Latin: Septem latrones) were martyrs on the island of Corcyra (Corfu) in the 2nd century AD. Their names were Saturninus, Insischolus (Jakischolus), Faustianus, Januarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius, and Mammius.
The Greek menologia (calendars of the saints) inform us that Sts. Jason and Sosipater, who had been instructed in Christianity by the Apostles or by Jesus himself, came to the island of Corcyra to preach Christianity. After making numerous conversions they were cast into a dungeon where the above-named seven robbers were imprisoned. They succeeded in converting the robbers who were then taken outside the city and martyred by being cast into cauldrons that were filled with seething oil and pitch.
Source: Seven Robbers – Wikipedia
Cauldrons of oil and pitch- burning them alive was the reward for being converted. That makes no sense to me either, nor does martyrdom. Making examples of 7 young men, who we as a society have failed at all points, wasn’t the answer then, nor is it now.
If this country was better at math, we’d figure out that the costs of poverty, mental illness, incarceration, stupidity of our citizens far outweigh the costs of a guaranteed minimum income, a single payer health care system and mandatory universal service for all, with the reward of a complete, free, education all the way through doctoral studies. Yes, we will still have prisons, because some people are inherently evil (I personally experienced this last year when my office manager stole from me an the disabled veteran I have power of attorney over- and went uncharged by a grand jury in Montgomery County- she’s not black and male), but the people we’ll lock up will have actually done things like killed innocent people, or raped children, or stolen huge amounts of money- causing the collapse of our economy like all those Wall Street geniuses, oh, wait….
Before we cast the seven robbers into the cauldron, maybe we should figure out what we’re cooking, because in the grand scheme of things, the end product isn’t any more edible than the raw inputs.
Stupidity costs us all.