A Texas judge throws out indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Judge Manuel Banales dismissed eight of the indictments including those against two special prosecutors, two district judges, and a district clerk. Banales ruled the grand jury returned the indictments unlawfully. The charges centered around an alleged cover-up of a murder in one of Texas’ private prisons.
Beyond offering a sliver of hope that somehow, somewhere Cheney and Gonzales might be held accountable for something, the charges also serve as a reminder about the problems with American prisons:
- The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world…even though crime rates have decreased since 1990, incarceration rates surge.
- The growth in the prison population is due to changing policy, not increased crime. Prison has become a for-profit venture. It pays to keep people incarcerated… (unless you’re a taxpayer).
- The legal system incarcerates minorities disproportionately. African Americans are only 12.4% of the population, but make up more than half of all prisoners!
- Prisons have become a warehouse for the nation’s mentally ill. The number of mentally ill in prison is nearly five times the number in inpatient mental hospitals.