Friday, January 26, 2007

"The American People"

I admit that I have no idea what that means..."The American people." I guess I unconsciously assume that most people are pretty much the same --like me I guess. That was until yesterday when I inadvertently left Fox (as in the network, not the news channel) on while I was cleaning and absorbed an entire day of talk shows/judge shows. Holy crap. These people couldn't be more unlike me...

First, if I heard one more person say "seen" instead of "saw" my head was going to explode...but here's my question: Is the 'daytime tv' contingent the minority or the majority? Have most people been arrested? Been to jail and/or prison? Had children raised by a relative or taken by some child protection agency? Let men they barely knew move in with them and have access to their children? Gotten in a accident and arrested for driving drunk in your husband's truck with your lover in the car? Romanced prisoners in internet chat rooms? These people relay these instances as if they're commonplace.

I looked around a bit for statistics of some sort to shed some light on the question. How many Americans have done time? How many have been arrested for DUI? Arrested for spousal abuse? Child abuse? Drugs? How many have had children removed from their custody at some time during their lives?

What I found is depressing. I think the people we see on daytime tv are the MAJORITY. According to the Department of Justice one in every 15 people will go to State or Federal prison. At the end of 2001 5.6 million Americans had served time in prison -and if rates remain the same 6.6% of the babies born in 2001 will be incarcerated some time in their lives. One of every four males living in a big city will be arrested for a felony crime. When misdemeanors are factored in the percentage could be as high as 90%. (source1, source2, source3)

So sadly enough, a day of Judge Joe brown, Judge Judy, Geraldo At Large and Judge Alex led me to the conclusion that the majority of the country is criminally prone and undereducated. The argument that I kept seeing all over as I read through tons of criminal statistic pages...["the government will spend an average of $7000 a year on educating a child, but over $30,000 a year to incarcerate one"] --this doesn't fly as my private school spent WAY less per student than any public school and instead of being arrested, I got a full academic scholarship...

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