There is no time like the present...to Steal From You.
You would think that once you place a thief behind bars, he or she could no longer steal from you. Unfortunately, it's simply not true. Just as it was, it is again.
In the past, stealing from behind bars was just a bit slower and more complicated. Today, everything, including crime, occurs very fast. Today, a sucker is born every millisecond – not every minute. It is the Information Age – the age of 'fast'.
As technology leaps forward, criminals jump in just as fast. Email means theft. Passwords could be determined. Business cards could be printed – from behind bars. Books could be written, from prison cells. Music could be made in Prison Chapels. All of these methods and more, were and are used to both take and make money. Running criminal enterprises from the Prison Yard became easy when the Information Age came into full swing.
Coded letters were used in the past, now 'texting' was available. The prisoners still use Guards, referred to a Correctional Officers today, once they were compromised. Not all officers, just a few. Prisoners use different methods to accomplish this, but the result is the same. More of your hard earned tax dollars were and are flushed down the drain – not to mention the dollars being transferred to prisoners' bank accounts.
Oh, you did not know they had bank accounts?
Well, in a sense they do. Naturally, prisoners do not keep too much cash in their Prison monitored accounts. Most money is kept outside, in other accounts, so the Corrections Departments can't get at it. The prisoners simply use the new codes – credit card numbers and other money transfer methods, which are difficult to trace. They pay each other in this manner – and the officials usually never know.
Smart phones are a great help to the modern prisoner as well.
"Hello, this is the Front Desk - we need to verify your credit card number..."
Medical staff, Dental personnel and Food Service workers are also targeted, by the criminals – in the prisons. But the big difference is that today, the criminals have almost instant communication with anyone one earth.
Besides communication, the modern criminal has access to the internet and all the ways it enables him or her to rip you off – in your home, at your job or even at the hotel, where you are staying on vacation.
"Hello, this is the Front Desk - we need to verify your credit card number..."
Oh they don't rip you off in person, just electronically. After all, what does it matter to a person who is doing four life sentences? He'll make as many phone calls, send as many emails, enlist as many other criminals – to get you and your money. And ruin your life.
In military speak, to conquer an enemy – and make no mistake, criminals are enemies – you need to to do at least three things. You must cut or stop communication. The enemy cannot be allowed to exchange information with other enemies. You must control criminals and this means imprisoning or otherwise stopping them from committing additional crimes. Finally, you must break up any command structures, any gang leaders, and any known head honchos in order to keep the criminals from organizing.
All of this is easy to say, but these days, difficult to accomplish. In fact, today – at least in Florida – Command, Control and Communication is only a dream. The prisoners have the edge and soon, if it remains unchecked, they will win. (This blogger's highly educated position.)
...93 escapes from the Florida Department of Corrections...
So how are we doing in the U.S. - at least in some states? In general, we are keeping prisoners behind bars, for the most part.
Take the State of Florida for example. It could be Alabama or California – the state is not important. On the State of Florida website (www.dc.state.fl.us) there were 93 escapes from the Florida Department of Corrections in from July 2013 to June 2014. If you drill down into the numbers you will see that the Florida separates the numbers in various categories, which tend to confuse the layman.
Although there were 93 total escapes during the time-frame in question, only two of those were from regular prisons. This would mean that the remaining escapes were from non-prisons? No. They were from Work Camps, Work Release Centers and similar.
These non-prisons are where prisoners are sent, if they are not problem prisoners, usually a few months or years before they are released from prison. These non-prison escapes are not considered high profile. The high profile escapes are the prisoners who might climb a fence or otherwise hide in a garbage cart and escape from behind three fences, all with razor wire and all with electronic monitoring equipment installed. Such things have happened. (See the David C. Harden escape case in Orlando, Florida.)
In these non-prisons, however, run or contracted through the Florida Department of Corrections, prisoners are free to go to work and actually mingle with the public. It would be expected that more of these non-prisoners would just 'walk off', but technically, they escape.
...the Florida Department of Corrections has routinely housed over 100,000 prisoners...
Two escapes are not bad, you would think – from an actual fenced in prison. For a whole year. And that is what they want you to focus on - in Florida.
Since 2009, the Florida Department of Corrections has routinely housed over 100,000 prisoners. Even if 100 bad guys escaped a year, percentage wise, it would be almost insignificant. Add to this, that Florida has another 140,000 plus people on Felony Probation and you wind up with about a quarter of a million bad guys in a population of about 20 million. Still, those numbers aren't so bad. But it's not about the numbers. It's about how easy it is for prisoners to continue to commit crimes in the real world from their cells. They can simply phone in their escape plans now - or maybe a set up a 'hit' on the outside, if they need a judge, attorney or witness silenced.
So what's the big beef? Why should John Q. Public be concerned? Let us take just one example. Your tax-refund theft.
According to a CNBC article, dated February 11, 2015, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service of the United States) will be hit with over 21 billion dollars in fraudulent refunds by 2016. The IRS is blaming budget constraints and outdated systems. That translates into about $170 in losses to each and every taxpayer in the United States.
(Ask.com indicated there were about 122 million people who actually paid federal income taxes in 2013.)
This is not chump change any longer. Clearly the IRS needs to reformed if they allow this much money walk out the door, so to speak.
This is not to say that only U.S. 'prisoners' are the ones committing IRS Fraud. We know there are others – other thieves. The point is, large chunks of cash are transferred to prisoners and the IRS is blaming Congress because their budget does not allow them to adequately police refunds. But they are quick to audit Grandma's Ice Cream Shop. Go figure.
IRS gave out $1 billion in fraudulent refunds for prisoners
In a CNN Money article dated January 30, 2013, titled "Prisoners rake in millions from tax fraud" by Blake Ellis,it was estimated that in 2010 about $758 million dollars a year was siphoned off by prisoners.
In 2007, the tax fraud number was only 166 million.
In an article for the Washington Examiner, titled "IRS gave out $1 billion in fraudulent refunds for prisoners", dated November 25, 2014, Sarah Westwood indicated that by 2012 the number was actually a billion. The problem is, according to Westwood's research, the IRS is a bit behind in reporting of the extent of problem, so we do not know estimated losses currently. We can estimate it is well over a billion dollars a year by now.
In actuality, this IRS fraudulent refund problem is more than likely understated. Even the prisoners who were caught are only part of the picture. Obviously every crime was not solved. Every rookie detective knows that it's only the tip of the iceberg we find poking out of the ocean's surface. It's what hidden under the surface that is the bigger problem. And a good way to deal with icebergs is warm weather. Turn up the heat.
- 364 Billion in 2013
- ~21 billion to criminals by 2016 (estimated)
According the the 2013 IRS Databook, they refunded approximately 364 billion to 'taxpayers'. This information came from IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen in his "Letter from the Commissioner" on page iii.
If 21 billion of those refunds are attributable to what the retail industry calls 'shrink' that would be about a 6% loss per year. The National Shrink Database.com reports that the national average is only about 2.20% - for retailers. (Information obtained March 3, 2015.) The National Shrink folks have about 47,467 stores participating, so you can judge their accuracy.
Put another way, all retail shrinkage of all the stores in the United States of America combined, totalled $42 billion, in 2013, according to Marianne Wilson in her article titled "Study: Shrink costs U.S. retailers $42 billion; employee theft tops shoplifting" dated November 6, 2014 - on the Chain Store Age (.com) website.
Are we saying that the IRS alone lost half as much money, due to fraud, as all the stores in America lost to theft/shrinkage? Yep. And they, the IRS, accomplished this feat in one year too. These numbers are astounding.
Prisoners in the U.S. have been bilking us to the toon of 'billions' and all we get in response is more about how the IRS just can't handle the theft problem – but they can sure audit the good guys like there is no 'next year'. Maybe it's high time to reform the entire system or have them (the IRS) to focus on their 'shrinkage' problem. Especially, the prisoners robbing them and us.
Perhaps the IRS can take a lesson from all of the banks and credit card companies. At least they offer several layers of security, automated personal questions and other annoying methods to keep us and them, from being robbed blind.
...the 'theft equation' needs to be balanced...
But the IRS side of the 'theft equation' needs to be balanced with the prisoner side. The prisoners in all of America's Correctional Facilities must be 'controlled'. They are not fully controlled. This is not to say they must be beaten into submission – and there are instances of criminal conduct by the 'guards' – but prisoners must not have access to cell phones.
Since the invention of the cell phone, the crime game behind bars has switched into a higher gear. Now we have smartphones – and so do prisoners. Security at prisons must be improved. Perhaps prisoners caught with cell phones should not simply be charged with a new crime – something they joke about – but transferred to a facility where there is no cell phone service. The new ideas about installing special telephone towers to filter cell calls are prohibitively expensive - at present. Another idea is to amend the laws. Those civilians and staff introducing cell phones into prisons must face stiffer penalties. Extended prison sentences for prisoners already serving multiple life sentences is a joke. One thing is certain, our current course is leading us toward a giant money cliff and we are putting our lives in danger every day we ignore the problem.