1 vs. 100

No, this post isn’t about the game show. It’s actually the number of inmates versus free adults in this country. Yes, There is one inmate for every 100 adults in this country. Am I the only one that thinks this is insane? I’m sure I’m not!

But what I do think is insane is the fact that a good portion of those inmates are people who were locked up for having a dime bag of pot on them when they got pulled over for having a broken tailight on their car. Or kids who went to a party that got busted and were holding 2 Ecstasy pills. Or some poor junkie who got busted in a crackhouse raid.

Also, as it states in the article:

The report said prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime or in the nation’s overall population. Instead, it said, more people are behind bars mainly because of tough sentencing measures, such as “three-strikes” laws, that result in longer prison stays.

See where I’m going with this?

My stance on prisons is this:

1. Violent/Sex offenders only, please. Murderers, rapists, pedophiles, armed robberies, aggravated assault with the intent to kill, etc. – ABSOLUTELY lock those people up without hesitation. No “three strikes” for them. Do the crime one time – you’re in prison, buddy. No second chances.

2. Non-violent offenders – just give ’em probation and community service. If it’s white collar crime like money laundering or bank fraud, make ’em pay fines along with probation and community service. Make the drug users take regular drug tests and attending meetings – daily if they have to. Why crowd up our jails with people who are not violent, only to turn them into institutionalized thugs who commit bigger crimes once they get out because it’s what they get used to being in prison? I’d be curious to know the recidivism rates for non-violent offenders who go back to prison due to violent offenses the second time. Because I’m sure if those non-violent offenders had not gone to PRISON but instead given the option of probation, community service, and counseling that they probably would NOT decide to up the ante and commit a violent crime.

When will these harsh penalties be lifted on people who simply made mistakes? I know there are nuances to the situations above – for instance, the guy out celebrating his 21st birthday who gets rip roaring drunk and runs over an old lady when he runs the stop sign he didn’t see. Where should HE go – it’s tough because he didn’t MEAN to run over the old lady. Maybe that’s what the minimum security prisons can be for, while the major hardcore prisons can be for the deliberately violent offenders and sex offenders. But don’t imprison guy who cheated his company out of some money, or the club kid who just wanted to dance all night with his friends. They don’t need to go to PRISON – not when fines, lengthy probation and community service is more than enough.

What will it take for this to stop? When prisons overtake suburbs and we end up with whole communities of inmates because we need the room since 50 out of 100 American adults are “behind bars”? Will we make the entire state of Nebraska a prison state and send them all there until it’s busting at the seams (and use eminent domain to take over Kansas when the time comes that it’s 75 out of 100 American adults “behind bars”).

Ugh. I’m done talking about it. I didn’t formulate my thoughts nearly as well as I wanted to, but I had to say SOMETHING.

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7 comments

  1. Just a quick logic check here: You apparently think it is ok for someone to sell drugs to CG and CB, get them hooked to the point where CG is a prostitute to support her habit and CB a dealer himself for the same reason, but all you want is for that original dealer to go to some meetings and pee in a bottle. Is that correct?

    Is that logical?

    Just checkin’…

  2. One more thought:

    Could it be that crime rates are not increasing because criminals are in jail, not in meetings? Could it be that the 1% of the population who commit crimes are suddenly finding themselves in jail for LONG periods of time instead of the revolving door policies of the past? Could it possibly be that the harsher penalties are actually working?

  3. Dad – as I said, I didn’t formulate ALL of my thoughts on the subject, just the main points. And as I said, I think minimum security prisons can still be effective – for unintentional homicide (the drunk driver I mentioned in my post), or hardcore drug dealers – the kind who are dealing with 100s of 1000s of pounds of coke, for instance. But again, when you lock up a kid for 5 years because he had a couple pills on him and you call it “possession with intent to sell,” there’s something wrong there.

    And I’m not complaining about long jail terms for the folks that DESERVE it – I hope that’s not how my post came across. If you commit a serious crime, you should do serious time – in some cases I disagree with parole even being an OPTION.

  4. The article was NOT about max security prisons, it was all jails and prisions nationwide, which includes the minimum security detention centers. And it didn’t cite anyone carrying a couple of pills getting 5 years for intent to sell, so I don’t know how your extrapolation worked. What the article says is that there are now 1% of our population in all jails/prisons in the US, and that crime isn’t growing. I would expect that crime result from that prison statistic. Most crime is from repeat offenders. By keeping them out of society longer, they aren’t out here doing what they do. And maybe the “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” will finally sink in.

    The best programs for rehabilitation have been faith-based, but the liberal left Democrats cry “separation” whenever that subject is broached. So, given that society refuses to accept the best way to rehabilitate, I’m comfortable with locking them away. Those who would commit crimes have a choice–do the crime and do the time or go straight. Nobody forced the kid to carry the pills, or get drunk, or whatever. If we taught something other than relative morality in public schools, maybe the kids would have a true moral compass.

    We’re reaping the harvest from 30 years of liberalism.

  5. Well, given that I work in law enforcement, I think you know where I stand on your ideas.

    And given what I see in repeat drug offenders just in our court, then I think you’ll understand why I completely disagree with your ideas.

  6. I just read an article about the murder of Eve Carlson, the UNC Student Body Present.. and the following sentence caught my eye:

    “State records indicate both suspects are currently on parole. Lovette was given a suspended sentenced in January for misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering. Atwater was convicted of felony breaking and entering in 2005 and illegal possession of a firearm in 2007. He also received a suspended sentence”

    If they weren’t let off then she would still be alive! Just sayin

  7. I don’t agree with suspended sentences either. If you get 20 years, you should serve 20 years.

    Eve was friends with the sister of Young Attorney, and he said his sister is devastated.

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