I saw an article about "1 out of 100 Americans are behind bars" and found that fact very disturbing on many levels. The USA has a higher percentage of its population in jails and prisons then any other country in the world! Why? I'm sure there are many reasons, but I just want to cover some of them here.
I feel that it's not because we have more criminals, but because our country has a distorted idea of how to deal with people that have a problem. Sure violent people should be in prison, but how many people are there for victimless crimes? Crimes where they didn't directly hurt anyone. Crimes like marijuana possession, prostitution, driving under the influence (when an accident wasn't involved) probation violations, etc. Does it really warrant each state to spend close to $25,000 a year to house these people? And while these minor criminals are locked up, they are learning about how to commit other crimes. They are becoming hateful toward others, disrespectful for the government, and last but not least, they are not being rehabilitated.
I'm not for socialism, but, I do think, that kind of money would be better spent to educate people earlier in life so they can get a decent job to feed and house their families. These families would less likely have kids that would get involved with crime too. Who knows, it could snowball. When I think about how much it costs to put a child through college and how many people can't afford to, it upsets me to see this kind of money spent to house some of those that couldn't get an education. The poor and those with bad credit can't get loans for college so they are more or less destined to learn on the streets. I'm sure we all know what classes are taught there.
Once someone does spend time behind bars, they are more likely to return. Why not spend some of the money to rehabilitate them while they are a captive audience. (sorry for the pun) Why not give those convicted of victimless crimes mandatory rehabilitation classes as part of probation? Drunk drivers must attend alcohol classes and go back to driver school. Those caught with pot should be put on probation and take a drug dependency class. You get the idea. Fix the problem, not punish it. Don't put them in an environement that will teach them hatred, disrespect etc. Change them for the better or change them for the worst? The idea of putting everyone in jail just perpetuates the problem. Only those that are a direct danger to others should be locked up. Murders, rapists, child preditors, etc.
Another thought is to remove many of the laws against victimless crime. Thats right, get rid of those laws. Instead, make it a crime to abuse these new priveliges. Make it a stiffer penalty. Take pot as an example. Make it legal for adults, but if someone is offering it to kids on a playground, make that a crime. Give that crime some stiff penalties. Maybe have that person wear a home monitor for a minimum of 5 years. During that entire time, that person should have to perform atleast 10 hrs of community service each week and every week. That would free up alot of jail space and reduce the cost of housing them. Require the criminal to work and support himself. When he/she is done with work and community service, they must be back at home until its time to return. Hell, maybe put a shock collar, like the ones for dogs, on them to make sure they don't try to leave their home or yard when they aren't supposed to.
Well there's my rant for this week.