For some time I have wanted to include some information and insight into the prison system here in the United States. As we move forward as a nation and look at the future and take into consideration the aging and coming generations there are many concerns and questions that come to mind.
Is the race disparity in the prison system a symptom of a much more ingrained and debilitating sickness plaguing our nation ?
Why do we insist in keeping all the convicted in confined places and doing nothing for society, infrastructure or their own general well being?
Is the private ownership of prison’s the best alternative?
Of course these questions brig up all sorts of other points and concerns regarding human right violations and exploitation by capitalist entities, but the real dilemma is how can we do things better.
As nation we have over two million inmates across the country and have locked up more people than China which has a population five times greater than ours. The majority of the incarcerated are Hispanic and Black. These are facts that cannot be disputed. The disturbing figure involved the increase of private prisons by several multiples in the last 40 years with higher projections in line.
One could make the argument that legislation is targeted at the drugs and crimes that affect lower income and struggling communities and they are the harshest on these same communities with regards to sentence time and parole availability. It is very easy to make the case for racial profiling and bias attitude. I however to do not blame the laws. Laws are there for a reason be it skewed sometimes by political and activist lobbying for self interest , they are all the same there and as a nation and people of this country we should do well to respect them as much as possible so long as they do not infringe on our basic civil liberties as consenting citizens granting power to the government.
For sometime the use of labor has been considered reminiscent from time slavery was legal in this country. This concern however is propagated more due to the racial make up of the prison population than any other factor. I would venture to say people would not be making the same allegations if there were mostly white people serving sentences. Hard work and paid labor is one of the best mediums to maintain the population occupied and still be able to provide a beneficial by product to society while inmates serve out their sentence. Prison owners particularly enjoy this perk since there is no concern for overtime, health insurance, disability and all the other thousands of regulatory restrictions applied to standard employees. As lucrative as this enterprise has become, care must be taken to maintain the goal and purpose of a prison. Rehabilitation should be our main concern and goal always with dealing with criminals. There will always be cases where this however genuine the intent seems like a total loss due to the numerous factors plaguing a particular inmate be it psychological, physical, spiritual etc…
A hard Serbian labor camp for a couple years performing all sorts of tasks and jobs could help deter some of the most staunchest of criminals. This does not mean that they will be mistreated or underfed, but that they will be made uncomfortable and experience something they would never want to again. A child must burn their hand well enough so that the next time you tell them “don’t touch the stove its hot!” they will be sure to believe you.
Increasing the number of prison’s in this country we can all agree is not the solution. As a nation the law’s must be updated and corrected to reflect and punish the real criminals in a fair and non discriminatory manner. A larger emphasis must be placed on the societal return and contribution the inmates are providing the community. Tax payer funding should be spent with greater consideration towards rehabilitation and preventative measures inflicting our communities. Bigger and Badder is not the answer to this problem which is how America notoriously likes to solve problems. These are people with rights and responsibilities to our community, this country and the world.