This stuff has kind of happened under everyone’s nose. No one is really aware or really seems to care about why people are going to jail or if we are safer with these people in jail. As I have said before, we have 2 million more people in jail than China and they have a billion more people in their country. This statistic should shock many of you, but I doubt it does. America is the land of crime and punishment. The biggest shows on TV are usually crime shows like Law and Order, CSI and whatnot. We just love to watch the bad guys get what they deserve. However what happens when the people we have in jail aren’t really that bad? What does that say about us as a society.
Crime has always been the skurge of democracy. People taking advantage of a free society is nothing new. However giving someone 6 years behind bars for stealing a piece of pepperoni pizza or life without the possibility of parole for refusing to pay 120.75 for shoddy air-conditioning repair work. It seems like our government is literally looking for news ways to throw people behind bars. These people all had prior convictions, but really? Is this really giving society something? All these people going to jail are getting taken care of for 50,000 of your tax dollars every year they remain in jail. In this economic climate, we need to start taking a real close look at our laws and what we are getting for our money.
Keeping non-violent offenders in jail is not a worthwhile enterprise. It is expensive and does not reduce the amount of crime in society. In fact the “Three Strikes Laws” have had a devastating effect on the economy of California. Their jails are overrun with non-violent offenders, leaving it up to judges to make tough calls on who to let out of jail. Why do we allow ourselves to get into these situations? We seem to think that our society is more safe with the more people we have in jail. However 95% of the people currently in jail will be getting out one day. Do we really want to be exposing our citizens to this environment and then bringing them back out to society? It isn’t like they are learning anything constructive in jail other than to hate the society that jailed them.
Mandatory sentencing comes with a steep price. I know some good intentions were behind the original idea, but it has had dire consequences for non violent offenders taking up jail space that could be used to keep killers in jail. They could also empty the cell completely and save the tax payer 50 grand a year. Wouldn’t that be nice? We need to start thinking of new ways to approach crime and punishment, clearly the old way of more walls and more bars isn’t stopping crime. If the recidivism rate in this country is any indication, prison is only good for making more prisoners. We need to break the cycle. I have attached some links to cases of people in jail for some pretty silly things. I hope you are as concerned about our countries prison epidemic as I am.