The expense of running thousands of prisons total roughly $30 billion per year, but it also includes jobs for bureaucrats, prison guards, and administrators, and government-paid members of the judicial and criminal system. But for everyone else; the growth in prisons and the overcrowding and inhumane conditions is nothing more than a tax burden. Even worse, this system has already proven to turn nonviolent drug offenders violent after having served sentences in inhumane conditions.
Someone who is busted with a bag of heroin --that he intended to use recreationally-- is sent to prison for a few years. He mingles with violent offenders many of whom are in prison for their second or third offense. The experienced criminals teach, there are no checks and balances at the top.
The biggest problems in prison stem from overcrowding. Men are herded together like animals and crammed into cells. Inmates lose basic services such as food and exercise, they get lost in a hierarchical system developed away from public view. The solution we have exacerbates the problem through creating new criminals out of nonviolent offenders.
The solution so far has been to build more prisons, and the growth of the prison industry has been enormous, providing more jobs at the taxpayer’s expense. It costs money to build a prison, and to run a prison, and to staff it, and maintain it. There is a lot of money at stake to secure incarceration of more than 2 million, but even so, building more prisons has yet to relieve overcrowding. Isn't this a flaw in the equation?
The end of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, the decriminalization of drugs, the use of alternatives to jail such as rehabilitation programs are safe, cost-effective measures to ease these issues immediately.
If we stopped putting people in jail for drug use crimes we would dramatically reduce the number of prisoners and thus end the need to build more prisons. We should pardon those in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.
We need humane conditions so as not to breed violent predators who are released into society after having served for nonviolent offenses. Humane conditions include adequate access to facilities and personal space. Building more prisons waste tax resources, which otherwise could fund prevention programs at a far less cost. Drug rehabilitation and counseling centers would lead decreased drug use and the associated crime.
To save taxpayer money, we need to stop putting nonviolent drug offenders in jail. The outright of legalization of drugs is one solution, although that is a political impossibility. Other options include placing drug offenders in halfway houses, and requiring attendance at drug rehabilitation sessions. Education and programs that teach professional skills to prison staff should be encouraged. Only after the prison system is fixed can we deal with other problems of the system. And have a more just and humane society.
---This content is copyrighted by Think & Ask, reproduction of any kind is not permitted without written consent.---