What’s wrong with America’s prison system and what would you do to fix the situation.

Why is it that the prison system is a revolving door for those trapped inside?
Is it the money?  Of course it is, but it only profits a few, and costs society much more in the long run.
How should we fix the problem? Privatization?  A “results equals rewards”  system?  Keep the status quo? Something new and different?
Speak out now, or tonight you’ll get no pudding.
[Thank you di da]

60 thoughts on “What’s wrong with America’s prison system and what would you do to fix the situation.

  1. As much as I like the free market, this is one of those areas where I think government needs to step up to the plate, so 'no' to privatization. But, I do think prisons should be self sustaining. Let low risk prisoners build and maintain prisons, grow and harvest food for the prison system, etc. This would be good for rehabilitation and instilling a work ethic. If you don't work, you don't eat, just like real life is supposed to be.

    Prisons should also be divided into two categories; one for rehabilitating, and one for punishing. First time non violent criminals should be given an opportunity to learn basic skills and develop a work ethic that will make for an easier transition back into the general public. Career and violent criminals should break rocks sun up to sundown, then return to their single cell. No TV, no internet, no prison sex. They can read non-fiction books for entertainment. These hardcore prisons should be punishment for those who cannot or will not be rehabilitated, and are a danger to society.

    First degree murderers should be hanged. Violent rapists and child molesters should be shot in the back of the skull, and buried in an unmarked grave. Hanging is too dignified.

    1. Sorry about the other post, it was not supposed to execute (pun somewhat intended) until the 28th. I have moved it back to the 28th. (I think your comment will stay with it.)I am not seeing benefits to the privatization of prisons. Making them more communal could be a step in the right direction. Corn may not be a crop that you would want them growing due to the reduced visibility of the inmate. The appellate system for capital crimes needs to be streamlined. Their cases get priority to make sure that their trial was fair, but the whole appeals process should be exhausted in 30 days or less then hand and cremate them.  

      1. I agree, the prison system should not be privatized. As far as growing corn, I think if you let the lowest risk prisoners, and the ones with a year or less left on their sentence, I think there would be little risk of attempted escape, especially if it meant going into a 'break rocks sun up till sun down' if caught.

        I also agree with streamlining the appeals process. Prisoners on death row are more likely to die of old age than anything else.

    2. I love pudding, so I'm speaking up. Currently, I do support private prisons. But only for one reason, it's cheaper. As usual, whenever the government manages any entity or institution, the cost is at least double. I'm a little surprised that you don't support that as you like smaller government. I think prison/jail is too comfortable. Too many creature comforts. It's lost it's punishment value. Prisoners are living better than some citizens that have never committed a crime. Never, should the offender live better than their victims. I agree with your position on who is eligible for rehab, and who should be put down. A lot of people don't realize how strongly I support the death penalty. I think the conviction process is what should be changed. If you're a first time (possibly second time) offender of a non violent (or victimless) crime, I think conviction should be deferred if you're in complete compliance with your punishment. One reason the recidivism rate is high, is because once released, even skilled individuals are unemployable. That one time mistake, will mar you for years to come. I used to think government assisted programs for hiring convicts should be reestablished, but not anymore. It's too expensive, and it's almost too attractive. I lean towards deferred conviction now, as an alternative. It's almost hard to ''justify'' any serious crime these days. Let's face it, no one has to commit crimes to survive. With a government so willing to take care of us, why would you?

      1. What worries me about privatization is that in business, you want more business, but in this case, we, as a society, want less. If someone could show me a good plan for privatizing them, I'd be on board.

        First thing we should do, however, is to fix the drug laws and legalize marijuana. That would reduce prison population by a fair amount, I would guess. And I agree about first time offenders. Why should some dumb mistake screw up the remainder of a persons life?

        1. Remember how much money that there is in having tokers in the cooler…Those kinds of business are not going to want to let go of that revenue. Weren't the numbers for drug offenses better than half of the prison population?Don't get me wrong, I would love to see the prison population drastically reduced.

            1. Another misleading statistical chart. I didn't read all of the fine print, but… I would hazard to guess that the sentence didn't start out as a prison sentence, but rather a revoked probation sentence. That's were mandatory guidelines kick in. You're sentenced to 24 months probation for possession. Then you fail a UA. You're given a 30 day sanction. Next, you don't pay your fines, and fail another UA. Then you get caught shoplifting, a misdemeanor, but still a lessor charge. What happens? You're probation is revoked (your drug conviction probation), and boom, you're going to jail for the remainder of your sentence. These statistics get skewed. Because technically you're in jail for a drug crime. But, you wouldn't be, if you'd complied with the multiple chances you were given.

                1. Positive. See, the lefty in me wouldn't have them charged as a criminal for the drug use. And the lefty in me wouldn't give them just enough rope to hang themselves. So it balances me back to a moderate. 😉

                    1. LOL! It's easy to get me to admit to my right leanings. Welfare. Capital Punishment. Taxes. Just to name a few.

                    2. I was just thinking…. I know, I'll be careful.

                      Why is it that using common sense is labeled left or right?

                      Drugs should have never been made illegal by the feds, not their sandbox to play in.
                      Welfare shouldn't exist, not their sandbox. Capital punishment, it's their job, but at the federal level, there are really only about 30 crimes they should be involved with. Treason, piracy and a few others.
                      Taxes, it's like the US Federal Mob. No rhyme or reason, used for more than paying the debt created by war. (well that was what it was supposed to be for)

                      I think, if you just look at stuff through common sense, and the constitution, you will find that you have some agreement with the left & the right.

        2. I agree about the drug laws. But actually serving time for them is so exaggerated. I'm friends with a well known DA. Who actually just testified for the senate this past Wednesday. A major proponent for the death penalty. And he'll be the first to confirm that getting someone jail time on drug charges alone, is so rare. These people are doing time for secondary crimes. But in the meantime, they're acquiring criminal records, that will ultimately lead to bigger crimes, via ousting themselves from the workforce. Currently, there is no shortage of inmates. Private, or county/state operated. Some of the bloated money making is in transport. For instance. Girl gets arrested. She's taken downtown to the Justice Center. Booked, but not housed (because they're full), so she's transported out to Inverness (private) for a few hundred bucks. Inverness is filling up, so she's matrixed out. However, they can't directly release her from the private jail, so she's transported back downtown, for another few hundred bucks, and processed out from there. In a 24 hour period of time, it's cost well over 1000 bucks for intake, transport, and release. But regardless, the county pays less to house an inmate in a private jail. It's cracking down on all of the ''extra'' costs that should be addressed.

          1. That process with Inverness sucks…Thinking about the arrests and that the jail time is typically for the secondary charges. Those secondary charges would not have likely been discovered if it were not for the drug charges. They would have just slid under the radar.

            1. On that, I have to disagree. I think it's the opposite. It's ID theft, fencing, etc… that leads the police to them, and that's when they find the drug use going on. But it's all interlinked, as it's supporting the habit that leads to these crimes. That's why prohibition costs so much. Well, one reason.

                1. Oh boy… you're going to reach out and smack with that big paw, I know you are. But.. again, I disagree. I've seen a ton of cases were people drew unnecessary attention to themselves, and them smelling like weed was the perfect ''probable cause'' excuse, the cop had. And… still, the odds are 50/50 that given the officer finds nothing else amiss, dumping of a small quantity and a warning, is sufficient enough action by many officers. Depending much on your attitude.

                  1. Nothing to smack there… People do stupid shit, it is part of the nature of many. Simple honesty and respect will get us out of so many situations.Kizzody got to see that in action when I got pulled over when bringing him home from his eye surgery in Spokane a couple of years ago. I noticed I was speeding and was trying to coast to a better speed then I saw a county officer come of a rise… I did not want to hit my breaks and admit guilt when I did not have to yet. He noticed the speed and turned around to have a short discussion on the subject.He asked if I know why I was pulled over, I answered that I was going a little fast. When asked how fast I was going  I think my answer was only one or two miles apart from his number. He asked that I slow it down and have a safe trip home. Fortunately his did not notice or care that my proof of insurance was out of date, or he noticed it was USAA. (Military)Had I been an ass, I would have had a small stack of citations if he looked for more than the speed and POI.

                    1. Yeah, my experience has always been the same. When I know I'm wrong, I'll immediately claim guilt. No excuses. People say I get out of trouble because I'm female. Not true. It's because I don't argue. If I was inclined to, I'd wait and do so in front of the judge. Respect brings respect. And officers are committed to upholding the law, but at the end of the day, they are human, and exercise discretion when they choose to.

  2. It is Fred’s first day in prison. After spending the morning being processed, he is taken to the huge mess hall for lunch. He finds a seat at a table full of inmates who look like they have been behind bars for years.

    Suddenly, an inmate stands in the middle of the room and yells, “41!” As he sits down, the room erupts in laughter.

    Then another prisoner stands and yells, “123!” Again, there is laughter throughout the room.

    Puzzled, Fred asks the inmate sitting next to him what’s going on. “Well,” the older inmate says, “Most of us have been here so long that we have heard all the jokes. So we just number them and use the number.”

    Fred says, “I love to tell jokes! Give me one.”

    “Okay,” says the older inmate. “Everybody loves old 72. It always gets a big laugh”

    Fred stands up, waits for the laughter to die down from the last joke, and yells, “72!”

    There is nothing but silence as hundreds of inmates just turn and stare at him.

    Fred sits down and looks at the inmate who gave him the number. “What happened?” he asks.

    The older man shrugs and says, “Some people just can’t tell a joke.”

  3. The supposed main purpose of privatization is reduced expenditures of tax dollars. But, at what cost to our values of a democratic society. Privatization puts prisons and jails on a profit-making basis. It seems inconsistent with the concept of American justice. Incarceration is just as much a part of the justice system as apprehension, trial, and conviction. Private companies have a habit of cutting corners to maximize profits.

    In the case of Multnomah County, some of the matrix releases can possibly be tied to having a jail (Wapato) sitting empty due to budget limitations and a County Commission that does not place a priority of opening it.

    Lips, Griz, and Di-Da, all have some good points. For instance, death penalty cases in Texas seem to get a fast track to the injection. Oregon on the other hand has a moratorium on all executions. State time in prison allows time off for good behavior or parole; someone sentenced to Federal time normally serves every day of it with no time off for good behavior.

    As for rehab, I am not sure what good rehabilitation does. Maybe, in the case of a first time offender of a non-violent crime it works. Maybe, in a first time drug charge, rehab may help. But, if not, the druggie should have jail time. But, in the case of a recent story where the small time crook had a record of 36 arrests and convictions, maybe rehabilitation isn't his thing.

    One theory on crime, I think, that has value is the "Broken Window" theory. It's a long article, but is thorough, http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/_atlantic_

    1. ''Maybe, in a first time drug charge, rehab may help. But, if not, the druggie should have jail time.''

      Do you base that on the fact that it's illegal? I think the simplest solution would be to step out of peoples personal freedoms. It's not that hard to do. Take my model, for instance. No drug testing my employees. I don't give a rats ass on a professional level, what they're doing on their own time. I may care on a personal level, but that's beside the point. If they can preform their job well, aren't missing time, going above and beyond, by all means go home and do whatever it is you do. If, on the other hand, your personal life is impacting your performance, you're headed out the door. Be that drugs, alcohol, unhappy marriage… If you can't correct yourself, bye-bye.

      1. Yep, it's illegal. End of story. Jail time, especially, for crack, meth, heroin, cocaine, drug dealing and trafficking.

        Military members have to be tested at least annually and randomly, regardless of occupation code. Those that pop the test are then subject to the process the individual services have in place.

        Needless, to say I don't agree with your model.

        1. Well… that's the beauty of these discussions. We're actually tossing out ideas and information on improving a problem. I could get on board with your militant opinion, if it worked. But, it doesn't. So, I'm keeping an open mind. Plus, I have hands on proof that my model does work. Nearly all of my employees are long term. I've had to terminate very few people. One was the result of consistently poor performance due to her self admitted alcoholism. A legal activity. I didn't have to fire her for alcoholism. I fired her for attendance and performance. The cause, was none of my business, or concern.

          1. Yep, I have to agree with you on this one too. I don't care what you do on your own time, until it effects my wallet, job, or freedom. If I am your employer, I will fire you. If I am paying for something, I won't be paying for it anymore and if what you do keeps me from doing what I want to do (legally) then we have an even bigger problem.

            Weed is so not a problem. Mexican drug cartels are a problem and they were created by making weed illegal. Solve one solve the other and it's so much easier and less expensive to decriminalize weed than it is to stop the drug cartel.

            But back to the main point, it isn't the employers or the government's business if I partake on the weekend.

            1. It is only an issue with the employers (or anyone else who can test) because the test shows the consumption for so damn long. If it left the system as quickly as ruffies, it would be so much less of a stress to fill a cup.

          2. I happen to believe my militant approach does work, though. Depends upon the job. In the military, during Vietnam, there were gigantic drug problems. Not, so much now. Before enlistment, applicants are drug tested. If they pop, no enlistment. They are then randomly tested every year with no notice. That model works. I have also have hands on proof during my service.

            The statistics for discharge due to drug use vary, arguably, around 2000 drug related discharges occur each year from the 1.5 million service members. Like you I have had to have very few discharged.

            My mind is not open on this subject.

            1. Well the entire civilian population doesn't need to be modeled after our military. That's one thing that sets them aside from the civilian population. Your argument does not explain your desire for them to be jailed. A failed UA may keep you from enlisting, but it does not equate to drug charges, and imprisonment. Neither does discharge for a dirty UA. So even the military model you've based your closed minded view on, disagrees.

  4. Decriminalize non-violent crime like use or possession of marijuana.

    Also: Take the profit out of the system. There is an insidious feedback loop that occurs when private firms pay lobbyists to influence decision makers who make policies that benefit private firms.

    That circle does not include ANY consideration for what is best for correcting the criminals (if possible), doing justice by victims (if possible) or the health of American society as a whole. That's the problem with the current system.

  5. Exactly. But since we seem to require labels. I find the moderate, the best. I think it screams… 'I'm taking the things that are ''common sensed'' based from both sides, and combining them into one.''

      1. LOL! I've always read you as more moderate. Sure, some of our views differ, as they should. But the ones that do, don't impact each other in an uncomfortable way. Like religion. You're not thumping me, and I'm not scorning you. I consider that a moderate approach by both sides.

    1. I'm sorry, Griz! But it is really one of the few Federal offenses allowed by our constitution.
      Unlike dumping garbage, or drugs or any of the over 3000 crimes the federal government have created for their own jurisdiction.

  6. So, does everyone agree that hardened and violent criminals should break rocks instead of watching TV or surfing the web and getting law degrees?

  7. It really is Very Simple.
    Create a Sensible body of laws (Very few laws will be needed) – that Everyone is fully aware of, and "Everyone" is subject to.

    Level 1: If you take something from someone else: You return it X3, or pay them for it X3. (If you do it a second time, you move to Level 2 punishment)

    Level 2: If you endanger or harm someone – or if you 'graduated from Level 1 – The 'victim' (or a designated person) administers a Serious beat-down (short of death) …(If you do it a second time, you move to Level 3 punishment)

    Level 3: If you cause the death of another person – or if you 'graduated from Level 2 – Your life is forfeit.

    Trial, Sentencing, and punishment: (No delay .. No Appeal)
    "The State" will have 2 days to present their evidence.
    The Defense attorney will have 2 days to present their case.
    The Judge will have 2 days to hand-down the sentence.
    If the sentence is death (ala Level 3 offense), the convicted person will Immediately be walked out of the court house – into the public square – and Hanged by the neck until dead.

      1. uh .. so, what do you see as the down side of my idea?

        "You Take – You pay back .. You harm someone, you are harmed .. You cause the death of someone, You Die."
        It Would Work! .. "Everyone" would be held to the same standard .. and "Justice" would Not be delayed or denied.
        … Of course, the GLPCWs would not like such an idea .. but .. as I said .. It Would Work!

        1. I am not sure, I haven't thought much on it. Off the top of my head, isn't that the way our justice system is supposed to be. You know, a fair and speedy trial and punishment if convicted; all based upon the crime committed. And, it is supposed to apply to everyone in the same way.

          I do like the saying, "justice tempered with mercy." But, I think that applies when someone meets their maker.

          Seems like Crime and Punishment on an express lane. I do know that the freakin' ACLU would apoplectic, though. Might be good for them.

          1. "… isn't that the way our justice system is supposed to be. You know, a fair and speedy trial and punishment if convicted; all based upon the crime committed. And, it is supposed to apply to everyone in the same way."
            DUH .. Yeah!! .. "Supposed to be"
            But, then that pesky "common sense" thing was done away with (along with honor and integrity and responsibility), and sadly this once great country began a downward spiral into The Abyss.

            I like what Ron White said about that:
            "Texas has the death penalty and we use it! That's right. You kill somebody in Texas, we will kill you back! That's our policy!"
            "Other states are trying to abolish the death penalty. My state's putting in the express lane."

            1. That is great Ron White.

              BTW, I think Texas has already emptied 3 death row cells this year and Arizona is on track for 7 executions this year. So, Arizona may be opening their own "express lane". All the while Oregon has 37 on death row, and a governor implemented moratorium.

  8. Great article here from Paul Krugman about the recent Treyvon Martin killing and Florida's so called "Stand Your Ground" Law.

    Obviously, this issue is related to guns (which has been discussed elsewhere) but Krugman explains here the relevance of this law and incident to Big Business, Privatization and Corporate Lobbying (especially "ALEC").

    you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. (The American Bail Coalition has publicly described ALEC as its “life preserver.”) This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template almost verbatim.

    Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.

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