Submitted by James Folsom on Thu, 11/03/2011 - 05:42
Many politicians are elected or not elected these days based on their stance on crime and punishment. A politician who is viewed as being “tough on crime” or “soft on crime” can be labeled very easily and elections can be swayed based on this. People who see videos of inmates in a prison library, studying the law to find a loophole he can exploit in an appeal can lead people to believe these men are living a nice, cushy life behind bars while their victims and their families suffer from their crimes. There is a perception out in the world that these guys get three meals a day, lift weights, play basketball and then go to their cells at night. This angers citizens who have been or sympathize with victims of crimes. But is this “country club” perception actually the case? No.
Now do not think that I am at all upset by this. I do not believe that violent people who do violent things should be sent to Disneyland. Prison should be a place of punishment. You do the crime, do the time. But I also believe prisons should be run with discipline. Too many stories of inmates being raped, murdered, or forced to commit crimes to keep from being a victim themselves come from these prisons. The inmates should not be running the asylum.
These inmates are already violent or they would not be where they are. Now take that threat of going to prison away (they’re already there) and multiply that by having nothing but time on their hands, and there are bound to be violent acts committed behind bars. But why is it the norm? Why is this allowed to occur on a regular basis?
These guys can make weapons out of everything. A coffee cup lid, a toothbrush, the elastic out of their underwear, almost anything they get their hands on can be made into a deadly weapon. So stop giving them these things. If they make weapons out of coffee cups, then no more coffee. If they make them out of underwear, then make them go naked and freeze to death. If an inmate assaults someone, make an example out of him. If it means a public beating so the others get the message then so be it.
But while we have these men in prison, why don’t we try to make them better citizens? Make them attend schools so they can learn something besides being ignorant. The better they do in school, the more priviledges they earn. I understand some politician will use this as a “soft on crime” ad in the next election. But prison guards have to work with these people every day. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some ways to make prison a safer place for them to work?
I like the idea of making all prison clothes pink. It’s very tough to be all rough and tough wearing a pink jump suit. Or better yet, make pink a punishment for violent offenders only. How about pumping soft music into the prison all day? Has this ever been tried?
It seems to me that punishment is one thing, but letting the place become a free for all is another. At no point should any inmate gain any stature or feel like is he in charge of anything. The guards should be in charge, and the inmates should all be equal. And the way you achieve that is through severe punishment for whoever gets out of line.
In many of today’s prisons, gangs have taken over the inmate population. Mostly gangs are formed along racial and ethnic lines. So if this is such a problem, then force these gangs to break up. Force inmates of different races to bunk together and work together. Punish them for not being able to get along and reward them if they do.
Perhaps give inmates a choice of prison yards: If they're willing to go to a "mixed population", and take part in programs, give them more freedoms. If they're unwilling, will send them to a prison that enforces a lot more rules, restrictions, and obedience.
It seems to me that prisons are doing little other than making these guys more mean, more violent, and more hardened. Then at some point they are being turned loose on society, many times more dangerous than before they went in. This is a recipe for trouble. If having separate facilities for violent offenders and non-violent offenders is the answer, then let’s separate them. The last thing we need is a training facility to learn violent behavior. Unless of course we can then turn these men loose on terrorists. Of course, I doubt they could be trusted to unleash their violence on the right people.
It seems like that if there were a non-violent person convicted of a crime and sent to prison, he should be able to do his time, keep to himself, not bother anyone, and serve his sentence without being raped, beaten, forced to join a gang, or intentionally get himself put in solitary confinement just for the protection. At some point, we the people need to be in charge, not some violent criminal.