“WITH less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States holds roughly a quarter of its prisoners: more than 2.3m people, including 1.6m in state and federal prisons and over 700,000 in local jails and immigration pens. Per head, the incarceration rate in the land of the free has risen seven-fold since the 1970s, and is now five times Britain’s, nine times Germany’s and 14 times Japan’s. At any one time, one American adult in 35 is in prison, on parole or on probation.”
From The Economist
I agree with The Economist, that the War on Drugs in America is the biggest contributor to our large prison population. That costs American taxpayers billions of dollars every year. As well as the fact that we send so many non-violent offenders to prison: shoplifters, car thieves, prostitutes and others, to prison. When everybody involved would be better off if these people were in a halfway house, local jail even and in the case of prostitution, not that I’m recommending prostitution, but we don’t need to lock up people for simply making a living giving sex. Drug addicts, need to be in drug rehab and halfway houses. Not jail, or prison. And that would reduce our prison population dramatically.
Prisons, shouldn’t be the home for the mentally ill either. Even for the criminally insane. We use to have special state hospitals that were secure like prisons, that housed are criminally insane. And for our mentally ill offenders who clearly do pose a real threat to society, but perhaps aren’t career criminals, we should have state hospitals for them.
Prisons, should be the last resort when it comes to offenders in America. People who pose real security and economic threats to society. Where we might need to hold them for ten years, or more and try to rehabilitate them there as well. Prisons, should be for violent offenders and economic terrorists. Not small time hoods, who otherwise aren’t very dangerous.
And the other way to cut the American prison population, is for the people who need to be in prison, you work with them inside, whether they are serving life, or not. Especially if they aren’t serving life, so they can get out of prison as soon as they are ready to succeed on the outside. You do that by empowering them and requiring them to finish their education while in prison. Put them to work in prison based on the education that they now have. Pay them for the work that they do so they can pay for their cost of living in prison. Give them whatever counseling and programs that they need to be able to succeed in prison and succeed on the outside.
America, will simply never be Europe, for a whole lot of reasons that not even The Economist knows. We are much freer and more individualistic as a country. We are a lot more diverse, as perhaps the most racially, ethnic and culturally, diverse at least large country in the world. We are the home to Hollywood, where a lot of our criminals get inspired. We also have poverty and single-parent issues that a lot of other developed countries do not have. And we are also so damn big as a country. By far the largest developed country in the world as far as land and population.
And culturally with our individualism and Americans wanting to do things for themselves and be able to take care of themselves, we don’t have the pacifist collectivist attitude of Europe. But we could become a country that is even more free with fewer people in prison.