Craig Glazer Considers U.S. Prison System!!!
TKC NOTE: The United States imprisons more people than any other nation on the planet . . . By far. Tonight, Kansas City impresario Craig Glazer offers his solutions to this tragic situation.
American Justice: Fixing the US Prison System
‘I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin' on,’ ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ – Johnny Cash
What’s that old saying? Dostoyevsky said you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners. Let me start out by saying there are a large number of criminals who are dangerous, violent and unfixable and they need to be incarcerated. Those groups would generally be violent criminals like murderers, rapists and serial killers, just to name a few. In short, people who do physical harm to others but not in self-defense. Yes, I suppose you can also add in high profile scoundrels like Bernie Madoff who swindled thousands out of deep-seated greed. Understand, this group makes up far less than half of the total number of people currently serving prison sentences in this country. According to the Bureau of Prisons, there are over two-million US residents in Federal and State Prisons today. That doesn’t include the nearly one-hundred thousand people in privately owned prisons, or the people in city and county jails across the country. A more shocking number is this one: one out of every one hundred and forty two US residents are currently in prison. Four million Americans are on probation or parole.
I don’t want to just give you a truckload of statistics, however, the ones stated above paint a rather ugly picture. I am of the school of thought that America can do better. After all, we are the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world.
I wrote a piece just over a week ago about moving towards the legalization, or at least the complete decriminalization of drugs. I spoke of replacement drugs that are safer but can give people the same temporary thrill or ‘high’ to escape the daily grind of life. This is something human beings have sought and done since man came to be. Simply put, it has been the norm for humans to, at some point, let off steam with a cocktail, toke, sniff or maybe just a pill. Our nation’s incredibly strict and outdated puritanical laws have led these so-called criminals to be nearly 70 percent of our prison population today.
Since these laws will not change in the short term; though they should, we can certainly address making the punishment fit the crime.
First off, the drug sentences as well as some other non-violent crime sentences are way over the top. We have sentencing guidelines for judges that give them little wiggle room to be fairer especially towards first time offenders. We were told these federal and state guidelines had been liberalized so judges could have some leeway for more compassionate sentencing, however, the courts are still following the old guidelines from the cases that I have seen lately and these old guidelines are pretty harsh. We have also eliminated the parole board so that people are doing eighty-five percent of the original sentences without review. I find this incredibly unfair, archaic and a waste of our tax dollars to warehouse several thousand men and women who could move on to a more productive life. The time has come for the President of the United States to step forward and execute a new program. A board or panel of experts from law enforcement, those who have been in the system, left it and have been successful in life as well as victims of crime can get together and come up with more fair sentencing guidelines specifically aimed at minimizing lower-level drug convictions, lower-level non-violent offenders as well as first-timers.
Phase 2; and this makes total sense to me, why not take several of the state and federal prisons and turn them into more educational facilities for the more than fifty percent of the young prison populace that lack either high-school diplomas or college degrees. The ‘carrot’ here is two-fold. One, by getting your high-school diploma you would get time off of your sentence, more importantly getting your four year college degree would get you out immediately following graduation followed by job placement with the assistance of the government. It’s true that there are classes available in prison today as well as opportunities to go online to earn your GED or a two-year college degree. The classes are generally sub-par at best to laughable at worst and most of the on-line tests for a two year degree or even more ridiculous as the answers to the test questions are for sale all over most prisons. I should know, I went to these classes and was one of the few who got a degree from Barstow Community College while incarcerated in Lompoc FCI. Getting these diplomas did not help reduce your sentence in and of themselves. Again, the levels of education taught were sub-par at best. This educational program while in custody would not take that long to execute and staff.
The other program that needs to be instituted; taking the more violent young inmates into a more in-depth rehabilitation. It should be a combination of a military-style training and general education. Let’s turn these criminal athletes into top-notch educated soldiers. Upon early release, they would have to serve in a special branch of the United States military. They would be first up for combat duty.
As you can see, these are some broad-based solutions to an escalating prison population which just last year increased by five percent which is the largest increase since 1997.
If America can salvage just ten percent of these young law-breakers and help make them truly productive citizens, I would call that a victory and something to build on for the future. We have the power and the means to make this happen right now. We just need to find the compassion to do what’s right.
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