The Solution for Too Many Inmates?

Remember Debtors’ Prisons?  In the 19th century, they locked you up if you couldn’t pay your debts.  Like THAT helped.  Supposedly the product of their labor went towards both the costs of their incarceration and their accrued debt.  But how many license plates do you have to make to repay that Ponzi Scheme or Enron insider trading?  And now we face a situation where we jail people for minor societal offenses: 3 shop-lifting offenses and BINGO 3 Strikes and County Jail.  Where of course, we taxpayers have to house and feed them with guards and 24 hour surveillance.  And minor drug offenses.  Or even MAJOR drug offenses – like were you watching Prohibition?  At all?  All it did was create a sophisticated criminal syndicate.  And we ended up legalizing that alchohol stuff AGAIN, anyway.  Got Eliot Ness a TV show, but…  And entire books have been written on how prisons just train people to be… better criminals – or ISIS recruits.  So what part of this makes any sense?  Murder, sure.  We gotta keep you locked up.  But we have the highest prison population in the WORLD, and we’re PAYING for it.  Here’s an excellent article on all the details. 

[Click charts to enlarge]

So, is there another way?  First, how about you pay for what you stole or damaged or make appropriate restitution to those you harmed – with whatever penalties and court costs are ruled justifiable.  And then, if you have the money to pay for incarceration here, we can lock you up. But if after we take your car, possessions, and future retirement benefits – and you still can’t cover the costs of your imprisonment term, rather than lock you up – we deport you.  There is a wrinkle here, about having to revoke the prisoner’s citizenship, and that might take a new law.  But here’s the deal: rather than society paying to lock you up HERE (unless you can pay the full costs to do so), we give you a bank account with $20,000 and deport you to someplace where they’d be glad to have new citizens with that money.  And we’d save tens of thousands in just the FIRST YEAR of NOT imprisoning you.  And you can’t come back.  Ever. 

So, when people talk of criminals “paying your debt to society”, they’re lying.  Society is accumulating debt to lock you up (have you seen our National Debt lately?).  Let’s stop that madness.  People who can’t obey the laws don’t deserve to be here.  And, if you haven’t noticed, there are a LOT of potential immigrants just DYING for a chance to take your place.  Now, there is also the Islamic approach of cutting off parts of your body, but that would seem to just foster more dependence.   The government should at least BREAK EVEN on criminals – not be LOSING MONEY on them.  Even if we have to pay for their Bon Voyage, we’d save both money and hassle.  Comments?