The Perverse Politics of Punishment
Due to the life-shattering power of district attorneys and other corruptions of justice, corrections are not being made in the so-called “correctional facilities” of America. As I learned firsthand serving a three year bit back in the late ’90s, from the time an inmate enters prison to the time they leave, everyone is constantly sizing each other up. This is true of both the inmates and guards alike. Right from the start everyone just wants to know what you did to get there and how long you’ll be staying. This lets everyone see where you fit in among everyone else. Snitches and child molesters inevitably get put into protective custody while those with the most violent records and the longest sentences get the greatest respect in general population. Society degrades to racial allegiances and gang affiliations, all fighting against the turnkeys, and each other.
In the end, the burglars eventually just get together to share stories about how they got caught in an effort to do better next time around. This is how the system produces career criminals. The “School of Hard Knox” isn’t a correctional facility, it’s just a warehouse that criminals fraternize in. Inmates are being punished not rehabilitated, and very poorly at that, I might add. Convicted criminals spend most of their time routinely playing games in recreational areas, eating snacks from the commissary, getting tattooed and drunk, enjoying oral sex, and of course getting the mail and going to the chow hall three times a day. People just get recycled through the same old system producing more and more recidivism. This then places an unnecessary burden on taxpayers in an effort to house people that aren’t going to get rehabilitated. Simply put, the criminal justice system here in the United States of America is in dire need of a complete overhaul.
In total there are almost 10 million people currently under the supervision of adult correctional systems, either on parole or in prison. More to the point, although Americans only make up about 5% of the global population, the US houses 25% of the prisoners on the entire planet. Just in the last five decades, the prison population has risen more than 700% in America. As if that wasn’t crazy enough since 1990 the number of privately operated prisons here has risen by a couple of thousand percent. So, at this very moment more than 3,000 county jails, almost 2,000 state prisons, and more than 100 federal prisons hold about 3 million people altogether. To make matters worse, more than half of the private prison profits are generated from holding facilities for undocumented immigrants. These kinds of prisons are all contractually obligated to keep their occupancy rates above a certain level, so they will do almost anything to get more inmates as often as possible.
Companies then use inmates as slaves or at best as a cheap labor force. The nation’s prison industry employs more people than most Fortune 500 corporations, but they pay far less. Ultimately, America is just capitalizing on the institutionalization of people. The government is particularly targeting African American and Hispanic communities. These are themselves crimes against humanity. As an example of what I mean, solitary confinement is widely used even though it is viewed internationally as a form of torture. Being in the hole is simply inhumane. It’s just you, a blanket, a bunk, a sink, and a toilet in a tiny cell. The thing is that right now as you read this there is undoubtedly somewhere between 10 and 100 thousand people in solitary confinement in the US.
To truly be a free and fair society, criminals across the board should all be convicted, without mandatory minimum sentencing, based on the amount of harm they do and nothing more. There should really also be an actual victim in every case for anything to even make any sense. The way I see it, we should only prosecute those who violate consent. Inmates all need to be corrected while they provide restitution too. As part of this, clean up crews should constantly be picking up littler in every city across the country, while guards diligently patrol. Everything needs to work toward the full reintegration of criminals back into society, otherwise, there’s no point to the justice system. That’s why far more American’s need to pressure politicians to reform things.
The people have to convince lawmakers that convicts need to remain as much a part of society as possible. Inmates should be allowed to see their families while incarcerated and retain their voting rights when they are released, just as an example of a couple of the things that need to happen. The government also needs to provide inmates with trade school certification, job placement, and transitional housing assistance as part of their parole. As it currently stands, the for-profit prisons and militarized police forces are quickly turning this country into one big internment camp. The overcrowding of prisons is totally out of control. Plus, a portion of the people in them have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn’t even commit. Some of those inmates are then executed. This is all completely unjust. It’s cruel and unusual and frankly unconstitutional. Things have to change.