Thoughts on the Penal System

I remember when I was about 12 years old.  My brother had made me upset by eating one of my snacks.  I’m not proud of it, but I retaliated by hitting him and making him cry.  My parents sent me to my room to think about what I had done.  I begrudingly went, but when I was in there something happened!!!Laying in my bed, I realized that what I had done was wrong.  I felt a great desire to be nice to my brother, and I was grateful to my parents for having sent me to my room.  After that, I never hit my brother again, and I made an effort to help other people with aggression issues.

The previous story didn’t happen.  In fact, the opposite usually occurred.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the room so that I could hurt my brother for ”getting me in trouble,” and I resented my parents for confining me.  While I recognize that reflection and introspection can be the cause of great personal changes, I’m not personally aware of anyone who has rethought their actions when they have been forcefully confined and told to do so.  I’m sure that it has happened, but to my knowledge it is a fairly rare occurrence. Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2/3 of criminals are rearrested within 3 years.  If you give all the credit for the other third to the penal system (which I wouldn’t), then the system is only successful at rehabilitating one in 3 criminals. Therefore, I think that I am on fairly safe ground when I say that the prison system is almost exclusively punitive, and very minimally corrective.

Here’s the problem I have with that.  According to the BJS , just shy of $30 billion was spent on prisoners in the US in the most recent study year.  That is actual money spent, already being offset for any revenue producing activities prisoners perform.

[It seems to me this article must have been cut off during migration to WordPress, and I can't find the original]



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