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Prison Overpopulation in America- Crime or Incarceration out of Control?

Updated on July 4, 2014
If US prisons were trucks, then this is how crowded they'd be compared to most countries.
If US prisons were trucks, then this is how crowded they'd be compared to most countries.

For serious matters such as sending someone to prison, we know exactly what we're doing. Right?

Here in the USA, we believe if you commit a crime, you go to jail. If convicted, we stick your sorry self in prison. Whilst you suffer in prison, you will be enlightened that going forward, your best options are to obey the law and not go back. As the prisons get more crowded, you will suffer more and become more likely to follow the law. Wait, somethings not logical here...

How well informed are you cuz? Has your sweet junk ever been in da clink? I'm gonna SCARE YOU STRAIGHT! I'm

So expensive, it must work so well...

As more Americans seem to get themselves convicted of a crimes deserving of the punishment of being locked up it is more evident that the approach isn't working very well. I don't believe that almost 10 percent of Americans are really thought to be a danger to society. I think we make laws, get strict judges, arrest and convict people and then forget about them.

The news stories chronicle the conviction as if it is entertainment, sometimes every move is covered to the point that the trial is handled with the importance of a national election. What happens in the life of the person 5 and 10 years later is usually not considered "news-worthy".

Hey Prison Mike, do you really expect U.S. states to just not lock these scumbags up?

Wake up and get scared! You may be financing this failing reform model if you are a US taxpayer.

If and when the inmate is subsequently released, they are ignored if they behave. If they make any mistakes, well we throw them back in the same prison and maybe the news. Yeah, maybe they get out on a technicality. Even so, they must know this is it and if caught again, it's back in "da Klink" and away goes the key.

As the percentage of our population imprisoned climbs, it seems that most on the outside just don't seem to care. I know nothing of prison, I've never even stepped foot in a jail. But seeing these statistics stirs something in me as a devout Catholic, and for being empathetic enough to never be content when part of a society that incarcerates more than most free countries. You don't have to care for the reasons I do, most people when presented with the facts should logically agree that the system needs reformed. Maybe you will care after reading this article.

I've seen the method to scare the youths straight. Because young people can change, but older people cannot. Fear? Anyone over a certain age can't change? Sound logical? Not to me.

USA vs. Europe, Prison Population

Are Europeans better behaved or are they just getting away with crimes? Maybe wine, cheese, and castles have a calming effect.
Are Europeans better behaved or are they just getting away with crimes? Maybe wine, cheese, and castles have a calming effect.

Belgians and Dutchman Running Free

Come on, if we learned anything from the 3rd Austin Powers movie, greedy weird Dutchmen and bald Belgian masterminds are ruthless, dangerous, and replete with personal issues. This, however, does not land them in prison.
Come on, if we learned anything from the 3rd Austin Powers movie, greedy weird Dutchmen and bald Belgian masterminds are ruthless, dangerous, and replete with personal issues. This, however, does not land them in prison.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Policy makers should seriously look deep into why certain countries possess a much lower, perhaps the world's lowest rates of incarceration (among civilized, industrialized free nations). I really can only just begin to isolate variables that may correlate with the lower incarceration rates, and even then only speculate as to the primary causative factors. However, shooting from the hip (figuratively speaking) complex answers may be hiding "in plain sight". I have visited many of the countries whose law and order are just fine even with very little of their own population incarcerated. This has informed my thinking along many topics including why some countries always beat the USA when it comes to happiness surveys. At least we're born free in the USA, and have lots of rights many countries, such as North Korea, don't afford to most souls. So what if we're not happier than some tiny countries, it ain't easy bein' da boss Superpower. Perhaps we're too hard on ourselves? I think so.

Punish, Contain, Reform, Rehabilitate, Rethink Strategy

  1. My experience with fellow humans and even some of my co-workers has taught me that punishment is most effective if objectively dealt out swiftly and fairly. Morally it should be done out of love, a short pain now is better than a long pain later.
  2. Jail should exist to contain situations and dangerous people only temporarily, not to punish them. After all, the difference between jail and prison is whether you are suspected (jail) or convicted (prison) of a crime.
  3. Set a Goal of Reform: Prison should exist in part to help people better themselves, rehabilitate, and ultimately return to society to benefit others and himself.
  4. Human Dignity Deserves Your Respect: Suspects, convicts and ex-cons should be thought of as people who matter, and have value as fellow humans. It makes a world of difference to them and yourself not to judge them only by the worst thing they have ever been caught doing.
  5. Educate Them: Treating them with respect as fellow humans this way will facilitate educating and motivating them to change.
  6. Fix the Problems at the Root: Treat them especially for the underlying issues at the heart of the behavior. Many adults have child-like understandings of the world, because their world probably hasn't been normal since the beginning. It could be psychological, environmental, chemical, stress-induced, desperation, or even from lack of sleep. Any logical, intelligent, and otherwise "normal" person could exhibit criminal behavior given the circumstances. We have to draw the line somewhere, but why lock up so many people?
  7. Now Pay Attention to Starfleet Officer "Seven of Nine". She will very appropriately present numbers 8 and 9 for your benefit.

7 of 9 is here to remind you about two big issues that remain at large.

"Now go back to your cell, cubicle, or whatever and think about these things for a while. Many just want to milk the system, but it's better on the outside - unless you are aboard a spaceship with me"
"Now go back to your cell, cubicle, or whatever and think about these things for a while. Many just want to milk the system, but it's better on the outside - unless you are aboard a spaceship with me"

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