Crime is rampant in the U.S. these days. By anyone's imagination it is almost a foregone conclusion that we can all be victims of crime at any time. When I was growing up we never even thought to lock our doors at night. Now most people keep their doors locked during the day!
"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." There was a time when that actually meant something. However, in today's "kinder/gentler" world, this saying has very little meaning. In fact, in many cases the opposite seems to be true, "if you want to do the time, do the crime" – the sentence for committing a crime, is a bed, three squares a day, roof over your head, heat/air conditioning, TV, Library and security.
Here's another slogan. Remember this one? "Crime doesn't pay!" Well, actually, given the above information, maybe it does. In fact, most inmates in Illinois like it so much, they go back to prison not long after release. A report called, "Sheridan National Model Drug Prison & Reentry Program: Working to Reduce a Leading Cause of Crime in Illinois" states that:
"Governor Rod Blagojevich launched the re-opening of Sheridan prison on January 2, 2004 -- at a time when the state of Illinois is confronting the highest recidivism rate in state history of 54 percent. At this rate, it is projected that over one-half of the over 36,000 adult inmates estimated to be released from prison this year will be re-incarcerated within three years – after committing a new crime, finding new victims or violating their parole."
In addition to the insanely high recidivism number in adult inmates, according to Illinois Government News Network, "nearly 47 percent of juvenile offenders return to the system." This simply means that we are NOT dealing with the root problems of why people resort to criminal behavior.
What can we do about it?
1) Judicial System
We need to rehabilitate the prosecution system in the United States. Far too often it costs the taxpayer 10’s of thousands of dollars to put a criminal on trial. Then their appeals can cost into the 100’s of thousands.
When the courts say they are going to get tougher on crime, it ends up being tougher on the taxpayer. Our prisons in Illinois are suffering from overcrowding and understaffing, and the inmates that are released are coming back in droves.
2) Juvenile Justice
Our judicial system needs to develop incentive programs for juveniles and to work with school and social organizations to come up with a better plan than just sending people to jail. While certainly, there are many cases where incarceration is the appropriate sentence; there are many cases where there is no incentive for improvement.
I have a very good friend who is a judge, whom I respect deeply. In one particular case there was a youth who was caught throwing rocks over a bridge at cars and was also found to have drugs on his person. The sentence was something like $1000.00 and one year in jail, that was suspended, IF:
a. He performed so many hours of community service
b. Maintained a C average in school
This is an example of providing incentive. It gave this young man something to strive for.
Additionally, where I live, in Belleville, Illinois, last year, we had two youths beat up another youth on a school bus. I heard the two were expelled from Belleville West high school. Assault and battery should not go unpunished. Put them in a county tent prison. During the days they can also go about the county, with ankle bracelets on, and clean up roadside trash, cut brush alongside the roads (no one does it now) and help the elderly and disabled maintain their properties. 6 months to a year for assault and battery, at hard labor, would certainly make them think twice about ever hurting someone again, for the rest of their lives.
First of all, we’ve got to get taxation down and entice businesses to come back to Illinois so that we can provide jobs for families, so that our youth are not forced into criminal behavior to survive.
It's high time we get back to the point where criminals actually pay for their crimes, instead of the other way around. Restitution should also be a part of the incarceration period in which a criminal works off his dept to the victim. Currently, not only does it cost the victim when a crime is committed against them, they further have to incurred the cost of supporting them in the criminal dormitory, thus making the victim a double looser.
5) Department of Corrections
a. Self Funding
The Department of Corrections needs to become self funded. Law-Abiding taxpayers should not have to be responsible for providing housing for those who commit crimes against those very taxpayers. I believe hard labor is good for the soul and provides much incentive not to come back to the prison system again. Further, it could be a means of providing work related training so that once released, the person does not have to return to crime as a means of support.
b. Less Attractive
We got to make our prisons less attractive for the criminals. For the most part, we have nothing more than a taxpayer supported criminal dormitory. As mentioned above, we provide a roof over their heads, three squares a day and a bed to sleep on (many law abiding citizens don’t have such luxuries).
Everyone who reads this should visit this website: Arizona's tent prison
This is an example of a real prison. Inmates do hard labor, learn traditional values, and many come to a position of faith in their personal lives and that changes them forever, in this life and the next one to come!
Also, if juveniles are imprisoned, a juvenile version of the tent prison could change crime in America by catching offenders at earlier ages and punishing them severely at a lot less legal cost to the taxpayer. They will be a lot less likely to commit crimes when they become adults and will learn the rewards of hard work and providing for themselves.
In 2006, while running for Governor, Randy released an official statement on his position regarding the Department of Corrections. [ Click here ] to read that statement and print it out.
6) Other Thoughts
a. Prisons are expensive to build, maintain, and operate. Do away with most of them. Build tent cities with fenced borders. Perhaps give a few thousand inmates a 5 square mile perimeter, give them a source of water, a sleeping bag, a tent, proper clothes for Winter and Summer, seeds to grow crops, tools to harvest them by hand, etc. What crops they do not consume they can sell on the open market to make money to improve their living conditions. Our troops in Iraq and particularly Afghanistan live in harsh conditions all year round. If it's good enough for our military, then it's good enough for our prisoners to teach them an honest day's work, free market enterprise, and traditional moral, family, and spiritual values. Those attributes will enable to come out of prison with the tools to lead successful, crime free, changed lives.
b. What about rapists? Rape is a horrible crime against women. It changes the life of a woman forever. She always remembers and quite often it affects her life forever in a negative way. Whether being fearful for the rest of her life or haunted by the physical violence, she has to live with it forever. So should the rapist. Rape used to be a capital crime in this Country with harsh penalties. Those harsh penalties need to be re-instituted into law again. Put all sexual offenders in their own tent city, for life or close to it, and make them live and become a public example to those who would premeditate such a horrible crime on the outside.
c. What about drug pushers? One drug pusher can forever change the life of the addict. Some die from overdoses and some become addicts for the rest of their lives. For damaging so many person's lives, the penalties should be severe and harsh. Very hard labor tent prisons are the answer. We do not need inmates living in air conditioned, heated, free medical, free dental, free schooling, etc, prisons that cost the taxpayer their hard earned. A tent prison, where they are self sufficient is the answer.
d. Think of the possibilities. These tent prison would serve the purpose of driving down the cost to the public for our prison system which houses nearly 3,000,000 inmates. That is close to 1% of our population. In a tent prison they can build and dig their own latrines, grow their own food, sell excess food on the open market to pay for things like tents, clothes, books, medical, dental, and every other monetary item they require.
e. I have seen estimates on prisoner cost per year as high as $45,000 in California and $25,000 in Delaware. Split the difference and that is close to a cost to the taxpayers of somewhere in the neighborhood of $105,000,000,000 (105 Billion) dollars per year. Some estimates go well over 200 Billion per year. Think how much healthcare could be bought for law abiding citizens with that money!