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      05-10-2011, 07:06 PM   #1
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Set the captives free

Part of the cost of government is paying for incarceration in prison. Where can costs be reduced? One would be to reduce the prison population.

How could you empty some prisons? How about making some things that are ciminal offenses into civil offenses? Wouldn't that make those crimes no longer punishable with imprisonment? [I don't know much about this subject of criminal vs. civil.]

As a civil offense, would those who lose a judgement pay restitution to those that were wronged? Or in the case of non-property offenses, maybe they would have to show commitment to behavioral change? Maybe even some criminals could avoid prison, or get out of jail with a well-developed plan to change their ways?

Some of you experts could tell it like it is. Then maybe some possible solutions could be offered.

Maybe one crime that should not involve prison time would be tax evasion. This is a non-violent crime that could be resolved by other means. Instead, we tax payers are stuck paying tens of thousands of dollars per year to keep each tax evader fed, clothed, and sheltered. If they made enough money to evade taxes, maybe they could make enough money to pay their own way in life and repay their debt. This should be able to be creative in how debts get paid, whether defined in law, ordered by the judge, or negotiated between parties.

I don't know how much of the prison population is serving time for drug abuse. If there are many, then that would seem to be a crime that could have an alternate solution.

What other non-violent crimes and offenses drain our resouces just to lock up people out of sight, where they do nothing to redeem themselves?

There must be a better way.

Last edited by scottwww; 05-10-2011 at 08:10 PM. Reason: corrected spelling of incarceration
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      05-10-2011, 07:52 PM   #2
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My personal opinion is that a fair number of the people that end up serving any real time are not really afraid of the US prison system. To me, that needs to change and there could be some definite cost cutting ventures to be explored in the process of making that happen. Any happy thoughts of rehabilitating these persons would be further wasted money.

This is an interesting topic to raise, though.

Or, taking a page out of George Carlin's book:
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      05-10-2011, 08:26 PM   #3
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My personal opinion is that a fair number of the people that end up serving any real time are not really afraid of the US prison system. To me, that needs to change and there could be some definite cost cutting ventures to be explored in the process of making that happen. Any happy thoughts of rehabilitating these persons would be further wasted money.

This is an interesting topic to raise, though.
Certainly some cannot be rehabilitated. Certainly some can. It would be worthwhile to find those who can lose the criminal behavior and live in society. Some criminals, though maybe few (), could change by being banned from their home state and relocated where they can start over. There would probably need to be some kind of monitoring (whether that's a case worker dealing with them regularly, a GPS leg band, even house arrest...).

What of the idea that many criminals do crime because they don't have a means of gaining meaningful employment? With what is spent on prison, maybe some would be better off in vocational training to learn how to pave roads, build border fences, repair engines, forestry, or any number of things. Put them to useful work that supports their living. Not quite a chain gang...

This is nowhere near a fully developed idea, but it is brainstorming for solutions to a problem that is only getting worse.
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      05-10-2011, 10:05 PM   #4
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I agree that there is some portion of the prison population that could be turned or rehabilitated. Part of an answer to the question here is, I think, what percentage of the dollars saved by reducing prison population would end up being funneled into rehab/counseling/monitoring/etc...? Would states pick up the bill for those prisoners released from federal prisons?

This would also lead into a discussion of inherent vs learned (eg environment) behaviors. I would wager that what I could consider the real prison population (not the one up people) is a mix of both.
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      05-10-2011, 11:34 PM   #5
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What you need to do, is give prisoners full time jobs while they are in prison. Make them work for their meal each day. This teaches a person to work for their own living instead of committing crime. Plus work builds character, and you spend less time thinking about the bad things and more time concentrating on the future and the positive things.
Plus it will give them a job skill and teach them a trade they can use once they get out of the jail.
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      05-11-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
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Have the inmates run the post office......
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      05-11-2011, 03:22 PM   #7
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At the same time, why don't we dismantle half of the national defense. It's pretty pricey. Not a lot of invasions happening in Germany right now. We should shut down every base in Europe, that would save us a ton of loot.
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      05-11-2011, 05:52 PM   #8
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At the same time, why don't we dismantle half of the national defense. It's pretty pricey. Not a lot of invasions happening in Germany right now. We should shut down every base in Europe, that would save us a ton of loot.
I am with you. There are bases around the globe that don't serve an essential purpose any longer. Bring the troops home to their families. Reduce the number of troops in our military, and employ them in private enterprise.

What ways do you see that the cost of the prison system could be reduced?
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      05-11-2011, 11:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottwww View Post
Part of the cost of government is paying for incarceration in prison. Where can costs be reduced? One would be to reduce the prison population.

How could you empty some prisons? How about making some things that are ciminal offenses into civil offenses? Wouldn't that make those crimes no longer punishable with imprisonment? [I don't know much about this subject of criminal vs. civil.]

As a civil offense, would those who lose a judgement pay restitution to those that were wronged? Or in the case of non-property offenses, maybe they would have to show commitment to behavioral change? Maybe even some criminals could avoid prison, or get out of jail with a well-developed plan to change their ways?

Some of you experts could tell it like it is. Then maybe some possible solutions could be offered.

Maybe one crime that should not involve prison time would be tax evasion. This is a non-violent crime that could be resolved by other means. Instead, we tax payers are stuck paying tens of thousands of dollars per year to keep each tax evader fed, clothed, and sheltered. If they made enough money to evade taxes, maybe they could make enough money to pay their own way in life and repay their debt. This should be able to be creative in how debts get paid, whether defined in law, ordered by the judge, or negotiated between parties.

I don't know how much of the prison population is serving time for drug abuse. If there are many, then that would seem to be a crime that could have an alternate solution.

What other non-violent crimes and offenses drain our resouces just to lock up people out of sight, where they do nothing to redeem themselves?

There must be a better way.
I absolutely agree with this post. It's crazy how many people are incarcerated for non-violent offenses like marijuana possession, non-violent petty crimes and felonies (drunk driving offenses, drug offenses, white collar crimes, etc.).

Part of this, as you said, requires de-criminalizing certain offenses. I have never touched Marijuana in my life, and I will never use that stuff, but I still can't understand why it's a criminal substance in most states. The same (IMO) applies for other drugs - as long as you're not using it while driving, walking around in public, etc. and you're not harming others, why is it illegal?

On a lighter note, jeez, I'm turning into more and more of a libertarian day by day. Scary thought.
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      05-12-2011, 08:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottwww View Post
I am with you. There are bases around the globe that don't serve an essential purpose any longer. Bring the troops home to their families. Reduce the number of troops in our military, and employ them in private enterprise.

What ways do you see that the cost of the prison system could be reduced?
Stop using private, for profit prisons, stop locking people up for pot possession charges. Violent offenders, and a tax evader like Wesley Snipes (millions in unpaid taxes) should be locked up for a while as a deterrent to others.

all in all I don't think saving money for this nation will be best served by releasing the prison population. It is one of those things that is a necessity in modern society.

Providing proper education and opportunities to at risk youth could be a good investment. It wouldn't save money today, but it would make it possible to save money on incarcerations later.

edit: And to add, a lot of the prison population do have jobs. But, the good they produce don't allow for a huge paycheck for them. I think prisoners make like $2 a day. Nowhere near enough to pay for their own incarceration or food.
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      05-12-2011, 08:42 AM   #11
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It's a sad fact, we have more people in prison as a percentage of our population than any other country in the world.


http://chartsbin.com/view/eqq


http://www.prisonstudies.org/info/wo...ry=wb_poptotal

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/10/02/...ation-ranking/
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      05-12-2011, 09:04 AM   #12
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I miss seeing chain gangs working the side of the road. Bring back jumpsuits, shovels and guys with mirrored shades and rifles. Making big rocks into little rocks is noble work and good for the soul.
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      05-12-2011, 05:08 PM   #13
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I miss seeing chain gangs working the side of the road. Bring back jumpsuits, shovels and guys with mirrored shades and rifles. Making big rocks into little rocks is noble work and good for the soul.
+1 to this, and to decriminalization of marijuana, no more private prison industry
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      05-13-2011, 10:53 AM   #14
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It's a sad fact, we have more people in prison as a percentage of our population than any other country in the world.


http://chartsbin.com/view/eqq


http://www.prisonstudies.org/info/wo...ry=wb_poptotal

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/10/02/...ation-ranking/
I would submit that such statistics look more appalling (from a US perspective) than they really are. Note that a number of places with a 'low' or 'lower' percentage of their population being incarcerated are also places where other forms of what we term violence here (e.g. honor killings, tribal war, genocide, etc...) are more frequent or commonplace or the police system in general is lacking. Not all, mind you, but some of locations in South Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, for instance. Some of these places are also home to "camps" and are harder on their prisoners &/or have harsher conditions than we here in the US. In some respects, this goes back to my thought about people not fearing prison here as much as in the past.

Getting back to reducing the prison population, I agree that some in prison don't need to be (just as much as some not in prison should be). For those advocating legalization of certain substances which are currently illegal, what would be your proposed way of legalization while not inducing new opportunities for incarceration (e.g. follow the approach taken by the Netherlands)? What about capital punishment for repeat, violent offenders?

Regarding the comment about closing half, which I'm sure was not meant to be exact, of the military bases around the world, I would agree that there are likely some could be closed, but I would disagree a large # should be for the sake of cutting costs. Where does one draw the line between saving money and having strategic positioning?

Personally, the best way to reduce spending starts on the Hill (obviously) w/ the lobbyists and pork barrels for our elected officials. Cost plus programs are not as rampant as before but still exist and for FFP programs/contracts, there is not much more than wrist slapping, if anything, for those w/ the better lobbyists or larger campaign contributions when spending if overrun, if not steamrolled.
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      05-13-2011, 11:01 AM   #15
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I went to school with the daughter of the owner of G4 Systems AKA Wackenhut. They LOBBY HARD to push for more prisons. Since the prison system was privatized these guys want more laws and more people in prison. Lots of people are having their pockets filled and jobs are being created by these private prisons.

Doesn't change the fact that it is costing this country a fortune to house non-violent and violent criminals a like.
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      05-13-2011, 11:22 AM   #16
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I would submit that such statistics look more appalling (from a US perspective) than they really are. Note that a number of places with a 'low' or 'lower' percentage of their population being incarcerated are also places where other forms of what we term violence here (e.g. honor killings, tribal war, genocide, etc...) are more frequent or commonplace or the police system in general is lacking. Not all, mind you, but some of locations in South Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, for instance. Some of these places are also home to "camps" and are harder on their prisoners &/or have harsher conditions than we here in the US. In some respects, this goes back to my thought about people not fearing prison here as much as in the past.

Getting back to reducing the prison population, I agree that some in prison don't need to be (just as much as some not in prison should be). For those advocating legalization of certain substances which are currently illegal, what would be your proposed way of legalization while not inducing new opportunities for incarceration (e.g. follow the approach taken by the Netherlands)? What about capital punishment for repeat, violent offenders?

Regarding the comment about closing half, which I'm sure was not meant to be exact, of the military bases around the world, I would agree that there are likely some could be closed, but I would disagree a large # should be for the sake of cutting costs. Where does one draw the line between saving money and having strategic positioning?

Personally, the best way to reduce spending starts on the Hill (obviously) w/ the lobbyists and pork barrels for our elected officials. Cost plus programs are not as rampant as before but still exist and for FFP programs/contracts, there is not much more than wrist slapping, if anything, for those w/ the better lobbyists or larger campaign contributions when spending if overrun, if not steamrolled.
What about comparing us to europe?

Per 100,000 people.

US - 748

England - 154
Germany - 87
Spain - 165

---
Australia - 134
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      05-13-2011, 06:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bosstones View Post
Getting back to reducing the prison population, I agree that some in prison don't need to be (just as much as some not in prison should be). For those advocating legalization of certain substances which are currently illegal, what would be your proposed way of legalization while not inducing new opportunities for incarceration (e.g. follow the approach taken by the Netherlands)?
Regarding legalization of substances: I will speak to my view... For the federal government, I would favor decriminalization. The feds should play no role. Leave it up to each state. For the states, I wouldn't want to impose on the other states what they do. If California wants to allow growing operations and marijuana stores, that is California's business. If hypothetically South Carolina wanted to keep marijuana possession a crime punishable by imprisonment, then that is their business and I wouldn't want to impose on them.

In my state, if it were my opportunity to advocate/vote for something, I would give my support for anything between outright legalization/marketing of marijuana, to marijuana possession not being punishable by imprisonment. Possession of marijuana should not be a reason to go to jail or prison in my state.
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