CBS News reports the population of the United States is 5% of the total world population. However, of the total number of incarcerated people, the United States incarcerates 25% of them!
That percentage creates an enormous financial burden on our economy. It is estimated that in Fiscal Year 2010, it cost more than $47K to house and care for each prisoner, and that is on the low end. The cost for some states is much higher.
In 1971, approximately 40,000 people were locked up for drug offenses. Today it is more than 500,000! An increase of 12.5 times! Additionally, most of the drug offenders in prison are black, yet the number of drug offenders is about equal between whites and blacks. That raises more questions about how the penal system is run.
Almost all jails & prisons throughout the country are overcrowded, which has been described as being cruel and unusual punishment. Inmates are sleeping on mattresses on the floors and in triple-decker bunk beds. Do all these prisoners really need to be incarcerated? Are there any that could be released to be supervised/monitored instead of being locked up? If some can be released, who would they be? Let’s get back to the start, here.
Why are there so many people in jails and prisons? That could be debated for years and still there may be no answer. I have my thoughts about this question. I’m glad you asked.
The U.S. is the most free nation in the world. People living here have more freedoms than you would find anywhere else. But, it should be understood that freedom comes with responsibilities. What is freedom? How far does each person’s freedom extend? At what point does a person infringe upon the freedom of others? If we cannot be responsible enough to know when we have “crossed the line”, perhaps society needs to “regulate” our freedoms. Perhaps we have too much freedom. Perhaps we have let freedom go to our heads and think only of ourselves and ignore that we are but a small piece of a large, free society. Perhaps we are not responsible to be so free. Perhaps we can’t handle it.
Reduced to the simplest example, suppose we are part of a small tribe living in a jungle. There are rules in place to protect each other. Rules to protect property and life. Everyone in the tribe knows what the rules are and are taught them at an early age. The tribe members know if you break a rule, you will be punished, and the punishment is harsh, so everyone behaves.
So, who is it that teaches the young ones the rules and how to behave? The parents. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their offspring the rules and how to behave in the small tribal society. So it is with our enormous society. It must be the responsibility of the parents to teach their children what is right and what is wrong, and that there will be consequences for doing wrong.
As a child, I did bad things, as all children do at one point or another, but my parents taught me early in life that if I did something bad I would be punished for it. Once I was spanked and sent to my room, I didn’t do that bad thing again. I was spanked, but never once was I abused. Today, if a parent gives their child a little whop on the butt for misbehaving, some self-righteous, bleeding-heart, and nosey interfering person calls the police. So, being a good parent by teaching children “you did a bad thing and you will be punished” is discouraged now.
Children have far more freedom than they should have; than they know how to handle. Instead of being parents, parents are trying to be their children’s friends. Parents are not fulfilling their responsibilities of teaching children how to behave as a member of a society where everyone should be treated equally and have the same rights as everyone else. Parents are too busy doing other things besides parenting. Children are too busy abusing their premature freedom to understand what is right and what is wrong.
I say “premature” freedom, because they do not understand freedom and the responsibilities that come with it.
I do not have the answer to the question of overcrowded prisons. I can see, however, how the behavior of children and parents has eroded away since I was a minor. Parents need to, once again, be in control of their children and stop relying on society to parent their children. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach, to educate their children, not society’s responsibility.
If parents don’t want that responsibility, because they are too busy with work, adult socializing, playing with their iphones, or whatever, then–they shouldn’t be parents in the first place. To be a parent means to be responsible.
If the present freedoms given children by parents and society are curtailed, are controlled until they reach the age of 18, perhaps we can have a more law-abiding tribe again. Children should not be raised believing the world owes them anything. Parents should not give their children anything their sweet little hearts desire. Make them work for what they get. Teach them responsibility and respect. Teach them they are only a small part of a large tribe, and if they violate the tribal laws, if they infringe upon the rights of other tribe members, there is a penalty to pay.
Start by teaching the children and teaching the children to teach their children, then slowly, but eventually, we will have fewer overcrowded prisons. The problems begin at home. The problems can be corrected at home. We just need parents who are willing to do what is needed to ensure a peaceful coexistence within the tribe.
We also need the nosey, interfering, bleeding-heart “child psychology” advocates to shut up and mind their own business; for the most part, anyway.
- The cost of a nation of incarceration – CBS News (justcrim.typepad.com)
- America’s Prison Industrial Complex and Slave Labor Sweatshops (thedirtylowdown.wordpress.com)
- Brian Stewart: America’s ‘prison nation,’ must we follow suit? (cbc.ca)