Prison Reform Is Needed… NOW!

by Ben Hoffman

The U.S. spends more than any country in the world on incarceration. In 2006, we spent nearly 70 billion, which comes out to more than 22 thousand dollars a year per inmate. That’s a ridiculous amount of money wasted, as well as the lives that are wasted rotting in prisons.

One problem with our prison system is: for many prisoners, the environment in prison is not that much worse than being on the outside. Many inmates come from dirt poor backgrounds and live in slums. Many also were in gangs. In prison, they are also in gangs, get three meals a day, a clean place to sleep, get to play ball and watch TV. In other words, prison is not much of a deterrent.

So, what should be done to cut costs and make prison more of a deterrent? It’s simple. Turn prisons into a warehouse for criminals. Take away their recreation, social activities, and classes.

Here is my proposal:

  • Each prisoner gets a 6’x10′ cell and never leaves that cell until his or her sentence is up
  • Each cell has a sink and toilet
  • Meals are served in the cell
  • Prisoners are required to exercise in the cell once a day to keep their muscles from atrophying.
  • Books are available to inmates to keep them occupied
  • Smoking is not allowed
  • Each cell has a locked phone which can only be used for talking to his or her lawyer or family
  • Well behaved, non-violent prisoners may be used to build tennis facilities

That’s it. We could set up these prison warehouses almost anywhere, since security would take less effort and manpower. Costs would be greatly reduced, as would repeat offenders.

As governor of Colorado, prison reform will be part of my agenda.

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14 Comments to “Prison Reform Is Needed… NOW!”

  1. You may want to add dance therapy . . . they could of course only do the dance part is their work on the tennis courts is up to date.

    http://maureenholland.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/smart-jailers/

  2. Mr. Hoffman,

    Your buddies at the ACLU might have something to say about your ideas. I can tell you where you might be able to house some of your prisoners, if you don’t mind out sourcing. I hear there is a soon to be vacant already built prison on a beautiful Caribbean island.

    The current landlord has been promising to evict the current tenants, but he first has to find them alternate lodgings. This is turning out to be a bit of a problem, but as he is a master salesman, I expect the property to be on the market any day now.

  3. Ben,

    Never thought you’d ruffle the feathers of the ACLU!

  4. The U.S. spends more than any country in the world on incarceration.

    We also spend more money than any country in the world on plasma TV’s. We just have more money than anyone else.

    So, what should be done to cut costs and make prison more of a deterrent?

    I really would like to see fewer prisoners. Legalize weed and decriminalize the use of other drugs; arrest the dealers and pushers. The thought of throwing someone in jail because they have some pot is just gross.

    the environment in prison is not that much worse than being on the outside.

    And if you are a “man made disaster, it’s better than the shack in the desert!

    In other words, prison is not much of a deterrent.

    You forgot health care; they get free health care too.

    Well behaved, non-violent prisoners may be used to build tennis facilities

    This I agree with.

    • [I really would like to see fewer prisoners. Legalize weed and decriminalize the use of other drugs; arrest the dealers and pushers. The thought of throwing someone in jail because they have some pot is just gross.]

      With you 100% on this one. We could stand down the old war on drugs too – that ought to save a few bucks and stop pissing people off as a bonus.

      Decriminalize, regulate, tax – and make it all less profitable.

  5. When I was training to become a dental hygienist back in the mid ’70s, one of our outside assignments was Terminal Island prison. (Squeaky Fromme and Sarah Jane Moore were a couple of the more famous inmates at that time.) It was a minimal security prison, for both males and females, and the average prison time was around 6 months to two years, with the only “lifers” being women. Most inmates were there for drug violations.

    We worked on patients in the prison dental clinic where everything from the standard cleaning to complete sets of dentures was available. Many of the prisoners took full advantage of this situation during their fairly short confinement and got as much done as possible before they had to go back “outside.” So, no, prison wasn’t much of a deterrent there, in my opinion.

  6. Vern R. Kaine,

    “Great post, Alan!”

    Thanks.

    Ms. Holland,

    “With you 100% on this one. We could stand down the old war on drugs too – that ought to save a few bucks and stop pissing people off as a bonus.

    Decriminalize, regulate, tax – and make it all less profitable.”

    Aren’t they doing that in Caleefornia? It might be profitable to review their experience before we expand it to my neighborhood. I would hope someone on this board has lived in areas where pot is prevalent and could comment.

  7. Sick. You have no concern for what you are making these people into. We will be living along side of these tortured individuals some day. You need to rethink this.

  8. You contradict yourself. Yes, prison reform IS needed NOW. But if you’re an advocate of prison reform, and not a DOC exec or officer, and not a lobbyist for a private prison company, then you might want to do some research before you assume what’s best for this country.
    Every single proposal with the exception of “building tennis courts” are exactly what is happening at hundreds of our prisons. Warehousing is a old-school approach that has been a dismal failure. Whether you are open to Therapeutic Community drug/alcohol treatment, hard work to earn merit and “earned time”, and mandatory vocational training, it is the ONLY thing that works. There is proof backing up what I’m saying. More of the same, even though it may SOUND and FEEL good, is far more costly in dollars, victims, and eats away at a decaying system.
    Do some homework–off the blogs–before you post nonsense.

  9. [Well behaved, non-violent prisoners may be used to build tennis facilities]

    When tennis is mentioned in one of Ben’s posts, one must be on the alert for satire.

  10. I’ve seen some mention of some things that simply aren’t factual. Did you know that an inmate, in most cases, has to file paperwork to even see a medical person? (Usually and LPN) That person takes down a few notes and passes that on to a “Dr” in some mystery place. They are told they will get a reply in 4-5 days. As a woman, if I had a bladder infection, saw an LPN who told me I’d get an answer in 4-5 days. …believe me, they’d be adding manstaugter to my sentence! Then, if I had a dental issue for instance……at one facility I’ve researched, the answer to dental pain is ….pull it. Plain and simple. The reason? The prison doesn’t want to pay for your root canal. Ok, I get that. I don’t want to pay for a root canal either, nor do I want to have one! But, I’d like to leave with all my teeth if possilbe.
    I get the whole, “but there in prison for a crime” thing. I really do. But on the flipside, wives of men in the military get breast augmentation because their small breasts make them “depressed”. My huge ass depresses me but the plastic surgeon says it needs to be a little fatter before insurance will pay to have it surgically altered. Not fair I say.
    And nothing in life is………………………………
    Epadmin
    http://exclusiveprisoner.com

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