I hate to say this, but prison isn’t working.
Oh, if you’re just looking to warehouse inmates, prison is probably doing a bang-up job.
Problem is that I keep seeing the same critters get caught over and over again. And, while this might be considered job security, I’m getting tired of seeing the same critters coming and going.
Also, there’s that whole “paying the debt to society” thing. Try as I might, I just can’t figure out how sitting on your bum, watching daytime TeeVee, eating honeybuns and doing calisthenics for two hours a day in the sunshine equals paying any kind of debt.
I’m just evil enough that I think that prison ought to require the inmates do something that is actually productive.
So. I have been pondering. Once my legions of flying monkeys complete my Quest for World Domination, how would I run the prisons?
First off, the current method of sentencing has to go. Frankly, due to Work Time credit, Good Time credit, Whatthehellelse Time credit and parole, I’ve never seen an inmate serve his actual complete sentence.
So. We shall do away with sentencing based on time, instead we shall base sentences upon monetary damages, court costs and fines owed.
For example, let us say that here is Joe T. Critter. Joe has defrauded … somebody … of, say, $100,000. That’s a nice, round figure.
The jury that convicted Joe decides that he should also pay a fine — twenty grand sounds good. And the trial cost the taxpayers another $20,000.
All told, Joe owes 140,000 dollars to the victim and to society. Off Joe goes the LawDog Penal System.
In my new system, Joe will be assigned a state bank account. And Joe is going to stay in the pen until such time as he has $140,000 in that bank account and can send a cashiers check totaling the full amount owed to his victim and another to the court.
Now, Joe will be fed three standard meals a day that he won’t have to pay for, along with a bunk, one (1) blanket, one (1) sheet and one (1) uniform.
He better take good care of the sheet, blanket and uniform, because if he tears them up to make necklaces, do-rags, washcloths, or anything else, he’s going to have to buy the replacement out of his state bank account.
If Joe wants honey-buns, cigarettes, playing cards or anything from the commissary — the money used to purchase these goods is debited from this bank account.
If Joe wants to watch the football game on the TeeVee — first he’s going to have to buy the TeeVee — and every program on that TeeVee is Pay-Per-View.
If Joe wants something that isn’t his three square meals, or his original issued uniform and bed-clothes, but Joe doesn’t have enough money in his account to buy this stuff — then Joe doesn’t get this stuff.
Joe’s day will be divided into three parts. He will sleep the first eight hours. Then he will be awakened for a meal and spend the next eight hours working around the prison — cleaning, serving food, working in the prison farm, doing the chores necessary for the proper health and welfare of a prison. If he participates and pulls his weight in these needful tasks, Joe will receive ten dollars ($10) for that eight hours.
If he doesn’t want to get his butt out of bed, or if he slacks off –well, he didn’t earn his keep — no dollars in his account for that day.
He then gets another meal. The third eight hours — if he has kept his nose clean — Joe gets to make stuff.
Let us postulate that Joe has learned some leatherwork. Assuming that Joe has been an upstanding inmate, he may draw some material (leather, in this case), tools and let us say that he makes a gunbelt.
Each prison will have an e-bay-type Internet auction. Once Joe has finished the belt, it goes onto the auction site where it will stay for one week. At the end of the week, the belt goes to the highest bidder. If no one bids on it, it will stay on the site for one-week intervals until someone buys it.
The buyer sends a cashiers check to the State (not the prison), the State deducts the cost of the materials Joe used to make the belt and sends that amount to the prison. The remainder is placed in Joe’s account.
If Joe has no manufacturing skills, then my prison will offer classes. Standard tuition will, of course, be deducted from his account.
Joe will end his day with another meal, and then he will be locked down for sleep time.
This gives my inmates a choice: they can work hard and actually pay their debt, or they can futz around like they do now — in which case the only way they’ll leave prison is when they’re carried out and buried in the prison cemetery. And the inmates doing the carrying and the digging will earn money towards their sentences.
Under this system the victims will actually get reimbursed, the courts will actually see fines and costs being paid and the inmates will actually learn to work.
Yes, I know there are some problems with this system. How do you place a monetary value on the suffering of a rape victim or a murder victim is the biggest so far — but I’m pretty sure that something can be worked out.
And it’s got to be better than what we have now.
I hate to say this, but prison isn’t working.