The cost of tough-on-crime horseshit

It’s steep.

When Harry Coates campaigned for the Oklahoma state Senate in 2002, he had one approach to crime: “Lock ‘em up and throw away the key.”

Now, Coates is looking for that key. He and other tough-on-crime lawmakers across the country, faced with steep budget shortfalls, are searching anxiously for ways to let inmates out of prison faster and keep more offenders on the street.

Oklahoma’s preferred answer for crime has collided head-on with a budget deficit estimated at $600 million, and prison costs that have increased more than 30 percent in the last decade.

And this is common all across the country. As a result, prisoners are being released early, others are only being put on probation, and still others are receiving treatment for drug addiction. This is helping the problem somewhat. No, no. Not the money. I mean, yes, that is being helped, but the real problem – the one where non-violent offenders go to prison to lose years of their lives, where they lose any real chance at becoming better, where they go to learn how to be better criminals – that is being helped.

It’s just for all the wrong reasons.

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7 Responses

  1. Bernie Madoff, nonviolent offender losing years of his life, probably the rest of his life.

    I’m sure you’re shedding some tears for him.

  2. While I obviously wasn’t saying all non-violent criminals should be spared prison, I see little reason to keep Madoff there for the remainder of his life.

  3. Yeah, let Madoff’s victims at him and they will deal with the rest of his life. Save the cost of imprisonment.

  4. Instead of prison he should be, at the least, punished with vigilante justice, Bob?

  5. We need more chain gangs doing work with monetary and social benefits and less cable TV in jails.

    A summer camp I used to work at had non-violent prisoners brought in to paint the place every year before the kids arrived. We need much much more of that, at the cost of lunch! Not a half bad deal.

    On the one hand they are being punished, which is what some people want, they are doing a service, which is what others want, and they are doing something constructive, which is what we all want.

    On the other hand their incarceration becomes less costly, maybe not in the budgetary sense but in the grand scheme of things, they are not out drunk driving (or ponzi scheming) and they are providing a public service.

    Maybe they could come snow blow my driveway too, I’ll feed them breakfast for that.

  6. It’s called a joke, Nate. He will die on prison.

  7. A joke to you maybe, but its hard to say he doesn’t deserve a good thumping.

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