Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prison vs Work

OK, I received this as SPAM. It was supposed to get me to quit my job and start making thousands of dollars a day working from home. Well, it didn't do that, but it did get me to thinking about what this says about our society.

“In PRISON you spend the majority of your time in a 10X10 cell.
At WORK you spend the majority of your time in an 8X8 cubicle.

In PRISON you get three meals a day fully paid for.
At WORK you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.

In PRISON you get time off for good behavior.
At WORK you get more work for good behavior.

In PRISON you can watch TV and play games.
At WORK you could get fired for watching TV and playing games.

In PRISON you get your own toilet.
At WORK you have to share the toilet with some people who don't have good hygiene.

In PRISON they allow your family and friends to visit.
At WORK you aren't even supposed to speak to your family.

THERE IS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.”

This reminds me of a friend I knew when I was attending college. At one point he was arrested for writing bad checks and spent a month in jail. After he was out, he told me that he was trying to figure out a way to get back in for the rest of his life, without being put into a state facility. Why? Because it was the best he had ever lived. He didn’t have to work, he didn’t have to cook, and he was a trusty who ran errands to the court house (thereby getting some “free” time each day).

This is wrong! No prison, jail, penitentiary, or whatever you call it should be so pleasant a place to stay that anyone would ever want to go back. Prisons have two purposes: To rehabilitate those who are able to be rehabilitated and get them back into society. And two, to make certain those that can’t be rehabilitated never get out.

What do I think prison should be like? It depends. One option would be to just make it as unpleasant as possible for those who will never be getting out. It should be a place to fear, to be an incentive to others to not commit crimes that would get them sent there.

Another option would be to run prisons as a business, the inmates are the employees. They get “paid” with privileges based on how well they work, such as TV time, library time, game time, etc. All profits go to the victims of the inmates’ crimes.

I am in favor of the death penalty. Certain crimes that are horrendous enough should be punished by the person no longer remaining on this earth. Let me paint you a picture. An 18 year old male is arrested for raping a young girl. While out on bail he kills her so she cannot testify against him. This person has forfeited his right to life, for both actions. The punishment should not be carried out in some back room, but should be public and timely. Remember, the real purpose of prison and punishment under the law is to convince people they want to willingly choose to be law abiding. Attendance at executions should be mandatory for all first time offenders.

My final thought is regarding “cruel and unusual” punishment. Remember my point above? Prison should be as unpleasant as possible. This does not mean it has to be mean, but just because someone doesn’t get enough TV, or the bed is too hard, or they get smacked by a guard for having broken a rule that does not make it cruel. You want cruel? Take that 18 year old rapist/murderer and sentence him to life in prison with no possibility of parole. That is cruel. Would you want to spend 50 years in a prison, staring at nothing but gray walls knowing you will never get out? If it was me, I would be asking for the death penalty.

For additional reading, may I suggest "Infinity Hold" by Barry B Longyear.

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