Prison Reform

Institute real prison reform. My late father was a street cop, prison counselor, prison administrator,and ended his law enforcement career as the equivalent of a chief magistrate (Chief Hearing Examiner, California Adult Authority). He was also the co-founder of the Seven Step Program regarding addiction treatment as well as the "halfway house" program to help former convicts reintegrate. These two programs were in the late 50s/early 60s and the first such programs in the nation. My father also spoke against the "three strikes" as well as fixed sentences. I also learned through him that we have never defined what our prisons are supposed to do: simply punish or re-educate prisoners. The larger question is how do you reduce recividism?

As noted, we can't have a real discussion on prison reform with discussing sentencing reform. We have the largest prison population per capita in the world, even larger than the infamous gulags under Stalin. Like Stalin, however, we sentence many of our citizens to lengthy times for the most mundane of crimes. The worst, in my opinion, is the sentencing of non-violent drug users to longer prison times than murders. West Europe, with the same number of citizens as America, has only 600,000 inmates, compared to over two million for America. Currently, America has 600,000 inmates in prison simply for marijuana. (See my statement on the Drug War.)

Our current mania to privatize prisons also needs to end. Although many Republican and Democratic politicians like to repeat the lie that "private enterprise" does things cheaper and more efficient, this is not true. Private prisons pay millions in bribes to politicians of both parties to keep this scam going (see Telmate article below). Even worse, private prisons oppose and lobby against sentencing reform and marijuana legalization. After all, the more prisoners they have for longer sentences the more money they make. Since the report below also discovered that private prisons increase recividism we are just oging to see more misery.

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