Just One Prison
We have gone from having less than 300,000 people in prison in 1980 to over 2.4 million people behind bars today. Why is that? Are there really that many people out there that are so anti-social that we must cage them and keep them away from the rest of society?
Are we better off with these people locked up?
Are their families better off?
Is it worth the cost?
The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per capita incarceration rate, and still we hear people talking about prison overcrowding and the need to build new prisons.
What if the solution is not in continuing to do what obviously has not been working but in doing just the opposite? What if the answer to safer communities is not in locking up more people but in locking up less?
First, we should make it our goal to only have one prison in every state plus one federal prison for housing those inmates that refuse to fit into society—individuals that given support, an education, and job training still prefer a life of crime.
Second, we need to train parents and teachers how to identify non-social behavior in toddlers and in elementary school children and provide resources to children in need before they ruin their lives.
Finally, we need to re-establish hope and opportunities in those communities where a life of crime is pretty much the only job available. We need to stop being so focused on locking people up and more focused on raising them up.