Are prisons beneficial to society, and do they have a realistic function? From a Biblical perspective, prisons don’t have any place in society except to function as a temporary restraint until the case can be adjudicated. Upon adjudication, the Biblical proscription for penal action is, from mildest to most severe, public rebuke, public humiliation including beatings, fines/restitution, capital punishment and exile. Amazingly, the prison system in America is rooted in the philosophy of the Quakers (a small religious sect rooted – more or less – in Christianity). It was the Quaker’s thinking that to put some miscreant in prison along with a Bible, and he would come out of prison a reformed person. Of course, that leaves out God’s sovereignty in the salvation of people, and puts it in the hands of the state – a very unreliable source.
Prisons are, in today’s circumstances, designed to separate the criminal elements from the civilian population. In the process, they are also supposed to “rehabilitate” the parties involved. Of course, this is warm fuzzy liberal thinking which has no basis in fact with the possibility of an occasional exception. In reality, prisons function as a warehouse and a graduate school for criminals so that they become better criminals, and hopefully smart enough to avoid getting caught or successfully prosecuted subsequently to their release. Yes, sadly, prisons make for better rapists, murderers, thieves, robbers, burglars, racists, and a myriad of other proclivities too numerous to mention.
So what happens to people in prison? The meek who find themselves there due to a single transgression in a thoughtless moment are the ones to suffer the most. They may end up being raped by the same sex, forced to perform immoral and/or illegal acts while under the oppression or tutelage of an established and more powerful inmate. They may be forced to join a gang just to survive. Gangs will protect their own, but not without exacting some due bill. The loner in prison is not likely to survive, and will, if he does, have to look over his shoulder constantly. The Shawshank Redemption, IMDb’s highest rated movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, was not far from the truth.
Prisons are not for boy scouts, and, with extremely rare exception, are not going to graduate any boy scouts. So, why have prisons? Well, they are a breeding ground for criminal elements that can be used to serve wealthy and powerful interests. How you say? They can perform jobs that would be repugnant to those who do not already have a criminal background. Unleashed upon society, they can wreak havoc and lead to the need for more police, district attorneys, sheriffs, courts, judges, attorneys, court clerks and reporters, bailiffs, social workers, wardens, guards, parole officers, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists etc. On top of that, you need contractors and sub contractors to build the prisons, vendors to supply the construction materials, and then suppliers for linens, food, etc. to keep the prisons running orderly. In other words, it can enhance the need for more government employees, and vendors and out of that, is needed more administrators all under the authority of a Mayor, County Supervisor or Governor.
In other words, it enhances the size, scope and cost of government and the necessary tax revenues to keep all of that going. The Federal Register shows that the average cost to house a prisoner on an annual basis is $35,000. Currently in the U.S., the largest prison population in the world, there are approximately 2.2 million people. Multiply 2.2 million by $35,000, and you get a total of $77 Billion. That’s a decent chunk of change, and certainly a big enough industry that it would fight back against anyone cutting into their profits – including all of the corrupt politicians involved.
Now, there is someone who is throwing a monkey wrench into the equation. George Soros is now funding district attorney’s races getting leftists into office who will release violent criminals on the general public. Is Soros helping or hurting the prison industry? Only time will tell. In the meantime, this writer believes that prisons are not needed, and only lead to further problems in society. As this writer’s 8th grade Spanish teacher used to say, “Punishment should be swift and terrible.” No commensurate punishment; no fear; no fear; greater courage to commit crime!
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