Saturday, February 26, 2011

They're trying to build a prison... / Another prison system...

The United States is a/the (depending on what sources you use and how you measure) world leader in locking people up.

The literal financial expense of having a high incarceration rate has been discussed fairly widely during this Great Recession, and the unnecessary billions of dollars that the system costs is something we should look at.

While I am interested in fixing the deficit, I am more interested in the social and psychological expenses of a prison society. If I once again find myself rejected from grad school, I may just begin to study these expenses thoroughly and scientifically in lieu of going to school.

For now, though, I am just thinking about how lock-'em-up(-and-throw-away-the-key)-ism might affect a society. That social norm seems to encourage compartmentalizing problems, forgetting them instead of trying to improve them, even if it would be easier to improve them than to fix them. Strangely, it also ranks the well-being of criminals above orphans, senior citizens, and homeless people, including veterans. Maybe if we find a way to dramatically reduce the incarceration rate we can use some of the savings to create a system of public care for the other groups... We could even use the newly vacant prisons!