Friday, February 17, 2012

Good and Mad Reading for the Weekend

If ever there's been an indictment of private prisons, it's this stimulating article from The Atlantic, published earlier this month.

The high -- er, low -- lights:  private prisons aren't cheaper, run better, or even necessary in many places.
... like the real estate market crash of the last ten years, the belief that the incarceration market was recession-proof and could only rise is being proved wrong. Declining crime rates are leaving more prisons empty. There isn't enough crime to keep the prison industry afloat as it currently stands.
Ummm, this is a good thing, yes? Less crime, lower incarceration needs and costs -- isn't that what the criminal justice system is supposed to be achieving? Isn't the system supposed to be working itself out of a job?

Yes, but there are plenty who don't like it -- including the prison employees and small towns losing jobs and income because of now-empty facilities.

While I sympathize with those suffering hardship, it is a limited sympathy. I'm with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on this issue: "an incarceration program is not an employment program." When prison time is necessary to keep us safe, when it's the best punishment for society and the offender, and when judges have the freedom to decide how much of it is right for each individual offender, I have no qualms about incarceration. But I'll never be for prisons just for their own sake ... or because they give people jobs.

-- Stowe