Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Why Prison Is Failing (Part II)"

2. Avoidable sentences: Many of the guys I have met in here should not be here at all or should be serving lighter sentences. There are the guys who are first time offenders, who only made a mistake, either out of youthful ignorance or a bad string of events. Take the 18 year-old kid who stole his neighbors car for a joy ride now serving five years for grand theft auto; or the 26 year-old youth pastor who went to a friend's bachelor party, drank a little too much and ran someone over, now serving 24 years for reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter. How about another kid, barely 18, who slept with his 16 year-old girlfriend on prom night and is now serving 12 years for statutory rape. This list could go on and on. I could even include guys like myself who committed serious crimes but did so in impulsive ignorance and fully recognize the seriousness of their crimes. Guys that regret their actions and wish to do all they can to make up for their past....

Admittedly, all of us are guilty of criminal offenses but the severity of the punishments are often excessive and unnecessary. Take the joy-rider for instance; a notably bad prank on his part but just a dumb kid who made a mistake. Community Service would have been sufficient. Hell a night in jail with no charges would have probably been good enough to scare him straight. The youth pastor could have done far more outside of prison walls to make up for his crime. Do I need to even comment on the 18 year-old prom attendee? Maybe some of us believe in waiting till marriage or that they are too young but is prison really necessary when we have all suffered the raging hormones of adolescence...The 16 year-old by the way is now 22, married to the guy who "raped" her and visits him every weekend.

Then you have other guys, like this one friend of mine. He robbed a house and is now serving 20 year sentence. It was his first offense. He was a kid doing something incredibly stupid and yes he committed a crime but like the other guys I have mentioned, the sentence is far too severe. Each one of these guys should have either not received any time or charges or they should have gotten less time. Instead, a mistake or poor judgment has cost them their lives.

These sentences were unnecessary and the cases should have been judged with more logic. In this way, these guys could have avoided the trials of prison and worked towards developing a productive life on the outside. Their mistake not forgotten but also not something they should pay for with the rest of their lives.


  1. And just as sad when you consider how many repeat offenders committing far worse crimes go free. Perhaps if the prisons weren't overfull with people such as you've described, there would be room for more real criminals.

  2. I have heard so many stories like you've described and think they should be examined more closely. There should be some alternative solutions to warehousing people. Hard core prison should be reserved for those who have no desire for redemption or postively contributing something to the world. There should be greater opportunities for prisoners to use their lives in a more positive way and to be able to mainstream back into regular life.

    Tossing It Out

  3. Recently a prisoner here in the UK was released from prison, shot and injured his ex girlfriend, shot dead her new boyfriend, then shot and blinded in one eye a policeman, he was on the run for a week before the police cornered him where the criminal shot himself, Now this same criminal before he was sent to prison asked if he could have help as he thought counselling would help him, the system refused his cry for help. He did commit some awful crimes this past week but why didn't he give the help he pleaded to have. It would have saved one life the suffering of two people and also the suffering of friends and relations.


    It has been pointed out to me in the past that states do not have the funds to support rehabilitation or serious evaluation of each individual passing through the correctional system. The question remains though: What costs more, warehousing increasing numbers or developing a system that evaluates, rehabilitates and ultimately reduces the numbers?

    Prevention and rehabilitation serves a greater purpose than punishment.