Wednesday, March 08, 2006
"There Aren't Enough Prisons!"
A young woman, drunk, was wandering about the streets of New York City at 4AM. A bouncer, working for the pub in which the woman did much of her drinking, allegedly followed her, accosted her, tortured, raped and killed her, then hid her body. Her body was found a few days later.
We subsequently learn that the bouncer was a felon, an ex-con out on parole. According to local law and parole rules, a) the pub owner should have done a background check prior to hiring the man and, after learning of his background, should not have hired him at all, and b) the man's parole officer should have, in his capacity of observing the behavior of this man, had him arrested and returned to prison as soon as he learned of his parole violation.
This entry has more to do with the nation's prisons and penal systems than it does with this particular crime (the man in question has yet to be tried for the woman's murder), than it does with this particular crime, but it's my opinion that the pub owner(s) and the parole officer should share personal responsibility for the damage they caused. The felon, should be returned to prison for his parole vionlations and if convicted of the woman's murder, should remain there, without amenities, for the rest of his life.
A degree of blame belongs to the government and police agencies of the United States for promoting the disastrous notion that it's unnecessary and undesirable (and illegal) for individuals to have and use weapons of self defense. Had this young woman been carrying a firearm and been competent in its use, there's a very good chance she'd be alive today. In no instance would she be any worse off! Because I regard drinking beyond the point of self control stupid to the point of being comparable to suicide, I'm not prepared to deal with the notion of a "drunk chick with a gun."
Were Americans in general aware that a large percentage of the American public are armed and capable of self defense, there'd be much less of this sort of thing attempted. An armed society is a polite society.
By way of finally getting to the real point of this entry, one of the news shows reveals (as has been said many times by many individuals) that the reason these admittedly very dangerous convicts are paroled so cavalierly is that there's a shortage of prison space.
There are a number of problems with this. We can briefly examine a fraction of these problems.
The prisons are full of innocent individuals whose most serious shortcoming is that they happen to have been involved in the use, possession and/or sale of illegal substances--mostly drugs. Many of these laws have mandatory minimum sentences that have no relation to the severity of their damage to any individual or group. Thus, the sentences of these convicts often take precedence of the sentences of murderers, thieves and arsonists, etc, which usually have no minimum sentences, or more flexible ones. Thus, the innocent pot farmer must remain in prison for the full X years while the real criminal often gets an early out, sometimes (often) to continue his/her reign of destruction.
The first solution: put an immediate end to this huge, immoral, unConstitutional War on the Bill of Rights, often called (by the disingenuous) "the War on Drugs." Let all those poor saps out of prison today (those who didn't commit real crimes as part of their life in the world of drugs) and repeal all of the unConstitutional laws against the right to own things and the right to ingest things in accordance with the judgement of each individual. This should make quite a bit of space for criminals who have actually harmed people.
The second solution: build more prisons. The big problem with that is that prisons cost a lot of money. And they do, if they're built the ridiculous way prisons have been built. Prisons should be privatized and run on a for-profit basis. Prisoners should work, not only to supply labor for the construction of the prisons themselves, but to do any kind of productive work to a) pay their own keep in the prison, b) provide restitution to their victims, and c) to learn a trade that can be used to begin a career after their imprisonment ends.
The goal of prison ought to be primarily restitution, not punishment. When the convict makes his victim whole, as nearly as is possible, his sentence is over (obviously, the rules must be different in the case of a death, in which no restitution is possible). The murderer should never see the light of day again. As for those who pay (literally) their debt to their victim(s), his incarceration should end that day. His own property should be returned to him--including his gun, if he owned one. An ex-con has the right to defend himself, too! He should be released back into society with no further prejudice, as long as he keeps his nose clean.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!