Prison Over-Crowding Prison Crowing Solutions the Over-Crowding Essay
- Length: 6 pages
- Sources: 5
- Subject: Criminal Justice
- Type: Essay
- Paper: #32344593
Excerpt from Essay :
Prison Crowing Solutions
The over-crowding situation in California prisons has reached critical mass and the state is fairly short on options that are both possible and viable given public opinion and/or budget constraints. Even with that being the case, a solution has to be come to given the spiking crime rate and over-crowded prisons. All of those will be explored with some fleshing out of the topic as the paper goes along.
As noted by the assignment text, there are a good number of different public-private partnership types. They include public ownership and operation, quasi-public agency, operations assistance, contract operations and maintenance, contract operations and financing, design/build/operate, lease and operate, joint ownership and private ownership (American Water, 2013). The California prison system is very much system that involves a lot of interaction between the public and private sectors.
There are a number of solutions that can be used to make the prison problem in California work. A lot of the tactics that would require more spending are a hard sell in California because their budget situation is a fine mess. That being said, something has to be done and some hard choices have to be made.
The first option is to position the issue with the public of not using the money to make prisoners more comfortable but it should rather focus on the safety of the guards and being able to keep people off the street that should not be on the street. If it's posed that guards are killed or maimed every day due to the overcrowding and dilapidated cells, then the public may be more open to more money being spent.
A corollary to that argument would be to point out that some of the prisons, with a glistening example being San Quentin, are entirely too old and too unsafe to the guards and administrators to be in operation any more. Even if police do their job, they are going to horrible jails that just turn them into animals due to what they're exposed to and the culture that exists and the guards and prisoners both are exposed to some things and actions that they should not be required to endure.
Another tactic would be ensure that rather minor offenses such as possession of marijuana and the like do not involve jail time because there is simply not enough room for those offenders. The people peddling the drugs and/or users of harder drugs that are unquestionably more violent and a danger to society should be locked up before a casual pot user and that should hold true even if they have a good amount of pot on them. Unless it's clear that sales are being undergone (hand to hand transactions, pot in baggies, etc.), the person should not be pinched or dealing. At the very least, they should not be jailed unless it's obvious that heavy dealing activity is most certainly occurring.
Another option is to take the pathway that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken in Maricopa County, Arizona. His use of tent cities, making inmates pay for their food and other tactics allow non-violent offenders to be housed in a way that is very low-cost and it would not be that hard to ensure the safety and satiation of the prisoners in such an environment. The brick and mortar jails with the maximum security cells and so forth can be saved for the armed robbers, rapists and murderers.
Another way to go would be to start deporting non-citizen immigrants, legal or not, who are committing crimes. If a person is on a visa or has a permanent resident card and they are committing crimes they should be kicked out of the country and that would not take a lot of money to do. Either the inmate can arrange transportation or they can be dropped off at a border station. This would sound extremely harsh to many but if an immigrant is a strain on the system because of illegal acts, they do not deserve to be in this country. Building a real border fence on the southern border of California that a regular person cannot easily cross would be another good step.
Basically, the options above are build more prisons, build them cheaper, deport immigrants that are breaking the law on any sort of a consistent basis and out of state transfers. The latter has basically already been ruled out but the "build more prisons" chorus can be driven home by a common scofflaw like Lindsay Lohan getting a 90 day sentence and serving a miniscule fraction of it.
As far as finding money to build prisons, California has one eighth of the country's population and one third of the welfare recipients. People that are verifiably using drugs or using their benefits for illegal acts should have their benefits stripped immediately and that's just the tip of the ice berg. Social welfare spending in California (and around the world) is abused pervasively by people that give not a wit that the money is coming from the taxpayers and the malfeasance is not that hard to detect (Kumar, 2011).
In short, the money that could be used to build modern and large prisons is there. It just needs to be spent on prison-building rather than being poured down a rat-hole on people that either abuse it or simply do not need it. All social welfare programs need to be means tested with at least some sort of verification or standards required for benefits to be bestowed. Anyone who has a legitimate need should be helped but anyone who is obviously manipulating the system (e.g. filing for disability only after exhausting two years of unemployment benefits) should be made to get some sort of job and contribute to society.
This may seem like a harsh and controversial stand but California simply has no other options. Crime is spiking up and leaving murders, rapists and other miscreants roaming the streets to inflict themselves on society is a non-starter. People that only harm, kill and steal have no place in society and it is honestly not that hard of a sell to the public to make it clear that the current infrastructure is entirely too small and entirely too unsafe to the guards that keep those people secured and behind bars. One need only watch an episode of "Lockup" on MSNBC (now called NBC News) to see how bad some of these prisons are and just how bad some of these inmates are. It should be made clear that the prisoners will not be comfortable and they will not be given creature conforms that they are not entitled to given their dastardly and depraved acts (MSNBC, 2013).
A little enforcement of common decency, being a contributing member of society and the like, and this applies to people inside and outside jail, is all that is needed to right the ship in the California prison system. Some of these suggestions are going to cause people to howl but just like with many other things, kicking the can down the road and doing nothing is going to hurt a lot of people including some people that will get killed because voters and/or elected officials can't (or won't) do the right thing. Rather than hold people accountable, one gets crap like what occurred in Bell, California where most of the major leaders of that town were being paid ridiculously salaries that could not be justified in the private sector let alone the public one (Reuters, 2013).
There has been much vitriol and verbiage about how government is good or evil and the truth is that it's a mixture of both. It is true that serving the public good is the best idea but when half empty schools are closed down in Chicago and people refer to Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a "murder mayor" in reaction, that is just insipid to put it lightly (CBS Chicago, 2013). Taxpayer money in California (or anywhere else) should be spent wisely and efficiently. It should not be just raised every year automatically just because some interest group or party will cry foul when spending they cannot possibly justify is being cut and they often demagogue the issue by claiming racism or some other baseless claim.
As far as financing this venture above, and as noted above, all that is needed is redirection of money that is already being spent. California taxes are already entirely too high and a good amount of it is being wasted. The same is true of the federal government and they should save some money with the ridiculous amount of overlap they have and either finance prisons or help with out-of-state transfers. Using the money already on hand to better serve the public good is a win-win for everyone involved and this is especially true when speaking of prisons and keeping violent offenders where they belong…behind bars.
In closing, the author of this report knows…