Frank O'Brien looks at the US prison system. Frank O'Brien is a long time resident of Troy, NY, USA, and former head of Clan na Gael in same city, and area.
Uncle only represents 5% of the world population, yet we have 25% of the prisoners in the world. Why is this? It is from our other insane perpetual war on drugs which has locked up this unbelievable amount of humanity, mainly on non-violent drug charges.
You declare the War on Drugs to be over, with the government selling cheap drugs, and letting doctors maintain those who really need the drug kind of pain management, having ample drug treatment and rehabilitation for those who really are addicts.
Once you take the money out of it, gangs, cartels and the CIA no longer will have the money they need to operate as usual, bringing their activities to a screeching halt. Law enforcement can go and use their extraordinary powers, which they haven't used enough on these guys, and arrest them on charges relating to crimes other then drugs.
You go back to earlier drug cases brought in court, and retroactively emancipate those in prison right now on drug cases. The only ones you keep are the violent ones who show no sign of being rehabilitated, keeping them in for life if necessary. You expunge the criminal drug charges from those freed from prison, and educate them in being able to get an education if needed, like for a trade, or in their wanting to open up a business, since jobs are at a minimum at best for any poor soul out here.
Prison guards should be placed under some authority that they are accountable to that can adjudicate any charges brought against them by abused prisoners. As a counter, the guards should be allowed a powerful union that can guarantee fair hearings, and work related issues like good pay. Prisoners need to be 'socially engineered' to where gang activity is destroyed, and replaced with behavior modification that can make them better prospects for parole.
The way that prisons are run is a disgrace, needing to be radically reformed, and having a complete make over. From racist law enforcement policies there are an extraordinary number of African-American and Hispanic prisoners, so there needs to be a review of all cases involving minorities, giving freedom to those who were railroaded into going to prison on trumped up charges.
Mandatory and systematic reorientation classes are needed for judges, police and prison/jail guards, in which they are made more sensitive to racial issues, and learning how grinding poverty leads to a lot of neighborhoods becoming slums or ghettos. Once society has been reoriented itself from radical economic reforms, which would dictate to the Federal authorities like HUD and even the Federal Reserve, that there be equity, no homelessness and poverty having been wiped out.
In an environment like this the former homeless can be taught how to look after a house, their being either given enough money to pay for their housing needs, and basic needs, or hopefully their having been integrated into the economy by having a good paying job.
There should be a moratorium on taxes that so far have been paid by the middle class and working poor, giving them a number of years to get back on their feet, replaced these taxes eventually with a flat tax on maybe goods or services. The majority of taxes need to be switched on to the rich and super rich, corporations and conglomerates.
In an environment where we had a fair and socially just economic system, where formerly 'out sourced' jobs are brought back home to the USA, there should accordingly be less crime, especially if we legalize all drugs. Ghettos could become vibrant communities where crime was minimal, and an equal number of different citizens could live and help each other. We must do away with the privatization of prisons, which only encourages quotas, doing away with quotas amongst cops too. Prisons should be made more comfortable to prisoners, making it more homey, and less a hopeless environment.
There should be designated prisoner representatives who only represent prisoners, looking after their rights and helping them get a modicum of justice and guaranteeing their human rights. Family should be able to visit them in a comfortable and safe environment, where prison guards who are college educated help to facilitate a good visit for all concerned. Only where a prisoner is highly troublesome do you need a certain degree of prison guard power to deal with the unruly.
All prisoners should be made to take mandatory sensitivity training, in an indoctrinal way that eventually reaches all prisoners in a deep mental way. The effort would be to lower the amount of prisoner on prisoner violence, and sexual exploitation. Guards need to get the same indoctrination so that they learn not to abuse their authority, caring more for those sad souls that they are in charge of. More psychiatric treatment is needed, enough doctors being brought to the task, to take care of those prisoners with mental illness, giving them psychotropic drugs that can help lower things like depression, and schizophrenia.
Even judges would be needing to take sensitivity classes, and social justice classes so that they stop using and abusing their power towards the less fortunate. Classes beginning in high school, or lower grades, are needed to educate children about the disgraceful history of prisons and the criminal justice system, so that they might better the situation even more once they grow up and join society with the rest of us. More money should be spent on prisoners, giving them first rate food, comfortable beds, good entertainment centers and exercise facilities. This way you accomplish making an environment where less violence is had, coupled with psychiatric and drug therapy, with also group therapy.
The prisoners should have the best of health care, having doctors who they can trust and go to with their health needs. Through social psychological means you slowly erase gang mentality, replacing it with sensitivity, or at the least heavily enough medicated troublesome prisoners, who might need to be separated from the community as a whole. In the end, the only way to lower the crime rate is to wipe out poverty, and giving everybody their own house, equally distributed among the population to force social integration, and not have social isolation of minorities.
Politics should be encouraged among prisoners so that they feel empowered, and not like so much garbage set aside by society. Black Lives Matter could take hold in prisons to help facilitate real reforms and changes, and black cops and prison guards should be allowed to be their own selves, and not be co-opted by the white cops and prison guards. It is a huge number of tasks needing to be done to bring about a safe and decent prison/jail environment, where both the prisoners and cops, guards and judges need to be educated on how to be better people, and how to get along with others, such as talking through disagreements, and not fighting them out.
First time offenders shouldn't be thrown in to general population, but rather have their own separate area of a prison away from the recidivist population. This way you don't make first time offenders into worse criminals than they already are. Certain crimes should be dealt with by having only these same particular offenders separated into groups matching up with their crime, using proven psychiatric therapies like group, and one on one therapy to help modify the criminal's behavior.
Sensitivity training is mandatory, otherwise those who are 'burnt out' might screw up the efforts of rehabilitating the prisoners. 'Burn out' cases should be farmed out to administrative jobs, and given a sort of paid vacation, during which they too receive psychiatric treatment. This rehabilitation stretches out to include the replacing of old crude attitudes of the guards, and other prison employees, since bad attitudes are going to interfere with prisoner rehabilitation.
The impact of all these deep sociological and psychological reforms hopefully could realize success within a few years, with immediate results in giving much better things like good nutritious food, adequate entertainment and excellent beds. The point is that prisoners are human beings too, needing to be given love and understanding, for otherwise if once they're released they might recommit old crimes. You need to replace the nasty, cold hearted attitudes with caring, and loving attitudes, treating them as you would your own wayward adult children.
Once, and if these reforms have gotten results in the positive, the better the chance you have at rehabilitation. You really need to couple it with a radical restructuring of the economy, so that there are jobs enough for prisoners getting out on parole. Let's call it the humanization of the prison system, which would be far better than the disgraceful state it is in right now.