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An Alternative for Prison

6 Pages 1403 Words

America's prisons have been called "graduate schools for crime." It
stands to reason: Take a group of people, strip them of possessions and
privacy, expose them to constant threats of violence, overcrowd their
cell-block, deprive them of meaningful work, and the result is an embittered
underclass more intent on getting even with society than contributing to
Prisons take the nonviolent offender and make him live by violence. They
take the nonviolent offender and make him a hardened killer. America has
to wake up and realize that the current structure of our penal system is
failing terribly. The government has to devise new ways to punish the
guilty, and still manage to keep American citizens satisfied that our
prison system is still effective.
Americans pay a great deal for prisons to fail so badly. Like all big
government solutions, they are expensive. In the course of my studies
dealing with the criminal justice system, I have learned that the
government spends approximately eighty-thousand dollars to build one cell,
and $28,000 per year to keep a prisoner locked up. That's about the same
as the cost of sending a student to Harvard. Because of overcrowding, it
is estimated that more than ten-billion dollars in construction is needed to
create sufficient space for just the current prison population. The plain
truth is that the very nature of prison, no matter how humane society
attempts to make it, produces an environment that is inevitably
devastating to its residents. Even if their release is delayed by longer sentences,
those residents inevitably return to damage the community, and we are paying
top dollar to make this possible. Why should tax payers be forced to pay amounts to keep nonviolent criminals sitting in prison cells where they become bitter and
more likely to repeat their offenses when they are released? Instead, why
not put them to work outside prison where they coul...

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