Dear Mr. President,
Today I want to talk a little about prison reforms and the high cost of “keeping the public safe.” In California we spend more on prisoners than we do on education… this in of itself is a travesty, but the real crime is that the more we cut education and investing in our children, the more we create the potential for desperate people to commit crimes.
Yes, it’s important to keep violent offenders locked up, but do we need to provide them with sex change operations to keep us safe? Should they be allowed to sue because they aren’t offered “chucky” peanut butter, only creamy? Should we be providing organ transplants when many law-abiding citizens die because they can’t afford a life saving transplant? What do we really owe the members of a civil society who choose to break the law?
It is my belief that when people break the laws that are intended to keep the general population safe, then they leave their “ordinary rights” at the cell door. Of course there are basic rights that we would and should extend to another human being, regardless of their crime. These rights should include the following: As safe an environment and protection as we can reasonably provide, enough decent food to keep them reasonably healthy and free from disease, access to books and other educational materials in order to rehabilitate and educate themselves, a reasonable amount of living space or access to a larger area for the purpose of exercising and staying fit, access to basic health care and medications, and access to law books, and consultations with an attorney in case (and it happens all too often) they have been wrongfully convicted.
If an inmate doesn’t have a high school diploma then they remain incarcerated until they pass the equivalent of a GED. If they have their diploma then they can become the teachers for those who don’t. Once an inmate has completed the equivalent of his or her GED, then they become eligible for college courses or job training provided by other inmates with a higher education or job skills. Some staff would need to be provided to assist and oversee the process. Education and job training are the only ways to deter recidivism.
You will notice my list does not include Cable TV, fully equipped gyms, movies, conjugal visits, basket ball games with their buddies and other social games, and a whole host of other things that law-abiding citizens can’t afford or have access to.
Our children who have broken no laws deserve more of our resources then adults who chose to break our laws. This country needs massive, comprehensive prison reforms and the money we save on that should be spent on children, because if we don’t invest in them now… they will become the next generation of prisoners.
It’s time to invest in our kids!
The Gadfly Granny