** juan2003, ** what do you do with those people who don’t want to be a “good citizen?” I’m not talking about mentally ill people, but people who are just plain * mean. *
Not everyone in prison is a nice person who made mistakes. There are some people in there who take delight in causing others pain, and would take any opprotunity to do so.
Funding this kind of operation would be astronomically expensive. Do we * buy * a city, or build a new one? (Note that many prisons are already like a small city-- just surrounded by fencing.) Considering that the State is responsible for the inmate’s well-being, how do we ensure that each one is not being victimized and is getting everything he needs? (It’d be almost impossible to watch everyone 24-hours a day.)
Prison funding is already as tight as Britney Sprears’ outfits. Politicians extoll that they are “tough on crime!” but then turn around and cut prison funding as soon as they can. The public approves: they seem to think, for some reason, that these budget cuts eliminate “luxuries” for the prisoners, like cable and recreational programs. That’s not true. Cuts are usually made in staff, making already-crowded institutions more dangerous. Sometimes, prisons are closed, cramming more inmates into the ones left open.
You’re right on one account: prisons are the “garbage dumps” of society. The general public doesn’t give a damn about the people inside, as long as they don’t have to look at them. (NIMBY) They resent the idea of inmates having any “privledges” like basketball courts and movies. I honestly imagine some would be happy to keep inmates in cold cells, feeding them bread and water.
However, the current prison system makes a concerted effort to see to it that inmates are kept in good conditions, that they have recreational and educational programs to keep them occupied, and the occasional treat to give them something to behave for. And they do this on an ever-tightening budget.
My husband works in a prison, and even being a liberal-minded person, I don’t find the place “unnecessarily cruel.” It’s not a *pleasant * place to live, but it shouldn’t be-- after all, these men are there to be punished for their crimes. They suffer from not being able to see their loved ones as often as they’d like, and from being in a very structured environment with little privacy, and also from being around some pretty mean people.
The prison my husband works in does function like a little city. The inmates go to their jobs, just like you or I, and after work, they may play softball or watch the game on TV with their friends. They can go to school, go to chruch, go to the doctor and dentist, or go down to the commissary to pick up a bag of chips. It’s not exactly like life on the outside, of course, but again, it shouldn’t be. They’re in prison.