Saturday, December 10, 2011

More money spent on education, less on prisons, would help

The companies that run and operate prisons nation wide are making billions of dollars annually.  Charlton County’s very own D. Ray James Prison is the largest private prison in the state of Georgia.
Television executives have tapped into the growing market of criminal activity.  The next time you watch the local or national news, count on your hand how many stories are about crime.
On any given day we can turn the TV on and find show after show on channel after channel about law enforcement officers and their pursuit of criminals. 
The shows are very informational and interesting to say the least, but there seems to be a common theme amongst all of them.  From The First 48, to Crime 360, to Bait Car, to Inside American Jail, there are a large number of young, Black and Hispanic males featured on each and every episode.
Blacks and Hispanics are the largest contributor to the prison population on the local, state and federal levels.  What I don’t understand is how Black men make up about 6% of the population in this country, yet make up over 40% of the prison population?  Where are we going wrong in the Black community?  It pains me to know you can find more Black men incarcerated than walking around a college campus. 
Taxpayers are footing $32 billion yearly housing criminals.  Let’s just say it costs $25,000 a year to house one inmate and a young man or woman is sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Their stay behind bars will cost taxpayers over $500,000.  If a person serving a life sentence is able to survive 50 years in prison.  They are going to cost us over $1.25 million dollars to house them.
It’s almost depressing to know that states are spending more money on prisons than they are on schools.  I am tired of our elected officials talking about not having enough money for school programs, forcing our already underpaid educators to take days off, or not giving well deserved raises to our teachers. 
At the same time, prisons are popping up left and right and expanding their capacities to house as many inmates as they can get.  The amount of money spent on building prisons over the last couple of years outweighs the amount of money spent on our education system.  Instead of spending all of that money on prisons and inmates, I suggest we pay more attention to and spend more money on education. 
The conditions of jails and inmate population should be at the very bottom of any politician’s agenda.  I understand that jobs are being created and prisons pump a large amount of money into small communities like Folkston, but at the expense of whom?
Some inmates have more luxury’s behind bars than they do in the outside world.  We shouldn’t be making life so comfortable for criminals that they would commit crimes just to eat 3 meals a day and have a place to sleep at night.  Inmates in this country need to spend a day or two in a prison in one of these 3rd world countries and their careless attitude about getting locked up might change.
Prisoners in America have become spoiled to think they are entitled to certain living conditions. Don’t get me wrong, every human deserves the right to be treated in a humane manner, but those who commit crime don’t deserve the same rights as a law abiding citizen.  If a person is convicted of a crime in a court of law and sentenced to serve time behind bars, they have just voided the privilege of having the same basic rights as everyone else.
I believe money is the driving force behind it all and the pockets of a select few are getting P.H.A.T. fat in the big business of prisons.  I don’t want to invest in new or expanded prisons.  I would rather spend my tax dollars on teachers, students, books and facilities, instead of feeding and housing a criminal.  I want our tax dollars to be invested in programs that will help keep kids occupied and off the streets. 

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