Yesterday, I touched lightly on how I feel about prisons when I accepted the ‘Life is Good’ award. It ticks me off with the way our justice system handles criminals. Inmates receive food, shelter, and clothing. That’s fair enough. However, prisoners aren’t treated poorly by any stretch of the imagination. In addition to the basic necessities of life, they are given a free education, Internet access, cable TV, and more. These are privileges. What’s wrong with this picture? Are we sending the wrong message?
Back in the days of the wild west criminals stood trial, followed by swift judgement against for their crime. If the atrocity warranted the death sentence then it was quick. No waiting around for years before a criminal died. The execution wasn’t in private but for all to see. For lesser offenses, public humiliation was the punishment by being placed in a stockade (this may have only been during the colonial times). This example of how ‘wrong-doers’ would be treated served to remind the law-abiding citizens and the outlaws of unfavorable consequences. Not to mention, prison life was harsh in the old days. There were no special amenities given to the dredge of society. No special treatment was given striking fear in the hearts of youngsters to not stray down a ‘bad man’s’ path.
In recent history, hard-core criminals worked the chain gangs doing intense physical labor — busting rocks, laying down railroad track, building roads, …with armed guards watching them like hawks. Folks would, “tst..tst..tst” as they shook their heads in shame when they would see such men in leg shackles. Criminals were a disgrace…outcasts…a disease to society.
Things are different today. Youngsters are not reprimanded when they bully other kids or cheat on a homework, or caught stealing. That’s where they should be stopped. Eventually, the penny-annie stuff gets boring and they graduate to more serious crimes. Gang initiation, drug and alcohol abuse, shoplifting, and worse. The justice system doesn’t intervene soon enough when this breed of criminal begins to parade through the courts. Next thing you know, the repeat offender breaks into grandpa’s home to steal his medication no doubt to support a drug habit or to sell for money or simply out of wickedness. Things go terribly sour and grandpa gets killed. Thugs have no fear. Why should they? After all, prison isn’t veered as an evil place as it once was. Our society gives more rights to criminals than they do the victims. Sad really!
What’s really crazy about prison life is, prisoners receive better care than our own military. The men and women who protect our country so courageously and selflessly are given the shaft – poor working conditions, underpaid, shattered nerves and home life, low-quality health care, and sometimes treated like criminals. I don’t know about you, but I have no tolerance for this.