Our nation is experiencing a deficit that is not sustainable and our Congress is walking around Pennsylvania Avenue in a state of confusion. Some of them say, “stop the spending”, while the others are saying, “spend more money and it will work itself out”. Rocket science, it is not! Congress should sharpen their pencils and figure it out.
One of the ways Congress may look to reducing our budget would be toward prison reform. Our nation spends $68 Billion on jails and the prison system. These are taxpayer dollars that could be directed toward education and healthcare. Our prison statistics are alarming. More than 50 percent of the incarcerated are criminals with drug related crimes. Twenty percent of the incarcerated are serving 10-15 year sentences. That is a lot of taxpayer dollars providing shelter, food, healthcare and prison staff. It is also taking fathers away from their children and their households, a ripple affect that continues to decay our society. Wikipedia Prison Reform
Pleasant City, Florida ranks high on drug trafficking, as well as being the home for South Florida’s known gangs, the Bloods, Crips, and Black Gangster Disciples. Money saved from prison reform could be directed toward programs that clean up areas such as this or simply to pay down our debt.
It has come to be known as ‘warehousing’ prisoners and this has been proven to take a huge bite out of our budget. There has to be alternatives to the over crowded prisons and the cost of sustaining them. Alternatives could be the use and wearing of the monitor ankle bracelet, community service, fines, loss of driver’s license and the loss of their right to vote. The sentencing guidelines need to be reformed. The punishment should meet the crime. Our system is set up to make society whole from harm done by perpetrators. If this is the case, then a first time offender’s 40 year sentence for drug sales would not make society whole, but would do the opposite in that the cost of incarceration far exceeds the debt to society.
The famous Johnny Cash was an advocate of prison reform and worked arduously for it to happen. He sat before several presidents with his requests for prison reform offering first hand knowledge.
Non-violent, drug related crimes committed by first offenders should not be subjected to run away judges. Michael G. Santos, a first time offender with no prior record, looks forward to his release from prison in 2013, after spending half of his lifetime behind bars for selling drugs. Society has fed him, clothed him, educated him, and provided medical care to him. While behind bars he has earned his Bachelors Degree, cum laude, his Masters Degree and he is working on his Ph.D. in Political Science. Michael Santos has written two books while in prison and has devoted his 20 odds years in prison to improving himself and righting the wrongs of his actions.
The November Coalition is an organization working to end drug war injustice. They have featured Michael G. Santos story, as well as countless others.
…Through the Bureau of Justice and Statistics I have found the average lengths of time people convicted of the following crimes serve:
· Murderers serve average sentences of eight years, two months.
· Rapists serve average sentences of five years, eight months.
· Armed robbers serve average sentences of less than four years.
· Drug traffickers serve average sentences of one year, nine months.
· The average time that all federal prisoners serve is two years and one month.
Following my convictions, I was sentenced to a cumulative total of 45 years in federal prison. The nature of my sentence leaves me no possibility for parole. In addition to the long time that I must spend in prison, I also am sentenced to pay a $500,000.00 fine which accumulates interest at the rate of 18 percent per annum. The most recent invoice I received states that the fine has grown to over $1,700,000.00.