An interesting reversal fortune has befallen tens of thousands of inmates in jails all across the country. Law enforcement budgets artificially inflated due to 9/11 hysteria have lost their charm a decade later. Reality has finally forced legislators to bring budgets and expenses back in line with revenues.
Paying to house millions of inmates all across the nation at an average cost of close to $50,000 per inmate per year takes on the features of a luxury item in budgets, even in formerly sacrosanct areas where over bloated egos and pompous asses have managed to plunder and waste public funds for decades. When it is their own pensions and insurance policies that are in danger of shrinking or their perks disappearing legislators scramble to ensure proper funding. The first things to go from the budget are the things that never needed to be in the budget in the first place.
So who are the beneficiaries of our budget shortfalls? Actually they are in huge measure inmates accused of or convicted of a group of crimes called “victimless crimes”. These are crimes like pot possession or prostitution. No specific person or property was harmed in any way during the commission of the alleged crime. These are crimes of a moral nature, the definition of which changes frequently over the years. The beneficiaries of an early jail release from our prison system are people who would not have been in jail anywhere in Europe, for example, or in Asia. We are busting the public bank enforcing immature, antiquated moral laws created by a few moral dictators leading from a pulpit. Laws written to modify (or add a fun tax to) common social behavior.
Uganda, a tiny little country in Africa, finally got tired of wasting money chasing pot criminals and became the first country in the world to legalize pot for everyone. Now the government is making money regulating the sale of pot in Uganda like we do with liquor in this country . All that red ink is now turning into green ink on their bank and budget balances. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and in this case innovation. By taking the lead in this area Uganda will be fast tracking its economy and will begin catching up with the world in education and health care in no time.
So are we, as a society, really putting ourselves at more risk by releasing millions of our people from our prison system? Do we really need to be spending in the neighborhood of $50,000 per person per year rather than release people guilty of victimless crimes back into society? If people have more sex and smoke more dope do I really care? Do you? Do we really need to afford public servants earning $150,000 year in salaries and benefits to sit and watch people in cages all day? Why are our jails filled with cameras if we don’t trust them enough to use them? Are we really this paranoid?
Issues like these need to be brought to the attention of the public. Unfortunately “good” news is “bad” news for networks and newscasters. The fact that crime rates have been on a decade-long decline is seldom mentioned as long as law enforcement basks in the euphoria of 9/11 hysteria. The fact that huge numbers of people recently released were apparently incarcerated for no good reason or benefit to society will continue to go unreported. The reason is obvious. To suggest to the public that we need fewer numbers of policemen, fewer judges and far fewer jailers just seems, well, un-American. This is probably one of the smartest things we could do to be saving money around the country. Unfortunately that would also be un-American.