An article in the January 16, 2010 edition of the Boston Globe entitled “Parole overhaul to burden prisons” it is suggested that overhauling the parole system, making it tougher to be released on parole, will contribute to the already overcrowding in prison. Should prison overcrowding really be a concern or should the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth take precedence?
While prison space is at a premium, we can not let the lack of space be a criteria on whether we should parole someone or not. The criteria should be whether or not the person has paid his debt to society. We can argue whether or not criminals can be rehabilitated or not, or whether certain “crimes” should perhaps be reclassified and not treated as felonies with jail time, and this is all well and good, but it doesn’t get to the actual root of the problem. We need to look at the causes of crimes and how to stop it.
Throwing more money at it isn’t the answer; in fact it can be rightly argued that throwing money at the problem only exacerbates it, as well as all the other problems we have tried to fix in the past by the same methods. The war on poverty has not eliminated poverty; it has led to more as now there is no incentive for the “refugees” of this war to work. This war has only created more problems and other wars. For example, the increase in single parents and absentee fathers occurred soon after the war on poverty was begun. Throwing money at poverty has created this problem by paying unwed mothers to have more children since their check will now be increased.
Overcrowding in the prison system is caused by one thing and one thing only, too many people break the law. There are two answers, one is eliminate the laws which are being broken, certainly a not very good idea or perhaps change some that may need to be changed, or teach people the old adage “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Many people decry the “old days” when parents ruled by a switch or belt, but a child learned fast what was allowed and what was not. (No, the author is not advocating child abuse, there is a difference between spanking and child abuse and if someone crosses the line, they should be punished.) Children were taught respect, for their parents, for other adults, for teachers and for Police Officers. No longer is this the case. We have turned our society into one where people are afraid to discipline another for fear of the inevitable lawsuit or child abuse charge, and therefore when our children grow up, they do not have respect for anyone because there has been no consequence for lack of respect.
We need to go back to the basics. We need to teach our children and in many cases ourselves about respect and that there are consequences for bad behavior. We can no longer reward people for mediocrity, for trying their best, not everyone is a winner, and there are losers. We can no longer punish the person who stands up for his or her rights against a bully while letting the bully get away with nothing. We have gotten things backwards in this country and it has to be turned around.