Both juveniles and adults populate the vast American prison business systems. This method of dealing with those who break the law has been around for centuries. While modern day American prisons do a somewhat better job of responding to the actual needs of prisoners, they have a very long way to go before actually dealing effectively with those sentenced to them.
The costs of incarcerating people, guilty or not, and needing it or not, have risen as the population has exploded. Those costs have always been born by those not sent to prison….American taxpayers. Basically, prisons are like businesses without the accountability demanded of for profit businesses. Anyone familiar with how business works, knows that if a business has a product return rate of 25% and more, it is not sustainable. A prison is essentially a business without the accountability demanded by investors. Yet, prisons, as we know them, receive annual funding irrespective of their “product” success or failure. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice receives about 3.3 billion every year. Any private business with that amount of spending would never escape accountability…..but such has been the case.
Imagine what would happen if businessmen were to be put in charge of prisons. They would not care about partisan politics, or re-election…..they would be focused on how to improve the bottom line. They would take a practical look at what works and change what doesn’t. They would not keep those ready for released locked up way beyond necessary because it would waste too much money. The kind of change they would initiate would pale in comparison to the tiny incremental change currently fashionable among the partisan politicians currently in charge.
It seems the endless lust for punishment has blinded the senses of those who perpetuate the failed systems in place throughout our great country. The time for something bigger and bolder is long overdue. In the article linked here, such a vision is proposed by William R. Kelly, professor at the University of Texas.