I’ll think about the following the next time I hear someone say something about the “younger generation.”
There are some interesting statistics – nay, absolutely awful ones – from a CNN article this morning. According to the Pew Center on the States, there were 7.3 million adults incarcerated in this country during 2007. A synopsis of the statistical findings should raise a lot of questions:
That is over 3 out of every 100 people in the country.
People of color were disproportionately more represented than whites – over 9 per 100 of black adults and more than 5 per 100 of Hispanic or Latino adults.
Maybe that doesn’t sound too bad to you, but consider that the U.S. accounts for 25% of the world’s incarcerated people – and that includes all those “third world” countries – the ones we love to cluck our tongues at because they imprison their political opponents. Twenty-five percent of the imprisoned people are here in this country that has only 5% of the world’s population.
In the “land of the free”, you are 5 times more likely, on average, to be jailed than in the rest of the world. What does this say about us? What does this say to our younger citizerns? What does it say about our system of “justice”? What does this say to the rest of the world?
If we made prison a non-geographic state, it would be the 13th largest in this federation we call the U.S.
Based on this, I have a proposition. Let us fence in the following as prison states: Mississippi, Alaska, New Mexico, Kansas, New Hampshire & North Dakota. Now, don’t give me that! We know how to put a fence up to keep people out – surely we can do it to keep people in.
Why these states? Well, for one, there is already the requisite amount of housing and other services to provide for their needs. The combined adult populations of these states in 2007 just about equalled the prison population. Also, these areas are in need of economic development – might as well put the miscreants to work, especially when they will reap some of the benefit of their labors and we won’t have to provide a great deal of staffing or funding to get it. They are geographically diverse, so we wouldn’t have to imprison people too far from their comfort zone.
What’s the benefit to the rest of us? Well, since we God-fearing, law-abiding citizens wouldn’t be living near a prison, we could delude ourselves into thinking we don’t have a justice problem. Oh, wait a minute, we already do that.
Of course, there would be drawbacks. What would we do with the people who are already there? How would we drive cross country? O well, nothings perfect. That’s why we have a government. We’ll let them figure it out.