Friday, May 29, 2009

One step forward , twenty steps back

I waste time during the day by reading the online version of USA Today. The cover story is pretty strange in the realm of how the government is reverting back to the dark ages.

The story says that municipalities are charging the jail inmates for their incarcerations. Ok, I don't have too much of a problem there, except that 25% of the locked up people got there for their drug offenses and that is a waste of time, money and manpower.

The story goes on and states that because the cities have been spending more money than they bring in, you know, they do what businesses and families can not do...that of spending money they do not have, they seem to do an excellent job of it, nevertheless.

SO....they figure they will just bill the inmate anywhere between 20 and 80 dollars a day for their upkeep.

Huumm....that's sound good, if you can get the money, but it goes on to say that if the person doesn't pay the bill, they simply turn them over for collection.

So now the person, will have their credit ruined, if it isn't ruined already, and wind up in a worse situation maybe without employment which will then cause them to rob and steal......

I don't know about you but that just seems like they would be better off in debtors prison.......Thank God, they got rid of debtors prisons in the last century.........

They might try cutting out their overhead by stopping funding of programs and studies that do nothing, or maybe they just want everybody to be working for the government..... I think we already do that?
But that's just my opinion..........

In Mexico at least jail is no country club, unless your family has some money, then you have good food, tv, other entertainment, fine wines, almost like home......


Lulu... said...

Of course this comes to pass in Mexico, I have read of some people who have relatives in jail and have to pay until you can leave food, clothing, shoes, their familiares.Que have little to eat because their income is going to pay graduates.

And it is worth noting that many people are imprisoned without being convicted.

Nice read.
A greeting from Zamora mich.

Lulu... said...

Disculpa mi mal inglés.

Constantino said...

Hola Lulu!
usted es más que bienvenido escribir en español, se aprecia en ambos sentidos.

Christine said...

I am a criminal defense attorney and while my county does not charge for jail time, it does have a lot of other fees and fines that are assessed against everyone who has to come to court and is found guilty--no matter how petty the crime. The problem is if they don't pay, the county somehow contacts the Department of Motor Vehicles and they put a hold on the miscreant's license until the fines/fees are paid. Now since the miscreant can't get a job without a license, they really can't pay the fines which get larger and larger with penalties,so they can't get ever a license or a job and on it goes.

Constantino said...

Christine, sound like a situation that some one just doesn't use common sense, and they wind up creating an ongoing problem. Seems to me that there should be some middle ground that might work. As I see it they do that because they are hemorrhaging money elsewhere because of poor financial management and runaways giveaway programs that are unsustainable. Meanwhile the people that need some outstretched hand once in a while get the bigger shaft!
Everyone has a great idea while they are campaigning, but as soon as they are elected, the same mismanagement starts happening over and over. I would think that maybe a program where the people would have to work off their bills working in some form of public service for a short period of time would be beneficial...The article went on to say that if they didn't pay then the accounts would be given to collection agencies....So now you have a business benefiting from harassing some poor sap who is already in dire straights....seems wacko..

ac said...

Constantino and Christine,
Perhaps if inmates cannot pay for their upkeep they can be mandated to perform public service after they complete their term of incarceration. At least they can contribute to the community by saving municipal funds, doing some of the menial and less inviting work at minimum wage such as cleaning, mending, painting are time consuming and costly if a union worker does the same job. They might even learn a basic skill in the process. One also has to decide if prison is to be punitive or rehabilitative.

Lulu, thanks for your look at Mexican prison. No tiene que disculparse su ingles! gracias.

Anonymous said...

Seems like it makes sense to either fine someone or to incarcerate them, but both seems like overkill.

Alas, the criminal justice system is increasingly driven by an emotional vengeance, rather than a rational assessment of how to best protect the non-criminal citizenry, while appropriately and fairly punishing the justly convicted.

And much of the drug-related incarceration seems simply archaic, especially for something as innocuous as marijuana. In those cases you take someone who is probably paying somewhere between $5,000-$15,000 per year in taxes, and by incarcerating them, extinguishing the tax stream, and then running up incarceration costs of $50,000 to $85,000 per year. Net loss to the public budget? $65,000 to $100,000 per year per convict. And given the number of people in jail for minor drug offenses, the costs are mounting fast. Seems like a bad deal for the taxpayer and a waste of someone's life.

Ugh...Don't even get me started on California's "Three Strikes."


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where at least some sanity prevails.

ac said...

Hi Kim,
Correctional incarceration theory swings back and forth between punitive and rehabilitative depending on the current political party in power. I have read that in Mexico two convictions for the same offense defines one as an habitual criminal. My own state of new york has yet to repeal the draconian Rockerfeller drug laws. fortunately there are some places where the insanity does not reign. Recently, the governator of california, suggested the legalization of cannbis. He pointed out the savings in enforcement, incarceration and other costs. He also pointed out the potential for tax revenue. the state of california already taxes the 'medical marijuana' industry and the federal government gets it's share as well. [how about that?!] Let's hope that our new man in the white house has the guts to follow through on his promise to change. Great comment. thanks