March, 25 2012
Justice – 355
In today’s economy keeping people in prison is becoming an ugly, expensive mess. There are now so many alternatives to incarceration that we need to explore and start using. Johnny Cash wrote a song called “Folsom Prison Blues” describing the angst of inmates, permanently immortalizing them in the publics minds. However, now that prisons across the country are running out of resources and space, it is the prison officials who are feeling the blues.
There are a number of alternatives that are used for offenders who have committed non-violent crimes. The options can range from probation all the way to public shaming. For those who have been convicted of drunk driving, public shaming might have the most impact. In some states, convicted offenders will be made to drive around with signs put on their cars stating that they have been convicted. No one convicted of this sort of crime runs around announcing what they have done because its embarrassing. In general most prefer to keep it a secret because it is humiliating. With signs pasted to their vehicles, there is no way to escape the public knowing what they have done. Another option used for drunk driving is the use of a breathalyzer. This device is installed into the offenders car and the car is actually programmed not to start if they are intoxicated. This could put a definite damper on party habits.
Another alternative that has popped up is based out of Texas. Texas is one of the last few states that enforces the death penalty and also has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Ironically, a state with such an “iron fist” reputation, has started to put offenders on probation and sentence them to read as opposed to prison time. This trend has slowly started to spread across the United States. Offenders and repeat offenders are ordered to attend a specific reading group where they...
References: 1) The Economist, July issue, 2010
3) American Psychological Association
4) The Guardian, July, 2010
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