I am so tired of hearing about all the problems with prisons - overcrowding, undersentencing, recidivism, civil rights. For once, I'd like to see all these educated people in charge of prisons sit down and figure out why they don't work. To get anyone to do anything requires motivation.If you don't give your dog a treat, he may or may not roll over. If you incarcerate a person without giving (or taking away) something, motivation may not factor in.
We live in a very privileged society, with many benefits most other countries don't have - we have basic freedom to choose jobs, education, religion, lifestyles. We can own our own property, home, automobile(s). We can go on vacations basically, of our own choosing. We can have as many or as little children we want. We have basic medical assistance if we so choose. We can get in our car, and drive to almost any place we like, and stay as long as we like. Basically, we can decide what kind of life we want, and work towards that goal.
Those that decide to go against our society and steal, rape, rob and scam, are the ones who are sent to prisons to "serve their time". But, thanks to the civil rights groups, these people in prison have nearly all the same privileges we have - they eat three meals a day, have clean clothes, bedding, rooms, television (some even have cable or satellite), exercise gyms (Folsom Prison's gym was set up by Gold's Gyms), libraries, computers (online),newspapers, cigarettes, commissaries, drugs (sometimes more than is available on the streets) and conjugal visits - sometimes not even their wives, but girlfriends they meet online. Once inside, they do "business as usual", keeping up their gangs, communications with other criminals outside, put "hits" on people while incarcerated. They somehow get large sums of money while inside, paying off some guards to supply them with whatever they need, or just "look the other way".
Solutions are complicated, since there are more civil rights groups than there are breeds of dogs, who are always on top of the prison system, shouting "unfair" every time a prison tries to turn their penal system into a real prison. Our "lawmakers", and I say that very lightly, get pressure from special interest groups to make the prison system "more humane", change laws to protect the rights of the prisoner. The prison system is not supposed to be a getaway vacation, but a miserable stay in a place they don't want to come back to. I don't think prison is miserable enough. Lose the exercise gyms, TV's, computers, newspapers, books, libraries (especially law libraries), conjugal visits, mail, open yards, musical instruments, workshops. Put the prisoner in total solitary confinement, unable to talk to ANYONE but a (qualified) therapist once a week/month/whatever. No contact with guards, except for a dish of food stuck under the door at each meal. No linen, bed mirror, deodorant. Just a mattress on the floor, hole in the corner for bathroom use, shower from the ceiling, turned on at a certain time each day. Toothpaste and toothbrush, nothing else. Prisoner spends less time in incarceration, thinks only about what got them there, talks to a therapist, who can determine if the person actually has remorse for what they've done. No gangs. No rapes. No stabbings. No murders. Less prison employees, special equipment (riot gear). Less money.
Once out, an ex -con can see what they've been missing, and motivation just possibly can once again become strong to straighten their lives out, and live peacefully in society. I can say all this freely, since I did three years behind bars myself, and decided to return back to society as a productive citizen.