Minutes Before Six

Over the past three or four decades, jail has developed into big business. Where once a state would construct one or two massive facilities (partially with prisoner labor) to accommodate their most dangerous thieves, now most state governments come with an ever-increasing assortment of pre-fab prisons which have almost completely changed these original buildings. This process has seen an infrequent open public works project evolve into an enormous pork-barrel handout, diverting staggering levels of tax dollars to private companies, to companies from other areas often.

Most of the older prisons were towering concrete and metal structures made to last hundreds of years. The living models were only concrete rooms prearranged next to one another, stretching up to a quarter mile long sometimes. These “tiers” were then stacked on top of each other up to five stories high. These were finished off by sealing leading with heavy metal bars.

A typical cellblock could keep several hundred prisoners. These cellblocks are the epitome of the “no frills” jail any savvy politician will begin to tout the merits of when asked about his “tough on crime” stance. Why is it then, these same politicians are continuously voting invest in the demolition of the superstructures and replace them with modern human being warehouses at costs achieving several hundred million dollars each?

Why, for example, would these career “advocates of the folks” squander significant servings of their police budget to construct a kinder, gentler jail where prisoners have relatively tranquil two-man rooms with secrets with their own doorways? Why would these people strive to make the prison experience softer and less frightening for newcomers to the prison system? How could take worries from the prison experience help prevent criminal offense and make our roads safer possibly?

These questions won’t be answered honestly in public. The very best any politician worthy of his slush account could hope to do is obscure the problem and sidestep these hard questions. That’s, assuming anyone asked, which typically never happens. But in the finish this discussion would likely just deteriorate into a veiled threat to unleash violent criminals onto society if taxpayers do not pony up, by means of higher taxes, the ransom for another new prison yet. Decades ago there was a national scandal when a reporter discovered the military was purchasing toilet seats for a few of their aircraft at over four-hundred dollars each.

A huge public outcry quickly ensued as citizens became outraged their tax dollars were being carelessly squandered. The new jail program has been happening for decades now and has touched nearly every part of the country, the mainstream media show up oblivious. This is the toilet seat scandal on steroids.

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On the top, one may think liberals were pressing this plan. In the end, a kinder gentler prison smacks of the so-called “hug a thug” mentality. Upon closer examination. However, facts might reveal such is false. Typically liberals are pushing for prison funding to be directed into education programs, like college and vocational programs; things with a successful impact on rehabilitation.

While such programs might raise the public’s ire, at least they have a measurable track record of reducing recidivism. No, the politicians pushing the prison-building agenda are conservatives frequently. To create sense of this apparent contradiction, one must understand the political structure of the corrections community. In this realm the lines are not delineated as with the broader society, that being Democrats versus Republicans.