Monday, June 30, 2008

Prison: Treatment, not prison

The Times-Union

We used to have mental asylums.

Now we have prisons as a major source of treatment for the mentally ill.

We used to consider rehabilitation as the prime motive of prison.

Now we lock people up and throw away the key.

And this nation leads the world in the rate of incarceration.

Does the United States really have that many more criminals per capita than every other country in the world?

A Pew Center report estimated that one out of every 100 American adults is incarcerated, the highest rate reported in U.S. history. More than 2.3 million people nationally were in jails or prisons at the beginning of 2008.

The absolute number of people in U.S. prisons increased by nearly 25,000 people in the first half of 2007. The length of prison terms is increasing

According to The Sentencing Project, here are some rates of prisoners per 100,000 population:

- U.S.: 762.

- Russia: 611.

- U.S. Virgin Islands: 521.

- Turkmenistan: 489.

- Canada: 107.

The 713,473 people released from state and federal prisons represented a new high, The Sentencing Project reported. Are these people going to return to programs that provide treatment and job training? If not, it will be no surprise if the same criminal cycles repeat.

The public needs to be protected from violent offenders. But for nonviolent offenders, treatment often is the best way to deter them from future crimes. Compared to the cost of imprisonment, treatment also is less expensive.

When treatment programs have proven records of success, it is self-defeating not to fully fund them.

It costs more in financial and human terms to fill prisons with no hope of rehabilitation. obama: the musical boomer He listens to early Bob Dylan music on the campaign trail. He is honored that Bruce Springstein has said kind words about him. He also has music from the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Earth Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder. Kind of like oldies from the 1970s, right? That makes Barack Obama a baby boomer, because music played a huge role in the lives of the boomers, carrying them through the racial traumas of the 1960s, the anti-war movement of the 1970s and the Watergate era. Obama says that America has to get beyond the counterproductive arguments between the Bush and Clinton wings of the boomers. He's right. He should know.

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