Society has other alternatives to decreasing crime than simply locking people inprison. Preventative programs focus on the community, school, family, employmentand places. In addition, there are rehabilitation and restorative justiceprograms that can also be used to decrease crime. Prisons are the onlyalternatives we hear about from politicians because of the notion that prisonsare “tough on crime. ” In reality, the method that reduces crime themost is the “toughest on crime,”–and many research studiesdemonstrate prisons are not the best alternatives.
Over 65% of the peopleconvicted for 3-Strikes are for drug-related offenses. There is great evidencethat putting many 3-Strikers in rehabilitation programs costs much less tosociety overall than simply putting them in prison for 25 years or more. Inaddition, there are preventative programs that can be used rather than theprison cell. Each $1 we spend on prisons is a $1 that we could spend elsewhere(or not be taxed in the first place).
The problem with only addressing crime bylocking people in prison is that it has done nothing to alleviate the roots ofthe problems that cause crime in our society. Other people are born and grow upin the same areas where the previous offenders lived and will probably committhe same acts because the underlying problems still exist. There is muchevidence that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing in the UnitedStates. Unfortunately, the U. S.
‘s response to the problem has been: “Therich get richer, and the poor get prison. ” To focus on street crime anddrug-related crimes can be considered a hidden way to set up concentration campsfor the poor and minorities. There is much evidence that white-collar corporatecriminals cause much more economic wealth to be illegally distributed and canresult in many more deaths and injuries than street crime (e. g. , violatingsafety standards in employment, emission of environmental hazards). Does societyspend as much to enforce the laws on them? Are they sent to prison for the samesentences as the poor street criminals? Are wealthy users of drugs ending up inour prisons? The “control” and “punishment” models adoptedby the U.
S. may cause other problems. Social rebellion and deviance among theyoung may increase. And, in an opposite manner, some of our youth may embrace”control” and “punishment” as the answers to all ourproblems.
A growing devision among these two groups could cause extreme problemsin the future.