Re: No Parole for Federales.

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Tue Jan 30 2001 - 10:41:06 MST

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> "Ross A. Finlayson" wrote:
> >
> > S.J. Van Sickle wrote:
> >
> > > On Mon, 29 Jan 2001, Brian D Williams wrote:
> > >
> > > > What's wrong with people who commit crimes serving their full
> > > > sentence?
> > >
> > > I don't have a problem with the old and feeble being paroled...such as the
> > > British 1950's organized crime figure who was recently paroled about a
> > > month before his death (cancer I believe). Perhaps *very* occasionally in
> > > the face of overwhelming evidence that the prisioner has turned his life
> > > around and no further good is ocomplished by incarceration.
> > >
> > > There may also be other rare circumstances for parole...possibly
> > > participation in dangerous medical experiments? Though the bioethicists
> > > have ruled that one out.
> >
> > Prisons are sad. Imprisoning each of the 2 million prisoners costs American
> > taxpayers about 60,000 a year each, not to mention prison construction and
> > labor costs. Two million times 60,000 is 120,000,000,000 dollars a year.
> > Maybe the cost per prisoner is actually only 15,000 dollars a year, which it
> > is not, then it would cost thirty billion dollars, a year. Perhaps these
> > numbers are lower and higher, but they are illustrative.
> The average cost is around $35,000. The $60,000 figure is for death row
> inmates specifically. Either way, for most non-violent prisoners who are
> not mentally ill, some say it would be cheaper to just cut them a check,
> or maybe not. It costs around $60,000 a year per beneficiary to run the
> welfare system (even though the average recipient only receives around
> $10,000). So as long as they are not on death row, prisoners actually
> are cheaper than if they were on welfare on the outside.

What this shows is that the prison and welfare systems are in need of a complete
overhaul, and significant cuts in funding.

You notice that it costs less to imprison a prisoner then to provide welfare for a
non-imprisoned citizen. What you do not remark is that you include the welfare
infrastructure, and not the prison infrastructure, in our estimates of these costs.
So, for the citizens to pay more than private university tuition for each inmate,
that does not include the prison and prison labor costs. Also, it does not include
the great costs of human sufffering in prison, not to mention the "crime school"
effect of prison, as well compounded drug use and communicable disease.

So, if the non-violent drug offenders were released today into workfare, not
welfare, it would cost society less than it does to imprison them.

> >
> > American has the highest rate of imprisonment of any democratic country, which
> > is absolutely pathetic. Even ninety-nine percent of extremely violent
> > offenders are not violent ninety-nine percent of the time.
> The second sentence here is a non-sequitur. It makes no logical sense in
> the argument. Just as a genius only needs to be brilliant once to be
> regarded as such, a killer only needs to kill once to deserve the death
> penalty.

Yes, that's true. Don't be too fast to judge it, there is an old saying about the

> >
> > Not having been imprisoned, I wouldn't want to be. Not being a criminal, I
> > see less reason to imprison anyone.
> Unfortunately, you don't have the sort of moral flexibility and
> initiative criminals do. You can't imagine why they do the things they
> do.

Initiative, yes, moral flexibility, no. Money or lack of it is the largest cause of
crime, among idle hands.

> >
> > When I was a high school student, the debate topic for the year was prison
> > overcrowding, and how to resolve it. Plans included decriminalizing drugs.
> > We argued for the complete year the entire issue of prisons. The other annual
> > debate topics were space and the elderly.
> I say cordon off selected areas of the country. Structure social
> services they depend on to only have offices in those selected areas.
> Essentially set up communities such that criminals typically only kill,
> rob, or hurt other criminals. Oh, yeah, we already have those. They are
> called cities.

The urban violent crime rate, and violent crime overall, has dropped over te past
ten years. Some property crimes have increased, and more people have been jailed
for drug offenses in the last fifteen years than for ever before. For example, in
biblical times, when they were consuming cannabis, that was not a problem.

> >
> > Sometimes this list talks about "transparency", where for example public
> > cameras help deter crime. Here's how it should be, all the on-duty cops and
> > prison guards are videotaped regularly, and only them, as it can be expected
> > that they would be in the vicinity of crime reports. This video wouldn't be
> > available to the general public, nor any other public or private entity, but
> > it would be available to any court proceeding.
> How about this: weld a camera around the neck and embed a transponder
> and taser into the skull of anyone convicted of a felony.

Well, only if you get one first.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:
Confucious says, "My name is Confucious."

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