Pubdate: Wed, 05 Sep 2001
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2001 The Boston Herald, Inc
Author: Andy Gaus


According to the Herald ("The purpose of prisons," Aug. 29), if you 
understand that jailed criminals can't commit crimes, you'll automatically 
rejoice that our correctional system now holds 3 percent of the population, 
a tripling since 1980. And if it triples again to 9 percent in the next 20 
years? No brain-enabled person could object, right? After all, we're 
preventing violent crime by jailing violent criminals.

No one disputes the necessity of jail for violent criminals, but we not 
imprison large numbers of non-violent offenders and for longer sentences. 
We have come to think of incarceration as the best solution for all 
problems and a good thing in itself, not as a last resort for people who 
can't safely be allowed on the streets -- a category that surely does not 
encompass 3 percent of all Americans and 6 percent of such states as 
Georgia. In fact, jail is the most expensive form of welfare, and for that 
reason alone we should not be looking to pad the rolls.

- -- Andy Gaus, Boston
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