Rethinking prisons key to debt

By: Mark Schenck - Guest columnist

What if tomorrow you read in The Laurinburg Exchange that the United States will have a trillion-dollar budget surplus next year and every year there after.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Just think, after 20 years ,we could pay off our national debt.

But how could we possibly acquire an additional trillion dollars? Could it be from raising taxes? Financial experts agree that taxing Americans an additional trillion dollars per year would destroy the economy and plunge our country into a deep recession or worse. If not taxation then how about increasing foreign trade?

That would help if we were a Socialist or Communist country where the government owns or operates all the businesses; however, with a free-market capitalism economy we only allow the government to tax our businesses profits not take the whole cash register.

Actually we already have a trillion dollar surplus we’re just wasting it but not on what you are normally told, such as: the military, welfare or even all those bloated good ol’ boy projects. We’re throwing away a trillion on the containment and care of those that refuse to live like civilized human beings. That’s right, the United States is spending around one trillion dollars a year on our prison system.

The welfare system has a total annual cost of around $750 billion — 3/4 of the prison system’s budget. Yet when it comes to cutting government spending, we never hear about cutting the prison system. Why are we spending so much to incarcerate those that have no respect for their fellow Americans? These moral misfits of society will steal, and destroy other’s property, even take another’s life.

Statistics show the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and yet we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Some theories for our large prison population are: we have tougher drug laws than most other countries. Yet if you set free all prisoners that are in jail for drug law violations, you would only reduce the prison population by 17 percent. Some say our economic system is causing the poor to resort to crime. I’m sure we all know folks that are what you call “dirt poor” yet they still have their self respect and moral dignity.

Being poor doesn’t make you a bad person. Others say we jail to many illegal aliens yet our total population of federal, and state prisons including county jails is 2.22 million adults with 4.75 million on probation, of that illegal immigrants comprise only 14 percent — 58,422 individuals.

Another factor that contributed to the increase in the prison population was the liberal’s insistence on eliminating mental institutions. Forced to obey today’s liberal “politically correct policies” having a mentally ill individual institutionalized is practically impossible, according to experts. After all being classed as a mental patient could be offensive. Consequently the obvious has resulted, we have emptied the mental hospital’s right into the prisons.

The last factor that may have played a role in our ballooning prisoner population is the liberal’s insistence that the prisons have an atmosphere more like a resort than a prison with: exercise rooms, swimming pools, some have horse back riding, tennis, gyms, cable TV, movies complete with junk food. In other words, being sent to some prisons, is no longer something to dread.

Our very own state has one of America’s 10 top cushiest prisons according to Forbes: “The Federal Correctional Complex at Butner, N.C.” Some would say “We’ve literally made life better for some, in jail than out.” The strong arm of the law, in some cases, has turned into a “60- minute massage.”

Gone are the days of Humphrey Bogart when the“three-time loser was jailed for life.”

Today’s prisoner may have a record with 10, 15 or more convictions on their record. Don’t be fooled these convictions are not for traffic tickets or petty theft these are premeditated crimes that endanger the lives or physical well being of others, such as: home invasions, arson, intentionally crippling or disfiguring another and the rape or sodomizing of our children, just to name a few.

Now putting the hardened habitual criminals behind bars permanently isn’t going to help reduce cost of our prison system, so how about we learn from our history books? Great Britain had a problem with the cost of keeping prisoners in England. Their solution was to export professional criminals to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and today’s Southeastern Georgia.

If a two-time loser knew his next conviction would land him in another countries prison, such as: Mexico or Columbia instead of one of our, resort like prisons, then that fear factor alone may cut down on our repeat violators.

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Mark Schenck

Guest columnist

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party.

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party.