Rehabilitating Our Prisons

This is probably one of my more serious posts. I know that many people will not read until the end of this post, so before I truly begin I want to make it clear that I am not in favor of being easier on crime. Rather I believe that our current prison system is ineffective at actually rehabilitating prisoners. Secondly, I am not criticizing our judicial system. Though that is because to do so would be moot and it is much more effective to focus on areas which we can easily improve on.

Regardless of how we cut it, an astounding number of individuals go through our country’s prison system. Irrespective of how those individuals ended up in the prison system, we must recognize that a good number of them will be released at some point in time and they will return to society. Furthermore, many of these individuals will return to society not having been rehabilitated; they will be unprepared and incapable of living in regular society.

These are facts. You can go to whatever source you believe credible and these statements will be supported. Now for the bit where I interject my own humble opinion and attempt to connect the dots. Many of the former prisoners return to society incapable of providing for themselves, thus a fair number of the return to prison. In other words, we have  a high recidivism rate. While I cannot say with 100%certainty that the high recidivism rate is due to inadequate rehabilitation, it is certainly a major factor.

So, how do we solve this?

One solution is to change the judicial system so that it fairly and more effectively deals with criminals and offers a more expansive set of options. But of course that is quite unlikely. Our judicial system is an area of great stagnation, though considerably adaptive compared to our legislative system. Realistically the place to look for change is within the prison system itself.

Considering that prisons are often managed by private non-government organizations, we see a chance to reform how prisoners are treated within the prison system.

I make this call not as another social justice plea or idealist fantasy, but rather as a business proposition.

Let’s build private prisons that profit based off of their ability to rehabilitate the prisoners they manage. At the crux of it, why not align the incentives for prisons and their prisoners.

Part of the process would involved more expensive cognitive  therapy up-front. But once these individuals are past any physical or psychological issues they may have, they are now a blank slate with a great deal of potential. For the remainder of their sentence they are both an asset to the prison as well as an opportunity to gain skills that can be applied in the real world. Why not invest into treating their existing conditions and providing them with vocational training early in their prison career. Then having them gain experience and develop those skills while working for the prison. The profit earned during their work sentence is then dispersed in part upon their exit and then in part monthly as a basic welfare program. This would provide the prison management company a large source of capital which they could then manage and also profit off of.

Of course these are just ideas for a better prison system, one that fails to even address some of the fundamental problems inherent within our legal system. But keep in mind that any improvement, even a slight one would make a tremendous impact on the millions of individuals who are part of the prison industrial complex.

Let’s discuss, what are you’re thoughts? Comment below or shoot me an email! Either way I would love to hear what you think.