Oklahoma Prison Problems Solutions
When we started this three part series on crime and punishment we outlined three areas that needed addressed to understand the problems:
Stop putting so many people in prison and jail
Lower the cost of holding prisoners in prison or jail
Remove the corruption from the system at all levels
We already know that our society is putting too many people in prison for too many reasons. The courts are clogged with minor “crimes” that do nothing to fulfill the only two reasons that we need a government which is:
To protect me from you and you from me
To secure our borders from invasion
When you drag other “crimes” into the public responsibility you create more problems than you solve. Serious crimes like rape, robbery, murder, arson, theft, child sexual abuse (and I would say under the age of 13 to separate the worst offenders), and assault & battery should bring some bring jail time. Some crimes like DUI (with no injury or property damage to others), child pornography, sex with minors, or trafficking of drugs do require some sort of quarantine from society or a highly regulated supervised life but the criminal should pay 100% of the costs.
Other crimes like domestic abuse, child abuse, or ID theft are already covered as assault and battery or as theft and would bring jail time whether it be a child victim or a woman. We do not need special laws that confer harsher punishment for theft or assault and it doesn’t warrant a prison bed.
Allow the victims to sue in small claims court with a jury trial, short and uncomplicated, take their money as punishment and if they have no money then force them to get a job.
Crimes like tax evasion or bribery are also crimes of finance that should result in financial recovery and a punitive amount. If a public official gets caught selling favors then take his ill gotten gains and their retirement. Fine the individual offering the bribes ten times the amount that his bribe would have gained. Other crimes like small amounts of drugs, prostitution, or gambling simply don’t harm anyone directly other than those that participate. Sure it would be a better world if we could protect folks from themselves but the cost to freedom and the increased choking of the court system is a very high price to protect people from their own stupidity.
The next part is to lower the cost of incarceration and set alternatives for jailing and imprisoning lesser criminals. The old Scarlet Letter and public shame has its place. We don’t put people in a head stock and irons and allow citizens to throw rotten vegetables at them but punishing a drunk (that didn’t harm anyone) with a yellow drunk driver license plate for the next two years, paying to install a interlock device in his vehicle, along with a few hundred hours of holding a big sign in a public place will take a lot of the risk out of letting these idiots roam around the planet. Second offenses would require living in a drunk camp with daily blood testing, all paid for by the drunks who would be taking the bus to work. That would remove the threat to society and if done right would earn a small profit to imprison the few that just couldn’t help themselves.
In researching alternative sentencing there were some really strange cases like the man sentenced for calling a police officer a pig. How is that a crime? Other stories like the woman that drove on a sidewalk to get around a school bus had the criminal complaining that they were subjected to ridicule and even threats online. Tough cookies, act like an idiot and you will be treated like one.
The U.S. incarceration rate is declining but the majority of the decline is due to a few states that are diverting prisoners into alternative sentencing. California, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York have diverted tens of thousands of criminals. Some of the results have come from putting prisoners into treatment and making them get a job to start paying restitution to their victims, something that is a lot better than just locking someone up in prison where they can’t pay back damages. Forcing a criminal to make their victims whole isn’t soft on crime. Early release with no restitution is soft on crime and just encourages more crime.
Setting up diversion programs that forced restitution payments to the victims and kept the criminals gainfully employed will divert around 60% or more of the prison population into programs where the state actually makes a small profit instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars a year locking people up. Next is to make the prison system self sustaining for the remaining hardened criminals that simply are not going to play nice in the world.
Prison labor ought to be automatic. We once had prison farms raising food for the prison system. Oklahoma still has some work being done for state agencies like furniture making and we need to expand these programs regardless of the howls of unfair competition from private industry. Yes the state would have an unfair advantage in labor rates but allow businesses to set up shops inside prisons, renting cheap space and inmates to do those jobs that are now being sent overseas mostly because Americans are too lazy and spoiled to belong to a working class. Divert a portion of the inmate pay to a savings account to help transition after release and the rest goes to the state to pay for the cost of arresting, holding, convicting, and incarcerating the criminal. The Carver Center in Oklahoma City provides inmates in this manner and they make good employees, always on time, either at work or sitting at the Carver Center, and if they get fired for cause it affects their release date so they generally make decent workers.
Prison farms would lower the cost of food in general for the public, put vacant public land to good use, and save money from mowing that land. Prison industries could sort trash, recycle used mattresses and furniture, divert huge amounts of materials from landfills and everyone would benefit except the inmate that now spends his days lifting weights and making jailhouse tattoos or making trouble for the guards. Tired prisoners are peaceful prisoners.
Prison labor got a bad rap from the chain gangs in the deep South in the 50’s and yes there were police and judges that trumped up charges to keep the system full of help. The prisoners learn work ethics, how to deal with everyday pressures of holding a job and dealing peacefully with co workers and about the only ones complaining are the inmates, the businesses that don’t like competition, and a few displaced government workers.
Oklahoma ought to immediately start looking at what state jobs can be insourced to the prison system. Janitor work, construction, even some paperwork processing by coupling a low risk prisoner with an existing state worker should be easy to pull off. Put a call center in every prison and find inmates that are suitable into those jobs.
The liberals and special interests are going to whine that this is slave labor and yes it is exactly that. Incarceration ought to be difficult enough that people don’t want to go to prison, hurting others or taking their belongings ought to bring unpleasant results. But the idea that putting someone in a cell to watch T.V., read books, work on their GED, or lift weights all day is soft on crime. Being forced to work eight to ten hours a day, providing full restitution for their victims, and repaying the state government for the costs of their criminal acts is just good for everyone except the criminals.
Juveniles ought to be treated in much the same way, school for six hours a day and another four hours of chores or work. Doing bad in school? Drop them a level into a more difficult or dirtier job to motivate them. Don’t try to drive round pegs into square holes, have a mix of trade education with basic education and advanced education. The local school system isn’t educating that minor so pull the appropriate amount of funds from that school system to pay the cost of educating that student.
Illegal aliens being held for deportation by the U.S. Government or those caught committing crimes? Make life hell on these criminals. They came here to work illegally or to sell drugs, work them like dogs and keep100% of their wages until they have provided 5 times restitution to their victims then double the costs of arresting and incarcerating them, then enough to pay for their plane ticket back home along with an armed escort.
So the problem of costly incarceration is to make it pay by putting prisoners to work. Private companies should be paying modest wages, perhaps half of the current minimum wage, so the prisoner isn’t locked into a debtor’s prison but can earn their way out. Our court systems need a review process for unfair convictions including one that is simply the Grand Jury looking over cases with the prisoner and his lawyer present, it should include any evidence that was not allowed, any legal arguments that were not allowed, and if the conviction is basically unfair or offensive to the Grand Jury then the judge in that case ought to have to come in to face the Grand Jury to justify his behavior. Putting prisoners to work is going to create a moral hazard for judges to keep the incarceration numbers up, there is no free lunch, but better that a few corrupt judges face explaining their corruption to a Grand Jury than the state to drown in prison costs or society to face a horde of early released prisoners that are confident that crime does indeed pay.
Just a Drunk or an Unlucky Victim of a Car Crash?
Chamber of Commerce Leader’s Death Whitewashed by the Media or Were they Misled?
Is the Blood on the Hands of the Chamber of Commerce?
“Mickie” Taylor wrecked her new Corvette a few weeks back and was lionized by the press and the RINOs of the state. If you read the news stories it was a tragic accident that is still being “investigated”. Michaelena Taylor of course was the vice chairman of government affairs for the local Chamber of Commerce and would have been returning home from “work” according to Workers Comp rules.
Bits of the truth leaked out, Senator Brinkley admitted that Taylor had been attending the grand opening of the Warren Theater that night with many of Senator Brinkley’s friends….meaning Chambercrats and other RINOs. Omitted was the fact that Taylor had been drinking heavily and smoking cigars with the “boys”.
Our sources within the medical and legal community in Tulsa are reporting that Taylor’s blood alcohol content was .13% with .05% being a driving under the influence and .08% being driving while intoxicated, so she was nearly three times as drunk as allowed.
Interesting to see the white wash in the media with the few comment sections open being heavily censored by the media or the commenter facing heavy peer pressure for daring to ask the obvious questions. The fact is that the Chamber of Commerce was employing the woman and Senator Brinkley’s “friends” that were present allowed her to get into her car and drive home drunk. Now the Chamber of Commerce is facing liability for a workers death that is directly connected to her job so they played the saint card and diverted attention from the real cause of the accident.
The “friends” of Senator Brinkley are probably not losing sleep over this at all. These kind of people really don’t have a moral code that guides their life, indeed it is the lack of the same that makes them so valuable to the business community. Some will say that the blood is on their hands and many will agree with that assessment.
Capitol Legislation being Reviewed
The legislative session starts next week on February 2nd and as usual there are thousands of bills filed. Some are needed, most are not, some are stupid, some are downright dangerous, some are invitations to costly lawsuits and frivolous.
A great example of the last category was found in Charlie Meadow’s newsletter where he crowed about Sally Kern’s bills that are aimed at the homosexuals. The first bill has some merit to it but is misguided in the approach. Kern’s bill would strip pay from any state employee that issued a marriage license to homosexuals because it violates the Oklahoma Constitution.
Well, isn’t it county employees that issue marriage licenses? Is she targeting Oklahoma National Guard members that are working on federal property which allowed Mary Fallin to pass this hot potato last year? If we want to nullify the overreach of the federal judiciary why not just sue the federal government on this issue or simply flat refuse to allow the marriage licenses to be issued. Send a state trooper to the county courthouse and arrest the employee that broke state law and prosecute them.
Another bill would prevent a minister from being sued for refusing to marry a homosexual couple. The final misguided bill protects businesses from being sued for the same. Do we not already have a law in place that allows a business to pick and choose their customers for any cause? I think we do so just add ministers to that law.
Charlie Meadows of course is just as bigoted as the homosexuals he is complaining about but the idiot ought to understand that unconstitutional is unconstitutional and in our state Constitution is a clause about not making specific laws when a general law will suffice. If we have a law already on the books that allows a business to serve anyone or not serve anyone then force the judges to follow that law and dismiss any frivolous lawsuit and award attorney fees to the defendant for the harassment.
Just another example of Charlie Meadows being the pompous ass that he is and another example of Sally Kern pandering to her own special interest group knowing full well that the law will not pass scrutiny and if it does manage to bet passed it will result in a costly court decision against Oklahoma. General laws that allow businesses to refuse to serve anyone are defendable; laws that target specific groups are not.
By Ms PM
House Bill 1297
authored by Representative Paul Wesselhoff wants to allocate 5% from the lottery to fund the Native American Cultural Center.
But wasn’t lottery money to be used for education? We said this boondoggle would rear its ugly head again and here it is.
In this article we have Senator AJ Griffin saying the lottery should be done away with, “We shouldn’t have done it in the first place. The lottery didn’t fulfill its promise to education and I would rather see us simply use taxpayer dollars
that are collected in an honest
way and call a tax a tax.” We’re not the only ones that believe if she were honest getting out of politics would be a step up.
If you can get past the disgusting mismanagement of funds you might be able to laugh when Griffin says I haven’t quite figured out how to replace the $60 million that is currently going to education.
This next article
gets into the heart of the problem on what the lottery was supposed to fund, fell short on and the spin involved convincing all that legislatures are fully capable of making decisions.
If HB 1297 passes and Griffin’s idea to do away with the lottery flies is it possible to have a solution to the mess? Is it possible for legislatures to have a game plan before running off at the mouth? This stupidity continues to surface and the one thing that is always set in stone…taxpayer dollars are wasted.
Here is one unintended consequence. HB 1297 passes and a portion of lottery funds are thrown at the Cultural Center. The state lottery is eventually squashed so the best possible way in the minds of our state government would be to fund the center by passing a bond. Wasn’t this “buy off the legislatures” the original plan by the Chamber of Commerce anyway? One thing for sure, there are no shortages of idiots in the Oklahoma state government and never a shortage of uninformed voters living in the state. If you want to read the proposed bill go to www.oklegislature.gov-basicsearchform
and type in HB 1297…enjoy!