Prison…I’m So Over It

15 Aug

image from blog.alrdesign

How is it possible that correctional facilities are one of the fastest growing industries in the United States???

This bothers me to no end for several different reasons, particularly because the industry is projected to grow 7.5% by 2016 (Huffington Post)  In 2007, Reuters reported that “The United States, which has the most prisoners of any country in the world, last year recorded the largest increase in the number of people in prisons and jails since 2000…” With over 2 million US prisoners, the incarceration numbers are steadily rising.

I have heard that prison rates are predicted based on students 3rd grade test scores. Not sure if this is still true and because I am not looking for this to be an academic paper or a news post, I am not going to do much research. What I am going to do is express how sad it makes me to realize that no matter what, people, an ABUNDANCE of people, WILL go to jail over the next 4 years. Its been predicted and plans, big money plans, have been made to ensure that people who partake in illegal activity are caught, charged, legally processed, and put in jail so that investors get their money’s worth. 

Unlike the other growing industries listed in the Huffington Post report (biotechnology, internet publishing and broadcasting, and video games), the prison industry debilitates society, deteriorates households, and perpetuates a variety of unhealthy personal behaviors.

Probably preaching to the choir in this post, I NEED to know what to do. How do we change this? How do we help people understand that criminal activity is NOT THE ONLY WAY OF LIFE? Why are we so off track that prison is a viable option for so many of our young people?

Prison is a reality, it’s too many stories that tell of it. We have shows such as “Beyond Bars” and “Lock Up” that depict the prison life style including rape, “the yard”, gang conflicts, and nasty food…I FEAR this lifestyle, while so many of our young people are just waiting for their jail time to begin.

Years ago, I would have naïvely thought that criminals or people involved in criminal activity, were mostly drug addicts, or they grew up in terrible households….this is not necessarily the case for your average prisoner. Although trials and tribulations are back stories for those locked up, often greed and mental illness lead to criminal activity. Unfortunately, in the United States, instead of holistically treating illness and growing our mental health industry, we grow the prison industry. Why is this ACCEPTABLE?

Why are we not growing our mental health facilities and paying our therapists and psychologists more? Why don’t we improve community services that provide mental health services and offer after school options for youth and young adults? As a nation we are cutting budgets that improve, while increasing budgets for systems that hinder.

Yes choir, I know you hear me. I am thinking about exploring this issue in the context of my new degree….What do you think? I would love to figure out how I can use my Urban Planning concentration to help over throw the prison industry…

Below is a link to the Bureau of Justice Statistics:


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3 responses to “Prison…I’m So Over It

  1. K. Sidney

    August 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Legalized slavery is what it is…

    Keep the people poor and uneducated, then bombard them with images of men that are glorified for getting paid through illegal activity, and you will have more and more legalized slaves. It’s as simple and complex as that. Sad part is, men (particularly poor, black men) are given ridiculous sentences for crimes that aren’t really that severe. The only solution is to glorify men (particularly black men) that make money through legal means. But unfortunately, positive black role models don’t drive traffic to websites, TV shows, movies, or radio. SMDH.

    • Ashley S.C. Walls

      August 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm

      Keith, I like the way you said “its as simple and complex as that.”

      As I pointed out in my entry, the prisons have to be filled because they have been privatized, built, etc and in order to meet the quota, they give out unfair sentences to people that cannot afford quality legal services to get them off the hook…..I also like your suggestion about showing positive role models, just not sure if it is enough OR if this is where the people that are already role models NEED to step in and decide to provide a real message of hope and prosper outside of illegal activity…..

      • K. Sidney

        August 19, 2011 at 1:00 am

        True. As an artist, it’s definitely something I need to take more seriously.


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