Mayor deBlasio recently revealed his plans to close Rickers jail in NYC, the home of 9,000 prisoners, and a jail wreaked with beatings, murders, and suicides. His plan – a la Progressive theory – is to close the jail, open up smaller jails in various New York City neighborhoods, and release around 4,000 prisoners.
deBlasio will not experience any of the negative effects of these policies. He lives in the protected Mayor’s home in Gracie Mansion. When he leaves office, he will live in the gentrified, relatively crime-free neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. You can be sure that no new jails will be put in Park Slope.
But many other citizens will be affected. deBlasio’s unconscious attitude may be: “Well those people – many who are racists and oppressors of the poor prisoners – can just go screw themselves. They are the white — and even black and Hispanic — suckers.
RG’s proposal for Rikers
My proposal for prison reform in general can be seen under “Policies” after you click “Candidacy.”
First, allow me to give my credentials for creating a prison reform policy. I’m one of the few political theorists who has actually been a prisoner. I was in various stockades and in the military prison at Leavenworth for almost a year. I was opposed to the Vietnam war, was drafted, and was considered “Undesirable” by the U.S. Army. I single-handedly fought the whole Army…….and lost.
What I saw at Leavenworth was that most of the prisoners were not significantly immoral. Instead, they were dysfunctional. They weren’t able – or even willing – to meet their duties of an adult person living in a developed society.
Plus, they were incompetent. They had few skills of activities of daily living. They didn’t know how to hold a job, had no marketable skills, couldn’t cook, couldn’t repair things, couldn’t do anything — except take things from other people. Then the government — in all their wisdom — locks them up and takes care of all their needs for years on end. Then when these incompetent men leave the prison — and nearly every one of them eventually leaves — often either the government takes care of them for the rest of their lives or they end up back in prison where, again, the government feeds, shelters, and clothes them, and takes care of their health (at a cost of up to $30,000 a year per prisoner).
Many of the prisoners – perhaps the vast majority – didn’t necessarily make immoral choices, within their personal philosophy of morality. Rather, they didn’t understand what authentic morality was, or even know the reason why authentic morality is essential to living in a civilized society. Many – perhaps even the majority – didn’t have an authentic moral education while being brought up, nor did they have people in their immediate families who acted with authentic morality.
It wasn’t that they acted immorally, but rather they had no idea of what morality was, and why it was.
What is needed with these prisoners, more than incarceration, is moral education, rehabilitation training, and philosophical education (especially understanding why each citizen has duties in a society).
Of course, deterrent punishment (negative re-enforcement) and incarceration is also needed. Citizens must be punished for breaking the laws, although they can be punished in ways that they, and the society, are benefited and not harmed. The society should get something for its buck. As it is now, the prisoner is benefited more than the society. All his needs are taken care of, he has time go get in shape, and he can even earn a college degree. Meanwhile he can continue to avoid the responsibilities that he has a human being.
A bad investment
As a result of the current criminal justice system, the society gets nothing in return for its investment in these prisoners. They often come out more dysfunctional when they came in and more committed to a dependent, anti-social lifestyle. Then they have the burden of a conviction and jail sentence on their backs when they try to compete for a job. (Who wants to hire a person with a conviction of theft, drug dealing, or assault when they can hire someone with no record?) For most of these prisoners, the probability that they will mature into responsible adults is less than when the entered the jails,
An absurd phenomenon in our society is when a person is sentenced for a serious crime to 30 years, or even life without parole. The victims, and society in general, cheer because “justice was done.” Justice for whom? The prisoner gets taken care of for 30 years, with an abundance of “prisoner rights” and the taxpayer sucker gets stuck with the bill. Let’s see…….30 years times $30,000 a year, that $900,000 out of the taxpayer’s pocket. And what does he get in return?
Many of the inmates at Leavenworth were African-American, and many were handicapped by their own racism. One of the most difficult aspects of being in prison for me was dealing with the black racism on a daily basis – the justified hate, and the social and moral blank check.
(Of course, the society is in a state of denial that the phenomenon of black racism even exists. The cognitive belief that is forced upon the society is that “racism” is defined as “racial hate plus power.” Since African Americans have less political and economic power than Euro-Americans, they can’t be “racists.” )
I cringe to think of all the white prisoners currently in civilian jails where there is a majority of African American prisoners. Often – especially in places like Rikers – the blacks are in gangs, like the Crips and the Bloods, and the whites are forced to join a racist white gangs, like the Ayrian Brotherhood, for protection. Also, gang rape among prisoners is sometimes made a joke on late-night comedy shows. I witnessed the consequences on black-on-white gang rape. I didn’t see the humor in it. And still don’t. In fact, I have the theory that jail is much more of a deterrent for whites than than it is for blacks.
Another problem with moving Rikers to New York communities is that one of the functions of jails is to protect the community! Rikers is an island . Although some prisoners have escaped the jail, not one has ever escaped the island! They were caught before they went to New York City, and potentially harmed innocent citizens
Some prisoners – a small minority – are serious psychopaths, sociopaths, murderers, and rapists. The society, for a decent quality of life, must be safe from these prisoners who are committed to anti-social, destructive, and immoral behavior. But to Progressives like deBlasio, the safety of the average law-abiding citizen (who works hard, plays by the rules, pays deBlasio’s salary, pays for his retirement, and will pay for the new jail) is of little concern.
What is a concern is that prisoners live in better environments – since they are a majority people of color – and that their families can more easily visit them.
Although Donald Trump is a seriously dysfunctional President, this is one reason 65 million people voted for him. They felt that their government had little concern for them. Not that Trump does.