Comments about ‘Letters: Why the disparity?’

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Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Burke, VA

Great letter Miriam. I agree with your premise and think we definitely need to think about the costs and the benefits of our prison system. I remember as a high school senior visiting the state prison (in a neighboring state) on a field trip. I was amazed that we got to speak to two different prisoners. One was in prison for second degree murder and the other was in for possession of marijuana. Yet both of them had been sentence3d for the same amount of time. That was over 40 years ago and hopefully things have changed since then.

Two factors impact the current situation. One is that we have better law enforcement, and less corrupt, than most any other country and so we are more likely to apprehend criminals, thus we have more prisoners. But second, many of our prisons today are run by for profit organizations. It was said that the strength behind the Arizona legislation relating to illegal residents was the fact that a for profit prison was about to be built and there was money to be made by rounding up more prisoners. And so, as always, money plays a part.

  • 6:21 a.m. Jan. 9, 2013
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Casa Grande, AZ

We have a underlying red thread in this country where some money interests like to keep us scared. They scare us into watching the news for fear of missing that thing they promise to show after the commercial, they scare us into buying guns, they scare us into spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined and they scare us into locking up marijuana and other drug users up while the CIA trades drugs for guns and influence.

Sure rehabilitation would be cheaper but not nearly as profitable.

Salt Lake City, UT

So the United States, the leader of the free world, leads the world in incarceration rate. No big surprise there. We also lead the world in gun violence, obesity, health care costs, military spending, national debt, and who knows what else? And maybe all of them are related. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

Dietrich, ID

Good thing to spend more on the military as defense is part of the constitution. We need to be protected. And people go to prison do to crime not ratio. If you don't want to do time don't do the crime. Good criminals are locked up.

Dietrich, ID

Curmugdeon is there a better country than the US. You have a right to complain though without any repucussions. How can we make this countrty better. CAn't think of better country myself.

Casa Grande, AZ

Spending more on the military is certainly NOT in the constitution.

In fact a standing army was not the intent at all. The second amendment has roots in requiring military service from every able male not in preparing to fight the government as the t-party believes.

UT Brit
London, England


I have lived in a few countries around the world including the US. No its not the greatest country (if such a thing can be actually measured) I am afraid and you would struggle to find many indicators that would show it to be either.

I have heard from Americans that the US is the greatest country but I personally find this baffling considering most who have said this have never lived anywhere else.

Christian 24-7
Murray, UT

Rehab costs $15,000 a month without detox, $25,000 a month with detox services.

Incarceration costs about $47,000 per year, or about $4000 a month.

It could be worth paying 4-6 times as much for rehab instead of incarceration, if it was highly effective. But it is not. Hard drug rehab success rates are about 2%. Other types of rehab are really no more effective than incarceration at improving behavior.

So it really makes no sense to pay 5 times as much for something that works no better.

As far as people being jailed who shouldn't be, I have seen how hard it is to get the neighborhood drug dealer in jail only to have him back in business a week later. Seems like it should be easier to get people in jail, not harder.

Orem, UT

Many crimes in this country are committed as result of our entitlement culture. Morality, ethics, and consequences are becoming a thing of the past. People feel that they don't have to earn what they get, they are entitled to it. Theft, fraud, and other such crimes are rampant.

If the government won't take it away from someone else and give it to them, they will do it themselves illegally. This mentality affects all classes of society from the guy who holds up the 7-11 to Bernie Madeoff.

Everett, 00

Why is there such a disparity?


For starters --
America tends to be a Me-Myself-I, Everyman for himself, self serving, selfish, Better me than you, where greed is the Law of the Jungle.

Countries with lower crime rates are "Socialist", where no man is an Island, we are all in this together, all-for-one-and-one-for-all, we are each responsible citizens of Society.

Don't believe me?
Take for example the attitudes of some for lives basic necessities -- Healthcare, Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Christian 24-7
Murray, UT


You misrepresent the intent of the second amendment. Read the intro to the Bill of Rights. It gives the context, and it is part of the Constitution.

But I am all for arming all able bodied and SOUND MINDED citizens as a military force as needed.

Bronx, NY

How do you square your claims with the statistical reality that crime rates are very low compared to the past?

Millcreek, UT

@Cristian 24-7
Ummm, where did you get that number? $15,000 a week for rehab? Maybe if you go to Cirque Lodge(expensive celebrity rehab in Park City)I know a reputable hospital here in salt lake charges closer to 1,000 a week for outpatient rehab and 2-3,000 for inpatient rehab. Which is a lot of money, but no where near the amount you are talking about.

Castle Valley, Utah


You forgot to mention most religious among our peer nations. You know, that wonderful Christian goodness where punishment is a supreme value?

one old man
Ogden, UT

Welcome to ALEC's view of the future. (American Legislative Exchange Council.)

Everett, 00

So let me gt this straight...

with more Freedom we get more crime, more incarcerations and therfore less Freedom.
yet, with less Freedom we get less crime and less incarcerations and therfore more Freedom?

There must be something to do with a "moderation in all things" moral of the story in there somewhere...

Ford DeTreese
Provo, UT

Dear helpless in government vehicle,

Maybe you missed the recent Economist study that compared countries on eleven different standards to see where on earth is the best place to be born. The U.S. came in 16th. Predictably, Switzerland, Austria, the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, Australia, and, especially, Canada, came in ahead of us. There are countries on earth that actually do have a clue. We could learn something from them if we weren't so arrogant about American exceptionalism.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

You can argue about punishment all that you want, but why not start with the "crime"?

When someone does something that endangers society, is found guilty, is sentenced to "pay" for that damage, why shouldn't he/she spend time out of society, locked up in a place where he/she can do no further damage to society?

Do drugs not hurt society? Do drug users not commit crimes to pay for their drugs? Do drug users not hurt society when they drive impaired? Do drug users not damage society when they work in an impaired manner?

Prisons are not only for "punishment", but, more importantly, they keep people who have no regard for society's rules out of society.

Eagle Mountain, UT

The problem is we put bad people with bad people, don't give them any skills, release them back into the population without a job or home and act surprised when they return to their old life style.

Prison's focus should be on making these people productive members of society, teaching them a skill they can use to support themselves in the general public. Giving them decent problem solving skills, and setting them up for success.

Ignorance breads poverty breads crime.

Are there dangerous people that should not be let back out into the general populations, absolutely! That is why they have a life sentence. But for the majority of the prison population, this is simply not the case.

Salt Lake City, UT

"gun violence"

Not true. It is one of the worst for the industrialized world (better than only mexico brazil and russia I think) but gun violence rates are much worse in a decent number of nations, particularly a lot of central american ones.


We're actually not the worst for that. Some of the polynesian island nations are worse.

"national debt"

In terms of total amount of debt, yes. In terms of debt:GDP ratio, no.

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