Far better ways to fight crime than imprisonment

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  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2012 4:26 p.m.

    I don't see this viewpoint as one that is soft on crime as much as one that is trying to figure out the factors that lead to criminal behavior. One factor that was left out is mental health. Many, many inmates suffer from mental health issues. The mental health issues are manifested in drug and alcohol abuse (self-medication) and low literacy rates. I have had two friends that have had significant encounters with the law, and both were the direct results of mental illness issues. The cost of treating brain chemical issues is often so high that treatment is simply unaffordable.

    An ounce of prevention still is worth a pound of cure.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    April 9, 2012 7:31 a.m.

    The drug war is ridiculous. How many non-violent criminals are locked up? How many come back out violent?

    We need a change both for economic reasons and civil liberties. As said earlier, drug addicts don't get hired .... that's the lesson to teach. That being said I know some very successful attorneys who occasionally do drugs and they are far from criminal, violent, or 'bad' in any way. They just exercise their civil liberty (that they should have) responsibly.

  • Jonathan Eddy Payson, UT
    April 9, 2012 6:56 a.m.

    Self medicators need help but they don't need prison. They need availability to safer medicine. Alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, heroin, meth, etc are not the answer; too many health problems, death and crime with real victims are all too often the results.

    Perhaps the decriminalization, not legalization of home grown marijuana(for personal use only, not for commercial sale)could be the great buffer. Less health issues. Less war on drug related crime and death. Less prison sentences. Less victimless crime = less criminals = prison costs.

    We would end up with virtually the same number of "wasted" individuals, (when compared to alcohol, prescription and non prescription drug users), but a larger percentage of wasted individuals harmlessly asleep in bed with smiles on their faces not committing crimes nor creating victims of crime.

    (I would prefer that humanity find a way to deal with life without resorting to mind altering chemicals, but if we cannot prevent this behavior in a million years of trying, I suggest we allow for safer non criminal methods for self medication that does not result in incarceration.)

    Note: Is Mountain Dew mind altering? ;)

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    April 8, 2012 9:02 p.m.

    "... we need to increase our use of effective treatments such as medications for opiate/heroin addicts or alcoholics. These are rarely used today." You have gotta be kidding me! These "effective treatments" do not exist. Medicine has not been able to offer us a way to effectively treat these two addictions, and methamphetamine addiction is even worse. For instance, methadone programs just substitute one opiate for another. Nearly all the inmates at the Utah State Prison have addiction to one drug or another in their recent past.

    "Treating offenders will reduce prison and probation rolls by nearly 30 percent." Really. Don't believe it. Legalizing drugs would be a disaster of historic proportions, far worse than the lawlessness and organized crime that followed prohibition of alcohol. Good, hardworking, honest people cannot allow this to happen.

  • wjalden Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 8, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    Of course rehabilitation is a good idea. But having known an addict or two I can tell you that getting them to give up the habit is a lifelong struggle. There are addicts who manage to stay employed, and there are addicts who never hold down a job. The latter, I can assure you, are making ends meet somehow - often criminally. People who drive with suspended licenses are jailed because they've already often had a major infraction, like a DUI. Improving educational outcomes is a fight we've waged for years with no magic solutions. I highly doubt the CDF's claim that 60% of Caucasians are reading below grade level. If that's the case then "grade level" has been set unreasonably high.

    The late scientist James Q. Wilson discovered that long prison sentences reduce crime not by deterring the criminal but by keeping him in a place where he can't commit the crime. He estimated that about half the decline in crime since 1991 peak was due to the 1974 ban on use of lead in gasoline and paint.

  • zabivka Orem, UT
    April 8, 2012 8:22 a.m.


    Sounds like you are trying to force a square peg into a round hole. You think it's a bunch of secularists in the prisons today?

    Maybe you should Google "Psychology Today: psychology today our humanity, naturally misinformation about secularism"

    Guess where the highest crime rates are? Highly religious areas. Most criminals in prison are Christian.

    Of course, there are also many atheists in prison, to be sure, but they are underrepresented, so I don't know that your argument is very sound.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    April 7, 2012 11:34 p.m.

    Good point One Old Man

    For some, it takes a village, because home is a shambles or unaware.

    I've had experience with people who grew up in dysfunctional, and even abusive situations, who then had children of their own. Sadly, often the dysfunction continues into the next generation. Early intervention is critical, and there are no simple answers.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 7, 2012 8:39 p.m.

    Gildas wrote: "1. You start with teaching morality (honesty, consideration for others etc) in the home (because the schools won't or can't teach it)."

    That is absolutely false. Teachers at all levels in our schools work very hard to try to teach all those traits. It works for many students. But there are some whose homes are such tangled messes, that any attempt to overcome what they have learned there is practically hopeless.

    Will you please tell us how to overcome that obstacle?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    April 7, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    Nobody is advocating/proposing releasing rapists and murderers.

    In the future you can save time and DN space by cutting out the extraneous sentences beyond "liberals are to blame."

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    April 7, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    Not one poster here has refuted the basic fact that criminals cannot rape and murder the general public when they are incarcerated. Anybody who favors releasing dangerous criminals believes that it is better to put the public at risk for rape and murder than it is to inconvenience criminals.

    The comparrison of US incarceration rates with China, Russia, and Africa is absurd. China executes tens of thousands each year, and thus there are not as many to look up. Russia is far too incompetent to catch criminals in the first place. Africa is too poor for effective law enforcement, and leaves it up to the victim's family to exact justice by violent retribution.

    Either you support locking up violent criminals, or you support lawlessness and anarchy. There is no other way.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    April 7, 2012 12:02 p.m.

    I agree with three premises in the article and responses:

    1. You start with teaching morality (honesty, consideration for others etc) in the home (because the schools won't or can't teach it).

    2. We need solutions that do not punish society twice, once by the criminal actions of recidivists and secondly for the highly expensive punishments involving incarceration in jails requiring prison guards and, and "basic" full board and lodging, and psychologists to attempt to mitigate the seriousness of the crime, while usually failing to change the criminal attitude.

    3. We need to consider ending the "War on Drugs" methods that seem to generate most of the population of criminals. Experience might be the best teacher. If you're habitually drunk or stoned you aren't hired, people don't trust you, your life is miserable and your status low (most people don't excuse your behavior like "professionals" do).

    We can still fight drug use in other ways: people are sometimes persuaded not to use tobacco, to stop wasting money on booze etc. We can make people pay money for illegal vices as they do for "legal" vices; if you made the mess, you clean it up.

  • CLM Draper, UT
    April 7, 2012 10:26 a.m.

    Well and wisely said, Midvaliean, all points. I couldn't agree more nor could have stated it better.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 7, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    This op-ed piece is absolutely correct. The Old Testament attitude does not work. When you look at incarceration rates, the U.S. leads the world by a huge margin. We are at 743 per 100,000. Rwanda is second with 595 per 100,000. The next major Western nation is the U.K. at 156 per 100,000. We are either a terrible people, or our justice/penal system is messed up. It's one or the other. Building more prisons and incarcerating a higher percentage of our people is very expensive, both short-term and long-term. Who benefits? Yet another industry that leeches off the taxpayers. It would be more effective if we found other more constructive ways to deal with our problems. All we are doing now is shoving our problems into human warehouses instead of addressing the root problems of our society. People with the attitude of procuradorfiscal and Spring, blaming "liberals" and anyone else with whom they disagree, will accomplish nothing. I think we, as a people, are better than this. Conservatives who claim to be Christian and want to save tax dollars should be on board. No one said it would be easy.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    April 7, 2012 8:15 a.m.

    @John Charity Spring
    Once again you didn't read the article nor do you see what is happening in real life. Drug convictions are filling our prisons. We all agree to imprison violent and sexual offenders. Why then do they seem to get out at a much faster rate then drug offences, a victim-less crime.
    We all want murderers and rapist behind bars. Lets free up our law enforcement from the drug war so they can fight actual crime.
    Before we can legalize drugs across the board, we as a society need to accept that drugs/alcohol can not be used as an excuse for crimes committed. Alcohol doesn't make one violent, nor does drugs. The person maybe violent and uses drugs/alcohol. That simple. Once we can legalize drugs, they cannot be an excuse for criminal behavior. Because they are not. We all know that drinking alcohol doesn't equal violence.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    April 7, 2012 8:08 a.m.

    "The era of mass incarceration." A sad day that we have allowed this to happen. This is how it works:
    States build jails. By keeping jail beds full they request more funding to build more jails. They keep jails full by passing laws to imprison people for more things, just as the article states. Prisons are build, and sometimes operated by private corporations. These corporations have a vested interested in keeping people in prison, as they built the prions and profit from them (from our tax dollars). Therefore they have lobbyists on Capital Hill lobbying for longer prison sentences in bills passed. The War on Drugs as unsuccessful and popular as it may be is lining the pockets of those who make money on the suffering and incarceration of others.
    Don't think for a moment that those building the prisons have any desire to help those they incarcerate within their walls. In fact just the opposite. Please do your own research, its happening right here in Utah as well.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    April 6, 2012 9:44 p.m.

    This opinion piece represents left wing excusim at its worst. This sort of soft on crime attitude is the wrong approach.

    Passing out balloons and lollipops to hardened criminals is not the way to protect the public. A failure to hold people accountable for crime simply leads to more of it.

    We must never forget that the reason we lock up criminals is to give the public a break from being victimized. It is more important to protect the public than it is to help criminals feel good about themselves.

    The fact that violent crime continues to happen at an alarming rate is proof that we are not incarcerating enough people. Perhaps those who oppose incarceration will be the first to volunteer to be assaulted, raped, and murdered so that the general public might be spared.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    April 6, 2012 7:22 p.m.

    There's only one better way to fight crime -- morality.

    Anything else is bound to fail.

    Our Nation needs to throw off the amoral relativism foisted on us by godless liberals and return to honesty, decency, and the love of God and country that are our only chance at avoiding chaos and misery.