Pubdate: Sat, 15 Nov 2003
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2003 Florida Today
Author: Lamont J. Balongue Jr.


I disagree with the idea put forward in a number of recent letters to the 
editor that miserable jails and prisons work best for all inmates.

Despite the protrayals of prisons in television and film, most do not have 
TVs in every room or inmates playing football and baseball all day. And 
many prisons do not have air conditioning or fitness centers.

According to a recent article in The Baltimore Sun, "There are over 2 
million people incarcerated in the United States alone. That number will 
double in the next 15-20 years."

Many prisoners who go in for a year or two for some petty crime come out 
hardened criminals because they did not receive proper rehabilitation.

According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., "77 percent of the 
growth in intake to America's state and federal prisons between 1978 and 
1996 was accounted for by nonviolent offenders."

Should nonviolent offenders be in the same prisons as murders and rapists? 
Should a kid that makes a stupid nonviolent mistake be put in these conditions?

Would you think the same if that child was yours?

Mixing the inmate population and subjecting the nonviolent inmate to 
beatings -- or worse, rape -- can cause that person to eventually become 

Our society fails by not offering effective rehabilitation programs. We 
need to help inmates become productive citizens, so that when they do get 
out, they can contribute to society.

I'm just sick of all these people who write these articles saying prisons 
are not tough enough. Have they been in a prison? Do they have family or 
friends in prison?

Some things in life you need to learn hands-on. Not everything can be 
learned, or more importantly appreciated by watching it on TV or reading it 
in a book.

Lamont J. Balongue Jr.

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