Friday, December 02, 2005

Prison Reform - Where Are True American Values?

The first thing I'm going to write about is prison reform. By in large, Americans are insulated and self-interested. As a result, issues like prison reform get worse shrift than the "proverbial?" "back burner". In fact, it's even questionable whether they make it anywhere near the kitchen, never mind the stove. Why? Because how many of you out there, or Americans, in general, have ever been in prison - or know someone who has? Precious few, I'll tell you - and this, despite the dubious (if "dubious" means, "doubtful", then I don't mean "dubious", because there's no doubt about it; it's a fact) distinction of the United States having the most prisoners per capita of all nations in the world! Was it Marx who said you can determine the degree of civilization of a nation or society by the number of prisoners it has? I could be wrong, but it doesn't MATTER who said it - the fact is, I'M saying it because it's true, regardless of the speaker. So, considered with this perspective, what does it say about our society - how civilized are we? The thing is, we've gotten increasingly away from caring about almost anyone beyond they who are in our own immediate circle. And, therefore, is it any wonder or coincidence that we (and, by "we", I mean, "America, in large"; not "me" or others on my side of the fence) put (notice I say "put", not "elect" - but I won't go there any further here, now) in office a man/regime who/that doesn't give a shit about what anyone else in the world thinks? It's this "me, myself, mine, and only those close to me" philosophy or perspective that is responsible for both reprehensible incarceration statistics and practices and running roughshod all over the globe, becoming increasingly notorious and hated for killing, atrocities, and all kinds of violation of human rights. I would be remiss, here, if I didn't point out the shameful connection between Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, secret "tribunals", secret Eastern European (and elsewhere) prisons "we"'ve apparently set up, and the horrendous "prison industrial complex" we've set up, here at home. We're also the only major western country that currently has the death penalty. It's all about not caring what goes on outside our own selfish realms.

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