Prisons; Bar None
By Doug Bruce
I think I've finally got the lingo of this whole prison-controversy thing
figured out. It all seems to have started with
* Mandates *
... these are the little glitches written into federal laws that tell
states what they may or may not do. In the case of criminal law, the Feds
say, "Either you sentence every criminal to a really, really long stay in
jail, or we won't give you the money we set aside to help you lock up more
people. We think it would be very naughty if you refuse to follow our ..."
* Sentencing guidelines *
... which are supposedly written into criminal laws by politicians because
they all want to look tough on crime and it's very important to posture for
election purposes. But, the real reason congress wants to lock up so many
people for such a long time is ...
* Money *
... this is the green papery stuff that politicians love so very much that
they actually decided it can talk. And because it can talk, the green
papery stuff is now protected by the first amendment. Money is also one of
the most favorite things politicians like to collect; they get bunches and
bunches of it from ...
* Lobbyists *
... who represent large businesses who give lots of money to politicians so
they will pass laws that force states to build new prisons because, lately,
many large businesses are, well, in the business of building and servicing
prisons. But there always must be a justifiable reason for building new
jails, so congress passed more laws with longer mandatory sentences for
crimes such as stealing cars or being a junkie. This made the large
businesses jump for joy and they all fanned out in search of ...
* State Contracts *
... which are readily available because after a couple of years under the
new get-tough federal sentencing guidelines, there are so many people in
jail that their faces are getting mashed and squished up against the bars.
This predicament forces states to look for new places to build more jails
and to ask taxpayers to ...
* Pony Up *
... more green papery stuff in the form of taxes so that the stockholders
of the large businesses that get the contracts to build more prisons don't
get all huffy and go away. The states have to try to fool the taxpayers
though, so they tell them that if they'll just let a jail be built in their
home town, the whole package will be free of charge. Not only that, but
having a prison will create ...
* High Paying Jobs *
... something every town in America desperately needs. So, a lot
politicians say, "Goody, goody, let's build a prison in my town" because
later, when they run for higher office, they'll be able to say, "Look, I
created jobs! And I'm tough on crime too!" Unfortunately, hundreds of
townspeople have very bad gut-feelings about jails and they say "We don't
want a prison here." But the townfolk who speak against jails are branded
as being too emotional to count, so the state goes ahead and takes the
first step by picking out some land that they think will be suitable for
* A brand new prison *
... but this action makes even more people very upset because they would
rather use the papery green stuff to pay for schools so that, in the
future, there won't be so many criminals. When the upset people voice
ideas like this they are labeled as ...
* Liberals *
... which, as we all know, is a very, very bad thing to be. Liberals want
to prevent bad things from happening before they happen. Although this
concept is considered stupid, if it were to spread it would not be a good
thing for the stockholders of the large businesses that get the contracts
to build more jails. So, the businesses tell their lobbyists to tell the
politicians who have taken so much of their talking money that they must
step on the gas in making the word, liberal, a dirty household word. Then
no one will listen when the liberals talk. And the sooner all of the ...
* Crybabies *
... shut up, the sooner a new growth industry, ripe for profit, can thrive
happily ever after.
- Doug Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in southern Vermont. He
welcomes feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug and Liz Bruce = email@example.com
Rt 3 Box 282
Putney, VT 05346
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