So, contemplating the problems with felons because I am a felon in the United States has lead me to some serious questions. The first big question I
have recently come across is this;
Is prison better then poverty?
Let's start with this article I found from Reuters
The article is actually about felons voting, but it highlights some major issues that I want to address...
There are an estimated 20 million felons in the United States, including 1.5 million now in prison, according to statistics provided by Uggen.
About 5.6 million of them are forbidden to vote by state laws. Depending on where they were convicted, the other 13.4 million have either had their
voting rights restored or never lost them, even when incarcerated.
Ok, so in our free democratic republic we won't allow people to vote even though issues directly affect them, even more so then probably the average
citizen. However this is not the issue I really want to talk about, the issue I really want to address is, do people think that going to prison is a
better option then living in sustained poverty?
At first glance, my answer based upon statistical analysis would be YES, Americans think its better to take a chance and end up in prison then to live
a life of poverty.
Its no secret that most felons come from poor, minority communities. It is however very hard to find statistics on this issue federally. Isn't that
weird? Its like they dont want us to know how big of a problem it really is.
Lets look at another statistic...recidivism
67.5% of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within 3 years, an increase over the 62.5% found for those released in 1983
This is an older statistic but with the recent uptick in private prisons and downturn in the economy we can assume that the numbers have gotten worse.
So we have established that there are a lot of people in here that have been through the system. Now lets look at another part of our equation to
better come to an understanding.
The obvious comparison we need to make now is a comparison to life outside of prison vs. life inside of prison.
Human Rights Watch
Prisoners and detainees in many local, state and federal facilities, including those run by private contractors, confront conditions that are
abusive, degrading and dangerous. Soaring prison populations due to harsh sentencing laws—which legislators have been reluctant to change—and
immigrant detention policies coupled with tight budgets have left governments unwilling to make the investments in staff and resources necessary to
ensure safe and humane conditions of confinement. Such failures violate the human rights of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with
humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
So its degrading, and dangerous. So it seems as though we have a very tough system with very inhuman treatment according to the Human Rights Watch
people. So how bad are conditions on the streets if thats BETTER then whats happening in the neighborhood?
Neighborhoods with poor-quality housing, few resources, and unsafe conditions impose stress, which can lead to depression. The stress imposed
by adverse neighborhoods increases depression above and beyond the effects of the individual's own personal stressors, such as poverty and negative
events within the family or work-place. Furthermore, adverse neighborhoods appear to intensify the harmful impact of personal stressors and interfere
with the formation of bonds between people, again increasing risk for depression.
It seems like they have the same conditions no matter what right? Well, with a few exceptions... those being, food, shelter, job if you please, and a
So essentially, its an easier lifestyle in prison then it is out of prison in abject poverty.
We really need to rethink how we do things. It shouldn't be better in prison then it is out of prison. Where is this going to lead, is this going to
lead to a Hunger Games scenario where we are begging for a prison-esque system that will eventually be better then regular life due to the growing
divide between the haves and have nots?
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