Recent and ongoing local events illustrate the folly of imprisonment.
The situation is not unique. The same type of events repeat, in limited variation, all across America on a continuous basis.
The Stanford Prison Experiment, and subsequent studies that keep confirming it, should demonstrate that you can't give one group of people dominion over another group of people without both groups losing their humanity.
It's not healthy for anyone.
Imprisonment also provides a taxpayer-subsidized "Criminal University" where skills, experience and lessons are passed from one bad guy to many more people — quite a few of whom are "enrolled," not for attacking or stealing, but for violating arbitrary edicts against self-determination or private property rights.
You can't teach people to be good by enforcing bad rules.
The primary goal shouldn't be punishment; but protecting the innocent and private property. If punishment actually helped achieve that goal then a better argument for it could be made, but it doesn't.
Only restitution provides some justice to the victim.
It costs a violator nothing extra to sit in a cage while the victim is "taxed" — stolen from yet again — to keep prisoners.
Only the imprisonment industry benefits, although a great many people are fooled.
Sure, most people will say there are just some prisoners who should never walk free again. If someone needs to be caged, they need to be dead, but no government is honest enough to be trusted with that power.
Remove the "laws" (the illegitimate rules against self defense and against the most effective defensive tools) that protect aggressors and thieves from the rightful consequences of their actions. That will bring the price of being a bad guy back up to where it needs to be. Then you can watch the population of actual bad guys dwindle.
And stop harassing everyone else.
Anyone imprisoned for anything other than theft or aggression is, in truth, a political prisoner.
Accidents are not crimes, and while they may create a debt, that in no way involves the state.
The U.S. now imprisons a larger percentage of its residents than has any regime in history — more even than Soviet Russia and China, not exactly shining examples of liberty or justice.
It's not that Americans are worse than any population in history — it's that the laws are wrong.
When your course of action fails to keep things from getting worse, it's time to do something different.
Sometimes, the way it's always been done is also the way it's always been done wrong.
Kent McManigal is a freelance writer who sometimes offers commentary on our websites. Contact him at: