Crime Decreasing Issue Society has other alternatives to decreasing crime than simply locking people in prison. Preventative programs focus on the community, school, family, employment and places. In addition, there are rehabilitation and restorative justice programs that can also be used to decrease crime. Prisons are the only alternatives we hear about from politicians because of the notion that prisons are “tough on crime.” In reality, the method that reduces crime the most is the “toughest on crime,”–and many research studies demonstrate prisons are not the best alternatives. Over 65% of the people convicted for 3-Strikes are for drug-related offenses.
There is great evidence that putting many 3-Strikers in rehabilitation programs costs much less to society overall than simply putting them in prison for 25 years or more. In addition, there are preventative programs that can be used rather than the prison cell. Each $1 we spend on prisons is a $1 that we could spend elsewhere (or not be taxed in the first place). The problem with only addressing crime by locking people in prison is that it has done nothing to alleviate the roots of the problems that cause crime in our society. Other people are born and grow up in the same areas where the previous offenders lived and will probably commit the same acts because the underlying problems still exist. There is much evidence that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing in the United States. Unfortunately, the U.S.’s response to the problem has been: “The rich get richer, and the poor get prison.” To focus on street crime and drug-related crimes can be considered a hidden way to set up concentration camps for the poor and minorities. There is much evidence that white-collar corporate criminals cause much more economic wealth to be illegally distributed and can result in many more deaths and injuries than street crime (e.g., violating safety standards in employment, emission of environmental hazards).
Does society spend as much to enforce the laws on them? Are they sent to prison for the same sentences as the poor street criminals? Are wealthy users of drugs ending up in our prisons? The “control” and “punishment” models adopted by the U.S. may cause other problems. Social rebellion and deviance among the young may increase. And, in an opposite manner, some of our youth may embrace “control” and “punishment” as the answers to all our problems. A growing devision among these two groups could cause extreme problems in the future.