If you kill 14 students, you’ll get a spacious single room and a private bathroom while sharing a kitchen with a dozen of your neighbors. Whether you will spend your time in the library, on the rock wall, or in the prison’s recording studio launching your rap career is yet to be seen.
But if you lose your job and have no other means to pay the rent, you get to stay on the streets and hope you will find something to eat. Whether you’re boiling hot or freezing cold, in light rain or a hailstorm, you will have no shelter to protect you from the elements.
You may not even be able to get food from other people in some places, since “feeding homeless people” has incredulously been declared illegal in many cities in the US.
This is the cruel reality we currently live in.
An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide (Source: United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 2005 http://www.homelessworldcup.org/content/homelessness-statistics)
That is about the same size in population as Mexico or Japan, or almost double the entire population of UK, Italy or France http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//List_of_countries_by_population. There are roughly 10 times more homeless people than there are total Greeks in the world.
If we were to build a country just for homeless people, it would become the 13th largest country in the world.
In striking contrast, there are currently about 10 million people in jails; a much smaller number http://www.prisonstudies.org/news/all/140-more-than-ten-million-prisoners-in-the-world,-new-report-shows.html. In other words, homelessness is a 10 times larger world problem than crime.
So consider this; 10 million people are provided a room to stay in, food and clothes, many have access to health care and education, and sometimes even the internet, television, recreation areas and much more. These 10 million people are provided with all of that because they committed a crime. Many of these prisoners are people who have killed other people, stolen from other people, damaged property or, in other cases, have impoverished millions of others.
On the other hand, 100 million homeless people struggle to survive from one day to the next, just because they couldn't fit into a corrupt and unequal system.
Many homeless people intentionally commit small crimes to go to jail, because it is much better there than on the streets http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/dec/23/homeless-committing-crimes-for-shelter. For many in this world, being in prison is an advantage.
Normal prisons sometimes provide better comfort than many schools, hospitals or houses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPjY3177k14, and it is far better to stay in such conditions than on the streets, starving and freezing.
I've seen many rooms that look much worse than what a normal cell looks like, including my room which is smaller than a normal prison cell and has no TV or air conditioning.
If I were homeless I may commit crimes only to stay in jail.
There also exist luxurious prisons that offer tennis, fishing, horseback riding, opportunities for learning, comfortable rooms, job skill training, air conditioning, refrigerators, karaoke machines, private bathrooms with showers, laundry machines, small conference rooms, weight rooms, state of the art kitchens, TVs, the Internet, libraries, recording studios, hours of recreation (singing and dancing), jogging trails and much more. Some inmates can stay in freestanding, two-story homes and spend time with their families or live alone, and in some prisons children can live with their incarcerated parents, as long as the inmates are present at morning and evening roll call.
In 2011 the Geneva prison had more than $40 million pumped into a new wing and refurbishments. The spacious triple-occupancy cells each include a bathroom and could pass for a typical UCLA dorm room.
It is true that there is a fee to pay for being incarcerated in one of these luxury prisons, but a few bucks a day to live in such luxurious places after you raped and killed 3-4 kids is not much. And you can pay the fee by working online from inside the prison.
I am not suggesting that criminals should be treated in an inhumane manner––not at all––but I want to emphasize how unfair and unsound our way of running society has become. Instead of us caring for those suffering from need, we create comfort for those suffering from greed.
Billions of dollars are spent each year for this system of incarceration. Instead, imagine investing that toward keeping people from committing crimes by simply providing them with what they need.
For reference: “In 2007, around $74 billion was spent on corrections. The total number of inmates in 2007 in federal, state, and local lockups was 2,419,241. That comes to around $30,600 per inmate. Housing the approximately 500,000 people in jail in the USA awaiting trial who cannot afford bail costs $9 billion a year. Most jail inmates are petty, nonviolent offenders.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Cost
“47.7% of crimes are violent (murder, manslaughter, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, other sexual assault, robbery, assault, and others), drug 21.7%, poverty 16.7% (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, fraud, and other property crimes), and 13.4% public-order (weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses).”
Now, imagine how giving $30,600 a year to every US citizen would reduce both crime as well as homelessness and poverty.
So, to poor people from Africa, Romania, US, and to those across the entire world who do not have appropriate shelter, food, clothing and/or live in very poor conditions, now there is a solution for you: if you commit a crime in this world, your life will be improved with incarceration.
If that doesn't sound wrong then…