I've had some interesting discussions with close friends over Cuomo's idea and at this point it is still but an idea. That doesn't stop the emotion from entering the discussion to consider the idea. Cuomo's idea seeks to curb the number of inmates retaining to our jails and prisons and costing us $60K a year each. I don't know if Cuomo considered the college graduates with crushing student debt, or the high school seniors who have no idea how they will afford college, or out of work people who could seriously use some job retraining for another line of work, but I can say this: Those groups who I just mentioned aren't costing the tax payers $60,000 each...at least not yet. When looking at the NYS budget, Cuomo can't point to any of these groups I've mentioned and say with any certainty that these groups are costing tax payers $60,000 each.
"But They're Criminals!!!"
...and? ...so? Have we become so vindictive in this country that we're willing to continue to pay $60,000 a year for the same guy who keeps stealing TVs? We're "good" with this? That's pretty goddamn stupid! We love to look down on criminals. For some of us, we can't punish them enough! Many think Sheriff Joe in Arizona has it all figured out. The more draconian and medieval we make our prisons, the less likely those same inmates will be back--right? Does anyone really think that's working well? I would imagine that those inmates being released aren't the most well-adjusted adults coming out confinement.
By the way, when does a criminal "pay his due?" As a criminal, you're convicted, you have a permanent record that follows you, serve time, there may be a fine or restitution, you've lost your job (if you had one), and you family is in turmoil (if it wasn't already). When do we consider criminals "even with the board?" Do they ever pay their debt to society?
"That Money Ought to Go to Schools, so They Don't Become Criminals"
Yeah...we've tried that. Obviously it didn't work because we still have criminals and repeat offenders. Let's not forget we have people in this State and country who feel our schools get "enough" money already. We actually have a national debate about the ethics of giving a grade school a hot well-balanced lunch to perform better in school. As a nation, we've become so cheap and selfish, that this has become a "thing." Are we really expecting more money to go into education to prevent criminal behavior without anyone squawking about it?
"Well They Shouldn't Have Committed a Crime"
But they did! And I'll ask again, do we really want to continue paying for the same thing over and over again? We have at least three television shows that show ordinary, sometimes well-adjusted, educated people who decided to turn to crime to make ends meet: Weeds, Breaking Bad, and Moonshiners. Our entertainment is watching other people commit crimes to make better money. We now televise what has been going on for years and they get great ratings for it!
In Weeds, we have a housewife subsidizing her income through marijuana sales. The character of Walter White is diagnosed with cancer and decides to turn to meth manufacturing to be able to leave his family something when he dies. These are the fictional shows! Moonshiners has hill-billies evading the police to send their kids off to college.
I watched an episode of "Undercover Boss" the other night. The CEO for Subway was getting barked at by some shrewish, hateful, would-be dictator, who referred to the CEO as "fresh meat." She spent a good portion of the episode just being an obnoxious superior bitch, just for the sake of being an obnoxious superior bitch. Are we to believe our teens and young adults,with all the risk factors associated with criminals are going to put with the likes of the Subway Twat and make less than $60 a day? With no health insurance?
Cuomo's idea is to solve one issue. I personally don't think it'll get very far or that it is even a "good" idea. However considering how to lower recidivism rates deserves attention--not emotion--but attention. We could teach every convict to be an astronaut and it is still no guarantee they would be hired. They are still criminals and that begs the question I asked before, when have they paid their debt? I'm not so naive as to believe that every inmate, given the chance, will blossom into a productive citizen. In fact, $60,000 is a bit of a "bargain" when you consider how volatile, murderous, psychotic, etc...some of the prisoners are. We can't rehabilitate every one of them and the reason is some of them are just evil to their core.
The idea to solve this problem is good--the method needs some work! Employers need an incentive to give recently released person a shot at a job. Those incarcerated need some supports in place before they are released. We have agencies like this in every county in the State but this information isn't shared with prisoners. These are under utilized resources we're already paying for! Having a place to live, knowing a place where you can look for work, and having a skill could do a lot for a parolee. They might be less likely to fall back into their old lifestyle if they knew where they were sleeping that night.
There's a lot of resources virtually untapped in our State that are paid for but under utilized. Most importantly there is the stigma. When is the debt paid? There's a way forward on this, but it requires attention and receptiveness, not blind emotion. Until then, we'll continue to pay $60,000 a year, per inmate so that we can appease that vindictive draconian nature of ours.