Prisons - A Better Approach Which Would be Far Less Expensive

The United States currently has more than 2,200,000 people in prisons and jails. The cost of building those very sturdy and secure buildings, along with cells and all the rest is enormous, and when that construction cost is added to the cost for Guards and Wardens and Cooks and Laundry and TVs and computers, the annual cost turns out to be about $100,000 per inmate. That means that we spend about $200 billion dollars every year just to house and feed and provide for inmates.

Many States are running out of money so they RELEASE 30,000 inmates, just to make room for 30,000 new inmates. The problem there is Recidivism, where released Convicts tend to commit new crimes and need tp again be housed as inmates. In the United States, the rate of Redivifism is said to be around 65% or more.

The United States economy is now such that no government can spend the billion dollars to build the new prisons which are needed. There are several problems here which cannot be solved by conventional approaches.

Here is a FAR better suggestion, which not only is far less expensive, but it also forces inmates to develop societal skills and talents!

Our "Survival Ark" concept, which was invented in 2007 and first placed on the Internet in 2008, was created to try to help people survive coming sea level rising for the hundreds of millions of people in low-lying countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia, and for the people who live in the hundreds of mega-cities which are built just barely above sea level.

The presentation is at Survival Ark - 60-Acre Hexagonal Artificial Island

THIS application is very similar, but for an entirely different purpose.

Consider the 60-acre floating island, which uses some existing ship-building techniques and should cost only around $18 million to build, to be anchored one hundred miles offshore, either off the Pacific coast, the Atlantic coast or the Gulf coast. NO Wardens or Guards would be on it, and NO cells or prisons! The first inmates would be selected for carpentry and home construction skills (and they would be PAID nominal wages for building standard bungalow homes on the island. Roughly 200 homes could be built for a pleasant community of around 600 to 800 inmates living in them. The inmates could come and go as they wished, although, of course, they would never be able to leave the island until their Sentence is completed. The ONLY presence of authority would be on three small boats a few hundred yards offshore, and their presence would generally be regarding making sure that no boats or ships or aircraft would approach the island.

Until the inmates were able to plant their own crops and harvest their own food, a weekly supply ship would arrive to refill food stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, etc. A specific inmate could elect to learn or use talents in making shoes to SELL to other inmates, and possibly to even EXPORT products to the US or other countries. Each inmate would be ABLE to WORK to earn money, whether that is building new homes, farming, being a barber, or other skills of society. By the time the inmate's sentence was completed, the likelihood of recidivism seems very minimal. Ex-cons would HAvE all the skills they could use to work and earn money. Most might now be able to participate in normal society. However, inmates whose sentence is completed MIGHT be allowed to STAY on the island, to keep a shoe store going or to build more bungalowsor whatever.

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Instead of modern inmates spending their lives watching TV in their cells or using their own computers there, the inmates on such an island would be actively PARTICIPATING in a small society! In fact, they would be free to ELECT a Mayor or even a Chief of Police if they felt there was a need in their community. They would greatly be able to run their own autonomous society.

Such an island would ONLY have men on it, but a DIFFERENT 60-acre prison island might have only women inmates, 50 miles away. BEFORE the women arrived, some male home-building inmates might briefly live there while they built the 200 bungalows for the women inmates.

These island prisons would be ONLY for inmates which were found guilty of relatively moderate crimes. Truly dangerous inmates probably need to stay in High-Security Prisons as they are now. And inmates on OTHER prisons might REQUEST TRANSFER to the "working environment" of an island prison, in order to develop skills to later re-enter normal society.

Seems to me a win-win-win-win situation, and one which has a price tag of far less than 1/100 of the current prison system.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in January 2013.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago