August 28, 2008 · Updated 1:17 PM
The Sunday documentary Breaking Point on the Discovery channel was excellently narrated by Ted Koppel. Those who viewed it had to be as affected as I was by the extreme folly of the waste involved. The mass incarceration in America is such a waste of human life and of the taxpayers money. We incarcerate more people then any other country in the world.
In California, they incarcerate 173,000 people in prisons meant to hold 100,000. Each individual has the equivalent of 24-square-feet of personal space, no privacy whatsoever and the need to follow the rules of the prison as well as the code of those incarcerated. Idle, with no programs to rehabilitate, these people are learning the skills of crime from master teachers. A dangerous situation indeed because most of them will be returned to society one day.
Interestingly, Californias 3-Strikes law doesnt seem to be as harsh as Washingtons. Although, they have many serving for non-violent offenses as we do, their offenders are given 25 years to life with chances of parole. Thats still a long time to pay for petty theft but Washington sends them to prison for life with no possibility of parole. For all intents and purposes, a life sentence might as well be a death sentence.