Sunday, October 11, 2015

Missing the Point…Personal Responsibility

Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis – Jeff Smith (St. Martin’s Press)

After reading former Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith’s account of his time behind bars, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis, I can only conclude one of two things; that most of the people who are incarcerated in the United States did absolutely nothing wrong or that Smith has never heard of personal responsibility.

I choose to conclude that Smith, a self-confessed (in the book; liar and thief) must have missed school the day they taught personal responsibility. Smith is typical of so many iron-clad liberals who believe that someone or something else is at fault for people’s individual problems; society has held those behind bars down, the “prison industrial complex” perpetuates the recidivism of those behind bars and no one is responsible for the bad choices they have made.
Smith appears to think that he is really only guilty of getting caught breaking federal election laws and lying about it. In the book Smith admits that he “borrowed” copy-righted material from Kaplan Test Prep, a former employer of his, in an effort to assist talented athletes who struggled to make the academic qualifications to earn a college scholarship. Smith reasons that he only charged $50 to the jocks while Kaplan wanted $1000 and justifies it by claiming “Kaplan was doing just fine” and “Kaplan wasn’t losing business, no one was getting hurt.” In other words, the ends, justifies the means.    

Smith can’t even bring himself to admit that he did anything wrong. Late in the book he recounts a visit from his parents and when his mother confronts him about being reckless he concludes “it definitely wasn’t the time to say so, ‘Look, Mom, I didn’t actually do anything wrong…

So based upon his extensive experience with the United States justice system, one year and one day behind bars, what is Smith’s plan to reform that system? Smith reasons that taxpayers could save billions of dollars annually if instead of incarcerating non-violent offenders we simply tracked them via electronic monitoring. Smith neglects to detail exactly what the costs would be for the monitoring and who would do that monitoring. In most current instances the offender is charged the cost of the monitoring; is that what he proposes for the criminals he expresses such deep concern for now? He worries about offenders who get jailed for not meeting their parental responsibilities of paying to support their children, and now he wants to add the cost of ankle bracelet monitoring?

Perhaps a better way to break the cycle of generational imprisonment would be to prevent liberals from perpetuating failed social programs that once purported to give a hand up and have now become a business. Perhaps by placing a time limit on these social programs folks will be motivated to earn a living and take care of themselves and their families. It seems that welfare reform programs pushed by Republicans were working and the poverty pimps on the left felt they were more compassionate by foisting perpetual “benefits” and Obama phones on the poor. Is it any wonder that folks lack the motivation to do the right thing like get an education and earn a living?

While Smith tries to describe how awful life in prison was for him, perhaps if it was made to be the worst possible experience you could imagine, then people would be motivated to never ever wanting to go back. Just a thought.

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