I would again like to thank Mr. Smith and Mrs. Amundson for their recent articles so relevant to our community. After reading Mr. Smith’s recent article concerning the situation of our prisons in Mississippi, it dawned on me that maybe a look into history could enlighten our governing elite to the fact that sometimes the old ways were the better ways.
I was raised up in sight of the prisoner containment center we all call “The Training School.” I remember well riding by there on warm summer days and sticking my arm out the window to wave at the boys in the fields hoeing or plowing. Back then we didn’t know what air conditioning was. That’s why I could just stick my arm out to wave.
I was not aware that those boys were behind the tall fence as punishment for their prior action because I was doing the same chores at home that they were. I always thought the only portion of what went on behind the fence that was punishment was being confined in the fence. Those boys worked in the garden just as I did: to eat. I later learned they not only grew vegetables, but they also raised beef cattle, had their own dairy, raised hogs and did all their laundry.
In essence, the Training School was totally self supporting because anything they produced above what they needed was taken to market for sale, which in turn was used to finance their needs that they didn’t produce. All this was accomplished while also getting a basic education, which is still just like I was doing at home. This procedure was followed for many years with no burden to taxpayers because they were “self supporting.” Somewhere along the time I was moving toward high school someone decided making those boys work their garden and care for the cattle was “inhumane.”
Then came the purchasing of all requirements for supporting life, which became a liability for the taxpayers. Stupid me, I just asked the wrong person, hey what about me? The response I received was simply that I was not a prisoner. I just stand there dumbfounded because to this day it makes no logical sense.
I must get up every morning and go to work so I can provide the basic needs for survival for me and my family and that’s OK. But to require a person who is being incarcerated for committing a crime to do manual labor to have something to eat is inhumane? I would love for some highly educated rocket scientist to look me in the eye and explain it so my pea brain can comprehend. I have worked either at home or on a job all my life.
If we required the prisons to be self supporting then the guards could get pay raises just like teachers. Not only that but the taxpayers could keep more of the money THEY worked for without having to turn it over for prison funding. Another side effect would be the overcrowding condition because people would not be quite as willing to go to jail. They wouldn’t be as likely to form gangs and start killing each other because they would be occupied and tired.
Most wouldn’t be as willing to commit crimes that would put them in prison to start with if they knew they would have to work for a living in prison. Getting out of the daily grind of going to work is what gets most of them there to begin with. Quite simply, why would someone rob a liquor store and risk going to prison if he is willing to go to work?
In all honesty I did receive something for nothing once in my life. When just getting started in adulthood I had been working offshore and got laid off. I was married with a house note and a car note and a pregnant wife. Back then unemployment paid much less than now, so I was advised to apply for food stamps. Much to my surprise, I was approved.
The first time I went to pick them up the lady behind the counter asked me if I knew how much I was going to get, which I didn’t. After making a phone call to check, she politely apologized and handed me $15. This was to feed me and my pregnant wife for a month. That ended my food stamps.
Now I remain ignorant to the reasoning behind it is inhumane to require a convicted criminal to labor for survival but not for a person willing to obey the law, respect others and be a contributing member of society. I will patiently wait for someone to make sense of this issue, but I refuse to hold my breath. Our prison system is in dire need of improvement, but deterrence from the willingness to go there is still a good place to start. And thus ends my rant for the day, and may our good Lord continue to bless our nation.