There are approximately two million folks behind bars in America today. Approximately one out of every 31 Americans are either behind bars, on probation or on parole from prisons and jails nationwide. Poor folks and minorities are incarcerated at a far higher percentage rate than those of their middle class, educated or wealthy countrymen. It seems to even the most casual observer that if you can afford a good attorney your chances for justice are greater than those folks that can't afford the best lawyers. Mandatory sentencing, archaic marijuana/drug laws add to the already over taxed jails and prison systems across this country.
While America's schools struggle with fewer resources, the expectations are continually set higher for the quality of education being provided to students. We are asking schools and educators to do the impossible with fewer resources to improve education for America's kids. While high school graduation percentages are improving as a whole, America is still a long way from where we need to be.
To start reversing the trends in crime and the unacceptable incarceration of millions of our fellow Americans we must ask ourselves, "Where on earth do we begin?" I believe crushing poverty is the starting gate for many of this nation's problems. Poverty deprives folks of their pride, their ambition, their self esteem, their direction, their self worth, very often resulting in complete and utter apathy.
I humbly suggest we begin by educating every kid that wants to go to school. What if we made it affordable or nearly free for every kid in America to go to college, technical school or trade school after graduating from high school? What if we didn't saddle graduates with student loans and they could work off their educations after college? What if every kid could afford college tuitions?
I believe education is the best tool in combating poverty in America. A college graduate is probably not going to rob, steal, sell drugs, prostitute, abuse drugs or join some street gang. Kids in high school whom do not display the aptitude for higher education, why not steer them into a curriculum of a trade school? Why can't we fit the needs of the students rather than try and force the students solely into a curriculum for going on to college after high school? It is time that America's education systems prepare our kids for successful careers in whatever they choose as their ultimate paths in life.
America must decide that the "War on drugs" is an unwinnable fight and begin to legislate new laws which make sense. We must legalize marijuana immediately and retroactively release from America's jails and prisons anyone incarcerated for possession of pot.
Page 2 of 2 - It is time that we treat drug addicts medically rather than just warehouse them in our penal systems. Marijuana is no more of a threat to one's health than is alcohol and if the truth be told, much less harmful or destructive than alcohol. The current "War on drugs" is ridiculous, a fiasco, a failure and is as complete a waste of time as was prohibition.
I am not suggesting we allow serious abuse of the dangerous drugs (I exclude marijuana from this list), but we treat addiction medically and control the drugs being dispensed through doctors legally. Continuing to incarcerate sick people hooked on drugs is neither working out nor smart.
To combat crime we must begin by combating poverty. The best way to combat poverty is through education. We must decide as a nation is it best to build more jails and incarcerate more criminals or educate more kids to lead better lives? Is it smart to lock up drug addicts or is it better to treat their addictions and begin undoing the cycle of continuing drug abuse.
Should we make criminals out of another two million Americans or begin investing in educating or kids for brighter future as productive citizens? I say that we owe it to future generations to begin solving these problems now, today. We cannot afford to let these problems get any worse than they already are. I say there is nothing we can't fix and this is our time to turn things around.