In the past, for its shock value, I've jokingly referred to myself as a radically conservative ultra left-wing fundamentalist liberal extremist. Although, I don't think it's really a joke.
My views on prison and justice system reform are very similar to my views on capitalism, consumerism and government funding of failed private sector business models. Cash flow fuels the system. Profits fuel the system. Special interests fuel the system. Justice has absolutely nothing to do with it anymore. Prisoner rehabilitation has nothing to do with it anymore.
Prisons have in fact become a criminal welfare system. Prison is no longer a deterrent to crime, in fact, I would offer that in many cases, it is an incentive to commit crime. Want to get away from the nagging wife and whining kids? Bored with your job? Wanna kick back with the boys? Wanna hang out, work out, sleep a lot, get fed three square meals a day, read, watch TV, live the good life? Then commit a crime that will get you three to five years in the pen.
My beef with the system is that it doesn't work, and when something doesn't work, the solution is not to build more prisons and throw more money into the system and throw more people into jail to give the illusion that the system is now working "better".
Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not pro-crime or criminal. I'm pro-justice. I'm pro-human rights. I'm pro-helping a man when he's down. I'm pro-helping a man be a better man. I'm also pro-education - which I believe to be another broken system that feeds into the criminal justice system.
I'm pro-fiscal responsibility and pro-social responsibility at the same time. I'm pro-death penalty and pro-rehabilitation at the same time. I think the system costs way too much money - mainly because there are too many people in the system. There are too many people who shouldn't be in the system, caught up in it because there were no therapeutic alternatives to prison. Mainly because most states don't make the prisoners work for their rehabilitation. And of course there is the graft and waste and inefficiency - always that to deal with.
There's one guy in the Senate who is speaking out on the topic - Virginia Senator James Webb.
Here is a New York Times editorial.
Here is a Washington Post article.
Oh, I almost forgot - re: the Argentine Tango Therapy, that was underhanded on my part - to entice you to read the entire post. Sorry.
But I have sometimes wondered if tango could rehabilitate a hardened criminal...?