What Is Coming Down The Pike?

by James Glaser
July 27, 2006

There is a lot to worry about when you think about the future of America. We have a huge national debt that our children are going to have to deal with. We have a whole new group of veterans who will need a life time of care for both physical and psychological needs. On top of those two, we have 2.2 million Americans in prison, and about 99% of them will be back out on the streets living with us.

Right now we have over 25,000 Americans living in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. We have been keeping people that way since 1829, and people don't do well confined like that.

Laura Sullivan, writing for National Public Radio explains a bit about the history of solitary confinement. "1829—The first experiment in solitary confinement in the United States begins at the Eastern State Prison in Philadelphia. It is based on a Quaker belief that prisoners isolated in stone cells with only a Bible would use the time to repent, pray, and find introspection. But many of the inmates go insane, commit suicide, or are no longer able to function in society, and the practice is slowly abandoned during the following decades."

It wasn't abandoned totally, and in the last few decades its use has been on the upswing. In 1985 we had 488,000 prisoners in America. That number jumped to 1.3 million by 2001, and is at 2.2 million today. Besides solitary confinement, there are sexual assaults in prison, and according to human rights groups, one in five prisoners get assaulted.

Now the people in prison who don't commit suicide or get so insane that they can never be released, will be out walking around with us some day. America has 4.6% of the world's population, but we have about 23% of the world's prisoners.

Here we are in 2006, running around the world telling other countries how they should live, what kind of government they should have, and in many cases, what God they should pay to. Back home we keep millions of our citizens locked up, we spend thousands of billions of dollars more than we have, and we have this nasty habit of attacking small pitiful third world countries all over the globe.

Aren't we a piece of work?

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