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Cutting to the Core

Punishment should fit for those who commit crimes

I spent last weekend in Tacoma and I picked up a copy of the Tacoma News Tribune. In there I read a story about a man being charged with first degree assault on a child. The man is accused of beating his six-week-old son.

The story is sickening. There is absolutely no excuse for beating a child that is only 42 days old. The story said the man told police he had relapsed into drug addiction and blamed that. B.S.! I don't care how high or drunk a person is. EVERYBODY knows you don't harm a child.

I don't believe in the death penalty but if there was ever a prime candidate, he is. There are several other people that would be ripe for being put to death, but like I said, I don't agree with that punishment.

First of all, if killing is wrong, then killing is wrong. I've always been told that two wrongs don't make a right.

Second of all, I think that if a person truly deserves death, like Casey Anthony or Joseph E. Duncan III, killing them is way too good for them. It's a way out and I think these people need to be punished. A lifetime in prison, I believe, is a bigger punishment than death.

At least it would be if I had my way about it.

I think our prison system needs to be changed all the way down from penitentiaries to local jails. I remember speaking with a police officer one time and he told me that jail for some people is actually a step up in the quality of their life.

Most city or county jails have cable television. Who can't do 30 days in lockup watching Jerry Springer and The Jersey Shore? Add to that a variety of three square meals a day. Prisoners also have commissary, where they can use their own money to buy candy and other goodies.

Time in Sunnyside Jail would certainly be boring, but not a punishment.

In prison, inmates have access to the internet, newspapers and magazine subscriptions, a library, high-quality drugs and all the sex they want, if they want it. And maybe all the sex they can get even if they don't want it.

I don't think you can even call that boring. All the drugs, sex and entertainment a person could want, plus three square meals a day. That certainly isn't a punishment.

And there lies the problem. How can we expect to curb criminal activity if criminals know their only punishment is going to be boredom?

So I have a few suggestions that I think are reasonable.

First, if a person commits a crime and is sentenced to jail, it should be a punishment. No one needs to be tortured or beat up, but they should be punished.

I would like to see each prisoner, in both local jails and penitentiaries, locked up in a single-person cell for 23 hours of the day. One hour can be given to them for exercising and showering.

There would be no cable television, no internet service, no newspapers and no magazines. If the prisoners want to read, then give them a Bible or other religious material of their choice.

No books, that's important. The prisoner is in jail to be punished, not to get an education.

Second, three square meals a day is a human right, I believe. But it is not a human right to have a variety of choices of food to eat. I don't want to see a prisoner eating eggs, toast, hash browns and milk. I want them punished, but I also want them to be healthy so the punishment can go on as long as possible, or at least until they are released.

Ever hear of nutraloaf? It's a food served in some prisons to inmates who have demonstrated behavioral problems. It's used as a punishment.

Nutraloaf is said to be very bland, even unpleasant to eat, but it provides the consumer with all the necessary fats, proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins a person needs to stay healthy. Another bonus is utensils aren't required to eat it and nutraloaf can be served on a piece of paper.

Think of all the money that can be saved right there by states. No dishes to wash, none to break and no potential weapons for prisoners to forge.

For people like Duncan and Anthony, this would be daily life for the rest of their lives. And for their crimes, I think it's a fitting punishment.

I say we let them receive mail and be able to send letters. I say we give them the basic medical care needed to comply with basic human rights, but no more. If they get hemorrhoids, sorry, there's no Preparation H in prison. It's not a basic human right to keep a person's butt from itching.

For people like gang bangers, a few months of treatment like this, although humane, would certainly be a punishment and I bet when these punks got out they would think twice about going back.

"Hmmm, should I break into this house and risk spending six months in solitary confinement with crappy food and just the Bible to read?" they would ask themselves. I think it would really make a person think.

These suggestions won't eliminate crime, nothing will. It might even take a person a few trips to jail to get the message. As long as each repeat trip was longer than the previous one.

Pretty soon criminals would not be thinking of jail as the cakewalk that it is now, but instead would start thinking of what is should be. A seriously, messed-up punishment.

There are other benefits, as well. States would save money on labor costs. When the prisoners are locked up 23 hours a day in their individual cells, the need for lots of prison guards goes down. Sure, guards would be needed for that one hour a day, but that's it.

The cost of getting rid of cable and the internet would bring thousands of dollars back into state coffers. But I think the biggest benefit would be the reduction in crime.

I know these changes will never be made, even if they are humane. The powers that be are afraid of the ultra left-wing loons who would surely have a fit. But I say to heck with them! Take the lawsuits, take the protests, but get it done.

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