Should We Release Prisoners to Fund Education?
There is a faction of people in the State of Oregon who believe that too many “non-violent” drug offenders are locked away in our prisons. The problem is that this simply isn’t true.
The problem is that in the State of Oregon, less than 1/2 of 1% (0.005% for you mathematicians out there) are imprisoned for drug related offenses. That’s right, out of 14,000 inmates in Oregon’s prisons, only 70 at the most are incarcerated for drug offenses, and they were convicted for possession of substantial quantities of illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission (CJC).
Even Politifact says this is true.
There is a propaganda campaign floating around out there that has convinced people that up to 50% of the prison population is incarcerated for drug related offenses. The State statistics tell a very different story.
I don’t know who is behind all of these “prison/industrial complex stories”, but they come up with whoppers, such as “Crime is dropping DESPITE our prisons filling up”. Did they ever stop to think that crime is dropping BECAUSE the prisons are filling up?
Oregon has laws that have made pot legal, as long as you have a “Medical Marijuana” card to help ease your glaucoma that you have at the tender age of 19. While I don’t buy into all the propaganda about how hemp can be used as construction materials to create steel girders that will hold up a 120 story building, I think pot is about as dangerous as alcohol. If you want to partake in your down time, then fine. Partake away. Just don’t get on the road or come to work under the influence.
Those who believe that 50% of our prison population are incarcerated on drug related offenses also believe that if we just release the prisoners and funnel that money to education, our children will be better off.
Only, they won’t.
The current Governor, Governor Retread, AKA Kitzhaber, has unveiled a new propaganda campaign aimed at dismantling the prison system.
I would say that keeping people who break the law in prison is just as important as educating our children, but the governor doesn’t see it that way.
Oregon spends roughly somewhere between $12,000 and $14,000/student/year on education, and yet it continues to get worse. The City of Portland (foolishly) voted themselves a new $35/year “arts” tax to keep the arts in school. Really, is art a fundamental thing we need to teach kids in school? Is it more important that reading, writing, math and science?
Of course, now that they voted themselves yet another tax, the City Council is looking to change it.
Education is Freedom. Knowledge is power.
But it isn’t.
As long as the government controls the education system, then our children are taught only what the government wants them to know, because the government is in charge of the curriculum. For example, look at this “Common Core” system that has been introduced. Getting the correct answer is not what’s important, but how you arrived at that answer is. It confuses my 11 year old nephew. While the method is important, it is secondary to the correct answer. Can you image telling an astronaut in space that he won’t be able to get back because, while the methodology was right, the answer, the calculations were wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling is every bit as idiotic as government controlled education. What makes you so certain that your non-training is better than the training a teacher has undergone? Sure, you can help your child to read, to write and maybe do sums, but when it starts getting into science and algebra/calculus, most of us are overmatched.
Funding education is not so simple as robbing Peter to pay Paul, which is what funneling money from the prison system to education is. Most of the wasteful spending is on administration. Being a government bureaucracy lends itself easily to waste. Does every district need a superintendent? Can we consolidate some of the districts and reduce the number of superintendents and administrative officials in favor of teachers? Oh, and don’t get me started about the teacher’s unions who protect the poor teachers. They are out there. I’ve had them when I was in school.
Kitzhaber’s campaign is centralized around the idea that crime has declined, so we can reduce spending on prisons and reduce sentences.
Crime has declined, as I said, because the prison populations are growing larger, not in spite of it, and reducing sentences and releasing prisoners early will only cause crime to start to increase again.
But Kitzhaber was an idiot during his first two terms, why would anyone expect anything different on his third go-round?
What are we to do?
Since the colleges are charging exorbitant amounts for tuition, reduce some of their funding. Pay cuts for the legislature. Pay cut for the governor (that’ll never happen). Stop giving welfare to illegals. I wonder how much money that would save the budget? Bust the public employee’s unions, and pay the workers what they are worth, instead of on a contract basis.
Government can’t cut programs once they are instituted, it just isn’t in their nature. Bureaucracy bloats itself, because that’s the nature of the beast, and it is the bureaucrat who looks out for his own interests rather than the interests of the state and the people.