I was listening to the radio this morning, and they mentioned Richard Hatch, the first winner of Survivor, who will spend four years behind bars for tax evasion.
I got to thinking about this and decided that something's terribly, terribly wrong with our legal/justice system.
My father molested a 10 year old child, and will do two years in prison. Richard Hatch merely cheated on his taxes and will serve twice as long. My father's crime has a victim, Richard Hatch's doesn't (technically). Where's the justice here?
Prison is for rehabilitation -- or so they say. Richard Hatch was greedy and you can't rehabilitate greed. You also can't rehabilitate child predators, either, in my own humble opinion. But does sending Richard Hatch to jail serve justice?
Take the money away from him -- every cent -- that he didn't pay taxes on. THAT is justice.
Our prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and extremely dangerous places. Nonviolent criminals should not go to prison and be supported by the taxpayers. They should, instead, be doled out punishments for their crimes that will really teach them something. Don't want to pay taxes on last year's income? No problem, we'll just take last year's income from you and see if you get the message this year.
Don't want to pay your speeding tickets? No problem, not only will we take your license, but we'll take your car, too.
Don't want to pay your child support? No problem, we're going to do away with that "we only can garnish a certain percentage of your pay" bullshit and we'll just start paying your child support for you. Oh and, if you can't pay your bills while we collect the arrears as well, then you'll just have to get a second job. You won't be allowed to file bankruptcy while you are in arrears. Oh, and, while you're in arrears, there's a lien on your house, car, and any other assets you may have that could be converted into cash. No job to pay child support? No problem, we'll get you a job at your local McDonald's and garnish your pay. Get fired or quit that job? No problem, we'll make it so you have to ask permission to take a shit until you get your act squared away.
Don't house these fools on MY tax dollar. Make them understand that their behavior (or lack thereof) is unacceptable and there's a consequence to it, but don't send them away to summer camp and support them in a lifestyle BETTER than the one you've taken them out of.
In prison, I can get a free college education, cable television, better medical care than I can on the outside without any health insurance, and can learn a trade where I can make good money on the outside when I'm released. But, that poor schmuck that earns minimum wage and lives within the law? He'll never see college, cable television, health insurance, or vocational training.
And don't even kid yourself into thinking that going to prison automatically means that you're going to have to become someone's bitch. That's typically only in the maximum security facilities that are chock full of violent offenders who have no concept of humanity and respect for human life. Someone like Richard Hatch won't go there. He'll go someplace like Martha Stewart went where the first day there you're a "short timer" by lifer's standards, and nobody's going to make you sleep face down on your bunk with your shorts on backwards because they've got a LOT to lose if they aren't on their best behavior in the minimum security facility.