Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I Would Have Said at the Candidate Forum, Question 5

 Some of you may know that I filed for Lt. Governor as an independent in an effort to advance a lawsuit by Neighbors of Arkansas against the unjust changes made in the law in 2013. These changes make it harder to get on the ballot as an independent. I will not be on the ballot as part of the remedy, but I remain confident that the law will soon be thrown out as unconstitutional. Similar laws have in the past, and there is no way there can be “equal protection” under the law when one's access to the ballot can be made harder every time one attempts to access the ballot outside of the two parties whose misrule has so harmed our nation.

During that process, before it was clear that our (three of us sued as candidates, the other two for local offices) being placed on the ballot was not going to be a part of the remedy, I held myself out as a candidate. I even got invited to a forum. One co-hosted by the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce and the Union County NAACP. This forum is to occur on September the 30th. Since I went to the trouble to answer the questions (in case access to the ballot this cycle was still an option) I thought I might as well share my answers with you. With that set up, here are the questions which will be asked at the forum tonight and how I would have answered them. If you don't think the system is broken, compare how I would answer them by how they are being answered by the candidates that the system is offering you.....

Question 5...

Incarcerated persons are often released with few life skills in place, do you think a retraining program would benefit this state and decrease the rate of return to the overwhelmed prison system.


That depends on how you do it. I believe we need to re-think our penal system. The first step is to distinguish between those who are really bad people and who are just screw-ups. Some people are in prison right now because they need to be. Others are in prison because they were not as lucky as me when I was young and stupid.

The wrong way to do it is to further fatten the prison-industrial complex with a vast, expensive, and centrally planned prison job training program. If this group was the type to thrive in an institutionalized educational setting then they would be honors graduates, not convicts. We have to meet them where they are, not throw more money into methods that are not reaching them.

The right way to do it is to open the Bible, and note that they did not even have prison as we know it even for some very serious crimes, much less for the screw ups. What they had were “cities of refuge” where the criminal could go and stay until their time was up. They had to live in one of a few cities, away from their old influences. Not nice places, but at least they could interact with some people who were decent role models and keep some toe-hold in the private economy.

Vera.org says is costs Arkansas $24,300 per inmate. And add a few thousand of job training on there and you are pushing $30K. Meanwhile our small towns are dying while our prisons are stuffed. Why not take that same money and make some towns who volunteer for it “cities of refuge” for certain offenders? Housing two of them to a cheap motel or apartment would be maybe $3,000 a year each. Give another $6,000 to the city for the trouble of having them and then another $6,000 tax credit to any employer in town who hires them. Their food and bills are on them and their family, but with a tax credit available even if they are nearly worthless to an employer at first, someone should hire them for up to the amount of the credit. That is saving about a third of your money and they keep getting life skills and growing up so you don't have to “re-train” them. The whole experience is training, and not in being a gangster, like they would get in prison. The screw-ups win, society wins, the small towns win, the employer's win, the taxpayers win, the prison-industrial complex loses and I can live with that.

So what if a screw-up has a little kid they are taking care of and a job and what have you? Here is where you have to see beyond the superficial to understand how tough justice is actually more merciful. Proverbs says that a fool when struck may become wise. For the right person a caning would be the fastest job-retraining program in the world. It would be better in that situation to offer them an alternative sentence of a caning than sending them off to either prison or a city of refuge. They can take a beating and consider their debt paid, and two weeks later they are back at work and loving their kid.

You don't offer that choice to the real bad guys, they belong in prison. But you offer the option to the rest and let them decide if it is better for them than prison. Don't deny them that choice out of a false sense of being too kind to let them make their own decisions.

We don't have the money to pay for a new statist program and they don't work anyway, especially in an economy destroyed by the fiscal mismanagement of these two DC based parties.

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Mark Moore is a proponent of a philosophy of government known as "Localism".  In the end, it is either going to be globalism or localism, because no other view of government can protect its population from globalism.   To learn more, check out Mark's book "Localism, a Philosophy of Government."



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