I want to talk to you today about our criminal justice system. Most people don’t take an in-depth look at our criminal justice system or what makes it tick. In this election cycle, you’ve probably heard that the federal government is getting rid of for-profit prisons and that the United States puts more people behind bars than any other country. This is all true and I believe it stems from our “tough on crime” stance. I’m here to tell you that tough on crime doesn’t work and actually makes our country less safe. And if you’re not willing to believe me, then maybe this video will change your mind.
Watching this video you see a prisoner using Securus Technologies to video chat with his young child. The child seems blissfully unaware that dad is in a prison and the father seems delighted to see his young boy. Parental connection like this is vital and services like Securus are also vital. The morning inmate can communicate with his or her child, the less likely that child is to commit a crime.
That’s where this wonderful Securus service comes in. This telecommunications company makes it affordable for families to communicate with somebody inside the prison. That family member just needs to set up an account online and schedule a time for virtual visit.
Our focus should be on recidivism — the likelihood that a prisoner will commit another crime once released from jail. Obviously, we want to drive recidivism as low as possible. But by being tough on crime, we often drive recidivism rates up. Not allowing a prisoner to communicate with his or her family disenfranchises that inmate and makes it more likely for them to commit a crime once released. That’s why prisons should allow inmates to communicate abundantly and affordably with their children back home.
We should not be the country that steps on the inmate population. We should be the country that encourages good parenting no matter what the inmate did or did not do. By connecting prisoners with their children, we make them feel more a part of society and make it less likely for them to want to harm society in the future.