Senator Webb and Japanese Prisons

Senator Webb of my Commonwealth of Virginia wants to reform the prison system and charge ahead with projects that he has decided are worthy of his time regardless of whether they represent the priorities of the state he represents? I believe we Virginians elected the wrong person for the job. Foreclosures, the overall financial crisis, rising unemployment, impending auto industry collapse, stock market, bank takeovers, two wars, immigration, etc. and he feels we can learn something from the Japanese prison system because it is fair? Please.

This position that is clearly far down on the needs of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the article plays up his “tough guy” image. I would like to see where he gets his information from where we lock up the wrong people in many cases and not lock up others in many cases. Sometimes mistakes do happen but I do not believe law enforcement “targets” anyone except for those who commit crimes and I support our law enforcement officers 100% in doing so. It is never disputed that the overwhelming percentage of those felons in prison did not commit the crimes only that we have too many in prison. The Washington Post also creates a clear example of a lack of relevant comparative analysis where they state the USA has only 5 percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of the prison population and a “disproportionate” number of incarcerated categories.

While the percentages are true, you cannot compare our country with multiple other countries’ authoritarian or dictatorial regimes where lawlessness runs rampant. Senator Webb should take a look at the Amnesty International Web site and go down their extensive list of 150 countries they monitor. Does he really think that in such places as Darfur, Somalia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, et al that there would not be massive imprisonments of those who commit criminal human and civil rights violations and abuses if those countries actually were a democracy controlled by laws? There could not be enough prisons in those countries or anywhere else to house the uncontrolled criminality that exists on a daily basis.

The issue is not prison reform but educational reform. If a person cannot graduate high school and is illiterate then even if they are in a Japanese style prison and get their head shaved, live in unheated cells, make paper bags, develop frostbite, and be prohibited from writing, etc., the objective to turn this person into a productive citizen would be like placing magnets on a compass. Senator Webb thinks he can guide us back? To where? For me, I feel a lot safer when criminals are prosecuted and placed behind bars; it was their choice and no one forced them to commit a crime.

Let’s try to establish elements of rehabilitation enhancing the programs already in place within the prison system not change our justice system. Senator Webb should remember always that he represents the Commonwealth on issues that are our priorities and not go off in a tangent for those that are solely his. Senator Webb: Fight for our interests and issues not your personal crusades. We elected you – you did not elect us.