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Posted: 1/23/2001 3:55:22 PM EDT

University of Crime


It's been said and heard time and time again, "our prison systems don't work." Okay, so we all know it but why haven't we fixed it? In a country that has more brainpower than the rest of the world combined, we either lack common sense or the courage to change.

Today's first time convict goes into prison scared, tense, embarrassed and unknowing. During his years in a hardening environment he learns other trades that will further his career once his time is served. No, I'm not talking about auto repair or computer programming, I'm talking about auto theft and methamphetamine synthesis.

Upon release, the now "ex-con" walks out into the world confident in his new abilities to make money with his education. On top of his newfound confidence he also suffers from a need to catch up on this lost years. An ongoing competition to show his family and friends that he can make it on his own. Even if he chooses to go straight, he cannot be truthful about his past and get a job so the cycle continues.

So that hardened criminal gets caught again and this time marches back into prison not frightened but proud. He is praised as a hero by the other inmates and reaccepted fully into the bonds that form the University of Crime. He serves his time and again is released into the world. Will he go straight or has he learned how not to get caught?

You can challenge me on my perception of the prison life. I encourage you to. But before you do so, go and talk to an ex-con. Ask him what it's like on the inside. Ask him about the culture and rituals associated with incarceration. I can guarantee you that he will tell you a similar story, if not his own story then that of this buddy. So what's the solution? The obvious one.

As a young Marine, one of my duties was to track the number of service men held in foreign prisons. It was a simple duty and did not require much work, but my curiosity got to me. I wanted to find out about the conditions of which these men lived. What was it like? How long were they in for? What did they do?

After months of filing these Red Cross reports and inquisitively looking for my own answers, one country stood out like a sore thumb. Japan. Japanese culture by design has little criminals and of those, few are prosecuted. For some their shame alone will prevent them from committing another crime. Admittedly American culture is nothing like this.

See link for the remainder of the posting as I can only post 3500 characters.
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