A World Without Prisons?
Julia Sudbury envisions a utopian world in which imprisonment is not only unnecessary, but evokes the same revulsion as slavery. Until we find a more humane way to protect society from those cannot restrain their violent impulses, however, prisons will remain a necessary evil.
That reality does not diminish Sudbury's larger point: prisons are unnecessarily inhumane, and ever-growing prison populations are not the most effective response to crime. Rather than devoting a larger share of our shrinking resources to incarceration, society's dollars would be better spent on crime prevention. Reducing poverty and providing meaningful opportunities for a sound education, affordable housing, and well-paying jobs would help combat the despair and hopelessness that breeds crime. Helping parents learn to raise children in homes that are free from violence would also have a beneficial impact on crime rates. These are not easy or inexpensive solutions to implement, but they are more worthy of investment than supermax prisons.
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