Friday, February 13, 2009

State rep: Make prisoners pay for time behind bars

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM

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There are some who argue that prisoners enjoy too much freedom. Cable TV, weight benches, sunshine. Then there are the other perks, such as free room and board, free health care, and on and on. All on the taxpayers' dime! What are we gonna do with all these smooth criminals?

State Rep. Roger Lane has a plan. Last week, Lane, a Republican from Darien, gathered some signatures of his buddies and filed legislation called "The Jail and Prison Reimbursement Act." It's a seven-page bill that would essentially turn the state's prisons into flophouses.

Long bill short: If you're headed to the clink and are "financially capable," you need to share the burden of housing your law-breakin' ass.

If Lane had his way, inmates in a state, county or "private" prison would pay $40 a day for their "rooms" and cough up cash for their prescriptions and health care. That's a complete reversal from the current system, in which taxpayers foot the bill for inmates' extended vacations in the panopticon. And what if the prisoner croak during his or her incarceration? Well, the sins of the father fall onto the son — it's up to their children to pay the tab for the prisoner's healthcare and accommodations.

How would the prisoners pay for these perks? According to the bill, "many inmates in the detention system have rich sources of income and assets outside of the detention system," including personal accounts, inheritances, real estate, social security payments and veteran's payments.

Let's not forget the various moneymaking possibilities once behind bars, such as cigarette smuggling, cell-phone kiosks, and body modification. (I know a guy who received a prison tattoo in exchange for a pack of smokes and a bologna sandwich. Really.) Sounds to me like Big Government telling the working man how to spend his money, boys!

But, meh, what better way to rehabilitate some of society's wrongdoers than to deplete them of their  finances so upon their release, they face the world with empty pockets?

Now, don't accuse me of coddling criminals. But there are so many things wrong with this bill that it boggles the mind. Bills built around "common sense" often make no sense at all, and because many folks in the know say Lane's legislation mumble that it's seems "unconstitutional" — an adjective you don't want attached to a piece of legislation you penned — it's likely to go nowhere

(Photo courtesy Georgia House of Representatives Communications Office)

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