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Letter to the Editor: Failed system

— Failed system

To the editor:

(Edited for length.)

Oregon has had measure 11 nearly two decades. In that time, we have seen no significant reduction in the crime rate. As of April 1, 2013, Oregon had 14,327 people behind bars and the yearly cost is $1.5 billion, about $105,000 per year for a single inmate. In contrast, educating a child costs on the order of $10,000. Because of Measure 11, the Department of Corrections sucks significant sums from other critically programs.

The United States has one of the highest proportions of its population in prison and it enjoys some of the Earth’s highest crime rates. We pay a lot for a system that does not work. A huge body of evidence shows incarceration negatively affects behavior.

Prisons are underground dictatorships which arbitrarily and capriciously make up a well-understood negative behavior code. Prisons are ethnic gangs committed to violent imposition of an unwritten code supporting the kingpins of criminal mores.

Prisoners design and fabricate weapons, smuggle drugs, commit murder and many plethora of offenses on other prisoners. Being in prison is to serve an apprenticeship in criminality.

Our parole system is pathetic. Too few parole officers with too few resources try to mentor released prisoners into positive and productive lives. It is not that those dedicated parole officers are deficient in their efforts. It is a poorly designed system underfunded, over worked with little chance for success.

How many centuries are necessary for us to try a better system? Incarceration has a negative effect on behavior and is extremely expensive. Most prison inmates are poorly educated,substance abusers, and/or have mental health problems. They have not been successful in the main stream because of poor environments, economic adversities, learning disabilities, and addictions. A program which addresses these obstacles has a much better chance of transforming past criminals into productive citizens.

I propose a highly disciplined system. A participant of this system would have no doubt they just commenced a life change. The program would be highly structured curriculum of demanding mental, physical, and emotional tasks. I am not proposing a military style “Boot Camp” however this program would have many of the attributes of military indoctrination. Participation is not an option to the convict.

Part of the transformative rehabilitation would be physical work from which the convicts would earn money, partially to pay for the program and to pay into a State restitution fund.

Terry B. Armentrout

The Dalles

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