Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let's send prisoners to the warfront

If we’re hoping to be successful against an enemy that doesn’t care about dying to defend their bended beliefs, we, as a country, better be ready to invent some new ways to win this endless “War on Terror.” With that in mind, I ask: Why don’t we put prisoners in our armed forces? The idea might sound outrageous, but hear me out.

It should be known that sending prisoners to war is not a novel idea in history. It’s been done before. Read about the Black and Tans. This was an early version of my idea. But for today’s purposes there would be some differences. The way I see it: If a prisoner is put away for non-sex crimes or non-violent crimes, why can’t he/she do something more for this country than rot in a cell and suck up tax dollars? The concept is simple. A prisoner will be told upon sentencing that he/she has a choice: that person can complete time in prison or be sent directly to boot camp then entered into the lowest ranks of the armed services. White-collar crimes, drug-possession, robbery without weapon, and other offenses of this nature would be applicable for this program. Example, if the sentence is 3-5 years, then that person would serve in battle for that same length of time. Said person would be trained “for the trenches” then deposited into the most desperate pockets of warfare. When their time is up they're discharged from service. If a CEO is busted for some kind of white-collar crime, but ran a successful, money-making business for decades, why can't our defense dept. find a way to use that kind of thinking? The running a successful business part.

Psych. evals.? Of course. Everything a regular soldier would have to go through to serve. But not all prisoners are nutjobs who'd unleash their war skills on society afterwards. There could be some positive gained from tapping into this sect of society. If they tried to run while at war. AWOL. Like any other soldier. Prison time awaits.

What are the advantages of a prisoner partaking in this program? The first advantage is obvious. Instead of sitting in prison, learning to be a better criminal, said person could be doing something positive, learning important lessons of discipline and perhaps gaining some self-pride from being part of the greatest armed services in the world. And maybe even have the chance to come back home as a war hero. What a change from common street criminal. Occasionally, some prisoners could decide to make a career out of the armed services, proving themselves rehabilitated then working through the officer ranks. If we believe in the power of rehabilitation, why can’t the army, navy, etc believe the same thing and give a one-time criminal a shot at something great? Like I said, these are non-violent offenders I’m referring to. If a prisoner did serve his country proudly while under sentence, maybe some kind of satisfactory (not honorable) discharge or removal of the criminal offense from his/her record could be arranged.

The truth is our society has made it almost impossible for someone out of prison to find work. This most times forces someone to return to a life of crime, thus ending up in prison again. This vicious cycle could perhaps be reduced with my idea. Remember, any prisoner that went to war or served the American Armed Services would be risking his/her life in battle, and could end up as a casualty of war, like any other soldier we send. For every great opportunity, there is great risk as well.

How would this work during peace? Well, peace time isn't coming anytime soon. But if it did there's always a need for the military. It could be worked out.

The advantages of this proposed program for us as a society are also obvious. Of course I believe anyone who commits a rape, murder, armed robbery, etc, belongs in prison, no doubt. But right now our prisons are overpopulated with small-time offenders and repeat offenders who can’t get an honest life going on the outside. This huge prison population is putting an equally huge burden on American taxpayers and creating dangerous conditions for CO’s and other prison workers. Right now the burden of defending our freedom is solely on the soldiers who have registered for service. The armed services are being stretched thin and backdoor drafting is happening all over the place. Why can’t we tap into the seemingly endless supply of small-time criminals we’re funneling through the prison system? If the armed services provide so much balance and discipline why not expose our most needy Americans to it?

I know many, former and present, members of the American Armed Services will bristle at the idea of common criminals populating their ranks. That such a thing would pollute the honor and dignity of “serving.” But come on. They said the same thing about African Americans and now they’re saying the same thing, in many ways, about homosexual Americans. The truth is we’re sending these kids, mostly poor, Southern, uneducated, to a war that is being fought so conglomerates and big business can make money. You don’t fight a war on terror by invading and occupying a country. That just makes more terrorists. You stop terror by good police work in this country. With all due respect to those on the front lines, this war’s a complete sham and everyone knows it. There’s no accountability in government anymore, at any level. Can you believe not one person was fired over 9/11? Not one! So don’t tell me about honor and dignity.

Our soldiers are being sent 30,000 at a time into this abyss to fight some masked enemy. And everyone will have a heart attack if I suggest a war tax, to make civilians feel the pain of war the same way the soldiers do. Don’t want to do that? Want to save money? Of course. And we all know the rich and well-connected will never serve a single day if they don't bring back the draft, which I say would end this war in three seconds. OK. Fine. So let’s empty the small-timers out of our prisons and put them in fatigues. You break our law, you protect our policies. Period.

Brian Huba

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