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July 22, 2015

Intriguing comments on prisons from GOP candidate Ben Carson

Because I cannot quite figure out which of the current 16 GOP Presidential candidates to take seriously, I am inclined to spotlight in this space any interesting comment made by any of the candidates concerning sentencing law or policy.  Today, in this lengthy Washington Post article, I see Dr, Ben Carson recently had some interesting comments about modern prison practicalities and policies:

In addressing the young Republicans, Carson also said that he, like President Obama, had visited federal prisons.  "I was flabbergasted by the accommodations -- the exercise equipment, the libraries and the computers," he said.  He said he was told that "a lot of times when it's about time for one of the guys to be discharged, especially when its winter, they’ll do something so they can stay in there."

At the same time, Carson said that too many Americans are going to prison. "We're not doing things the right way," he said. "A lot of people that we incarcerate don’t need to be incarcerated."

After the event, he elaborated. "I think that we need to sometimes ask ourselves, 'Are we creating an environment that is conducive to comfort where a person would want to stay, versus an environment where we maybe provide them an opportunity for rehabilitation but is not a place that they would find particularly comfortable?'" he told reporters.

July 22, 2015 at 03:06 PM | Permalink


Please, I laughed so hard from this imbeciles observations concerning the comforts of prison that I almost wet my pants. How can any normal, thinking and somewhat knowledgeable person seriously give any of these politicians even a an ounce of credibility and the thought of a vote unless they truly are clueless of the world around them. Simply amazing and seriously frightening at the same time. Maybe we do deserve what we get when the only one who will run continue to be people like this. I'm getting progressively depressed with the choices for office that keep popping up with each passing election, I'm sorry to say.

Posted by: Frequent Reader | Jul 22, 2015 6:15:25 PM

I love fantasy but Tolkien did it so much better. Obviously this was one of those quick VIP turns for someone who does not actually know anything or understand what they are seeing.

I have been working with many inmates for more than a decade. I have never met one that wanted to stay inside for the "amenities". What I have seen are inmates scared about leaving because they are unprepared and their situation outside is uncertain at best.

Posted by: cmrj | Jul 22, 2015 6:28:42 PM

I believe fedeal inmates sleep on a solid stainless sheet if metal. Their mattress is like 3-4 inches thick. Its easy to roll it up etc.

If so, I for one dont call thst amenities. Lets see theres Bubba in the shower and the boys around the Tv, especially during pro games. Hm

Oh yeah, I understand the food is the best. Runny eggs, milk that has set out on the dock for 3 hrs and the rest is like what the dig hacked up. Does this about sum it up.

Enough to keep on the straight and narrow, much less these mandatory minimums are the creation of someone with way too much time on their hands and not much a sick udea to keep'em locked up vutually firever.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jul 22, 2015 6:40:54 PM

Dr. Ben Carson, Republican candidate for President, writes "I think that we need to sometimes ask ourselves, 'Are we creating an environment that is conducive to comfort where a person would want to stay...."

Mr. Carson has it right. I have been practicing criminal defense for 35 years. Every one of my clients has resisted being let out of prison. Can it be the coziness of the cell? The comeraderie of the Aryan Brotherhood? Is it the savory prison food? Could it be the thrill of being regularly sodomized by your fellow inmates? Whatever the reason, the prisoners just refuse to leave, which explains the booming prison population.

Mr. Carson, you have it right. I would vote for you, but I'm already committed to Donald Trump.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Jul 22, 2015 7:20:41 PM

Mike, my vote is for the savory prison food....nothing quite like like home cooked raman noodles and tuna in a cell.

Posted by: Frequent Reader | Jul 22, 2015 7:35:57 PM

There are a limited number of people who might find prisons somewhat appealing next to the hellish nature of the outside, especially those somewhat unhinged sorts who can't handle life outside of the highly regimented prison existence. But, weight rooms and the like make prisons about as appealing as similar amenities make high school to some people. Noting the differences since here we are talking about mostly law abiding minors. And, in some inner city schools, the differences are sadly not as much as one might think.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 22, 2015 8:30:14 PM

I will restate Mr Doughtry"s words ...America's prisons cannot possibly qualify as either punitive or rehabilitative. Instead, they are vindictive, chaotic, and degrading. A prison sentence should be the punishment in and of itself. But today, prisoners are expected to cope with unimagined and uncountable horrors. They are incentivized to join gangs. They are encouraged to commit more violence in order to avoid violence. Rape is pervasive and the threat of rape encourages prisoners to submit themselves to other violent men. There is no instance in which being plunged into barely controlled danger, or being raped, can be a just punishment....
[O]ur prison system makes a mockery of the justice system. It says that our laws are a joke since we certainly don't intend to prevent them from being broken even in institutions so closely monitored by the state itself. It tells prisoners that they are human garbage, unworthy of even the most basic respect or safety. The pervasiveness of our jokes about prison rape suggest that we believe that there are some deserving victims of violent sexual assault. There are none....

Even in the lowest level camps, the daily stress of survival is overwhelming. It is politicians like this one that give the American public the idea that prison might not be so bad. He neglected to mention that those computers come with a price tag, and all those other amenities. You have to have money or know someone willing to send you money to utilize them. The pure ignorance of this person"s comments are mind blowing .

Posted by: The Wife | Jul 22, 2015 9:37:00 PM

Dr. Carson's remarks are truly moronic.

Posted by: observer | Jul 23, 2015 10:09:10 AM

Ditto to all of the above. And I'd add: good luck to anyone who gets sick or injured in prison, or who has mental-health issues. The medical care in prison is seriously lacking, to put it mildly.

Posted by: formerAFPD | Jul 23, 2015 2:49:26 PM

Those who survive life in prison without incident are far more balanced and are capable of much more self control and deferred gratification than those of us on the outside. When they are released, they can teach us all about useful coping skills.

Posted by: beth | Jul 23, 2015 3:05:15 PM

beth, good point...

Posted by: Frequent Reader | Jul 24, 2015 2:16:28 PM

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