White Paper

Prison Reform

Executive Summary

 

The United States of America, with a history of military victories, economic prosperity, and the idea of freedom for all, has traditionally taken a tough stance against drug use and distribution.  The war on drugs, beginning first with Nixon in 1967, then reinstated by Ronald Reagan in 1982, is responsible for the incarceration of thousands of criminals every year.  Many of these criminals received harsher penalties than people who commit similar crimes in other countries. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the United States, originally developed as a deterrent, have actually increased the amount of prisoners currently housed in American facilities.  Some non-violent crimes in other countries, such as possession of certain illegal substances, generally warrant a fine and probation, whereas similar crimes in America demand a prison sentence.  Due the combination of the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing laws, American prisons are crowded far beyond their maximum capacity.  With overcrowding, inmates do not receive proper rehabilitation, and a large percentage of convicts are arrested again for new crimes within three years of their release.  The result, even more prison crowding, has serious side-effects.

With a large percentage of prisons considered to be filled above their recommended capacity, and staffed with below the minimum recommended amount of guards, inmate misconduct and violence is a significant threat.  The number of inmate assaults is directly related to how overcrowded a prison is.  Since understaffing is also a problem, it is very difficult for guards to quell these assaults and other violations, leading to unsafe conditions.  In addition to safety hazards, a high incarceration rate means that prisons will have to spend more time and capital to provide for more inmates.  The cost to house just one prisoner per year is surprisingly large, and only magnified by the enormous amount of inmates held in American prisons.  These costs run directly to taxpayers across the country.

Policymakers must advocate for a change to the current system.  Emphasis needs to be placed on rehabilitation, rather than on excessive punishment.  By removing a percentage of non-violent offenders from prisons, and placing them in probation or parole programs instead, the federal, state, and local governments can save an enormous amount of resources.  In order to do this, mandatory minimum laws must be repealed and judges must have more discretion to determine the appropriate consequences for each individual offender.  The saved resources can then be used to create new social programs inside of prisons to help effectively rehabilitate inmates.  If inmates choose to complete these courses, they will become eligible for shorter sentences.  These programs will not only reduce the chance that an emancipated offender returns to prison, but will also aid in decreasing prison populations across the nation.

Reforming the United Nations Human Rights Council


UN-human-rights-council

Aside from the fact that they meet in a building with a pretty awesome ceiling, the United Nations is one of the most significant international organizations in the world. And while it has many different areas of focus, one of the most culturally, socially, and morally significant ones is human rights abuses. Continue reading

Preventing the Patent Troll Toll


patenttrolls_final_david_saracinoAfter learning more through research about patents, the patent war, and the patent trolling that exists in today’s modern world, I can safely say the topic got me a bit more riled up than I thought it would. The issue is anything but dull. I recommend you take a look into it if you enjoy reading about business and law. Continue reading

White Paper Proposal #3 – State of the NCAA


 

 

Well, as I was going over my white paper so that I can add it to the blog later, I realized that I never actually posted my third WP proposal.  So here it is.  Better late than never…

At first, I struggled to think about how I would execute the government proposal.  I wasn’t really sure where I should look.  As I began reading up on the NCAA, though, I decided to try to find an article about its relationship with the United States Justice Department. Continue reading

Tomato Tomahto Teaser: What the Organic vs. Genetically Engineered Debate Changes About Your Food


Tomato

After doing research on locally grown, organic, and sustainable food sources for my white paper proposals, and writing my Paper 2 on Chipotle’s ‘Food with Integrity’ campaign I came across this ongoing debate. The issues stemming from this topic involve struggling farmers, high prices of healthy/organic foods, labeling controversies, and the accusations of dangerous side effects of GMOs.

Don’t let the topic fool you- this paper has everything you could want. My white paper details the story of government corruption, corporate scare tactics, mass murder (well… mass murder of the monarch butterfly population), and a whole lot more.

WP Proposal 3- Gov


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I originally thought that I wanted to write my White Paper on something regarding the environment since that is a strong interest of mine.  My past two proposals were on the topic of coal mining and coal-fired power plants, but after doing some initial research I decided that I chose that topic because it seemed safe.  On top of that, it seems pretty boring as well!  I have decided to change my topic to the legalization of marijuana since I wrote a blog post on the topic and enjoyed learning about it.

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Child Soldiers White Paper Teaser


In my French class this semester, Francophone Africa, we read a 400-page novel entitled, Johnny Chien Méchant, translated to mean Johnny Mad Dog. The plot follows a 16-year-old boy, recruited into the army at a young age, who desperately searches for his individual identity beneath the overwhelming presence of a militant organization. The psychological journey of this teen both fascinated and saddened me. I decided to delve deeper into the conflict of child soldiers to learn about the current regulation, prospects for improvement and the overall environment of the problem. Continue reading

White Paper – Proposal #3


Kofi Annan, one of the most vocal critics of the original United Nations Human Rights Commission.

One aspect of the United Nation’s attempts to deal with international violations of human rights that I want to deal with is the transition from the UN Human Rights Commission to the UN Human Rights Council. The Commission was established in 1946, with the intended focus of promoting human rights and helping states elaborate treaties. However, criticism of the organization was so severe that in 2007, it was replaced by the newly formed Human Rights Council. That criticism was rooted in the fact that certain members of the Commission were some of the worst human rights violators. Those states would often “band together to block investigations into their own records – or those of their allies” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). Continue reading

Paper #2 – The ethics (or lack thereof) of the United States Congress


The United States Congress is arguably the most powerful legislative body in the country, responsible for financial and budgetary policy, national defense, and the oversight of the Executive Branch. And in August of 2012, its approval rating amongst Americans was 10% (Gallup 2012), a thirty-eight year low. Yet despite this appallingly low rating, members of Congress have historically been re-elected over ninety percent of the time (Congress of the United States 2012). Such a dichotomy seems absurd- if the American people are so thoroughly disgusted with their government representatives, why have they continued to re-elect them? And with such widespread public disapproval centered on Washington, why have those representatives not altered their behavior?

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Prison Crowding Government Proposal 2


Prison Crowding

Government Proposal

Since 1980, the number of inmates housed in American prisons has quadrupled to over two million people. The number of people on parole or probation has also dramatically increased during this time to nearly five million adults. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world with .743% of its population behind bars (Squidoo). This unstable situation is caused by certain US laws which contribute to an increased duration of incarceration and mandatory jail time for some non-violent offenders.

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