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Should Price Determine Value? Investing in the Incarcerated

The country with the most weapons, specifically guns, is the country with the highest violent crime rate. A country leading the world in incarceration is a country with minimum value for its citizens.

Crime is an act committed or omitted in violation of law. Breaking the law places a price on men and women that’s paid in the form of incarceration as a debt to society. Incarcerated people are seen as subordinate due to their felony conviction. This systemic view is the cause of the narrowed opportunities for education and success that goes beyond the price of breaking the law. Autonomy leads the pursuit of happiness; however, for the majority of the incarcerated community, the choices are limited to all but personally advancing from past shortcomings. This fact can be clearly seen in two ways.

The first way that price determines value is in the loss of meaningful, useful high-end educational opportunities offered in prison. Many of the programs in prison are designed to uphold a less than average income and, if employed, you’ll be working in some of the harshest conditions Arizona has to offer. Although a job is better than no job, having autonomy in educational opportunities will secure longevity in not only employment, but the success of freedom as well.

The second way that price determines value is in the reality that even when released, the effects of being in prison and having a felony conviction can be a constant burden. With obstacles at every turn, such as housing, transportation, clothing, food, and employment, I feel confident that the system is designed for us to fail. Prison has a history of releasing men and women back into the community worse off than when they arrived. Not only do we have to worry about complying with supervision conditions, but the pressures of obtaining the necessities in life as second-class citizens seem impossible. This systemic structure, coupled with a measurable dose of institutionalization, lends potential to an ex-con going back to what they know best, which is how to survive.

It’s time to value one another as useful, worthy and important aside from the ability to generate wealth. If we can value each other, we will directly impact our communities in a positive way. Serving time in prison could be the perfect platform for our society to influence and empower the incarcerated with autonomy to choose their own educational option and path to success. This idea would not only provide support for the thousands of men and women re-entering society “as members of society,” but it would also encourage acting as members of society, with something to offer their community.

As the fifth highest incarcerating state in the nation, I am passionate about helping and healing the error in the criminal justice system in any way that I can. Starting with myself, I’ve made astronomical changes within that have gifted me with an opportunity to be a part of the ATP. As a member of the ATP, transformative solutions are my ultimate goal. So I ask, should the price of crime determine the value of the incarcerated? The solution that I propose is, Invest in the Incarcerated.

- Johnny

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