One of my favorite activists, the inimitable Nora Callahan of November.org has a post up with a ingenious suggestion for our government on how to solve the inadequacies of prison policy, poverty policy and public works. She says in part,
Immediately, we must save ourselves from incompetent leadership that puts greed before need. Our crisis of over confinement and the crisis in the Gulf could merge, and bring good results to both terrible situations.Good advice. Read it all for yourself.
...Motivated by the failure of Policy Katrina, federal legislators are calling for a massive program of public works. We know that the financial resources of our nation will be sorely stressed. In California, when wildfires were consuming the state, a third of the firefighters were prisoners. Most people still don’t know that without the prisoners, California’s fires would have destroyed far more homes and infrastructure.
Prisoners are trained in many skills that are needed immediately on the Gulf Coast. No one should forget that.
...Corrections’ officers, prisoners, and civilian humanitarians should demand a Rebuild America Act written and approved that includes their service. Within the Bureau of Prisons are counselors, case managers, public health experts -- all knowing that their skills are wasted warehousing people who made a mistake long ago, and are able bodied and willing to volunteer these services to their fellow citizens and country.
A hardworking prisoner should be able to sign on to an extension of service and earn college credit, or credits that assist their children with college. Bureau of Prisons’ staff volunteers can earn their salary, hazardous duty pay, and earn federally distributed college credits for themselves, or their children. State prison staff and prisoners can be mobilized throughout the country.
There will be many civilian volunteers who will gladly work with prisoners and prison staff for food, housing, a stipend and college credits.