Crime is rampant. Not only is it not safe to walk our streets, but businesses are being forced to close because of employees as well as shoppers stealing, or they are subjected to armed robbery. Families are installing burglar alarms and two or three locks, also boarding huge dogs.
Policemen are frustrated after arresting a criminal. Many times the same criminal is freed within hours, days or weeks and often re-arrested while committing additional crimes.
Judges and courts are forced to be lenient because penal institutions are filled or inadequate to do the job.
Legislatures are in a dilemma attempting to please those who want to stress rehabilitation and those who would like more severe punishment.
Elaborating on the honor farm concept by developing country rehabilitation centers could be the answer. With the government owning most of the desert and mountain areas, it seems more practical to select a suitable location on some of this land, then build comparatively inexpensive buildings. Work should be stressed throughout the center (not necessarily the rock-breaking type). With the village concept, surely occupations to fit the prisoners' qualifications could be found.
Perhaps this desert or mountain institution could contain three separate groups of buildings.
The first one could be built to house the hardened criminal--providing a maximum of security.
The second area would be for less problem prisoners--granting them more spaciousness and freedom of activities.
The third area would be built (much of it by the inmates) with a village atmosphere housing first- or second-time offenders.
This type of housing prisoners in a country atmosphere rather than a cage-like cell could develop a profound change toward rehabilitation, which is one of society's primary goals.
Stressing good behavior in all three areas, it would be possible to provide incentives for the hardened criminal to graduate into the less restrictive areas and those in the third area would be graduated or released from the village back into society.
There was a day when there was comparative safety in our streets, homes and businesses. Let's bring back that day.
JAMES R. EUBANK