The incentive to stay out of prison has been drastically reduced because of the new Farm Bill. Throughout our recent history, upstanding citizens had an advantage over criminals, it was welfare. If you got busted for a crime, you lost your welfare eligibility, which can further increase your chances of going to jail. The welfare recipients, in a way, were getting paid to stay out of prison. It may have been cheaper to pay the poor to stay out of prison with free money.
Now the incentives to stay out of prison is drastically reduced. More people are finding the risk/reward being in favor of committing crimes and being deviant. The government has turned away from enforcing the norms with free handouts. The government may feel the poor don’t need the extra money, but they are wrong, Life does get better for everyone when the poor get a little more free money. Just listen to the Planet Money podcasts.
When most people get free money, they will spend the money on something that can help them get ahead in life. Very few poor will blow the free money on drugs, although some will still waste it. Planet Money went to other countries and found out for themselves how free money is used. They speak with authority that giving free money is not a bad idea to help other people out.
Many prisoners can get used to their lifestyles and not feel appropriate living outside the walls. Many prisoners aren’t scared of prison anymore after a few trips. It just becomes a part of their own lifestyles. When there is nothing left on the outside for them, they know that they will always have a warm bed and hot meal waiting for them in prison.
It may be hard for many people to fathom the prison life. It does take some time getting used to, but eventually it can turn into second nature. When you are poor, your lifestyle becomes very much like a prison already. For example, if you have to sleep in a Homeless Shelter, they have curfews and strict rules that you have to abide by or you get kicked out.
To sleep in a Homeless Shelter, the sign up is at 5 pm and the curfew is at 7pm. If you want to eat, you make sure you are at the cafeteria at the proper time or you miss the meal. It’s not like you can just show up anytime you like to eat whatever you feel like. There is a strict military or prisoner kind of conduct to follow.
With the reduction in Food Stamps, we will see more people than ever frequenting the Food Banks and eating together. As we all become more and more poor, eating at a set time at these functions may become more acceptable. We have to be prepared for the lifestyle changes that are happening. We must be aware of the new realities forming within our culture.
Personally, I don’t like the rigid discipline of the Homeless Shelter and Food Banks. But I was used to many years of privilege where I could eat what I wanted when I wanted to. For someone who just got out prison, they could very well see a lot of freedom that these institutions grant to them. It’s all in your perspective.
I am flirting with disaster as I wither and shrivel my savings away. I’m already pushing my legal limits by sleeping in my car. I’m not too many further steps from becoming a part of the prison system. As I grow more poor, all I can think about is how much of a relief the prison can be on my financial situation. Everything is free in prison.
Prison will set you free from your financial burdens. They feed, cloth and give you a free place to sleep. They may even provide you with a job and skills to take with you outside. It can’t be that scary in prison if you were already suffering at the hands of your culture outside of prison.
What if the prisons become less financially supported as well? If the poor are already feeling a tight squeeze on their budgets, the prisoners must be experiencing a reduction in their lifestyles as well. You can’t expect the government to reduce support to the poor, but increase financial budgets to the prisons.
I think the government is signaling to everyone that we need to become more self sufficient to survive. Unfortunately, this isn’t like the 1700s where we can hunt and fish at will. The wildlife grounds are heavily regulated now. In turn, many more areas have been declared as toxic waste sites, where it is a bad idea to harvest anything edible from the area anyway.
Our population explosion has severely squeezed our lifestyles. Competition has gotten extremely fierce. People are getting lied to every day about the state of the economy. It has gotten really bad. One strong indicator is simply that prisoners are eating better and more consistently than the poor.