Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 478, July 27, 2008

"Our would-be keepers in both 'major'
parties want you to accept a lower
standard of living, and begin a long
slide back into the Dark Ages"

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Ride Him Cowboy
by A.X. Perez

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

From 1933 through 1986 there was an inmate rodeo at the Huntsville Prison in Texas. Inmates who participated in the rodeo behaved better (if only to stay in the rodeo) and had a lower recidivism rate than other prisoners. From a penologist's point of view it was a successful program.

Of course it was cancelled.

Currently, people who are appropriately convicted of felonies lose many of their rights. One right they keep is to humane treatment (Constituional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.). I am going to presume this includes being placed in programs that will effectively help them change their ways and be ready to behave in a manner that shows respect for other people's rights when they leave prison. Yet frequently we hear reports that prisons are training grounds for career criminals and recruitment centers for gangs from which people are prematurely released and/or paroled to avoid overcrowding.

I am not going to claim I know how to solve this. However, let us consider a way to put pressure on those who run this country's prison system to fix their mess. As mentioned before, prisoners are frequently paroled simply to make room for other prisoners. In some ways this is just, as some people are doing time for stupid reasons. For many criminals this just means they finish their time on the outside, in effect making our streets an extension of our prisons and reformatories.

What if prisoners who were placed on parole had their right to keep and bear arms restored when they left prison? Perhaps parole boards would be less eager to grant paroles to persons who weren't really ready to leave prison. More importantly, this would set a goal for our prison systems, what various groups now call a "mission statement": "Persons completing their sentences will be ready to have all rights, including the right to bear firearms, restored."

Both inmates in the prison system and people who never commit a crime (or at least don't get caught) deserve a penal system that lives up to its alleged purpose of reforming criminals. Those who do change their ways can in fact sue on a one on one basis to get their right to bear arms restored, those inclined to violence who are not reformed will get guns illegally. Perhaps it is time that the persons running the prison system in this country recognize these facts and set up programs that will increase the number of people leaving the system who are in fact deserving of having all the rights restored that they forfeited with their criminal acts.

Might even get the Texas Prison Rodeo back in business. Yee-hah!


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