I know plenty of people who have been arrested. I have been arrested, detained, charged, the whole nine yards. I also know plenty of people who work in law enforcement. If anything, enforcement is too lax. It takes many, many, many encounters with law enforcement before someone ends up in prison. Even the drug crimes that everyone complains about (and do not get me wrong, I am not a fan of the war on drugs) usually end up with a series of slaps on the wrist, probation, community service, etc. Prison is often times a last resort, not in the least because of the costs involved in incarcerating someone.
Anecdotes are meaningless.
Increasingly long prison sentences, which have been adopted by many states over the past 20 years, have had a negligible effect on reducing crime rates. There is little evidence that higher incarceration rates result in lower crime rates in the first place.
In fact, more than half of all people released from prison return within three years.
One reason for this is that imprisonment, especially for lengthy sentences, destabilizes individuals, families and entire communities, which can create a dangerous recipe for higher crime rates.
Incarceration and related costs have quadrupled over the past 20 years and now account for a staggering 1 out of every 15 state discretionary fund dollars.
By 2007, states spent more than $44 billion on incarceration and related expenses, a 127% jump from 1987. Over this same period, spending on higher education rose just 21%, while the national prison population tripled.
Incarceration and related costs are the 2nd fastest growing category of state budgets; 90% of this spending goes to prisons.
By 2011, continued prison growth is expected to cost states an additional $25 billion.
In contrast, when examining crime rates, the percent of population that is imprisoned, and the recidivism rate in Nordic countries, the statistics demonstrate that Nordic penal systems are more successful at deterring future criminal activity when compared to the U.S. (Walmsley, 2008). The Nordic approach to punishment, the setup of their prisons, and the public perception of the purpose of the penal system are fundamentally different than the US. For example, when Norway implemented the prison model used in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, the prison population dropped from 200 per 100,000 people in 1950 to 65 per 100,000 people in 2004 (Von Hofer, 2007). Similarly, an experimental Dutch prison was created to minimize costs and increase inmate success following release, where inmate rights are of paramount concern and the ultimate goal is to teach offenders that their choices have consequences, both good and bad (Kenis, Kruyen, Baaijens, & Barneveld, 2010). Though each Nordic countryâ(TM)s (i.e., Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) laws and prison policies vary slightly, as a whole the Nordic penal system deviates from that of other countries with higher rates of incarceration and recidivism, resulting in more favorable outcomes for the rehabilitation and education of offenders.
You can believe that corporal punishment and long term prison sentences are the best option. Or you can do some cursory research. It's up to you.