Paying a debt the hard way

It seems like no matter what this country does to build revenue, we are just digging ourselves further and further into debt.It seems like no matter what this country does to combat crime, criminals find new ways to break the law.And it seems like change will never come.Doesn’t it?Well, I have a plan just for you Cynic readers which will not only cut down the debt, cut crime, unburden the overwhelmed prison system and — as if things couldn’t get any better — build revenue on top of all that.How, you ask?Well, before I tell you, perhaps I should lay a few things out for you so that everything is out in the open:Currently in the United States, 7.3 million people are in the penal system in one form or another. Roughly 3,000 of those incarcerated are on death row. The average cost for one prison inmate is $20,000-$25,000 per year.Some not-so-simple math brings me to an unfathomable number that is somewhere in the ballpark of $150 billion is spent each year to house, clothe, feed, educate and rehabilitate convicted criminals.Is it just me or is there something we could spend this money on that would benefit this country more than providing three hot meals, a bed, a television, an Xbox (yep, convicts play “Call of Duty” just like us!) and a stocked gym — not to mention conjugal visits — to criminals?Firstly, doing away with death row would save over $60 million a year.And don’t get confused — I don’t mean do away with the death penalty — I’m talking within a year of that guilty verdict being issued a murderer will meet his or her demise. No more of this spending a decade plus on death row, so if they want to appeal they better do it quickly!The next step?Speed up the trial process.Just a few weeks ago a case from 1999 was settled here in Vermont.1999!We’ve gone through three presidents and countless seasons of “American Idol” since then. What the hell were the judge, prosecution and defense doing that whole time?Speeding up the trial process would not only cut down on court and other expenses, but also quickly bring convicts to the last part of my plan, which is to put all those who are incarcerated to work. For free.They’re the ones paying a debt to society, so why should we pay them?This country is in dire need of a new infrastructure, including roads, bridges and telecommunications, and we have about seven million able-bodied workers who can work on projects to build this infrastructure, which would generate an immense amount of revenue once goods and information can start moving on those new routes.In my opinion, by getting rid of death row we are making more space in prisons for temporary stay inmates and saving countless millions of dollars every year. Speeding up the trial process cuts down on court expenses and puts those convicted criminals to work more quickly. And what better way to deter people from crime than to threaten them with a speedy trial, hard labor and a quick death if convicted of murder?We treat convicted criminals as if they are humans, when, more often than not, they treat other humans like animals. It’s about time we get our priorities straight and make criminals really pay their debt to society by having them help build a new one.