I have been to prison in the United States about ten years ago as an inmate and currently live in Thailand and visit prisons as a preacher of the Gospel. The prisons in the U.S. for the most part are like country clubs compared to the prisons here in Thailand. I realize there are many rapes and stabbings and killings in US prisons and they are in survival mode 24/7 but in Thailand, you are in a cell with 30-40 guys laying shoulder to shoulder with no room to even turn at night. Not only that, but you work in temperatures that go over 100 degrees and get very little to eat. In Laos, if you get in too much trouble, you would be put into a dark room which is a box not big enough to stand up in and you would be there for thirty days. You would get rations of food thrown in the box but would not be let out. Imagine when you have to go to the bathroom? People actually fear Lao and Thai prisons, especially foreigners.
I am a believer of the death penalty and in many countries, the death penalty deters crime. I am not an advocate for stoning or beheading but lethal injection, if enforced more, would deter a few from making stupid decisions. On the other hand, I am an advocate of a good plan for people with drug habits because being a productive member of a society gives a person hope and the realization that they do not have to live the life of a drug addict. Many people in prison are there because of drugs and the solution is getting these people into programs that have proven successful. If they cannot afford them, money needs to be provided. America's overcrowded prisons are an indictment on the American people and investing into this group of people may turn the tide for the better.
There is a balance here that needs to be figured. The justice system needs to send the repeat offenders that fail to succeed after several good programs to a prison for a long time and the prison system needs to be hard labor and very uncomfortable. If I were homeless, I would commit a crime to go to prison where I will be provided everything I need. The other balance is the justice system needs to put out some serious money in programs that will cater to every class of people. Are people's lives worth it and the people they will hurt? The answer is a resounding yes and we always get out of something what we put in!