Remember Kristin Davis? Not the Sex and the City actor; rather, the woman lovingly referred to as the “Manhattan Madam” by the media. Her crimes, as you may recall, range from matching former governor Eliot Spitzer with his prostitute, and selling Xanax and Adderall as party favors to her guests.
A paragon of virtue, she is not; but it would be hard to argue that there were any “victims” of her actions — Spitzer and others brought the shame on themselves. Yet for the pills, pitiless federal prosecutors sent her up for two years. And as with all federal sentences, there is no possibility for parole. And this after locked up for months in the hellscape known as Riker’s Island.
Where is the good in this?
For two long years, taxpayers will be shelling out money to lock her up, and for what? How does this benefit society?
Will anyone in New York feel safer through this sentence? Will Davis’ chances with a legit job be improved by this prison sentence, or will she be forced back into dealing and pimping once she is out because no employer will touch her?
To ask these questions is to answer them.
America locks up more of its population than any other industrialized country. More than Russia. Far more than China. And Davis is a case study on why: clueless, heartless, destructive prosecutors and judges who reach for incarceration as the first club out of the bag, instead of the last.
Not fines, not drug tests, not rehab, not probation, nor anything else that would reform nonviolent offenders like Davis. Instead, people like Judge Edgardo Ramos choose to inflict this humiliating punishment, at taxpayer expense, pointlessly wasting years of these people’s lives, keeping them mixed together with actual violent and dangerous criminals, and ensuring they have no career post-release other than… crime.
It’s the one career path that doesn’t exclude ex-felons in America.
Now obviously there is a role for prison, primarily for the OJ Simpsons and KSMs of the world who really do like to kill and hurt other members of society. They have to be caged up for our protection because there is no alternative.
But for low-level dealers, vandals, burglers and thieves? Sorry. It’s stupid and counterproductive. Prison should be reserved solely for those who fail more effective measures.
Let prison hang as a Damocles sword over those who are in probation and rehab. That would keep most on the straight and narrow.
Until this gets reformed, America will remain a horrendous abuser of human rights.