Problem being, prisons are almost always last on the funding circuit.. Politicians would much rather throw money at their pork projects and the military than a bunch of people society doesn’t like. It’s very nice to *say* ‘Prisoners need to be rehabilitated’, but the instant you say ‘We’d need to raise taxes’, the public is at your door with torches and pitchforks. Personally, I’d be willing to cough up an extra fifty bucks a year if it meant nobody released from a prison would commit a crime, but not everyone is foresighted.
I do agree that there needs to be more separation of criminals. Here in California, you could go by the number of ‘strikes’ a person has, and assign them facilities accordingly. You’d think they could slip something into the water to make the prisoners less frisky, too..
Personally, I’ve always felt that the death penalty needed some reworking. As it stands now, a death row inmate can be in prison for years, if not *decades* before having an appointment with the preist. Limiting appeals and executing criminals within one year of conviction would greatly ease the financial burden. Of course, the downside being that it’s possible for innocent people to be executed easier this way..
One thing I’d thought of would be replacing the death penalty with the oubliette: Drop the condemmed into a small cell, and forget about them. Food would be basically vitamin-riched kibble, dispensed automatically into a small trough, while another trough runs a bit of water for drinking and hygiene, leading to an open drain. Lighting is dim, but constant; no night or day. No television, conversation with other prisoners, or conjugal visits. The temperature is controlled, so they don’t even get clothes. No medical assistance or suicide watch, the only time anyone would come into the cell is when the infra-red sensors indicate that they’ve reached room temperature. The average person would probably go insane after a few months, and try to kill themselves, but that’s ok, since we no longer care about them.
In short, something *worse* than maximum security. Plus, you could drop anyone on LWOP or similar sentence into such a pit, as they’ve pretty much demonstrated they don’t deserve human contact. Yes, it’d probably be screamed as being cruel and unusual, but the anti-death-penalty activists would feel better. It would also make for one *hell* of a deterrent; tough guys will boast freely about not fearing death, but the prospect of total isolation and discomfort might cause them to think twice.