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Sep 15th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Outsourcing America's Problems (Not a Satire -- Part One)
Outsourcing America's Problems (Not a Satire -- Part One) PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Thursday, 07 June 2007 06:28

Our number-one hit, "How Iraq Can Solve the Problems of America," satirically suggests that what was Mesopotamia be turned into a modern-day Australia, Britain’s original penal colony. To read the satire, please go here

Actually some of the solutions in fixing the social ills in the United States may be to outsource a fraction of America’s problems. Outsourcing is no laughing matter, as many of the country’s labor unions are against exporting American jobs. But will many Americans, including their policy makers and decision makers, object to outsourcing the country’s problems?

One of America’s biggest problems is how to fix its prison system. Jails – both those run by the Federal and State governments – are often too congested. The cost of running prisons and providing healthcare to the growing-and-aging prison population is going literally through the proverbial roof.

According to published sources, California’s political leaders want to build new prisons good to house 53,000 additional inmates at a minimum cost of $7.4-billion (spelled with a B). With correctional officers receiving a median pay of $73,000 per annum per person, California taxpayers shell out an average of $34,000 per prisoner per year. This year, the Golden State will spend more-than $1.8-billion (spelled again with a B) for its prisoners’ medical care alone. California used to house an average of 105,000 inmates. Today, more-than 170,000 people are housed in California’s jails at an annual budget of more-than $8-billion (spelled also with a B). In fact, California is presently "outsourcing" its growing inmate population to other states in the Union and even to privately-run prisons in neighboring states.

Perhaps the United States and the world itself need a modern-day version of Australia to serve as global prisons – using the economies of scale and other cost-effective means.

It is a fact for instance that in many Third World countries, retirees can live comfortably at an average cost of $1,000 per month. The monthly budget includes some maid service for cleaning a modest apartment or house, some help in doing the laundry and cooking. It is, therefore, foreseeable to reduce California’s expense for housing an inmate by 50% or $17,000 per head. (The $5,000 additional may answer for the round-trip air fare of the convict and some on-site supervision by selected California correctional officers.)

The budget of $7.4-billion can be cut in half and it can be used to buy (not lease) condominium-style housing in a country or territory that would enter into a joint-venture deal with California. The Golden State’s investment in penal real estate in a foreign site would, therefore, become an investment that is certain to appreciate in the years to come.

American-standard healthcare for the prisoners can be provided in the foreign prisons at probably less-than half the present budget. All in all, California can probably save between $4.0-billion to $5.0-billion per year if its penal system were to be outsourced to a foreign contractor, i.e., a pro-American country that has a criminal-justice system respectful of human and civil rights. The savings then can be used to buy out the employment contracts of the correctional officers and pay for the unfunded portions of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pension fund. Then the other surplus (read, savings) can be used to provide more benefits to the California’s poor but law-abiding people – from better education to more-affordable housing, etceteras, etc.

In fact, the majority of California’s jails (that would be vacated by outsourcing abroad the prisons’ population) can be converted into affordable housing and/or commercial sites. Outsourcing, then, can be a Win-Win situation for the State of California, its people and even the Federal Government. If California’s suggested experiment with outsourcing its penal system will work successfully, the other 49 states may follow. Then the billions that the country may save can be used for many social services and/or building new state-of-the-art infrastructures to meet the needs of a more-modernized world.

As for the sites of the foreign penitentiaries, there should really be no problem. Some island-states may be persuaded to become a bigger foreign equivalent of Alcatraz Island by relocating its people to the United States. For instance, the islands in Micronesia (that are still being supervised by the United States) can be ideal sites. Perhaps the Philippines and/or Indonesia (the world’s two biggest archipelagoes) may be persuaded to convert an island or two to become the modern-version of Australia in exchange for billions of dollars in payment year after year.

And using an entire island as a prison will be very cost-effective in securing the inmates. The prisoners may not even be confined to jail cells; they could be housed in townhouse-like facilities with access to fishing and other sports. They could govern themselves and hold elections for a set of leaders. All the jail-security people have to do is maintain several patrol boats that will cruise the waters of the island 24/7 and there will probably be very few inmates that would try to escape. Just think of Alcatraz' track record. And if they escape to the mainland of the foreign country that runs the island-jail, it would be very easy to detect the prisoners from the natives because of obvious physical contrast or racial profiles.

Another ideal site would be the Spratley Islands, the possession of which is being contested by China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, among other countries. Perhaps a consortium (from among these countries) can be organized and all the islands can be turned into one great penal colony. New modern infrastructures could be built, copying resorts in the Caribbean. The infrastructures can even be designed to serve as experimental facilities that could adjust to the expected increase in the sea level because of global warming. And if indeed oil is discovered in the Spratleys, the consortium would have affordable labor, the employment of which could turn lives of crime into productive careers in oil-field endeavors.

What say you, Dear Readers? Care to post your opinion?

(To be continued . . .)

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Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2007 02:04

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