Some Countries Have Figured Out How to do Prisons Right, Why Can't We?

When it comes to crime and punishment, America really is exceptional -- we have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

Why is our criminal justice system so uniquely repressive?

Donald Trump has now been president for 200 days.

And while his administration has virtually no legislative accomplishments to its name, it IS getting things done - especially over at the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third is hard at work rolling back President Obama's long overdue push for criminal justice reform.

To borrow a phrase from the president himself - the Trump administration is making the Prison Industrial Complex Great Again.

Meanwhile, all over the world, countries as different as Thailand and Norway are forging ahead with new and more productive ways of dealing with the age old question of what to do with people who break the law.

Some countries have figured out how to do prisons right, why can't we?


mikemonett's picture
mikemonett 5 years 42 weeks ago


I enjoyed the show today on Progressive Voices internet radio.

The Thom Hartmann program taught me more about the Powell Memo and Buckley vs. Valeo than any other source.

Today I discovered a blog, .

The blogger, Jim, began last fall to focus most of his podcasts, summarized on the blog, to what he is calling "The Powell Movement".

I just downloaded all 15 such podcasts so far. I just listened to the first, from November 7th, 2016. I found it excellent, so I am listening to the rest now.

Maybe you could contact Jim and invite him on the Thom Hartmann show. He is very entertaining, and also has a great sense of humor.

-Mike Monett, Dayton, Ohio

wmleidy's picture
wmleidy 5 years 42 weeks ago

america has figured it out, just follow the money. privatized military and privatized incarceration interests are among the nations top political donors.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 42 weeks ago

***Money***MONEY***MONEY!!! Get it here folks! Just open your private prison and rake in those tax dollars from the common worker. Make big money now in private prisons. Offer going fast, act now!! .. (Just like private schools. But you get to go home at night over there.)

stephensolomita's picture
stephensolomita 5 years 42 weeks ago

Long sentences in prisons under harsh conditions and without any real effort at rehabilitation came into fashion in the 80's and 90's as Republicans succeeded in associating crime with race. Witness the Willy Horton ad run by the first George Bush. Lock 'em up and throw away the key, was and remains, among the reactionaries appinted by Trump, the guiding principle. In their world, the only proper response to crime is brute force.

paultran's picture
paultran 5 years 42 weeks ago

Mike, you will drive yourself insane trying to absorb all of Thom's past wisdom. You'll feel like a rich kid in a candy store with no parents around and it can be inebriating!

We're just happy to have you with us going forward!

But it is fun being able to pull up dates out of my feeble mind (Powell memo, '71; Buckley, '76) thanks to Mr. Hartmann's persistance!

Hell, I've been attaching Powell's PDF to every email I've sent since Thom first schooled me about it 14 years ago!

I love you man....welcome to the fight!

Paul in PHX

Willie W's picture
Willie W 5 years 42 weeks ago

For profit prisons. Tax money won't cover it forever as greed keeps increasing. Going to have to start hitting up inmate families for more bucks to pay for "cell rental", utilities and maintenance. Cost of living, no matter where you live.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 42 weeks ago

America is run by the biggest idiots in the world when it comes to prisons and punishment. Don't expect much. ..Get out and VOTE after analyzing your candidate! Stop goofing around with other things. Informed voting determines the kind of life you will live! Or even IF you will live!

Congagal's picture
Congagal 5 years 42 weeks ago

The prisons have been privatized and corruption prevails - rewards for putting people in prisons. Transfer prisons back to government management. Foloow the successful programs of other countries such as Norway.

Revise the penalties for offences. In my opinion, some people should not be incarcerated. Now, people who have committed murder, terrorist activities and such deserve harsh penalties for their actions.

Thank you for this forum and all you do Thom


Kend's picture
Kend 5 years 42 weeks ago

I think you all have missed the boat. You don't have a crime and punishment problem and whether prisons are private or government run makes no difference. You have a drug problem. You built entire neighbourhoods full of welfare dependent single mothers. What the hell did you think would happen. You taxed the money right out of those neighborhoods, all the businesses have left and now all they have is their dope. Those poor kids. No where to go but down. Build a great economy, full of well paying private sector jobs and all your problems go away.

WindyCity's picture
WindyCity 5 years 42 weeks ago

Why can't we? Duh. Capitalism. Profit. Practically free labor. Social control.

ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 5 years 42 weeks ago

Why can't we figure out prisons? For the same reasons we can't figure out social justice. The US continued the old European model of authoritarianism which we have continually told ourselves that we transcended. Predatory capitalism, corporatism and social darwinism eventually obliterated Jeffersonian democracy, with a brief respite known as the New Deal. Now it's full steam ahead to the 19th century, then on to feudalism. We are authoritarian and violent. We love to make people suffer to assuage our own feelings of low self-worth.

deastman 5 years 42 weeks ago

i'm starting to think you're a bit 'watered down'. that you know what's going on but are, maybe, afraid to just say it. it's not like i blame you. i've spoken to others in america who have said they were afraid...

but it's very simple, the answer. same as most other american atrocities, like illegally invading other countries. money's to be made...

it's been cowboys and cowbodys since the beginning...there's them and then there's the cattle. and what cowboy empathizes with their 'wares'?

lock em up. kaCHING!

kill em and get their resources. open up a bank. it's the american way, i thought. at least that's the way your history looks...the 'indians', hawaiians, phillipinos, cubans, vietnamese, cambodians, laotians, salvadorians, guatemalans, chileanos(i just, i think, made that up. but i liked the feel of it. no offense intended to those morons that put so much into 'spelling accuracy'. it's about communicating. if the point is gotten across than it's ok), iraqis, afghanis, lebanese, somalians...and STILL many others...might agree...

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 years 42 weeks ago

My first question is: are other countries using their prison systems as for-profit labor? Part of why we have so many incarcerated citizens is because our governing bodies are part of the New World Order bent on squeezing the life out of us. And the second reason for our current prison system is to squeeze profits out of hostages. Our current legal system has nothing to do with justice or appropriate learning situations. It's about coming up with any excuse they can think of to steal from us. Last year I got my very first moving traffic violation. They nailed me for almost $400.00. Having to pay a penalty USED to be about our safety and well being. That's just the excuse they use. They are abusing their office, their power, and us, all at the same time. And our prison system is no different. It's just more abuse. The people who are in power have no business being in power. They are bona fide sociopaths (if not psychopaths), narcissists, and people who are basically criminals themselves. It is our fault for letting them get away with this.

rickyluck 5 years 41 weeks ago

Michael Moore,s film "Where Do We Invade Next" provides a view of country's that treat there citizens with dignity including those in prison. Made me cry that our government dosen"t think this way.

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