"Dad, what does it mean that one out of every hundred men is incarcerated?" It means that a heck of a lot of folks who have used questionable judgment have been locked up and that our jails are over flowing. (How about that for a Saturday morning answer to a daughter? But as you shall see, it didn't stop the questions.)
"Does that mean that there is no room to lock up all the killers and robbers?" While the jails may be full, our system has mechanisms in place to free up room in the jails. This includes early probation, work release and in home detention with monitoring. There will always be a place for serious offenders to serve time out, my dear daughter.
"Are all of these people in jail bad men?" The statistics are a reflection of the problem that our nation has with drug abusers and sellers. The problem with being a crack or methamphetamine user is that it is a chronic condition. The vast majority of the people in jail are there one way or another because of drug addiction. They are either users, sellers or committed a crime to support their habit.
"Are jails the right place for all these folks?" A better place may be "secure treatment facilities," but there simply are not enough of them right now. Furthermore, this is an expensive option that many tax payers do not support.
"Why is Gov. Ryan in Indiana?" Statistic became more relevant to my 11 year old when former Illinois Governor transferred to the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary. In November, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan entered a federal prison in Wisconsin to serve a 6-1/2 year sentence for corruption. Gov. Ryan continues to scream that he is innocent. Ryan is 73. His appeal to the Supreme Court to remain free on bail was rejected. In March, he transferred to the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary.
"So dad, is Governor Ryan a bad man?" Ryan has been nominated several times for a Nobel Peace Prize because of his opposition to the death penalty. In 2000 he ordered a moratorium on executions in Illinois after 13 death row inmates were found to have been wrongly convicted.Before leaving office in 2003, Ryan commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison. He is considered a hero to foes of capital punishment. The Illinois moratorium he imposed still stands.
"Dad, what did he do?" Ryan and lobbyist Larry Warner were convicted in 2006 of 18 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and other offenses involving alleged favoritism and kickbacks for state contracts and property leases. In sum, prosecutors claimed that Ryan made his friends rich at the expense of the tax payers.
"Was he a donkey or an elephant?" Ryan won a single four-year term Republican governor. He retired in 1998 as rumbles of an alleged bribery scandal rooted in his years as secretary of state were about to emerge.