15 thoughts on “Stephen Fry on American Prisons Facts”

  1. I know this is a comedy bit, but a comparison to slavery is really stupid. It is a huge problem in our society. The system is broken, but it’s not necessarily incarceration that is the problem, it is why people are becoming incarcerated.

    • I agree. At least the prisoners are working and getting paid a stipend. What about the welfare slaves who have been living in “short term” public housing for generations and living off of government provided food stamps. No job needed…

  2. You know, I’ve been lurking on this site for about 2-3 years now, enjoy its content, but have never before felt the need to contribute my two cents before now.
    I wholeheartedly agree with Buckwheat’s response about the state of our for profit prison system. It is broken and should be addressed.
    But Richard’s reply just completely blows my mind and is indicative of all that I can’t stand in our modern discourse. How on Earth did a conversation about incarceration of a huge part of our populace turn into a discussion about public housing, food stamps, and “welfare slaves” exactly?
    It must be exhaustingly painful for you to go through your day trying to find some angle or some reason to tie everything you find fault with back to what you obviously find the root of all of our current problems. To be so single-minded in your intellectual approach to anything so simple as processing a simple and spot-on assessment of prison figures in the US vs. the rest of the world and immediately turn it into an opportunity to blast anyone who has ever used any form of government welfare (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid) just furthers my belief that not all bigots are ignorant, but all ignorant people are bigoted.
    You, sir, would do us all a favor by taking some time to examine your thoughts and ramblings before posting them on an open forum.

    • I must be missing something in Richard’s comment. I don’t see where he blasts “anyone who has ever used any form of government welfare (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid).” I do see a statement about the impact of generational welfare and that does not imply bigotry, but fact. Does our penal system need reform? Yes. Should we try to build systems that train and empower our citizenry? Yes. Should we continue to help the needy? Yes. Do we need to redefine needy? Definitely. If that’s ignorant bigotry, then I guess I’m on Richard’s team.

  3. *sigh*
    alright, crap, I hate, HATE doing this whole online arguing thing. I usually read through comment sections and agree with some, think others are ill-informed, and find some responses from people I immediately dismiss as entirely and purposely ignorant, stubborn, and short-sighted, but I rarely chime in. But I’ve always thought it is important to listen to/read the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree with them. My 9th grade Chem teacher taught me that if you only read one thing in a newspaper, it should be the opinion page, and I still follow her advice daily. Despite disagreeing with much of what I read I’m still listening to people.
    So I rarely get involved in things like this.
    But Revrick, you are right. Upon rereading my post, I did make some assumptive equivalencies between his use of “welfare slaves” and others benefiting from governmental aid. But by their very definition, welfare, SS, medicare, medicaid, hell even the military (I am a proud vet) fall into the category of “socialist” programs. But we’re all grownups here and can admit that Richards reply was about…, well, you know,…. THOSE people…. (ssssshhhhh)
    The original link had nothing to do with “welfare slaves” but he found a reason to argue against them anyways. The original post was about the % of American adults in prison. End of story. My comments were on why he chose to take a story about % of people in jail and make it about “welfare slaves”
    I cannot for the life of me find anything in his reply about “the impact of generational welfare” but if you pretend not to see the bigotry here, then sir, I would love to live my life viewing through your rose-colored eyes.

    • Sorry, Jim. I’ll keep my rose colored glasses if it means I won’t unjustifiably read something into a friend’s comments. Richard has been here a long time and I think you’re reading things into his comment. I confess I haven’t seen the clip because I’m on the road with poor network connections but that’s not really relevant.
      Thank you for your service.

      • My comment was aimed at comparing the high number of prisoners in our country and the high number of people on welfare, with not much chance of getting out due to the government policies that do nothing to break the cycle of need and dependence. Jim, you need to reread the first comments and try to understand what constitutes bigotry. Oh, and I am not the one who first mentioned slavery…

  4. Jim, I know this might be a sensitive issue for you. That’s obvious. But there’s no cause to be calling someone a bigot. I didn’t see Richard’s statement as a blanket condemnation of all people on assistance. You may have had some bad experiences on this topic that justify your outrage, but I do feel it’s a bit of an over-reaction here.

  5. 1)I find it annoying that the Brits find the need to wring their hands over 3 strikes. Did they ask what the first two strikes were? It makes a difference.
    2) The reason there are too many people locked up are mandatory minimums and ridiculous drug laws that tie the hands of judges who cannot give appropriate sentences
    3) regarding the welfare issue. As my friend used to say “Did you ride the bus or bring your lunch today?”
    3a) It’s easy to throw stones, but I know many, many hard working people who have 2 or 3 part time jobs without benefits who are just trying to make ends meet who use food stamps. We are all just one fall down the stairs/cancer diagnosis away from losing everything. No matter how much you save, no matter how wise you have been with your money, a diagnosis of a complex, incurable disease can wipe you out in a month. I thank God every day for keeping me safe and financially secure.It could be gone in an instant.

  6. The problem is not that people use assistance. People who know me know how I feel. I have health problems today that very likely relate to early childhood nutrition issues that I would not have had if my mother had just taken assistance. My mother didn’t believe in “handouts”. But I see no shame in it. If a person needs help, a person should get it, and I think a modern society MUST guarantee that no-strings-attached assistance is available to people who need it.

    In my opinion, what Richard is talking about (as I see it anyway) are people who become INSTITUTIONALIZED by assistance, people who become so dependent on the system that they become enslaved by it, unable or unwilling to become self-sufficient. We end up with generations of people on welfare.

    In our society, where secondary education is FREE, where scholarships and grants for the poor are so widely available, to me it makes no sense that a family can stay on welfare for generations. My feelings is that welfare was supposed to be a means of providing necessary support that should have helped them move beyond the need for assistance, if not for themselves, then at least for their children. I think we should look at why this progress has, in these few cases, not been made

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