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Barnes Storming: Throwing the book at the prison system

 article about Barnes Storming: Throwing the book at the prison system

What I'm about to say
may be the written equivalent of taking a bazooka and pointing it
directly at my own feet, but what the hell. You can't live life with
the middle of the fence planted firmly up your butt.





During my weekly tour
of the Internet for rant-worthy news, I hit on the Associated Press
article announcing the United States Supreme Court voted to defend a Pennsylvania
decision that will only give well-mannered state prison inmates access
to reading material. Now I'm doubtfully the most politically astute
being on the planet – my disdain for reading anything dealing with the United States
government stems from a horrible experience with ninth-grade civics for
180 days – but I couldn't help myself. I stopped myself from typing the
web address for my favorite online poker site and had myself a little
read.



According to the AP story, an official 6-3 vote has given Pennsylvania
prisons the right to use newspapers and magazines as rewards for good
inmate behavior. An earlier challenge that this program would violate
prisoners' constitutional rights under the First Amendment apparently
failed to tug at the heartstrings of court justices. For now, it looks
as if the convicted axe murderers in the Keystone State won't be getting their July issues of Cosmo and Ladies' Home Journal.





While you might
figure I'd bemoan this court ruling because I'm a writer and,
therefore, naturally inclined to fight to the death for people to
retain their right to free speech or access to all written work, I have
to side with the judges this time. I promise this won't become a habit.
I say it's about time someone in this country grew the balls needed to
end the free ride so many violent offenders enjoy these days. In fact,
I think prison officials need to take everything but the right to
breathe and eat from inmates who continue to reject rehabilitation
efforts.





Before anyone
searches for the 666-like mark of the conservative Republican beast on
my body, ask yourself this question: Despite all the tough-guy
posturing our military leaders, and especially President Bush, have
displayed regarding the war in Iraq,
doesn't it seem like this nation of "freedom fighters" has become a
quintessential pansy toward its own people? We give billions of dollars
each year to lazy individuals and call it welfare. We arrest a man who
unloads an entire clip from a .45 mm pistol into the body of a single
mother because he needed money for crack, put him behind bars and then
let him get an associates degree in computer repair and call that
justice. I call it embarrassing, weak, and far too liberal for my
tastes.





When I was a rookie
newspaper reporter, I covered the trial of a 19-year-old male who
executed a family of four after he and his friends invaded their home
in search of money to buy more guns. One of the victims was a
five-year-old boy. Police found him face down in the hallway, three
shots in his back. He was thought to have been killed as he ran toward
his room, probably to hide from the "bad guys."





Thankfully, the jury
found that teenager guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to
death. Unfortunately, while awaiting the executioner's needles, this
ruthless killer has been able to recline in his cell and pass the time
by flipping the pages of whatever magazine or book he so desires. Oh,
the agony of life behind bars! What ever happened to "go to jail, do
not pass Go, do not collect $200"? Now it seems you can get the prison
bus to stop at the local library and get a card.





Therefore, for the
record, I'd like to salute the Supreme Court on a job well done. While
a minor victory for the good guys, it seems like some justice has been
served.



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