"Lock them up and throw away the key." I've heard that line too often, and it has been an overused refrain in the American system of corrections. Two recent articles would have us think differently, but it means we have to look beyond our own borders (and think outside the box!) to gain some new perspective.
Take a look here for a look at what's happening in Europe.
And what happens if you have a jail with no one to put in it? Look what Sweden is doing here.
I find these somewhat ironic because the jail in my town--bright spanking new--but whole sections of it aren't used. They can't afford to staff it, and a number of officers have been laid off due to budget cuts. The city doesn't even house its own people in there. Instead, it contracts with smaller and cheaper jails in the neighboring cities.
And then there's the brand new jail built on the Native American reservation that looks nice on the outside, but they don't have the funds to run it. What are people thinking??