If you’re going to prison, this is the place to be

Published 3:22 pm Saturday, August 23, 2008

Has anyone else noticed that I’m going crazy?

I only ask because I’m not. So if someone does notice, then we have a serious problem.

I’ve absolutely no reason for saying all this. I just want to make sure you’re paying attention.

Email newsletter signup

Now that I have your attention, let me say, what in the world is going on with the American penal system?

Exactly why do we send people to jail, and more importantly, who?

Don’t tell me I’m the only person that has thought about this, especially with the big issue being made this week of letting terminally ill, elderly and mentally ill inmates back on the street.

My knee-jerk reaction to the issue was pretty much this: “Let ‘em rot in there.”

That was until it was pointed out to me that this country is spending several million dollars to take care of them. And that’s just the medical problems.

That’s without feeding, clothing, educating and entertaining them.

It used to be that there were different types of prison for different types of crimes.

Now, there are different types of prisons for different types of people. It’s true. Don’t believe me?

After some lengthy, very unscientific research, I have developed a rating system that I think is quite accurate.

It’s similar to hotel ratings, yes. But instead of using stars, I’m going to use bars.

Catchy, right? I’m not sure exactly how that idea came to me, but I’m relatively certain it was at some point while I was falling asleep during “The Sopranos.”

All of a sudden I’m not exactly sure if this is a great idea, but I’m going to go ahead with it anyway. Here goes …

One bar rating: I’ll just go ahead and be blunt. This is Martha Stewart prison. This is a minimum security, unlocked “cells,” you’re here because the judge liked your last record sin bin. It’s probably where O.J. Simpson would have gone had he been convicted. What? What did I say?

The guards do have guns, yes, but they would rather not use them. And why would they? A celebrity is less likely to sign an autograph for you if your bullet is in his leg.

Two-bar rating: This is the B-list prison level, you could say. You’re still more important than your crime, but not by much. There is solitary confinement, but instead of satellite and HDTV, you get a 27-inch and basic cable. Bummer.

There is a prison “Bubba,” and he’s a little bit mean, but he can be negotiated down under the right circumstances.

Three-bar rating: OK, now you’re really in trouble. You’re a nobody, and there’s no way to fake or pay your way out of it. Get ready for long nights of taunting across the cell block and a daily battle for the right to eat.

It’s like middle school, except 300-pound men like to constantly remind you what they’ve done to get thrown in there. Hope you’re using the weight machines the federal government provides.

Four-bar rating: If you call your mother, she may or may not act like she recognizes your voice. This is how you know the government hates you and will continue to hate you until your little bar-code stamped butt dies.

It’s a shame you quit the basketball team in high school or wouldn’t take singing lessons. You could have had a sweet life in a one-star, umm I mean bar, prison, and you would have been back poolside within six months. Who am I kidding? Three months.

The breaks of life are just beautiful.