I firmly believe there must be swift and certain consequences for all crime, but I also believe that the way our system deals with low-level, nonviolent and non-serious offenders wastes resources needed to fight more serious crime.
Unfortunately, rehabilitation (the adult word for "learning a lesson") is often not at the heart of criminal justice reform. In fact, the harshness of a punishment is frequently not determined by the possibility of recidivism, but rather by public opinion.
CSP II, Colorado's newest solitary confinement prison, cost several hundred million dollars. We've used a small part for one year and are about to mothball it. It will likely never again be used for any purpose.
Somewhere in a U.S. prison today, a young Black man sits behind bars counting down the days till he sees freedom. He has become hardened and likely more dangerous while his White cellmate was released years prior for virtually the same crime.