Our prison system is increasingly overcrowded, expensive and a drain on state and federal resources. Something has to give, but what?
Why is the American prison population so massive? We've become less tolerant in a number of ways. People are ending up in prison who wouldn't have before.
How can we help the situation? Through education, and by getting at-risk people the mental and medical help they need. Prisons are full of people with mental problems.
What should prison life be like? The way it is now, with 23-hour lockups for the really bad prisoners, and with less-restricted prisoners working for minimal pay.
Is a prison record too black a mark to overcome on the outside? It's a scarlet letter that makes it very hard to get a decent job.
Do you know any success stories coming out of prison? Martha Stewart's done OK. Give 'em a chance. Ex-prisoners are a viable work force.
Retired IBM employee
Why is our prison population so large? Because ex-prisoners can't find jobs or places to live. The government is more interested in world domination than in taking care of its citizenry.
How can we steer people away from prison? Make opportunities for more people to better their lives and pursue the American dream.
What should prison life be like? It should be punishment, not a pleasant situation with curtains and TVs in every room. Bring back the days when prisoners had to work to pay for their food.
Is a prison record too big an obstacle to landing meaningful jobs? Yes. A prison record should go away after a certain time, like a dishonorable discharge.
Why are so many people in prison? We don't take very good care of our lower socioeconomic population with education and so forth, so we have a large amount of crime.
How can we change this trend? Make sure everyone has equal educational opportunity and take care of the necessary things to help parents get the kids to school.
What should prison life be like? The more violent the crime or individual, the more guarded he should be, with fewer liberties and access to things like the Internet.
What do you think prison is like now? Overcrowded, with one-size-fits-all punishment.
Do you know any success stories involving ex- prisoners? Yes, especially young people who were 18, 19, 20 years old when they went in. They turned it around.