If we are only as great as our weakest link then the only way to build a stronger foundation for America is to start at the bottom of our society. I am very much so a believer in the trickle up system where we implement change in our local government to eventually see change on a federal level.
As it stands right now we have millions of people incarcerated sitting around deemed useless to society. Our government isn't making use of our prison systems to rehabilitate prisoners and create functional human beings. We have huge issues with immigration and education as well in this country, that we don't have the resources to do a total overhaul of these systems. What we need to do is to start implementing a new system that will phase out the old while creating the economy to support the new systems.
My idea is simple and starts with the basic fundamental lessons that a human needs in order to live, teaching man to feed himself. We create an agreement between farmers and the prisons that would allow farmers to use prisoners for day labor instead of illegal immigrants. The prisoners are taught the basics of farming at the same rate that the illegal immigrants were paid, a portion of the prisoners income goes to fund immigration reform. The other portion of their income goes towards the cultivation of the land around the prisons. Prisoners are given a choice for which part of farming they are interested in learning about seeding, cultivation, picking, packaging, distribution, marketing and cooking, for example. They are each given a daily schedule for their participation in the prison farm and they actually learn their role while doing it. Giving them structure, an education and a foundation for being a productive person. When you teach someone with purpose and they feel good in their accomplishments they will continue down that path.
Corporations that want to be involved with the farming program will need to make public bids with full disclosure about what their products contain and the actual impact their products may have on the human body and environment, if chemicals are involved. The general public would vote on which companies will be allowed to provide for this program, in their local area.
The foods that are grown on the property are used to feed the prisoners. The prison is now supporting itself and freeing a large amount of tax payers money for the reform of other programs. Without chemicals in their foods, the prisoners will mentally flourish. Many prisoners mental issues may be alleviated without the effects of improper nutrition and chemicals in the foods. Prisoners who have mental disabilities and aren't able to adhere to proper behavior will be able to be put on courses of medications and get the psychological attention they need because the system won't be overrun with prisoners whose issues were based on the lack of structure, proper nutrition and education. We will truly be able to see who can be rehabilitated and who has mental illness.
The surplus food that is grown by the prisons is shipped to local schools to provide each child with a free lunch and snack of whole foods organically grown. The prisoners being responsible for the shipping and logistics of the delivery of the food, further teaching them skills that they can use when they are released. Providing food for schools would open a large portion of funding for other aspects of education. Also by providing children with food that nourishes them we are increasing their ability to learn and focus.
This simple idea teaches a person how to feed themselves. It can rehabilitate a person who was never given the chance to learn how to be a contributing member of society. We have now taken people who are costing society and turned them into people who are paying their debt to society by creating economy while rehabilitating themselves into someone who can function in society because they were given the structure, education and proper nutrition to succeed in life. The trickle up effects of this program would be insurmountable and would solve a lot of the issues in this country that seem to keep going deeper and deeper into despair.
Like I said at the beginning, the only way to change the problems that have developed because of the corruption of the American government is to start by changing our foundation at our weakest link.