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Ol’ Sparky Would Be Shocked

“Pardon me, but would you happen to have any cash or credit cards?”

“But, of course. May I say that’s a fine-looking weapon you have there.”

“Kind of you to notice. It was an absolute steal.”

“Here you are, my good man.”

“Thank you so very much.”

“Oh, think nothing of it.”

“It’s been a pleasure.”

“Quite so. Ta, ta now.”

The men are congratulated and told to return to their seats with the other convicts.

“Gentlemen, let’s analyze the performance of Mr. Jones and Mr. Kashabez,” says the instructor as he straightens his silk ascot. “What made this transaction go so smoothly? Yes, Mr. Gonzalez?”

“The exchange was both cross-cultural and multiracial, yet both gentlemen displayed the sort of cultural sensitivity that prevented the occasion from escalating into needless violence.”

“Very good, Mr. Gonzalez,” says the instructor. “I can see from the progress that we’ve made that your stay here in the Texas prison system will be much more rewarding than you ever imagined. And Texas will be a much better place when you gentlemen are released back onto the streets.”

Not yet, but it’s coming. Something very un-Texan is planned for the Texas prison system. Texans, as everyone knows, believe you can’t spend too much money on guns, football, pickups or prisons. We have voted repeatedly to spend billions of dollars to build the free world’s largest prison system.

If it’s ever determined for sure that the godless commies in Red China have a larger prison system, Texans will pass another bond issue to build more prisons. And that’s not counting Texas’ enormous county jail capacity, which is temporarily being rented out for out-of-state prisoners.

Besides a willingness to lock away more of our citizens than all those soft-on-crime states, Texans also don’t flinch when it comes to the death penalty.

Texans execute more of their criminals than the rest of the wimpy states combined. We used to electrocute our prisoners in a chair affectionately named Ol’ Sparky, a revered cultural icon. Now we use the more efficient needle system perfected by animal shelters on unclaimed strays. An execution today is barely newsworthy, perhaps a paragraph in a roundup of other state news.

I mention the above only to contrast a new program designed to turn the Texas prison system into a charm school. State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, proposed the program to train Texas felons to be kinder and gentler. Prisoners will soon enter classes in multicultural sensitivity.

Miss Manners in the slammer. Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are spinning in their graves. Is this the state of the Alamo and the Longhorn or some Ivy League prep school? Prison cultural sensitivity programs are supposed to help multicultural felons get along with one another and reduce the number of repeat offenders.

“Culturally specific treatment must include understanding values and differences of African-American and Hispanic offenders through identification of cultural norms and barriers,” West was quoted defending his program.

Felons should be required to put in a full work day six days a week and learn the values of law-abiding citizens, who share the same values regardless of race. Felons should learn the differences between a criminal culture and a law-abiding culture and know that a criminal culture is much worse.

We should put the money and effort planned to teach cultural sensitivity to felons into schools and childhood development programs that steer children toward academic achievement and responsible citizenship. Let Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin get some rest.