Sunday, December 26, 2010


DATELINE 12/16/10


Florida is broke, and treasure chests full of cash have been squandered on the $2.5 billion state prison budget every year, with no relief in sight. Governor-elect Rick Scott has proposed cutting the costs by privatizing Florida prisons, reducing the funding by one billion dollars. What most people don’t realize is that the lion’s share of those billions of tax dollars are spent on--payroll! Excellent benefits, medical insurance, and pensions are guaranteed to anyone who lucks into a secure job at the state prison. Cutting labor costs, replacing those "certified law enforcement officers” and highly-paid administrators, cutting the morbidly obese labor costs are crucial to financial liquidation.
Can it be done? Yes! Hard times breed drastic measures, and we must seek solutions outside the tired thinking of the past-- new ideas that will not only cut the prison budget, but turn a profit. How can we do that? Walt Disney saved Florida once already back in the 1970’s, when he bought thousands of acres of empty land and built Disneyworld. Let Disney do it again, and turn the prisons over to Mickey Mouse and Company.

Think about it. Mickey Mouse Correctional Institution will be the world’s first prison theme park. Tours of the facility will highlight sights you’d never see in free society.

“On your left is a cage full of bank robbers. Notice the shifty eyes. On your right are rapists; don’t worry, the unbreakable glass protects us. Next, we have some serial killers--they are caged alone for obvious reasons. The mild-mannered man in the next cage is a white-collar criminal, an embezzler, and beside him, playing with matches is an arsonist. And we’re walking…”

A ride similar to the Haunted House would take the tourists past displays of imprisonment and executions throughout history, with robots acting out scenes such as Daniel in the lions’ den, the Crucifixion of Jesus, the burning of Joan of Arc, the Tower of London, scenes from an 18th Century English prison, hangings, beheadings, firing squads, Alcatraz, a prison shower scene, a riot, stabbings, escapes, electrocutions, and lethal injections. The fascinating life -- and death -- scenarios are endless.

Customers would pay high prices for authentic prison swill, and adults could sample prison wine mixed in genuine mop buckets and fermented in plastic jugs. Souvenir stores would sell striped prison uniforms, bull whips, canisters of pepper spray (useful to make rowdy teenagers do their homework), miniature electric chairs (batteries not included), and other interesting knick knacks unavailable elsewhere.

Mickey Mouse C.I. would also be a fully-functioning prison, with the staff dressed as Disney characters. The prison warden would be Mickey Mouse, of course, constantly smiling. The head guard, the colonel, would be Goofy. Donald Duck would be the prison doctor (quack!), and the Three Little Pigs would be the goon squad, armed with clubs to hurriedly put down any disturbances. The Seven Dwarfs would be in charge of the prison work squad, and every morning would lead several hundred prisoners to the fields to harvest crops with everyone singing, “Hi ho, hi ho! It’s off to work we go!” all the way. The Big Bad Wolf would be in charge of solitary confinement, and threaten to eat anyone who misbehaved. Cinderella’s evil stepmother would run the religious programs, and her daughters would pass out cookies and coffee to the visitors ($10.00 each).

The guards would be dressed as the other Disney characters and would be required to speak in their characters’ voices. The possibilities are mind-boggling, as are the potential profits.

With the paying customers taking daily tours in the thousands, it would not be long before Mickey Mouse C.I. began turning a healthy profit. The program could be expanded to more prisons and more theme parks each year. Imagine Sea World in charge of Death Row -- instead of lethal injections, the condemned prisoners could be fed to Shamu the killer whale. A special 50,000-seat circular arena like an oversized Roman Coliseum would surround a huge tank for Shamu. A crane would lower the chosen prisoner--feet first or head first, flip a coin--Shamu would leap higher and higher, until he could take a bite, piece by piece, complete the ritual; pay-per-view would broadcast worldwide to enraptured audiences. How much would the tourists pay to see that?

In no time at all, the State of Florida, Inc., would be a model for fiscal responsibility, the crime rate would drop, and a new era in correctional sciences would dawn. Let’s get to work!


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