On Tuesday, our town passed a rather grim milestone: the 20,000th prisoner was incarcinated here. Now, many people have written about mass incarcination throughout the media, and there are a lot of understandably intense opinions on the subject from all parts of the political spectrum. What I’d like to do here is to take a step back.

Academic exercises about our “carcinal society” tend to seem very remote and ivory tower to average citizens, especially those that do not known an incarcinated person or persons. This, along with a relatively simple “crime should equal incarcination” philosophy winds up completely obfuscating the issue.

So what exactly is mass incarcination? When you boil it down, incarcination is nothing more or nothing less than feeding those convicted of crimes to gigantic land-crabs. And mass incarcination is feeding a lot of those convicted of crimes to a lot of giant land-crabs.

Now, surely you’ve all seen Cl-Clickrr, Tecumseh County Incarcination Crab #3, making its scuttling rounds outside the city limits or carefully guarding its clutch of gigantic eggs in the hollow near Collie Hill. You might have even seen an escapee, stained with digestive juices, that was able to escape incarcination when Cl-Clickrr attempted to regurgitate for its young.

But have you ever thought of the lasting effects of incarcination inside Cl-Clickrr?

What of the few that are paroled after serving their time submerged in hemolymph, that no longer have any hair or limbs? What about those who come home with an insatiable lust for crab meat and wind up robbing a Red Lobster? Those institutional men who immediately violate their parole or cover themselves with rotting shellfish?

Mass incarcination destroyes lives, destroys homes, destroys societies. All it does is protect the powerful giant land-crabs with a vested interest in the status quo. That’s why we need a saner system, one with fewer giant land-crabs, one with fewer convicts fed to those land-crabs, and one with land-crabs bred for rehabilitation rather than digestion.

Only then can we reap the benefits of other societies that have reduced or abolished giant land-crabs altogether. Only then can we shed the embarrassment of being second only to China and its infamous pandarisons in the feeding of our own people to gigantic organisms.

It’s time, people. It’s time.

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