Grouting Our Way To Prison Reform

20171211_161022The other day I sat on the side of my bathtub re-grouting the tile and I had plenty of time to daydream. As my mind wandered, I think I found the solution to overcrowded jails and repeat offenders.
Grouting is an exhausting, tedious process. While smearing a sponge full of grout into the numerous cracks in the tile, I began to regret that I had ever begun this foul task.
I hadn’t the faintest clue that the worst was yet to come. I let the grout dry for fifteen minutes as suggested and then took a dry cloth to wipe off the excess, just as the directions instructed me.
Ha! The excess grout did not wipe off and I had to scrape it off, inch by inch. I spent a total of eight hours getting the grout on and then off the tiles in my tiny bathroom.
To pass the time, and because I think too much, I tried to imagine anything else I would rather be doing than attacking this dried on gluey mess and my imagination went wild.
I’d rather be working at my last job; bar-tending on a Friday night, making the drinks for all the other food servers while trying to wait on the bar, hand washing all the bar glasses while taking care of ten crowded tables of my own.
I’d rather have small children puking on my bed, running to the bathroom trailing diarrhea or crying all night again. To be honest, the very thought of small children in my house gave me a panic attack, but all manner of other trying situations floated through and were accepted by my mind.
I’d rather be thumbing in the freezing rain on a dark deserted road. I’d rather be using my mother’s old wringer washing machine, the most dangerous household appliance ever sold.
I even thought I’d rather be in prison making license plates and that got me to thinking about how some prisoners have an easier life than many law-abiding citizens do.
As I mulled over my misery, I got a fantastic idea. Grouting could be used as a cruel, yet justifiable punishment that would act as a strong deterrent to criminals.
Put ceramic tiles in all the prisons; tile the walls, the floors and the showers. Tile the cells, tile the recreation area, even tile the outside courtyard, just tile everything! Put offenders to work grouting and cleaning up the mess and then have them do it again, until it is perfect.
(After eight hours of hard labor, my grout looked as if a toddler had been at work and my body felt like a bruised pretzel.)
Finally, have the prisoners grout every government building from the post office to the White House. Send the workers into the schools at night and when they’ve grouted all the public buildings, lend them to homeowners who need their tiles grouted. I believe you’ll soon have a long waiting list for this service.
When these men and women face one tiled wall after another, the words chain gang will take on a new terror.
In addition, don’t forget the eroded, moldy grout. The acres of tiles to be scraped and redone will continue forever because tile always needs new grout. I think the person who invented tile and grout had their own unending employment in mind.
As I looked at the mess I had made, I wanted to cry. It took me another hour to vacuum the dust and to scour the tub and the floor.
At last, I turned on the shower and I stood under the flow, letting the warm steam loosen the cramps in my neck, the hot water easing the pain in my back from falling off the ladder I had tried to balance inside the tub.
I couldn’t stop thinking about prisoners doing my grout. I’d definitely invite a chain gang into my bathroom to grout my tiles. Believe me, grouting is a job from hell. I’d even let the Ted Bundy into my bathroom–if I had a gun and he’d grout my tiles.
An added incentive to operate this program is that each prisoner could learn an honest trade, one that would pay extremely well on the outside.
The one disadvantage that I can see is that it would cost the prisons very little to implement and I’m afraid for that reason alone, the lawmakers and the politicians won’t even consider this solution unless we allow them a budget of forty million dollars to study the idea.
Let’s stop babying criminals and get them to work grouting. My solution is at least as reasonable as any remedy that the politicians have offered, and I’ll give it to my country for free.
Trust me; I don’t have a slush fund, and I promise you, I don’t own a document shredder. I don’t even inhale my Marlboro cigarettes. (Well, okay, so what if I do? Do you have proof?)
If the program fails to deter crime, we will have lost nothing. People in the United States will never have to grout their own tiles again. It’s time Americans received something in return for all the tax dollars poured into the prison programs. We want something tangible for our money. We could get something besides the unfulfilled promises of safety in our homes and on our streets.
How many times will we respond to the requests for more taxes to build bigger and bigger prisons and receive nothing in return?
I challenge the citizens of America to search their minds for similar ideas and to develop programs based on the jobs we hate to do.
For instance, we could force non-violent offenders to baby-sit all the terrible two’s presently in time out. (Well, I guess that job could go to the death row inmates.) Make them mow our lawns when it’s a hundred degrees in the shade. Make them pull the disgusting clogs from our drains. Make them dig and weed our flowerbeds. Make them clean our ovens.
Write to your state representatives. Write to your United States senators. Exclude members of the government already incarcerated or under investigation, as they may not be sympathetic to the new “work programs.”
Tell them you want tougher punishments enacted.
Include your wish to have your name placed on the “Grout List” so you can avoid the stampede of requests that are sure to come.
Americans unite and let’s do our part to wipe out crime! Give the offenders our dirty jobs, jobs we can’t even pay a housekeeper to perform.
It could very well be the answer to fighting crime and either way, we win.

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