New York City: Jail Is "Recession Insulation"

(New York-NY) Next month, the New York State Department of Corrections will launch a marketing campaign: “Jail Means Security” is the campaign’s slogan.

New York State Governor David Paterson announced the campaign at a press conference Friday morning. “It is a fact that in a recession, there are what is known as “volunteer criminals”, folks who commit a crime for the chance to sleep and eat in comfortable place, jail. Our thinking was why not run with this? Who says jail has to be limited to professional criminals?”

And run with it New York State has. Fifteen million dollars has been allotted to, as Governor Paterson puts it, “get this campaign off of the ground or more people in jail.” The Governor believes that “many people see jail as a negative. But let’s look at is this way. Where else can you get a room, meals, a gym membership and meet interesting people who will challenge you, take you outside of your comfort zone all free?”

Paterson stressed that the point of the campaign was not only to appeal to the criminal but to the “underemployed” who have not previously thought of incarceration as a “recession lifestyle choice. If we can get just one Subway busboy to pick-up that bucket he’s dunking that mop in and throw it through the window, we’ll have done our job.”

Also at the press conference was Jane VanPelt, of Humble Cow, the ad agency that developed the campaign. “At first,” said VanPelt, “the idea of jail, which we have now rebranded as “controlled environmental lifestyle”, as a recession hedge isn’t apparent.” VanPelt said this was largely because of “negative verbiage attached to positive resources.” VanPelt cited solitary confinement as an example. “Take one of our great writers, Henry David Thoreau, he had to go all the way to Walden Pond before he could write one word. And I’ll bet there was a jail cell right in town that he could have used free. And back then, all you had to do was spit on the sidewalk to get convicted.”

VanPelt said that solitary confinement would be a large push in the campaign because “many of those cells are empty.” The campaign attempts to fill those cells by attaching a “if you qualify” condition to them. “We see it as more of a luxury that a “guest” has to prove deserving of. To use the Governor’s example, it’s not just enough to fling that bucket through the Subway window. That gets you in. But do you have what it takes to be totally alone with your thoughts, a private suite?”

In a related note, White House Press Secretary Robert “Bob” Gibbs said the Obama administration would be keeping a close eye on the New York City “controlled environmental lifestyle project as a possible option for detainees in Guatanamo Bay.”

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