Posts Tagged ‘drug addiction’

Another example of the prison system’s inability to stand up for what is right involves sterile needles used for tattoos.

Prisoners use all manner of tools to do tattoos, none of them sterile. The result of this was infection with hepatitis and/or other diseases. The prison staff knew that in the long run sterile needles would lead to big savings of money and lives. So they allowed the men to set up sort of a tattoo parlor in the basement of Matsqui prison. The needles used were sterile and nobody got sick.

Someone in the community got the word that those convicts were getting free tattoos in the basement of Matsqui prison.

As they always seem to do, the prison staff caved in. The tattoo parlor was closed. Apparently it didn’t matter if men got Hepatitis A, B, or C. What was important was the image of the prison.

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The current state of the prison system is dismal at best. There are currently more than 2.3 million individuals incarcerated in the United States, and of these, nearly 85% either have a drug problem serious enough to meet the DSM-IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction, or are a part of the penal system as a result of a drug-related offense.

Obviously, this is a problem that desperately needs to be addressed. Whatever correlation you wish to draw from the data, there is obviously a connection between chemical abuse and being in prison. For this reason, it is important to consider how instituting strong drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are essential to prison reform.

These numbers need to come down.

Obviously, the overall number of prisoners in this country needs to be reduced, but the statistics above need to faced. We are not currently running a crime-prevention system, we are running a holding and breeding house for the country’s worst drug addicts. Nothing good can come from that.

The need to get high is a good reason to commit crime.

That should, of course, be taken in context. Many of the people in prison are there because of drug-related crimes, or because they needed money to get high. If you aren’t dealing with the drug addiction, you’re not dealing with the heart of the problem.

For many people, prison isn’t a great deterrent to what they are doing, because all they are thinking about is the next opportunity to use. Deal with that problem; let less junkies back out on the street, and watch your recidivism rate drop.

You have a captive audience.

For better or worse, these people are prisoners and wards of the state. Though you obviously can’t force them to change their behaviors, you have already embarked on a commitment to help them change their lives. Why not make a practical use of that time; requiring these inmates to face the issues of their addictions?

While already within the confines of our prison system, it only makes sense to show prisoners better options for conducting their lives. That means extending rehabilitative services on all fronts, rather than just dealing with the daily doldrums of being locked up, and the ongoing tension of prison life.

The system is there to rehabilitate these captive members of our community, and that means not only giving them time to think about the crimes they’ve committed, but mechanisms to understand the reasons they committed them, as well.  Helping prisoners understand what led them down the wrong path is the first step toward avoiding it in the future.

Many inmates are ready for a change.

On the other hand, for many addicts, landing in prison is their taste of hitting the bottom – hard. They are well aware they have problems, and desperately would like to get out of the rut that put them in prison – if only they were given a serious opportunity for a second chance.

It’s a better option.

Ultimately, whether you want to believe it or not, being behind bars doesn’t mean you can’t get high. Certainly, there’s more trouble and risk involved, but if you’ve reached this level, it’s hardly a concern. Depending on whom you are and who you know, many of the obstacles of using drugs when you’re behind bars can fall away. And regardless of your access inside, there is plenty of availability once you are out on the streets.

Rehabilitation efforts change prisoners’ perspectives, furnishing hope for better lives outside incarceration. Filling inmates’ time with positive intervention opens their eyes to the greater possibilities both on the inside and outside. Rehabilitation reminds inmates there is a path to salvation, enabling them to break free from their own limiting addictions.

Daphne Holmes is a writer from ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com.

What is your opinion? Which came first, the prison or the addict?

addictionPrisons spend big bucks making sure that no one can put drugs inside a tennis ball and throw the ball into a prison. Big chain link fences, netting strung over courtyards, and extra staff to patrol the grounds. The guards put visitors, their car keys, their glasses through high-tech machines to look for signs of drug use.

One day the guys in my class got talking. The question was, “What are you going to do when you get out?”

“I’m going to start an IT business.”

“I got to get my teeth fixed.”

“I’m gonna get married.”

“Listen you guys,” Lewis (not real name) said, “here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna have me a super drug party. I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m going to buy whatever I can and make up for all these wasted years.”

The guys laughed and ignored his comment as so much braggadocio. But his comment stuck with me. Why hadn’t the prison system helped him? Over coming addiction is not just keeping drugs out of the prison.

At the end of the class that year, it was hard to do, but the guys arranged for the prison photographer to take a group picture. They all had to sign releases, and they presented me with the picture. I have it in my room, above my desk.

Lewis is there, with what could be called a smile. But this picture is so poignant – Lewis did exactly what he said he was going to do. He had his drug party and died during it.

All those years he spent in prison. It was no secret that he had a drug problem. No one helped him. No one found the key to Lewis. No one even looked for it. It’s like the individual is not important.

A friend gave me Stephen Reid’s new book, A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden. One passage struck me:

Prisons are about addictions. Most prisoners are casualties of their own habits… Prison provides the loneliness that fuels addiction. It is the slaughterhouse for addicts, and all are eventually delivered to its gates.

Images courtesy of:

  • 123rf.com