Posts Tagged ‘drugs and prison’

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.

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?

ideaSome readers of this blog have submitted interesting ideas for your consideration. The first is about drug reform.

Drug Reform Stalls on California Governor’s Veto

Longstanding debate swirls around the nation’s drug policies, especially those related to simple possession.  Under current sentencing laws, certain drug charges classified as felonies carry sentences that don’t seem to match the crimes.  As a result, there has been a steady push to reclassify certain drug crimes as misdemeanors.

In the fall, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have done exactly that in the State, correcting disparities between offenses and punishments, once and for all.

Greater Flexibility for Prosecutors and Judges

Essentially, the California initiative would have given judges and prosecutors more leeway interpreting charges, allowing them to classify certain offenses as misdemeanors, which carry felony charges today.  Instead of lengthy prison sentences, offenders convicted under the new guidelines would be sent to treatment facilities to address drug dependency issues.  Probation and community service would also be applied to sentences in some cases, adding punitive elements as well as rehabilitation requirements.

The law was seen by some as an appropriate measure to alleviate the prison overcrowding problem in California.  Under current statutes, certain recreational drugs like LSD and Meth fall in an intermediate legal area, which may be charged as felonies or misdemeanors.  Drugs like heroin and cocaine, on the other hand, are always subject to felony charges.  The proposed law extended the flexibility to charge these drugs in the same way others are handled, giving judges and prosecutors discretion to issue misdemeanor charges when warranted.

Compelling Arguments from Both Sides

Opponents of the measure pointed to public safety concerns stemming from relaxed drug penalties, leaning on the long held position that prison is an effective deterrent for drug users.  On the other hand, supporters see two major benefits from relaxed sentencing guidelines for simple drug possession.

Felony charges stay with offenders, blocking access to jobs, housing and education required to get them back on their feet.  Supporters of Bill 649 saw less chance for convicts to return to jail if felony records were not imposed for drug offenses.  Instead, misdemeanor charges could be addressed without creating criminal records preventing personal advancement among those charged.

According to proponents, saving valuable resources and directing law enforcement efforts to more pressing areas are additional benefits of relaxing drug possession sentencing standards.

While federal sentencing trends are themselves moving toward greater flexibility for drug possession charges, Brown defended his veto, stating broader reform was on the way for California’s penal system anyway, so changing this single aspect of the system independently does not make sense at this time.

Author Byline:

This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for Backgroundchecks.org. She welcomes your comments at her email id: GrayRebecca14@gmail.com.

 

Krista Coleman sends along an interesting infographic, “What Makes a Killer?” Here’s the link: http://www.top-criminal-justice-schools.net/guns .

 

In Canada people are meeting the need for those who have a loved one in the criminal justice system. Based on first nations healing ideas, people share their experiences and find strength and hope in the process. See http://toddcanada.org/

And you?  How about a blog from you? Nameless if you want. (No names of inmates or prison names may be used without written permission.)

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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.

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  • 123rf.com