Posts Tagged ‘helping individuals’

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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