Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Prison: Punishment or Rehabilitation?

OK.. So.. spme of ya'll know that I have now brought home my friend that was in prison.. or as we like to refer to it.. She was a guest of the State of Texas for 13 months. Having someone close to me in prison has opened my eyes and let me see another side to the whole system.
Yes, I know that prison is supposed to be a punishment of sorts for your individual "crime against society." I find out the more I go through my schooling and the more I just live and learn that the grey areas of life become more prevalent when it comes down to the law and punishment.
I understand that people who break the law need to be punished in accordance with our laws or we would have a senseless freedom run amuck country.. If your crime has more to do with a crime against yourself as in the case of drug addiction, what really is the desired outcome?
I am a recovering drug addict myself who had some brushes with the law. I was fortunate enough to be put on probation both times and it was the second time of being arrested that I finally had the thought, "Ya know.. I just MIGHT have a problem here." And yes.. the sarcasm you thought you read was fully intended. I knew I had a problem but what i didn't know.. was how to fix it. I was determined though that I wasn't going to prison so I found a rehab.. with the thought that if I went.. they might not put me away. Not that I had ANY intention of giving up my drugs of choice.. The awesome thing is.. once I got into the rehab.. I heard something that clicked with in me.. I stayed in a course of lessening restrictive programs until I felt I could live my life again .. on my own.. clean and sober. thankfully.. It has been almost 7 years since I got high. Although it took 17 months of working at it.. and being guided to get to where I could safely live by myself again.
The point of this being.. well one of them anyway.. is that in the state of Texas.. well over 70% of the people that are incarcerated in the prison system are there for drug charges. They are continually running out of bed space for non violent state jail felony offenders. The cost of housing an offender is well over 60,000 a year. The myths of getting an education, any sort of vocational training, health care and safe or moral treatment in prison are just that .. MYTHS. A large percentage of the time.. an offender comes out.. bitter, spiteful and totally demoralized from the entire experience.
Addiction is a disease and it corrupts the entire person.. mentally, physically and spiritually.. I would think, in order for the sytem to better serve the populations of the state which supports them.. that they would try and work on making an offender into what they like to call.. a "productive member of society." There are few programs in place in this state to treat addiction in prison. there is no counseling, there are no classes, save the ONE NA or AA meeting a month, if the people show up.
What would be the cost to implement programs that have the potential to change thousands of lives? I am not naive enough to think that everyone will be changed. I know that isn't reality, but what about say.. 100 people out of 10,000. Statistically, I think that is in line with the people who stay clean after the 30 day wonder treatment that is available to the selct few that have money.. or the VERY select few that slide in on a free bed status.
1%... thats not much.. but it is proven by facts.. that the longer you get treatment.. the better your chances of staying clean are. Now.. you have a captive audience in prison. What better place to teach about the disease of addiction? What better place to have people work on why they became addicted in the first place? What BETTER place to teach people how to live in society? 100 people might not be much.. but.. thats 100 people that wouldnt go back.. That's potentially $600,000 dollars in savings.. wouldn't that be enough to implement some sort of treatment for people?
The reality of it is this.. Texas doesn't just have a prison system. they have a prison "industry". it is almost self supporting with the products they produce. Of course they have a relativly small payroll since they use inmate labor. It is dependant on the continual supply of people to sustain itself. Would it be a dark conspiritor theory part of me to say.. they don't want to help people get right in order to keep the supply coming? One must think about that...
If I come across as pushy about this.. dont be mistaken.. it is because I AM!! I know what it took for me to get clean.. and trust this.. I wasn't one of the easy ones.. I had a 20 year love affair with my mistress .. and her name was Krystal Meth.
So.. next time you hear about an addict being locked up for simple possession.. remember this.. they are someone's sister, aunt, daughter, wife, lover.. and they have a disease that can be held at bay.. If only we as a society take the initiative to help and to care...
What would your choice be?


Bipps said... would think they could use that 60,000 to treat people then maybe you would save more than 100...and thank god you won over your mistress

Anonymous said...

"If your crime has more to do with a crime against yourself as in the case of drug addiction, what really is the desired outcome?"

On this one particular comment, I would have to say that drug addiction is much more than a crime against "yourself" ... what about the crimes' commited against one's Family??? What about the Friends, the Employers, it wasn't just against ONE-SELF.

Bammy said...

Perhaps I was being too simplistic with my comment.. it was more of the non violent aspect of possession of methamphetemine.. as compared to muder...or any sort of aggravated crime..