When The Scales of Justice Need Re-Calibrating!
By caged bear of truth
I consider myself an advocate for people going through the Criminal Justice System, and Family Services Division of the Justice System, because I myself have been through a good deal of both, and have studied extensively on the subjects of both areas, to the paralegal level, at a minimum. I had considered a professional career in this, but I think I would become more frustrated by the amount I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t be allowed to do, so I help people where I can make the greatest impact. To qualify, I have assisted Pro Se parties, (Self Represented) in both Criminal and Family cases, ranging from Divorce’s and Child Custody issues, to both misdemeanors and felonies, and I have managed the surrender of fugitives from justice. At least with me helping people, I have eased the most stressful part of any of those processes; being alone.
The reason I write this now, is we as a society lock up way too many people these days, and for the most asinine reasons. Although, statistics show overall, we’re getting better at it: With a total of Incarcerated Persons at 2,418,352 persons in 2008, to 2,220,300 in 2013, to 1,561,500 by 2015. The United States still has the highest rates of Incarceration of the world. Blame as to why this is, is being thrown all over the place, at everyone, and for every reason under the sun. No one will take accountability for it. But, the answer is simple: It’s the courts. The judges, & prosecutors specifically. Why? Because it’s easy, and they have caseloads that a robot would have a hard time with, and it’s just easier to throw people in jail. And when I say that, I mainly mean the end result. When folks are arrested, and arraigned, it’s a pretty simple game; You better have money available to bond yourself out, or you will be placed in a purgatory for an undetermined amount of time, where you will be forgotten as quickly as a piece of dust being swept up.
And the view that the public has of jails and prisons are so incorrect that everyone should have to spend a week in a county jail, just so they have an informed decision, before they spout off at the mouth about inmates and prisoners. Most people have this distorted view that everyone in prison or jail is a violent criminal or rapist, or thief, of druggie, and they should never be allowed to see the light of day again. The reality is, is that yes, there are violent, bad nasty people in prison, but they only account for a very small number of inmates. Sticking to County Jails, men and women can be in there for simple trespass, to larceny, to driving under suspension- anything they cannot post bond for, for whatever reason. Recently I came to find out that a good deal of inmates are in jail for failure to pay child support. The other reality people fail to realize, is that 90% of inmates have drug and alcohol abuse problems.
The question is, why should you care? Am I right? Well, here’s a fact that no one either realizes, or believes. Most think that we take people and put them in prison to remove them from society, when that isn’t just a lie, the truth is that Prisons and jails are actually part of society. They were originally designed to take these people, reform them and correct them, so that when we return them to society, they are less likely to reoffend again. And here’s the second half of that uncomfortable truth: 95% of all inmates will eventually be released. But we got away from reforming anyone. In fact programs for inmates are being cut in record numbers. So, what we ultimately do, is warehouse people until they’re sentence is done, and having been so productive doing nothing in there, things like the Cheshire Home Invasion happen. Ask Mr. William Petit how that worked out.
The argument will always be, that those programs cost money ( And we’re broke anyway, so how do you want to be able to pay for that?). The fact is, for basic services, it costs the State of Connecticut, $138 per day, per inmate. That doesn’t take in to account any medical costs, or programs. That’s Clothes, 3 Hots, and a Cot. (Tom Bodette at Motel 6 can do it cheaper, and shit, he’ll leave the light on for you!) So, if you do the math, figuring Connecticut has approximately 17,000 Inmates, that’s $2,346,000 per day, and $856,290,000 per year just to keep the inmates housed, clothed, and fed. That doesn’t take in to account costs for Staffing, Medical, Mental Health, Maintenance, etc, etc.
Maybe if we concentrated on treatment, rather than incarceration for Drug & Alcohol cases (Possessions, and DUI) and eased up on locking up Non-Violent Misdemeanors, and worked on Counseling Child Support Offenders for Employment Services- and those are just some ideas. Perhaps we could lessen up on Correctional Systems, and costs.
And, I have to throw this in, even though its partially decriminalized; How about legalization of certain amounts of Marijuana? I think Colorado has shown us that the Tax incentives are incredible, and crime went down 19%. I don’t use marijuana, but those are figures you cannot argue with.
In closing, I’ll address this to the Judicial System: Stop locking people up for minor infractions! When you do that, you do not correct problems in society, you are the problems of society!