This post as you will see is a venting about a system that is broken. Not just here in Berkeley County or West Virginia. Everywhere!
That system you may wonder? The criminal justice system.
Many of the jails in this country are now privately owned. I believe our own jail systems in West Virginia under the "Regional Jail System" are privately owned.
I remember when they were county owned but I believe they ran into trouble, losing money and revenue and I remember reading once that they were sold to be privately run.
Now, when I've mentioned that to a few they don't remember it, so they don't believe me when I say that it feels as if that is what started changing.
Suddenly everything is now an arrestable offense.
One of our own sons was arrested not too long ago on a driving with no insurance ticket he had from last year that he never received a summons on because they sent it in the mail to an old address. It was a misdemeanor.
While I know that is important in case someone slams into your car insurance rates on vehicles in this country are crazy high. We know. We pay for under insured drivers as well as uninsured drivers so let me tell you someone is paying when others don't or can't.
Unfortunately, he lost his job because of it. He worked at a grocery store. When he returned to work his manager told him, "We take arrests very seriously. We cannot have someone working in our store who has been arrested."
Seriously!!! On a misdemeanor driving violation? Anyway... I need to stop! I'll just get started again on another rant!
People need their jobs. People also have families and it is hard supporting a family on the wages today. We know. Our health insurance just went up yet again. We have always been a two wage earner family and these past eight years have been very hard.
It is just the hubby and I and I would love to be a housewife in our home. I can't. Anyway I'm going off on another realm and that isn't what this post is about. This post is about criminalizing everything.
Yes- I believe those committing drug offenses should be arrested.
Yes- I believe those committing crimes to support a drug habit is arrestable. BUT I also believe that people should be given the chance they need to prove recovery. We now have the Drug Courts and the Day Centers providing the assistance needed.
No- I don't believe suffering from a drug addiction should be an arrestable offense.
Those committing crimes to support their heroin or drug habit make the jails a revolving door.
Instead of correcting the problems here in Berkeley County in the first place by offering or making treatment and recovery possible we now have tons of people who are current or past drug users who cannot find jobs, they cannot find housing, they cannot go to a school to learn a trade all because they now have a record.
No jobs, no means of support, no home and they expect these people to go be outstanding citizens. How? Is it any wonder that we have a problem with addicts who relapse?
No I'm not making an excuse for them.
That is our biggest problem here in Berkeley County with the majority of repeat offenders who have tried to clean up and stay clean. There is no means of survival for many of them.
Many have lived in the world of abusing drugs for so long they cannot remember the steps to setting their lives straight again.
For many drug related offenders jail is the perfect place. They can still get whatever they were using on the street right inside the jail. Jail is the perfect place for outside contacts. Jail is the perfect place to learn to become a better addict.
We cannot scare addicts straight. We cannot expect them to just stop their behavior of addiction because of jail and we cannot expect an addict to just get it together. This will not and has not ever worked. Not without offering treatment and rehabilitation.
Addiction is something that you cannot arrest your way out of not without all the other proper steps in place to avoid recidivism.
Should my son go to jail if he has committed a crime? Absolutely he should!! But not for the reasons above.
Now here in Berkeley County we sort of have a double standard. If you are someone you get $5 fines and no jail time for crimes that ordinary people get years for and have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. That my friends is cronyisms. That leads ordinary people like myself to believe in town corruption.
I don't expect the jail to be the babysitter for someone addicted to drugs, but for God Sakes Alive there should be something in place- a program either inside the jail or upon release to help get them the treatment needed to become self sufficient once again.
People do recover and when they do there is nothing but social stigmatism and discrimination.
When our son at eighteen left our house to go out in the world on his own, we didn't send him into society as a drug abuser. Stop with the Stigmas. Drug abuse is not a moral failing. It is however a huge society failure. Proof?
Recidivism and Relapse. Coming Soon!!!!
pic from gariola .com
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