letter submitted today to the Tallahassee Democrat. Getting sick to death of self-righteous Christians (and others) who want nothing to do with rehab but think more people in jail is just fine.
In the March 8, 2007 on-line edition of the Washington Times, Representative Sandra Adams (Rep) is quoted in an article about the Anti-Murder Act recently passed by the
"These individuals are the worst of the worst." "I say let's lock them up. They didn't take their chance, their opportunity." (
I have a brother who was discharged last year after serving 10 years in prison. The circumstances of his release and the on-going sabotage of his efforts to become the man he was created to be is the story of massive disinterest in the success of former prisoners. The main goal of release appears to be re-imprisonment. His experience has opened my eyes to the hurdles, hoops and barriers by which our justice system ensures failure rather than the rehabilitation and return to society of former law-breakers.
If members of our society truly understood this, there would be much outcry against the punitive approach of this proposed legislation. What would recidivism rates be if incarceration were truly a rehabilitative experience rather than a punitive measure?
What if part of a prison sentence included an intensive transition process once a prisoner was discharged? What if that transition process included ethical employees who took pleasure in the success of their charges?
The article further mentions that some black lawmakers suggested that “Florida needs to provide more services to help newly released inmates find a place in the world,” and quoted Rep. Curtis Richardson (Dem), as saying that Floridians “can never incarcerate our way out of crime.” This very valid point is not that crime should not be punished. The point is that our criminal justice funds are mis-spent on a system which metes out punishment and ensures failure instead of meting out punishment and helping to create success.
While I recognize that there are people who truly pose a danger to society, this proposed legislation is more about contributing to a culture which finds it easier to lock away offenders than explore options which, in the long run, will benefit all our society.
If you, as a citizen, think recidivism is a problem, form or join a group which helps newly-released prisoners develop the life-skills and job skills that will enable them to respond to freedom in productive ways. Give money, give time, give votes. Pray, even. Push for a rehabilitation of the criminal justice system and participate in a society which enables rather than hinders the transition from prisoner to citizen.