There are times when I have to ask myself
just what it is that's wrong with humanity. Today is one of those days.
While I am writing this column, I am preparing
to take a trip to visit my uncle. I will be driving North for four hours
along I-45 to a little town called Teague,
where I will have just two hours to spend
with him before having to drive back. Then it will be a month before I
can see him again.
My uncle is in prison. Not because of any
violent crime, not because he poses a continuous threat to society and
not even because he has bad luck. He is
there because the prison system in America
is atrocious enough to exist solely on the basis of profitability.
Several years ago, I believe it was 1995,
my uncle made a mistake. Drugs and greed worked their particular kind of
horrible magic on his life in a way he
spent many years correcting. Unfortunately,
that wasn't enough. In the year 2000, my family life was ripped apart because
he was sent away for seven
He had been off drugs for more than three
years at that point, and offered restitution to the company he was said
to have wronged. In prison, he could not
earn the money to pay back what was gone.
He was not in any way a violent offender, and his days of drug abuse were
far behind him. The best way he
could right his wrong was to stay in society
and pay them back. The judge did not agree.
It is a sad state of affairs when a nearly
40-year-old man with Multiple Sclerosis has to serve seven years of his
life -- 84 months he will never get back -- in
a place where his life is in constant
danger from the violent offenders he must live with. All because the judge
decided that was the only way to pay for his
crime. In asking myself why, I have come
to one horrifying conclusion.
I have never been to jail. I have never
been to prison, either. I thank God each day for the ability to say those
things, and live my life in such a way that I will
never have to either. Several people who
I know, however, have.
Why is it that they force the inmates to
buy many of the things they need at exorbitant prices? Because they can.
Why is it that they feed and clothe them
with the cheapest possible items? Because
they can. The prisons are there to make money, and the only thing they
understand is how to make a profit
There is absolutely no reason for many
people to be in prison. I believe prison should be there for those who
pose a continued threat to society, not
because money can be made off of them.
Not only do we spend tax dollars to care for people who would otherwise
hold jobs and pay taxes themselves,
we also have to give our loved ones the
money it takes just to keep in contact.
Stamps must be purchased from prison, as
well as all other items used to keep in contact with family. It is a privilege
to be able to do so, but one that they
make the inmates and those who support
them pay dearly for.
How can such greedy people exist? How can
people be so blind they cannot see just how useless it is to send these
nonviolent offenders behind bars
when the prisons are so overcrowded as
it is? Just what is wrong with humanity?