Saturday, February 14, 2009

While I'm at it

I was listening to Lowell Green the other day. That will be a thought crime soon, but for now it's legal. Anyway, they were talking about free needles for prisoners to control the spread of HIV and HepC in prison populations.

A number of good points were made. One good point was that if there is any place we should be able to control the drug problem, it's in a prison. Another was that it sends the wrong message. Third, the money spent giving away needles could be spent enforcing the law. All good points.

However the best part of Lowell's show was the guy who phoned in to talk about intermittent sentencing. He knew what he was talking about, having served 60 days intermittent for assault. Intermittent sentences allow the prisoner who has a job to serve his time on weekends so that he doesn't lose him job. Sounds like a good idea to me. And it is a good idea. Except it loses something in practice.

You see, many of the guys who have intermittent sentences don't actually have jobs. They get a buddy to sign a piece of paper saying they have a job, but in reality they are on welfare. Then, these guys serve as mules bring drugs in and out of the prisons. And if a guy doesn't want to be a mule, he gets told to do it or else.

Don't the prison authorities know about this? One would think so. And they do have ways of detecting the drugs. But it's a lot of paper work. And it is easier to let the prisoner dope up. And if you are working the weekend you don't want a lot of hassles. So it's easier to turn a blind eye.

Who pays the price? You and me. Paying our taxes and thinking that justice is being done. You and me thinking that society is being protected when it fact it is going down hill. You and me, living in a society that has laws but no enforcement of the law; a system without deterrence and without punishment and all of this intentionally so.


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