Part of my volunteer work is answering inmate letters. Some are funny, some are depressing, some are almost illegible and some are very professional. All say the same thing, with variations of the same theme. That theme is they want to get out, take care of their families and live an honest, responsible life.
It isn’t like someone wants to spend time in a cell. They have made mistakes and most regret them. Almost all the mistakes were made under the influence of drugs or alcohol or in pursuit of same. We are treating people for criminality when we should be treating them for addictions. They may be addicted to meth, heroin, alcohol, porn, or a myriad of other things, but they are addicted. Why are we treating them for criminality?
The crimes committed are a direct result of the addictions. If you look at questionnaires turned to apply for various programs, you would see that 90% of the applicants have addictions. Of the ten percent left, probably 6% are not truthful and the other 4% have mental illness. We are wasting our money by incarcerating addicts instead of getting them help, and the help would probably be a lot less expensive.
Then we release them into society without help or treatment for their disease and what happens? They succumb to the disease and fall right back into former habits. Only by helping inmates solve their addictions, educating them and finding out why they have them can we manage or at least modify the disease.
Look at it this way … suppose you are a diabetic. Okay, maybe you became one through poor eating habits and genetics combined. If you are just given medication and don’t change your habits, because no one told you how to eat better, you will probably get worse. That will result in your health deteriorating, possibly causing early death and or hospitalization, and costing a fortune in health care. If your doctor is proactive, and tells you to exercise and eat properly, maybe you can control your diabetes, or maybe you would not have gotten it in the first place. At least if you treat the cause of the disease and not just the symptoms, you have a better chance of a long life. Sure, you can’t control your genetics, but you can control how you live your life.
I leave you with an excerpt I read that vividly shows what inmates are up against.
“An addiction is not just a problem it is a disease. This is me calling for help. I want to get my life together but I can’t do it alone. Please help me. Help me become a father to my children. Thank you for your time and God Bless”.