An excerpt from a blog on The Hartford Courant’s website:
But in the United States the drug reform movement is sharply focused on marijuana and not on drug prohibition as a whole. Unfortunately, this focus ignores three other longstanding and devastating social issues.
- First, drug war policies have needlessly taken potential taxpayers out of the community and spent tax money to keep them in prison.
- Second, twenty million children have been orphaned because one or both parents have been sent to prison on drug related charges.
- Third, in that process of economic and family disintegration, public and higher education have been dramatically shortchanged.
As a result, billions of dollars that could have funded education and health care have been consumed by law enforcement for punishment that has worsened community safety and health. Inner city business investment has been thwarted. We have taken countless young people out of our community on drug charges and wonder why they and their contemporaries no longer have faith in our criminal justice system. Our children are not stupid; they see two forms of justice, one for the well-connected, and one for the poor. Society will pay for this perception of injustice for decades to come.
Deanna Taylor, a Green Party member in Utah, has started a new website to offer support to families of people in our nation’s jails.
I have recently learned about the significant lack of resources for families of loved ones who have been incarcerated, families who have been left with nothing when a loved one is sentenced to jail or prison. Private companies capitalize on this, taking advantage of low income families which incur exhorbitant costs for phone calling with only one option for receiving phone calls from their loved one in jail, finding and sending money for the prisoner’s commissary fund so they can purchase the items that jails will not permit families to bring to them. In many cases, too, families are separated by hundreds of miles and when they gather the resources to go visit, they are subject to treatment by personnel as if they were the criminals. Additionally, there are few facilities (those few being mostly in California) that have family friendly places for visitation, something that is desperately needed.
In essence, our “justice” system contributes to a vicious cycle of poverty, lack of resources for families, children without parents, and the social stigma of having a loved one incarcerated. The way our “justice” system is devised, those that incur the brunt of the “punishment” are the families.
In response to my discovery and desire to work for reform, I have created an online resource for support, Motion to Support.
There is a lot of work to do in reforming the criminal justice system in the U.S.
Taylor’s new advocacy website, and it’s resources, can be found at Motion to Support.