I got a letter from an inmate today.
It reads in part:
“….I see these two guys getting into it – next thing I notice is that the one guy has a jailhouse knife and starts stabbing this other dude in the face and head. By the time the cops figure out what is going on it’s an ugly fucking mess. The cops run over to spray the both of them with pepper spray while the guy in the tower is shooting these solid rubber bullets at the two guys. Then out of nowhere this other guy gets brave and runs over and jumps on one of the cop’s back to keep him from stopping the guy who is stabbing the other guy and it works because both cops are now trying to fight off this dude who’s jumping on the cop while the other dude continues to stab the other dude. Fuck, it was an ugly scene. It was a bloody mess.
But THEN, these other two guys from the stabbed guy’s gang got up after they were ordered to lay down on the floor and jumped the stabber’s homies. Stupid gang shit – I hate it – But this is where I live for the time being.”
This was part of a letter from an inmate doing about 17 years for non-violent crimes. It will cost the state of California tax payers approximately $510,000 to keep this non-violent person in prison for his non-violent crimes.. that is over a half million dollars just for this ONE non-violent inmate. This is NOT the first violent act resulting in a bloody mess he has seen in the almost 5 years he has been in prison for a non-violent crime, and he will see many more violent bloody acts in the 12 or so years he has left to do.
Society will EXPECT this inmate to be released ‘BETTER’ than he was when he went in. Society will EXPECT, for all their tax dollars spent, that he will have ‘learned his lesson’ and be completely rehabilitated when he is released.
This inmate is my husband. This inmate is the man who did all the awesome artwork for my book and who has shown me love like no other man ever has. My heart breaks with the thought that one human could stab another human in the face repeatedly for any reason at all…. my heart breaks for the cops that also could have got very hurt. But my heart also breaks that my husband, the most loving person I know, is FORCED to witness such violent acts while WE all pay for him to be in that ‘environment’ for so long, for non-violent crimes.
My heart weeps for our monumentally broken criminal justice system. The system is NOT ‘fixing’ people… the system is often creating environments to promote violence, not curb it. Sadly this taints even ‘good’ people at heart… including the staff who goes home every night with that adrenalin.
We pay taxes which pay for schools, prisons, youth programs, and support programs that build better communities… WE ARE ALL PART OF THIS SOCIETY. Like a pebble skipping across a pond, there is always a ripple effect. I wish we could all figure out how to only toss positive and happy stones, not negative and destructive ones….
THINK about the next stone you pick up or pay for…. what is YOUR ripple effect? Is it thrown with hate or with tossed with your heart?