I grew up believing in the American dream that I could be anything I set my mind to do, I could own a home, and I could count on liberty and justice for all. Even with the most appalling national events of late, I still believed that the country would weather the storm and the ship would right itself. But I write to you today with passion and fear that we as HUMANS are failing our fellow man. First of all, I don’t defend the actions of criminals-never have, never will. If we are truly to support and uphold the tenet of “Liberty and Justice for All” then we have to do better.
IF the justice system is designed to exonerate the innocent and punish the guilty:
- Why would we lock up men who served their time in full?
- Why would we lock up men for what they MIGHT do in the future?
- Why would we lock up men with no definitive release date?
- Why would we target one offense to lock up potential future crimes?
- Why would we make men pay for and wear ankle bracelets in a locked facility?
- Why would we charge men 33% of all income and gifts (on top of paid taxes)?
- Why would we increase a multi-million dollar budget by 63% in just a few years and see no increase in the quality of care or release through rehabilitation?
- Why would we call a prison a center for treatment (locked doors, razor wire, ankle monitors, etc.)?
- Why would we only let them outside an hour a day if they are “residents” of treatment?
- Why would we only release a handful in half a decade?
- Why would we let a business profit from incarceration?
- Why would we let a business profit for NOT releasing “residents”?
- Why would we allow ONE person to decide if someone needed treatment? Even parole has a board of people to review release.
- Why would we move from outpatient care of productive working citizens that had served their time and were attending regular therapy for treatment to an inpatient facility (prison with another name) with no clear path for release in a FOR PROFIT shadow prison?
In Littlefield, Texas there is a FOR PROFIT prison holding men that served their time, or residents as the state would say, for crimes they MIGHT commit after they have served their full sentence. Justice, you say. I say business for mass incarceration. I say a failed idea when treatment is so inconsistent because of staff turnover and the deliberate reluctance to release because a company can’t make money off empty beds.
We should be ashamed. People should know.
Reframe your thinking. You get two speeding tickets. Now the state has decided that you will speed again. It is just a matter of time. The state revokes your license, makes you wear and pay for a monitor, and you have to keep paying the fine every month. You attend defensive driving, at your own expense, weekly, but you can’t pass the class. The instructor changes weekly and doesn’t know how well you did in the prior weekends. You cry “wolf”, but no one listens. Your just a poor guy in a little known, small Texas town. You can’t afford good counsel, but you know it’s wrong. Why would we do this to you? To anyone? You paid your fine, you attended the class, your insurance went up, but you might, you just might do it all again.
I don’t care who you are. Justice is justice. If you punish me for something I did and I take that punishment, then justice was served. If the legal system is designed to correct wrongs, why would we punish indefinitely? How can we punish indefinitely? Where’s the justice? Where is the chance for redemption? You tell me. You tell me.
The Texas Civil Commitment Center is a for profit shadow prison that makes money off mass incarceration with no clear path for release. We should all be worried about freedom. We should all be concerned about men that have served sentences that were handed down by their peers and a judge. When did we become a government that throws the very tenets of the law out the window to make money? This place needs to be investigated and wrongs need to be righted. When should someone be locked up, when they offend and a jury of their peers find them guilty. Liberty and justice for all, right? Whose freedom is at-risk next? Yours? Mine?