LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Treating poverty, addiction, mental illness key to recidivism

Recently our citizens have become ever more opinionated about the current state of affairs concerning our prison systems and the treatment therein. The opinions of Mr. Ken Abraham (Letters to the Editor, June 26 [“End legal slavery]) and Mr. David Pleasanton (Letters to the Editor, July 5 [“Legal slavery?”]) reflect opposite ends of the spectrum. The rhetoric people spew is profoundly ignorant when they don’t think before they speak.

The issue of incarceration and lowering the recidivism rate is a highly complex issue. Rationally speaking, all factors have to be taken into account. Granted, as citizens, we want to be tough on criminals to deter them from becoming habitual offenders. But for those who don’t know, the purposes for imprisonment are [as] a deterrent, rehabilitation and victim compensation.

Anyone who believes harsh/extreme, dehumanizing conditions are an effective deterrent is sadly mistaken. It illustrates how most people lack even the understanding why crimes are committed in the first place. Poverty, addiction, mental disorders, etc. …. And what about the wrongly convicted? What of those who commit nonviolent crimes? Should we subject them to draconian chain-gang labor camps, as well?

Our prison systems are partly contributions of a capitalistic society which profits from mass incarceration. Crime reduction has almost never been attributed to harsh punishment. These are economic and psychological issues which can’t be solved with a mere iron-fist, Jim Crow ideal.

If we are to be effective in deterring criminal behavior and rehabilitating offenders; understanding the cause of an effect is the first step. Ultimately, the rudimentary issues here should be being tough on poverty [and] tough on curbing addiction, investing in proper treatment for [the] mentally ill, investing in pre- and post-release programs, as well as altering the stigmatization of ex-offenders which prevent them from re-entering society productively.

Anyone with any degree of cognizance on these issues knows that one specific group of people is grossly disproportionately affected by these societal perils. Please get properly informed before bestowing the public with your nesciently radical and antiquated ideals.

The “justice” system miscarries our citizens’ rights more than we know or care to admit. Hard labor? Why not implement lashings and a firing squad, too! It sounds like Mr. Pleasanton wants to “make America great again”! Legal slavery isn’t too far-fetched. Just read the 13th Amendment of our Constitution.

Siana Dolby
New Castle

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