Opinion: Are Non Violent Prisoners Receiving Extensive Sentences?

silhouette of a man in window
Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

It has been estimated that the US prison system has cost our country, and tax payers, over $80 BILLION dollars per year. Not to mention additional costs by families who want to support their loved ones, stay connected, and add hope to overcome their isolation. That cost can roughly be another $2.9 Billion dollars in paid phone connections, commissary items, and restitution costs.

Just recently the state of California alone has proposed a release of 8000 prisoners who have 180 days left or less on their record due to covid-19 issues. This follows a previous release of over 3500. These are non violent offenders. One problem I see with this is some prisoners could have been non violent at the time of arrest but prison life has created a violent offense. Therefore they are no longer eligible. Did it take the corona virus to have them released sooner? Or might we think their sentences were too long to begin with?

Many non violent offenses are drug related. Since drug addiction is an illness, it seems that the tax payers funds, and family funds, should be better used for court mandated intervention and drug rehabilitation. As long as there are no violent offenses, why not opt for rehab instead of incarceration? Isn’t the idea of the arrest and discipline to teach, inform, and rehabilitate offenders so they can be active contributing people in our society?

What about anger management, drug diversion, technical schooling opportunities and other programs that might actually rehabilitate instead of ruining lives? Our lock them into prison and throw away the key mentality has caused more of a burden on society than to offer mandatory rehabilitation and create active, useful, members of society who actually could have a chance at a good life.

Don’t get me wrong here. There are those who deserve to be in prison because of the horrible things they have done while on the outside. Yet, there are also those who fall through the cracks of the justice system, feeling they have no other choices and end up in violent situations after incarceration that ultimately lengthens their sentences.

Just looking at how many prisoners recently released in the state of California alone tells us that there are those who obviously have received sentences that have been too long. Don’t we think that creating re-entry programs is a better choice than lock them up and release them into a world they are no longer used to? Life is about learning. Rehab for a drug addict should never be a choice in court, but mandatory. Programs where court reporting for drug rehab have been shown to actually work with juvenile offenders when held accountable. Accountability and mentor programs can go a long way in helping potential offenders develop character and skills to lead upstanding lives alongside their families.

For those who are not sex offenders, not violent citizens, do not do harm to anyone but themselves, don’t we think that maybe giving them a mandated chance for change, rather than incarceration could be a better answer? It seems that channeling our energy and tax dollars into mandatory rehabilitation centers would be a smarter idea than over crowded prison systems that do nothing but cause more anger, depression, feelings of separation and loss than rehabilitation. This does not even cover prison inflicted illness that can be life altering and life taking.

We have a country filled with talented drug counselors, anger management coaches, life coaches, and clergy that would make great candidates for employment in centers that help human beings become active members of our societies instead of training more prison guards  to monitor humans who really just needed a better chance in society. Many incarcerated human beings come from one parent families, usually with an absent father. Are we compassionate enough to give them the things they missed out on in this country? It’s not just about dollars and cents, its about what makes sense.

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

**References

The Marshall Project

 

What Will a Good Marriage Cost You?

couple cuddle-saidaonlineI know this title is a strange question. I’m not going to go into dollars and cents. The subject is so much deeper than that and so much more important. My dear, to everything in life that is worth pursuing there is a cost. It makes no difference what that is. If there is something you decide you want more than anything else, you will pay a cost. Some of it will be your time, efforts, sacrificing other things, or maybe giving up one dream for a bigger one.

If you want something good, like a good marriage, its going to cost you. Before I go into some of what that cost might be, ask yourself an important question. How important is it to have a good marriage? How about a GREAT marriage? This question is the first one you should ask and is the most important. Why you ask? We guide our decisions and ultimately our efforts according to importance. If we want something bad enough, we will work for it no matter what it takes. We will jump hoops and go out of our comfort zone. We will fight the good fight and not even bat an eyelash when adversity comes along. I think you get my drift here. So, what’s the verdict? Do you want a good or great marriage bad enough to do whatever it takes? After you answer this question, you may proceed to some of what this will cost you .

  1. You will need to lay down your “right to be right.” A marriage is not about who has the correct answer. It is more about exchanging ideas and coming to  a happy medium within those ideas. Its about compromise more than it is about our need for “rightness”. You might even be right, at least to yourself. But remember, your spouse is not you and operates on other thought processes which draw from experiences you did not share before you were together. We all have different experiences, and our decisions can be guided by them.
  2. You will need to lay down putting anyone else before your spouse. I know, I know, sometimes you need gal pal time, but if your spouse will have to be slighted during those times then it is not a good thing to press at the moment. Decisions on when those friendship times should occur can take place through open honest discussion. After all, he will need his time without you as well. It just takes planning.  No one wants to sit around waiting for their spouse to get back after a day apart and one of you has taken 3 or 4 hours more than your time. I am not fond of waiting for someone, are you? Don’t disrespect your husband by making him wait and wonder. Even if you call, you are speaking to his unconscious mind that your gal time is more important. Not a good deal.
  3. Sometimes you will have to lay down your right to have your say. Some arguments are not worth having, so listen objectively and just “be there” for him the way you would want someone to be there for you.
  4. Give up your old guy friends from before you met him. Yep, I am serious. Another man has no business being in your life unless you and your spouse spend time with him at the same time and all have become friends. Even so, if that man is single, spend no alone time with him. Respect and guarding your marriage is important. You will need to lay down some other relationships and prefer your spouse over them.
  5. Flirtatious behavior is off limits to a married woman. Respect of your spouse is one of the greatest gifts you can give him, aside from love itself. In fact, respect is a part of love. That is why the word is often in the marriage ceremony. You know, “Will you love and respect…” If you feel the need to flirt with others you are doing this out of your own insecurity and that needs to be dealt with from inside of you! Don’t drag your hubby down that road with you. Go to God and get yourself a good dose of self esteem.
  6. Be prepared to leave some of your independence behind you. Your husband will need to know he is valued for what he puts into your marriage. Independent things for you both are good for you, just don’t make yourself so independent that he feels you don’t need him. We all desire to be needed and appreciated for what we freely give to another.
  7. Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay ones life down for a friend and your spouse should be your best friend forsaking all others. If he is not then you need a friendship lesson. If he is not a good friend to you then maybe he needs one!
  8. Be willing to love when he is being or acting  less than love-able. Not everyone is in a great mood all of the time. You know that you are not. Your spouse won’t be either. Don’t take his bad mood personally and love him right on through it!
  9. Pray for and with your husband! A marriage that prays together stays together! Prayer is the power of God in your marriage! You could never underestimate this one!

I hope this gives you a good start. I know it might not be popular with your ego, but our first ministry is to our spouse, like it or not. It is what God has ordained. You can not minister to anyone else until you know how to do it with your family first and that means your spouse before anyone else!

PS, the exception to all of these is if you are being abused or mistreated. I have to add this in here because of the tendency for abused wives to become co-dependent husband pleasers in order to not be abused. This does not work out. Mutual respect is a major gift to a marriage that will work. If you are being disrespected then maybe you need to make a new decision. I’m a firm advocate that we teach people how to treat us. If you are being mistreated, never reward that behavior. Safely walk away from abuse. That one IS your right! 

Dear God, help us all to know and understand what the cost for a good marriage will be for us and help us to be better wives in the process! amen

Pastor Jenine Marie Howry

800-421-1765 for prayer