Tag Archives: Mandatory sentencing

World View Through a Straw

tunnel-visionHave you ever had a conversation with someone where it occurred to you that this person is suffering from myopia of the brain? They think they have it all figured out from behind a protective screen of comfort and privilege?  Of course I know that we are all a product of our own experience and upbringing, but sometimes it seems that there is something fundamentally lacking.

Perhaps the ability to figuratively walk a mile in another man’s shoes is a rare ability. All it takes to get me foaming at the mouth these days is to watch FOX news for 30 minutes. The big catch phrase for the last year or so is “a sense of entitlement.” It looks good on paper, but the reality is something very different. Does someone who is looking for a job, but can’t find one, have a sense of entitlement because they think that they should be afforded the opportunity to provide a roof over the heads of their family and food on the table? Do they have a sense of entitlement when they have a child who needs medical treatment, but can’t afford it because insurance premiums would cost half of their monthly salary at a minimum wage job?

Or how about a woman who is rotting in prison for 10 years as the result of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, while her children left behind are funneled into the bizarre and profoundly broken foster care system, guaranteeing them a life of being in the system and probably getting into a lot of trouble before they even reach adulthood.

Well she deserves it they say. Her crime? Maybe she took a phone message for someone who called the house looking for her boyfriend, husband, son, etc. and unbeknownst to her it turned out to be someone looking for drugs. So she is charged with “conspiracy to distribute drugs” and away she goes into a prison system crowded with people who are in there under mandatory sentencing laws on ridiculous trumped up charges to prove that we are winning the “war on drugs”. In my opinion this war has turned into a “war on poverty.” Criminalizing any attempt to escape the rat cage.

Poverty, homelessness, addiction… these are all complex issues, and I’m the first to admit that I have no clue as to how to solve these problems. However, I do know that turning it around to blame those in need and claiming that all they are looking for is a free ride is not the answer.

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