the war on drugs – a dismal failure

“Not criminalizing drugs doesn’t mean we approve of it,” says Nancy Gertner, a judge for the U.S. District Court in Boston, Massachusetts, in her speech to a panel of judges at the 1998 Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (VCL) sponsored by the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information (PRDI). She continues:

Not criminalizing drugs doesn’t mean we approve of it, any more than not criminalizing tobacco means that we approve of cigarette smoking or not criminalizing alcohol means we approve of it. Just because something isn’t criminal doesn’t mean it isn’t right. And yet that’s the way this debate has been cast: If you are against criminalization, you are encouraging use.

So I’m not saying drugs are a good thing. I’m not saying that while I’m a judge I’m going to ignore the law as it is . . . I took an oath and I have to fulfill that oath . . . I have to look at what Congress intended, however much I disagree with it. Continue reading “the war on drugs – a dismal failure”

saving a dime to perpetuate a cycle

dimeIn an effort to shave approximately $3 million annually from their $27.4 billion budget (State of Massachusetts), GOP lawmakers in Massachusetts have announced a bill to cut the payment of prisoners for performing routine maintenance duties within the state’s penitentiaries. This bill, while having the potential of realizing a marginal savings to taxpayers, is flawed. If enacted, this law would take away the only way some prisoners have of paying for vital personal care items such as toothpaste and razors while the cost of relegating these tasks to unionized labor, the norm in Massachusetts, has not even been determined. This nation, can not allow its prisons to become an even greater breeding ground for increased crime, debt, and demoralization than they already are. Certainly not while attempting to paint a picture of fiscal responsibility by lawmakers for the taxpayers they serve. Continue reading “saving a dime to perpetuate a cycle”

making them pay: restorative justice brings reconciliation out of retribution.

John Crimpton sits on a bus headed for his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. In his lap rests a worn bible, a small duffle bag full of his sparse belongings and a slip of paper. On the slip of paper is the name Renaldo Vasquez. John is one of the nations more than 650,000 inmates to be released from a correctional facility this year. Renaldo is a victims’ advocate and Restorative Justice Mediator. John has served his time behind bars but justice has yet to be done for the victim of his crime.  Renaldo seeks to assist in this process. Restorative justice programs have sprung up all over the nation. These programs reduce recidivism and secure public safety by restoring dignity to victims and offenders alike and by creating a space for reconciliation and true justice to take root (Price). To achieve a peaceful coexistence, our society must forego it’s punitive approach to criminal justice, and adopt a more restorative approach.

Prisons have historically been a place of punishment for wrongs done. It is only in recent years that prisons have begun to be thought of as a place of rehabilitation and even fall short of that most of the time. In the early 1800s, “Industry, obedience, and silence” was the motto for the new Auburn model of penitentiary in New York State. It was during this time that Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville paid a visit to the United States to tour the new facility at Auburn to bring back any applicable methods for implementation in France. Upon their return they remarked “while society in the United States gives the example of the most extended liberty, the prisons of the same country offer the spectacle of the most complete despotism” (Beaumont and Tocqueville 119). Continue reading “making them pay: restorative justice brings reconciliation out of retribution.”

eyes

You’ve been given beautiful eyes to see with. This gift allows you to look carefully at the world. This gift allows you to make your own decisions and to determine your own fate. You’ve been blessed with beautiful eyes that cry when you’re sad and glow when you’re happy.

This gift must be used carefully. These eyes can give you away and lead you to places you don’t want to go back to.

These eyes are a gift; no need to squander your gifts. No need to hide and protect them either. Use your gifts neither selfishly or loathsome. Enjoy your gifts and allow others to more fully enjoy you through them.

i am here

And so it begins.

This little foray into the blogosphere is underway and frankly, it freaks me out just a little bit. I have always had this little idea in the back of my mind that I had something to say. I had a tendency to say whatever it was that I had to say out loud and usually out of turn. I imagine that this thing might become some sort of weird conglomeration of poetry, music, photography and maybe even a little bit of social entrepreneurship. I hope that as this thing grows, someone might find it useful and great. Just a few days ago, my horoscope said

Take charge of your group. Assert yourself. Everyone is secretly looking up to you.

I wonder if it was right? I figure the worst that could happen if I head out and do this thing on my own is that I lose big and run around the streets homeless and destitute. Would that really be so bad?

~j