Tears are filling my eyes as I read reports from the state and other organizations talking about the conditions of prisons in the United States. It is like an ache in my heart for the people in prisons. Part of me feels its because I know someone in prison and I would feel so much sadness if he were adversely affected by overcrowding in the prison he is in.
I know a lot of people who are absolutely against the two propositions that changed some of our laws as they relate to criminals. I wish more people would have come forward with other solutions. Solutions that would prevent recidivism and also help the population as a whole.
I am still reading up on the history of why the two propositions were put in place. I did research when they were on the ballot, but did not do extensive research on the federal push for reduction of the prison population. It’s appalling what these inmates are experiencing. In several prisons it is so overcrowded that prisoners are in bunks in common areas, and those bunks are stacked 3 high. The plumbing is so bad in some of the prisons that the waste from the prisons have contaminated local water supplies. In some prisons the suicide rate is close to 1 a week.
It is part of human nature to want revenge when someone hurts us. We are also tend to want to use punishment as a deterrent to crime. The thing is, that doesn’t stop people from committing crimes. There needs to be a comprehensive system in place. The higher the education, the lower the cases of crime. The higher the rate of employment, the lower the crime. And with these and other systems increasing, the more other issues are lowered.
Sadly at this time our society’s focus seems to be all talk. And the only action is behind closed doors and only benefits those who don’t actually need the system change. They’re more the people who don’t want a system change. They want us to continue to argue amongst each other. One side saying we should help those less fortunate and the other saying people should lift themselves up by their bootstraps and stop being a beggar. The thing is, the current system behind those doors works against both of these camps.
Part of me wonders why I call myself a secular humanist. I wonder if it’s even worth my time to even label myself as that as I don’t see many others living under the same principals. But then I get to remind myself that being a secular humanist isn’t about other people aligning with my principals. My principals are mine. I get to remind myself of this every time I see people living in a way that doesn’t align to what I hold dear.
I heard a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson on The Science Enthusiast podcast today that said “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.”. What I took away from that is that I can speak all I want on a belief that I have, but if my actions don’t align with it, I am not in alignment with who I really am.
I don’t think I am the person who will be making a change in the prison system (and greater societal infrastructure of education, employment, healthcare, and the like) in this country. I can write my representatives on a weekly basis. I can write the governor. I can protest prison buildings and do any number of things. But I don’t think I will be the one to make any change. The thing is, I have got to at least say something. My silence goes against who I am as a human. It goes against my life principals.
(yes, I know this post kinda went somewhere unexpected, but it made sense in my head. 😀 )