Odds are, you have never been to prison. Odds are, you do not know anyone in county jail. However, if you are poor and live in Hamilton County, Tennessee, odds change. If you are poor in Hamilton County, your life is different and the cost of your mistakes often include your human dignity and freedom.
Who among us does not have something in our past for which we are ashamed? The need for acceptance and belonging drives us all to behaviors we regret. I say if our offense is a non-violent crime, we should not be denied our basic human right to get another chance to be better or denied connection to our loved ones.
No matter your mistake, I would never want you to go through the trauma of what mostly young, poor men go through when they fail to make child support or show up late to a court date or get caught with a joint in their pocket. These young men go to prison for one reason - they can't afford their own freedom. And when they go into a Hamilton County jail, they often can't afford a phone call to a friend or a cup-a-soup.
I want to see an end to this cruelty. I want to see an end to the private prison system in Hamilton County before our county government signs a 100-year deal to continue the oppression of the poor. Call you county commissioner and they will tell you all about it.
This is why on July 14, the first day of early voting, I will cast my vote for Aloyse Brown for county mayor and Victor Miller for county sheriff. I urge you to do the same. Vote local. It matters more.
Early voting begins July 13-28. Election day is Aug. 2.
Emily Kate Boyd
* * *
Ms. Boyd, you just told everyone what is wrong with our great country in your letter attempting to comment about private prison. Believe it or not we do have laws pertaining to drugs and yes you have to go to court when you have a court date and lastly if you have children you must pay for them as directed by the court system.
Rich or poor you must be responsible for your actions. I guess you are fine with the taxpayers paying the way for deadbeat dads who keep having kids and never paying for them and for them to smoke weed after they miss their court dates.
Good advice for these lads is to get a job, no weed, and keep your britches on and you will not have to worry about our private prison.
* * *
I would like to agree with Ms. Boyd that prisons based on the profit of corporations are necessarily corrupt and do not serve the best interest of the prisoners or the general public, "taxpayers" if you prefer. People who are in prison are not all guilty. Regardless of whether they're guilty or not, it is in all our best interest to give them an opportunity to improve their lot in life, if that is their desire. But at the very least, they should be able to expect humane treatment and safety. It is our responsibility as a civilized nation to ensure this.
I'm not saying that prison should be a vacation. I'm saying that it should not be merely a way for a few to become wealthy. I hear people say fairly often there we are a nation of laws. But when those laws are largely aimed at monetary gain for a few, what is the motivation to rehabilitate anyone? I might also mention the difference between blue-collar crime and white-collar crime and the treatment of those convicted of each. If our only concern is enforcement of the law, there shouldn't be such a vast difference. But if our goal is profit, it changes the equation. Call it extreme, but it begins to look as though 'every man' is part of a cash crop.
Be that as it may, I realize the incarcerated are a hard lot to love, for most. Consequently there are very few people who speak for them, the idea being that if one doesn't do anything wrong, one will not have to worry about one's treatment in jail. However, if you read, or you watch television, you know this is not always the case. With 150 new laws in the state of Tennessee taking effect July 1, it occurs to me that it may become difficult to avoid running afoul of all laws in the U.S., if it hasn't already.
Yes, to maintain a reasonable society there must be laws. It follows that there must be a penal system. But it is not a given that it must serve corporate greed. That is our choice. People make mistakes, and hopefully, learn better. Everyone who is paying for those mistakes in prison is someone's loved one. I hope that we as a nation choose to invest in our people rather than continue to be part of the corporate-ocracy.