The Legal System

It may surprise some of you, especially you newbies, but I have been to jail.

Twice.

Nothing serious, just pure stupidity. Traffic stuff not taken care of.  Anyway, I’ve been to jail.

Once I was released, there were eleventy billion court dates (in 5 counties) to attend if I didn’t want to go back.  It has taken me nine months to run the court appearance gauntlet. It has cost me thousands of dollars, but that’s another story. 

I tell you all of that, to tell you this story.

I spent 10 days in St. Charles County, and met a lot of people. Most, repeat offenders.  Mainly drugs; meth, heroine, bath salts, were the drugs of choice.  While I was there, I got to spend 8 hours in a holding cell with Billie.  Billie was a heroine addict.  She had been in jail for three months, and even when she got out of St. Charles County, she had two other places to go before she would be released. 

She wasn’t in jail for heroine.  She was charged with theft.  She would steal in order to support her habit.  Her habit was $150 a day, just to be normal.  She could no longer get high.  Before she started using she lived in a three bedroom house, with a two car garage, and the cars to go with. She had a great paying job, and lived in a gated community with her boyfriend and their 4 kids. 

When I met her, her kids were in a different state and she hadn’t seen them in a 4 months.  When she was caught, the only thing she owned, were the clothes on her back, and a suitcase, which she no longer knew how to find.  Her boyfriend was out, and was making money, and trying to find a car, and living with his parents.  The same parents that would not let Billie move into their house when she got released. 

As we sat in that holding cell she told me how she was clean, had gotten clean in jail.  She now just wanted to get out, find her kids, and make a new life for her family. Jail had given her a fresh start. 

Two weeks ago, as I sat in court, they brought the jail people in.  And there was Billie. In cuffs. Standing before the judge with a $10,000 bond.  This time she was charged with possession of a controlled substance.  Apparently she hadn’t stayed clean. 

There are hundreds if not thousands if not millions of people just like Billie, who end up in jail every day for whatever reason. The girls I met would talk about going to prison and doing their 120.  In fact, they almost looked forward to prison because it was better than jail.  In prison you can smoke, buy soda and candy bars, you can go outside. 

There lies the problem.

We have more than enough laws on the books.  We don’t need to make more laws.  We need to enforce them, and we need to make the punishment as uncomfortable as we can so that it becomes a deterrent.  We don’t need more laws because the people committing the crimes could give two shits about the laws. We have prosecutors who are lazy, and will strike a deal to avoid going to court and having a trial.  We have jails and prisons that offer better amenities that some hotels. We have criminals who spend their time in jail dreaming of the day the can be back on the streets and score their first hit again. 

One girl was released, picked up by her dealer, and was back in custody less than 24 hours later. 

They use jail as a detox, so that first hit gives them the high they have been searching for. 

And everyone knows you have a second chance, a third chance, a tenth chance before this shit gets serious.  And even then it’s laughable.

We don’t need more laws.  More laws won’t stop the crime.  Especially when the people charged with enforcing them and prosecuting them only do half ass jobs.  And they do half ass jobs, because they are getting half ass paid.  There are too many cases for the pay they are getting. 

I met a prostitute, while in jail.  25 years old, teaching a 17-year-old the ropes.  She came in, pissed, crying because she missed her Daddy (pimp) who wouldn’t come and bail her out. She will set there for a long while, as her case winds it’s way through the judicial system. 

And all she could talk about is when she gets out, she can have her Jimmy Choos back, and her Jag. This was just a bump in the road. 

Jail and prison are really no big deal.  More laws won’t matter.  Not until we make incarceration, at any level, punishment and not a vacation.

Billie will be out on the streets again in six months.  How long she will be out will be anybody’s guess.  

 

About Becky

While control is an illusion, organization helps to manage the chaos of our lives. Becky was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007. She has found that when her life and home are organized her bipolar mind is less manic. She shares her attempts at managing the chaos of living with her fiance and tweenage step-daughter, while trying to be a good parent to her mostly grown children who live 2 hours away.

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