I just read a disturbing news article about a Texas man, Jacob Lavoro, who has been arrested for making and selling pot brownies and cookies. If convicted he is facing the same sentence as many convicted murderers because both crimes are first degree felonies in Texas. That’s 5 years to life for selling pot brownies.
I find this extremely upsetting.
If this was just one man, it would still be incredibly upsetting. Every human being matters and deserves sympathy. For even one person to so deeply suffer needlessly for years or a lifetime in the terrible, disgusting, inhumane environment of prison is unacceptable. The conditions of prison are so inhumane that in Texas, for example, prisoners are known to be dying from the heat in prison. Nationwide, it is estimated that up to 23% of prisoners are sexually victimized in prison by staff or other inmates.
But this isn’t just one man.
Jacob Lavoro is just one interesting story taken from the news this very week. The majority of the over 2 million people incarcerated in the United States–which has the highest incarceration rate in the world–are there for consensual activities (a.k.a. victimless crimes) like drug possession, prostitution, or feeding the homeless without a permit. In fact, only about 8% of the prison population is there for violent crime.
While that expensive procedure of so inhumanly incarcerating millions of non-violent people makes lots of money for the wealthy special interests who receive that money and who control the government with lobbying and campaign contributions, it puts the rest of us in a lot of danger.
If you wonder why violent crime rates are out of control, this is why.
If you wonder why an untreated dangerous sex offender moved in next door to your family, this is why.
If you wonder why your taxes are so high and where your tax money is going, this is why and this is where.
If you wonder why dangerous ghettos filled with a disproportionate number of black and brown children has ruined the dream of equal opportunity in this country, this is why.
But, perhaps most importantly, my heart goes out to Jacob Lavoro and each and every person left to rot in these awful prisons. We cannot go on treating each other like this and turning a blind eye to suffering. We are not only so foolish now, but cruelly so.
What do you think?