Updated: Aug 20, 2020
On August 18, 2005 I walked out of a Michigan prison, broke and broken.
I was back in jail by the end of the year, still sporting stitches from a head-wound sustained in yet another car accident. Parole violation. DUI. A hundred days back in prison, then kicked to the streets again, with nothing but the clothes on my back. The revolving door of prison release is built into the machine. They kept my bunk warm for me while I was away.
Back on the streets, I became addicted to heroin (again). It was the only way I knew to effectively treat my anxiety and depression, which were both exacerbated by the untreated trauma of prison. And the beat goes on.
My story is the norm, not the exception to the rule.
Episode 14 is about crime and punishment...and I will finally respond to your requests to talk about my criminal record. There is a ton of information in this episode, so citations (clickable) and suggestions for further reading are provided below.
If you or someone you know is in prison and looking for hope, check out Captured Words Free Thoughts, a small magazine full of inmate poetry, art and prose which is published by generous donors once a year. I help edit and screen entries, so send your stuff to DrJunkieShow@gmail.com and I will make sure it gets to the people at the top. You can also send it via "snail-mail" to UC-Denver at the address listed on the back of every edition.
Now for the facts...
The average cost to incarcerate an inmate in the United States is between $31k and $34k per year. Right now we have around 2.3 million inmates locked up, with another 4.4 million on parole or probation.
We spend around $180 BILLION every year on maintaining the prison-industrial complex: jails, prisons, police cars, judges, courthouses, transports, special narcotics units, probation and parole offices, etc. And we get very little in return for that massive expense considering 4 in 5 released prisoners go back to prison within a decade of release.
Almost half of all federal inmates are in prison for drugs. Without them the federal prison system would shrivel, forcing administrators to lay off thousands of employees.
1/5 of state level inmates are locked up for drugs, 1/5 for property crimes (stealing stuff), and around 1/6 for "public order disturbances," which are often directly related to intoxication.
The other half of state inmates are in prison for violent crimes--things like robbery, assault, murder or kidnapping. But many of these are also directly related to drug use or sales. The Prison-Industrial Complex only survives through the continuation of the war on drugs. Without it we will be forced to deal with a massive shrinking of the economy, and some prison towns may well be risking their existence.
Check out episode 14: "Crime" for more. And reach out with your questions, or ideas for future episodes. I read all of my email from listeners.
The Justice Department's report on systemic racism and oppression in Ferguson, MO is HERE