This has been a sad week for me. As you know I have worked in the social service industry, after retiring from a career in information systems and finance. It is one of those thing us ‘baby-boomers’ do – giving back something that was given to us. The social service field is really tough. I met some really fine people, overwhelmed by a hopeless state of mind and body.
One of my new friends was killed this past week. He was 27 years old. First a little about him. He graduated from a local high school with varsity letters in football and basketball. Our town is big enough to talk about the North Side, South Side, East Side, and Midtown. This particular friend was from the North Side. His grandfather ran the main North Side barber shop for about 40 years. They are a good and decent, hard working, Christian, North Side Family.
So what happened. I will use ‘Friend’ as a noun to refer to my friend. Friend graduated from high school, went to work, and later married. Along the way the demon of society, methamphetamine, found Friend – his life was forever changed. He began racking up felony drug charges, lost his family and his job, and entered the system of “Criminal Justice.”
The “Criminal Justice” system is brutal. They use politically correct words like “Correctional System” and “Drug Treatment Centers,” but this process is a farce. Fewer than 10% of people (humans) entering this system experience positive change. These are facts, not just my opinion. Friend was harassed and harangued and humiliated and shamed – the Criminal Justice System sanctioned and prescribed model of ‘treatment.’ The statistics report that the process does not work. These corrupt practices are subsidized by the local United Way.
Last week Friend was out driving around in his muscle car – probably under the influence of mind altering chemicals – the toxicology reports are not yet done. An off-duty police officer saw him and followed him, calling in to the Police Station for assistance. Police Patrol vehicles tried to corral Friend in a Mall parking lot and he rabbited – took off, ran from the police. He was probably on probation and knew the consequences of an encounter with the police would be dire.
The police, to the credit of an astute Police Sergeant, called off the chase after only a few blocks – it was just too dangerous. Friend did not know this and he rocketed through peaceful neighborhoods until he wrapped his car around a tree. He died at the hospital a few hours later.
The local Newspaper accounts are all about the legitimacy of police chases, not much about the dead man – except to note his ‘extensive criminal record.’
My notion is that the “Criminal Justice System” pursued this man to his death. This tragedy plays out every day in America. We are angry with the drug users when we should be angry with the drug. The best chance for rehabilitating a drug user is with the compassion that his humanness deserves. Our present “Criminal Justice System” has no concept of human dignity.