Friday, March 25, 2011

Drugs, Jail and the Cycle

Drugs are one of the leading causes of incarceration in the United States. Approximately 108,000 people are in federal prisons, 280,000 people are in state prisons and 31,500 people are in California state prisons for drug-related offenses.  It’s determined that 8 out of 10 inmates- who are incarcerated for drugs- will re-enter prison after being released. To prove how senseless these people are, here’s an interview with a convicted drug dealer and addict.
Mohammed is a convict of the illegal drug persuasion. After serving a five year sentence, he’s already back to ‘work’. Standing an awkward 6’3, athletically built from direct Egyptian decent, Moe’s engulfed in with dozens of prison tattoos. Some are big, some are small, but they’re all mostly scary. Before prison, you didn’t know he was a dealer or an addict. Most people thought him as an average Joe but now those tattoos label him.
Moe was a decent student growing up but no does not have much mental capacity. Because of his past he suffers from a short attention span; the most you can actually speak with him is ten minuets or so. While talking it’s difficult for him to comprehend what you’re saying, just as it’s hard for you to decipher his words through his slurred speech. This is no doubt the result of his major drug use since his friends say he wasn’t like this just seven years ago. Many of his friends compare him to Ozzy Osborne, the musician, because of their striking similarities. They all say his condition got worse in jail. Moe’s a nice guy who doesn’t believe in violence, yet he is in one of the most violent occupations. This is his story:
When did you first do drugs? Why?
             Sixth grade Summer going into seventh grade because it was around me. Everyone did them, even my family so it was like I had to do them anyway so why not just start a.s.a.p.

When did you first sell them?
            About 15 turning 16. It just seemed like easy money and it is. There’s always going to be an addict somewhere but there’s not always going to be an employer. You can’t get fired for selling. You can get killed, but in Jersey that rarely happens.

What made you start to sell them even though you knew it was very dangerous and illegal?
            So I could get hooked up for free. Its business but it’s expensive, so you need to have connections.

Has it negatively affected your life? Why or not?
            I think it has rotted my brain a bit. I’m pretty ditsy and air headed but it hasn’t drastically affected my life negatively. It’s all been pretty positive.

You say that it has positively affected your life, why?
            It makes me happy. I truly believe I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t do them. Things are better all around for me. I didn’t flunk out of school and I’m living an average life. So yeah.

You were imprisoned for drugs, and still you say that it has positively affected your life?
            It wasn’t bad, prison; it was sort of like school… kind of like a boarding school. I sort of had fun and I didn’t care that I was in prison. So, why should I? I was fine. I’d go back.

Can you describe your life in prison?
            It was pretty simple. I had no responsibilities. You didn't have to work to get money for food. Life was like daycare. It wasn't bad.

What about the people you served your time with, can you describe them?
            They were just people. Like you and me. They weren't special.

Did you have a cell mate? If so, what was he in for?
            Yes. His name was Chris. He was also in for drugs. My whole cell block was a big wing for us drug people. There was a lot of us. Chris has been there two times before, he always bragged about it.

Do you plan to go back to prison?
            Why not? It’s a joke when they say it’s a punishment. Everything’s easy there. And you can get whatever fix you need from anybody for no fee sometimes.

Will you ever stop your illegal actions?        

            Because it’s my lifestyle. It comes naturally to me. And it’s all I have. I love it

Even if your life depended on it?
            I wouldn’t be in that situation anyway but I definitely would find a way around it anyway.

The mentality of those individuals in jail is that of a toddler. Many of these convicted inmates come from similar backgrounds and once they get thrown in jail they loose all sense of caring. It was their decisions to use drugs in the first place, but it was flaunted around them, most of them for all their lives. They’re put in jail as a punishment, not to help them get clean; but is that the problem? Many of the inmates loose their mental capacity and are spoon-fed those same drugs they were arrested for. The addiction continues, their psychological well being depletes and once they’re released; they’re give five dollars and drug dealers lined up to take it from them. They get stuck in the cycle and no one’s there to help them. Why?

*The above interview was much longer but due to Moe’s condition it had to be altered. All questions had to be re-written more simply using only basic grammar, and most of them had to be dropped.

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