Throughout my time working with families and helping people deal with and maneuver through the process of incarceration I have heard many times that maybe going to jail would be the best thing for their loved ones. I have heard this more often when working with a family that is dealing with an addict. The reality is that addicts need treatment and going to prison will not do anything to address the underlying issues behind addiction.
While incarcerated myself, I saw the same scenario play out time and again. A person comes in to the prison from the county jail and within a very short time, usually under a month, they are back to using. A great misconception that people have is that it is not possible to get hard drugs such as crack cocaine or heroin inside prison. All drugs are in there and readily available for sale. The only difference is the price, the value can multiply by as much as ten times (10x) street value depending on the difficulty to smuggle it in and the current availability inside the facility.
With this increase in price comes an increase in danger for the untreated addict because many times they will build a significant debt with the jailhouse dealer and, in the end, the debt must be handled one way or the other. This could lead to the addict resorting to emotional extortion of his or her family to assure the debt is being paid; violence inflicted on the addict once there is a realization that the debt will not be satisfactorily be paid; the addict could be forced into performing sexual favors; the addict could even be forced to join a gang or commit an act of violence on another inmate. One or a combination of these situations could occur and, in some instances, this could lead to the lengthening of the term of incarceration.
One of the most tragic examples I can remember of this is the story of an individual that I met in the beginning of my incarceration. I will not disclose the individuals name but he and I became as close friends as two people in that situation can become considering the environment. This individual had been arrested in the late 1980’s and sentenced to a term which would have granted him parole after 5 years, the reason for his crime in the first place was to support a severe heroin addiction. Before incarceration, the issue of addiction itself was not treated and while in prison he went right back to using. This led to him accumulating a significant debt and the series of events that followed as a result led to him serving almost 15 years instead of the 5 years in which he was eligible for parole. He finished his sentence, was released and went to live with his family. They just assumed that while incarcerated he was able to address his issues of addiction, they assumed wrong and he was still struggling with his addiction. He was re-arrested about 90 days later for a much more severe crime and is now not eligible for parole until 2032. Sadly, at his age he will likely not see freedom again.
This tragic waste of a life might have been prevented had the family been better informed on the realities of incarceration. There are many issues that are associated with incarceration and some of the biggest mistakes are made due to lack of knowledge. If you have a loved one that is headed down the wrong path, or facing a term of incarceration contact us. We at the Briones Consulting Group will work with you to educate you and your loved ones on all the dynamics of incarceration, we will help you find the appropriate rehabilitation center for your loved one and stand by you through the entire process, from retaining a compassionate and highly skilled attorney all the way through their stay in rehab or prison. Whatever the crisis, we can help.