With this in mind, I believe the punishments for drug related offenses are not harsh, and in fact with the increasing amount of drug users and drug related crimes this issue is becoming undermined. To back up my argument I will use examples from two authors who have experienced prison in two different ways. The first is Amanda Coyne, author of “The Long Good-bye”. Coyne writes about her experience visiting jail on Mother’s Day. She brings her nephew to see her older sister who is an inmate at a Women’s federal prison in Pekin, Illinois.
She describes how the mother’s cherish each second spent with their children, and the appreciation is returned with gifts of flowers and candies. She then proceeds to talk about how difficult it will be to describe to these children that their mothers are forced to spend so much time in jail for seemingly minor offenses (drug chargers) while other criminals who do worse crimes get off nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Christina Boufis, author of “Teaching Literature at the County Jail” writes about her experiences working inside of a county jail where she taught writing to the women there.
She often relates her inmate students to her students at the University of California at Berkeley. Her writing is often inspired by her students at jail, and along with “Teaching Literature at the County Jail” Boufis also wrote “A Teacher behind Bars” which Boufis explains “…was written out of necessity: teaching at the jail was so overwhelming at first that I absolutely had to write about it to get some distance from my students’ painful experiences (Boufis 67). ” Boufis makes it clear that a majority of her students’ are there for drug related crimes.
She does not oppose the punishments given to her students’, but rather sympathizes for the reasoning behind why they are there. Boufis says she is “always happy to see my former students again, even in jail; at least I know that they are alive and safe (Boufis 72). It is understood that a large amount of drug related offenses make up the population of state and federal prisons. Many people including Amanda Coyne believe minor offenses such as drug crimes are made a bigger deal then they actually are.
I believe drugs are controlling in the sense that this crime is repeated over and over again, and besides the issue itself the influence of drugs can cause other crimes as well. In “The Long Good-bye,” Coyne’s nephew asks “Is my Mommy a bad guy (Coyne 61)? ” Coyne says this question that will haunt someone. She says in a few years she will have to explain to her nephew “…mandatory minimums, and the war on drugs, and the murky conspiracy laws, and the enormous amount of money and time that federal agents pump into imprisoning low-level drug dealers and those who happen to be their friends and their lovers (Coyne 61).
” Coyne also presents the idea that she would like her nephew to be raised as she was “…with the idea that we live in the best country in the world with the best legal system in the world – a legal system carefully designed to be immune to political mood swings and public hysteria; a system that promises to fit the punishment to the crime. We want him to be a good citizen. We want him to have absolute faith that he lives in a fair country, a country that watches over and protects its most vulnerable citizens; its women and children (Coyne 61).
” Coyne herself says drug dealing is a crime, but the punishment itself is blown out of proportion. Her blaming this on “political mood swings”, “public hysteria”, and “war on drugs” are excuses in my opinion. According to the According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics “The evidence indicates that drug users are more likely than nonusers to commit crimes, that arrestees and inmates were often under the influence of a drug at the time they committed their offense, and that drug trafficking generates violence.
” With this being said, drugs play a powerful part in the incarceration of prisoners. Coyne characterizes drug dealing as a “small scale” crime, but according to Boufis, inmates themselves admitted they blamed their hopelessness on drugs, even if it was “small scale”. “I would even try to sell drugs on a very small scale. I felt my life was becoming meaningless… I now have a chance to regain my life by being here (Boufis 72). Boufis explains that her students’ are “most likely in jail on drug related chargers, primarily for possessing minor amounts of crack cocaine (70).
” She goes on by saying “I have seen hundreds of women get released from jail and come back again – often the same ones, and often more times that I can count (70). ” For an example, one of her youngest students Tanya returns back to jail after selling drugs to an undercover cop. It is often that those incarcerated once before for drug related offenses, usually find themselves returning back to jail again. Just because the crime is committed so often, I do not think it should be excused. Many say drugs only hurt those who use it.
Because of this, people consider prison to be a harsh crime and believe better alternatives are available such as rehab. I believe Coyne explains that she will have to explain to her nephew that “…his mother was taken from him for five years not because she was a drug dealer but because she made four phone calls for someone she loved” (Coyne 61). In this sentence I think Coyne is excusing the fact that her sister was participating in the act of selling drugs. I think many people do this because in short terms selling drugs is less damaging than crimes such as robbery, and far less hurtful than murder. ”