By Jean Trounstine

An interesting article in the NYTimes last week made me think about marriage and incarceration and the inevitable link to how we send people to prison for years due to the so-called “war on drugs.”

Charles Blow, NYTimes columnist, quoted public health expert Ernest Drucker’s well-known 2011 book, A Plague of Prisons with the following stats:

■ “The risk of divorce is high among men going to prison, reaching 50 percent within a few years after incarceration.”

■ “The marriage rate for men incarcerated in prisons and jails is lower than the American average. For blacks and Hispanics, it is lower still.”

■ “Unmarried couples in which the father has been incarcerated are 37 percent less likely to be married one year after the child’s birth than similar couples in which the father has never been incarcerated.”

And guess why so many black and Hispanic men are in prison? You got it, the so-called “drug war.” Or as Blow calls it “the disastrous drug war,” or “a war on marijuana waged primarily against young black men, even though they use the drug at nearly the same rate as whites.” With television and the media, “reefer” has been glamorized to “reefer madness,” and indeed the sentencing of reefer is madness.

Image courtesy jeantrounstine.com

The drug war has brutalized so many with lengthy sentences. How can these sentences not affect marriage and families? Take for example Stephanie Nodd who according to her page on Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)’s website served 21years of a 30-year sentence in a federal prison in Florida for a crack cocaine conspiracy she had been involved in for just one month. FAMM was able to influence the Sentencing Commission to make new guidelines and Stephanie was released.

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By Yahoo News

Some prisoner’s in Northern California are upgrading to better living spaces – but only if they’ve got the cash to pay.

That’s because a jail in Fremont is offering prisoners the chance to pay-as-they-go for a cell in the prison . And the rent isn’t cheap, running $155 a night, the same as a local three star hotel, according to local affiliate WTKR. 

“You do get cable TV, but you don’t get a warm cookie on your bed,” Lt. Mark Devine, of the Fremont Police Department told the station.

The $10 million minimum security prison is far from luxurious with standard prison beds, shared bathroom and shower space. But it does come with various recreational options, including a HD widescreen TV.

Built in 2000, the prison facility has 54 beds and can house up to 96 inmates at a time.

And the space is only eligible to misdemeanor offenders who receive prior approval from a judge.

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

A 42-year-old model citizen has an incredible attitude while sitting in a Mexican jail after being arrested for smuggling 12-pounds of marijuana. Yanira Maldonado, resident of Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, says she “has nothing to hide.”  Photo courtesy kmbc.com

Maldonado and her husband, Gary, were returning from her aunt’s funeral in Mexico when the bus they were traveling in was stopped at a military checkpoint 90 miles from the U.S. border. Mexican federales ordered all passengers out of the vehicle and searched the bus.

Maldonado’s nightmare began when 12-pounds of pot was found neatly packaged and taped under seat 39 where she was sitting. Maldonado automatically became a prime suspect for attempting to smuggle the parcels and was arrested on the spot. 

The Mormon woman raising seven children was initially shocked, but now she is calming down and believing she will be found innocent and be able to return home. Anna Soto, one of Maldonado’s daughters, knows her mother would never be guilty of smuggling drugs and anxiously wants her to return home where she belongs.

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America’s attitude toward crime is based on geography and personal experience.  People living in Fargo, North Dakota worry less about crime affecting them personally than, say, people living in Oakland, California. 

Most Americans don’t believe that criminals are congenitally hardwired to commit crimes.  According to most people, the immediate causes of crime are illegal drugs and a lack of adequate deterrents.  Thus criminals involved in the use, distribution, sale, and possession of illicit drugs should be locked away for lengthy periods of time.  Harsher sentencing laws and harsher prisons serve to discourage future criminals is the general opinion. 

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As an incarcerated prisoner, it can be hard to have your voice heard. Many prisoners have stories to share that can help others who may be incarcerated or in abusive relationships or even at-risk-youth. When hearing these stories, we are often struck by the amount of courage these folks have to preserve through such harsh and adverse situations. 

Comes along an outlet for these voices to be heard. It is called the Concertina Wire – a radio station who’s mission is to highlight the written work of incarcerated prisoners, especially women and minorities And the main focus of the Concertina Wire is to raise awareness about the impact that educational programs have in correctional facilities – especially in helping to reduce recidivism. 

 

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On Saturday April 3rd 2012, Oklahoma State Penitentiary held an Easter celebration on the prison grounds for over 150 children and family members of Oklahoma State Penitentiary employees.

Children were able to enjoy time with the Easter bunny as well as have an Easter egg hunt, pony rides, a petting zoo and various games. Hot dogs, lemonade and nachos were served up to fuel the kids while they participated in the activities.

 

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I’m tired. There, I said it! I am a tired guy who needs to take a hard look at the projects I’m engaging in, and I need to focus on the important projects, prioritizing and cutting the fat, that is. It’s as I tell Randy, “I need to figure out what is truly important…and do it. The small distractions need to be done away with and in their place the important work needs to be emphasized.” The question though is: What is the important work?
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For me, it is very important to give due credit to those who deserve it. As such, I’d like to tell you a story about my friends over at Intimo Media. (Twitter @IntimoMedia).
Several weeks ago I decided that I really wanted to expand my internet exposure. So, I searched for a true web design firm. I had two good friends of mine, Laura and Randy, go online to search out decent design firms that could handle my projects for an amount within my budgetary restrictions. The only catch in all of this was that I wanted to stay with Square Space, my current website hosting service.
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I’ve finally succumbed to the Twitter craze. I’ve done so in order to be better able to promote the cause of prison education, and so I can alert those who frequent this blog and website as to new postings. Don’t worry.  I won’t post frivolous comments like “Walking to the chow hall” or “Being searched by Bigfoot.” There actually is a Bigfoot,

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