Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Crime and Punishment (short version)

On Saturday when I went out to buy that basil, I found a ticket on my car. We have no off-street parking, and parking tickets are ubiquitous around here. Someone's always parking somewhere at the wrong time. They clean the streets at least once a week (depending on how much traffic the street gets) and you're not supposed to park there for a two-hour period (usually) on that day. Well, I noticed right away that the ticket left on my car was just the ticket, no envelope for sending payment. And I was *sure* I'd mentally checked whether it was okay to park there when I'd parked it on Thursday. And sure enough, when I looked at it, it was a ticket for someone else's car! I'm thinking there are two possible scenarios: 1. Someone got a ticket and figured they'd give it a shot at getting someone else to pay it or 2. The person dropped the ticket and someone found it and put it on the windshield of the nearest car.

But a deeper issue is punishment. We use punishment in our society to keep people in line. No one likes it, but we keep the system going. When Paul was in seminary, the maintenance staff at the school used a sticker system for awhile. When you parked where you shouldn't, you found a huge orange sticker that was next to impossible to remove right on your windshield. Did this work? All it did was humiliate, in my opinion. One of the seminarians would carry around some kind of razor scraper and would remove the stickers wherever he found them. Whenever I think about this particular man to this day, I think of him as an angel of mercy.

Our friend Mark, who is formerly homeless, currently in prison, and probably soon to be homeless again, will be released from prison at the end of July. He was put in prison for a parole violation. He had been in prison previously on a drug charge--they say he was selling, he said he was just holding some for a friend. Either way, they let him out on parole, and then he didn't report because he was addicted to heroine. So, he was put in prison again. Will he stay clean this time? Yeah, he's been off drugs for three months--one way of thinking is that it's a free ride to kicking an addiction. But what are the root causes of addiction, and have they really been addressed?

Paul was talking a few days ago about how the system really encourages recidivism. They say oh, yeah, you can go free on parole. But they aren't really free, and the problems the prisoners had in the first place haven't been addressed. They aren't put into programs--how about making that mandatory, instead of just reporting so we can reprimand if you've been bad? How about something that will really work, instead of this, which has an astronomical recidivism rate? California has a jaw-dropping number of prisoners in it's system. And we keep wanting to build more prisons. Wouldn't this money be better spent on prevention?


Libby said...

Prevention of drug abuse would be wonderful!!! But nobody would go for it. :(
Since drug abuse is tied to narcotics during the birth process, (can you say epidural?) I can guarentee that if you threatend to take that away, you would not only upset woman, you would upset their doctors (aka dealers), the whole health industry and the pharamacutical companies (aka suppliers). And many husbands would be upset at the idea of having to comfort their wives in labor. (I'll leave the typo of wives, since I do live in Utah. ;) )

Elizabeth said...

It is an interesting thing that we condition the members of our society to be addicted to drugs right from the get-go. And then we continue it with ritalin for every child who isn't a born scholar. Now, I don't deny that there are instances where these drugs are useful....I believe in using medicine where it is necessary. But childbirth can be an absolutely wonderful thing, if we let it be.

I think if the husbands don't want the job of "coaching" or whatever, they should move aside for the women to do it. I've become more and more convinced of the model of women doing the women's work of labor and delivery. When Hibi was born, we didn't have anyone in the room--just Paul and me and the nurse and doctor. But when Zac was born, we had a home birth, and Zac's godmother was there, plus the midwife and midwife's apprentice. I think if I were to do it again, I'd invite all the women friends that are close to me.

Libby said...

lol, your labors are slow enough to get everyone in the room? We are just happy the midwife made it to Caspian's birth! She even had to run some red lights. :)
But yeah, our whole society is conditioned to think that drugs are sooo wonderful - even though the affects are devastating! When I worked as a Pharmacy Technician, I kept having Pharmacists telling me how bad the drugs really were -- especially the psych drugs (ritalin would be included there)
As you probably are aware - the baby industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that the men in health care will not let go without a dirty fight.

Elizabeth said...

Heh! Well, Zachary's was. After Hibi's 4 hour birth, I was prepared for a very fast labor with him, but he was posterior, and it took 10 1/2 hours with him. Fast after my midwife figured it out, though, and turned him. 6 cm to birth in 15 minutes!