The Private Prison Complex is wasteful and inconsistent with the purpose of keeping the public safe. More importantly, it opens up a possibility for conflicts of interest for those who work in the justice system from Judges to Prosecutors to those who run the prisons. When we lock up our community members for low level, non-violent crimes in for-profit, private prisons, we remove one person from the local economy, and leave in their place, a family struggling in multiple ways from finances to vital relationships to the mental development and health of the entire family. Amy has witnessed firsthand as a teacher in high-poverty, urban areas the destruction caused by our obsession with jailing our way out of (but consequently into) societal problems like poverty and all that follows poverty.
Restorative Justice programs are useful in high poverty areas where crime tends to be higher and the stakes for locking someone up are higher. Restorative justice programs offer people options other than jail and costly fines that add up quickly and also free up resources in the justice system for more serious crimes. They allow low level offenders the opportunity to learn how to resolve their trespasses in more productive ways and pay their fines through community service, rather than be locked up and not available to their families and communities, who need their support the most.
The job of law enforcement has also evolved over the last decade and changes depending upon the drug of season. Our officers are fighting the drug epidemic on the front lines while they witness the destruction of the working-class family, including the children who get caught up in the neglect that is synonymous with drug addiction. Police departments need more resources, education and research grant participation with area universities that help make their jobs more efficient and tolerable, and less hopeless and stressful. They need to be part of the discussion when it comes to the funding needs of the residents of their communities as it pertains to the drugs and issues they witness.