Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Cost Of Sending Mom To Prison

Deanise Smeedly Mug Shot
The Cost of Sending "Mom" to Prison

Well meaning but misdirected activists can do a lot of damage to our society.  People get stuck on "feelings" instead of looking at the issues with cold hard facts and in the process they become locked into a world view that simply flies in the face of logic and takes government away from being effective and humane.

On one of the Facebook groups used for state politics there appeared an article covering the rate at which women are sent to prison and the societal and personal costs of sending a drug addict to prison.  No doubt the author wanted to make a positive impact but the story was shot full of holes and outright inaccuracies, the main one being how a woman was sent to prison because she didn't have a prescription for her bottle of medication.

In fact the "Mom" in th story was in possession of illegal narcotics, most likely pain pills so she is doing drugs around her kids. If she simply didn't have her prescription with her it would be printed on the bottle label along with her name and her doctor's name. So she didn't just "not have her prescription".

Next much was made of the cost of locking the "mom" up and they quoted $75.00 per day as the daily incarceration cost and then projected a cost of $27,000.00 per year for her incarceration.   Keep in mind that the daily incarceration rate negotiated by Whetsel and currently in force in Oklahoma County is $32.00 per day AND the prisoner has that debt on their back once they get out of jail.

Then she isn't sitting in jail for 365 days on a one year sentence unless she is causing problems in jail. She will get two days off her sentence for every day she behaves and extra time if she does the right thing on occasion. When "mom" gets out she will be making $40.00 payments per month till she pays her debt back to society and to the taxpayers that were forced to pay for her bad behavior, for her arrest, for her prosecution, and for her incarceration.    She is coming out with about $4000.00 in debt to the state plus her court costs and fines.  Far less than it cost you and I in taxes.

Now to the kids, she ought not to have those kids if she is popping illegal pain pills and she didn't get arrested for having a supply of fish tank antibiotics in her purse. The state should track down the father, which they should know the identity of as the woman is most likely on some sort of public assistance already, and he or his family or her family will be offered custody before the kids go into foster care. If the entire family is mouth breathers then put the kids up for adoption and count the kids lucky that it happened.

So far the state has spent some money, $4000.00 plus the cost of prosecution. Nowhere near the 50K in the story.   Now she is out of jail and has a criminal record. Plenty of places will hire her if she will show up to work and actually work. Fast food places, small manufacturing shops like my neighbor, or companies like Labor Ready, there is no end to her opportunities if she is off drugs and has decided to work for a living. If someone else edges her out for a higher paying job because they don't have a criminal record, good, that is how it should be. Now that we have the real cost of incarceration and seeing that family takes care of the kids for four months we can address the rest of the story with honesty and the facts.

Now if  "Mom" is placed on house arrest wearing an ankle monitor, she hasn't paid a bondsman, hasn't paid an attorney or court costs, and probably isn't paying anything for the monitoring. Unless the drug testing is super strict she will be right back to popping pain pills in the presence of the kids while all her friends and family understand that there is no real consequence of getting caught with illegal drugs.

Yeah, her crime might be a felony this year and a misdemeanor next year but that isn't good enough for the soft on crime crowd. Her kids see the "cost" of breaking the law too and learn from it. In the mean time well meaning activists make sure that that segment of the population is locked into a downward spiral and anyone that has ever had anything to do with a druggie knows that druggies go down till they decide to come clean and live right.

Another point was that some of this drug behavior is legal in other states then she ought to move her obese butt and the public assistance fed children to one of those other states where she is free to buy and use illegal narcotics in the presence of her kids. If she wants to stay here and break the law then throw her butt in prison after a couple of chances, get the kids a shot at a better life with the father or other family, and break this cycle of behavior with no consequences.

And once out, these criminals need to be forced to get a damned job and pay the state back the FULL cost of their misbehavior or they go back to prison doing hard time with hard labor because it wasn't that they didn't have the money, the problem was that the lazy trash refuses to get a job and pay their own way and pay for the kids they popped out without a care in the world on how to pay for the kids or raise them properly. If they can't make it on one job they then can work two jobs as there are 168 hours in a week. Back in the 80's it was common for parents to have more than one job to make ends meet and a lot of people work multiple jobs today.

After posting a rant in response I decided to look online to find one of these poster child "mothers" in a news story advocating soft on crime and ran across this 2010 story called Women in Recovery.   Then I took one of the women in the story, Deanise Smeedly,  and looked up her state felony record.    She has records in two counties and yes it is the same woman according to the court documents found in Tulsa County.

Her drug arrests started back in the 90's and the court cases continue to this very day!  Plenty of other charges such as DUI, a vehicle that didn't belong to her in her custody, in short the drug charges were the tip of the iceberg and no doubt there are voluminous other records in local municipal courts were she was charged for crimes committed to pay her drug habit.  As of this very day she is serving 9 years in federal prison for other drug offenses and her Oklahoma cases are on hold till she can once again appear in court.

Remember that the Oklahoman story was telling us she had straightened out her life in 2010 and she was a poster child for the soft on crime movement to lower prison sentences.  The fact is she is a meth head, has been for going on three decades and was given chance after chance after chance if you will read the court dockets in the case. Warrant after warrant issued, arrest after arrest for failing to appear, failing to report, failure to pay costs, and each frigging time the state gave her another chance without prison time and each time she screwed up once again and failed a drug test or was arrested on other charges. Trash like this clogs our justice system because we are soft on crime and do not deal with these criminals harshly.

Give us the names of any of the women in these soft on crime articles and I will guarantee that each woman has a long rap sheet and failure after failure till the state locked her stupid butt up in state prison. The fact is that they worked their butts off to wind up in prison and there is nothing out there that will keep them off drugs and out of the system short of a .38 hollow point to the forehead.

There are reforms that need made.

First, jail and prison are too costly and allowing criminals to sit on their butts isn't doing anything to straighten them out.   Jail and prison ought to mean hard labor, hard physical labor or some sort, and that labor ought to be self supporting.    The U.S. has many, many, businesses that can't find affordable labor so the jobs go overseas.  Along with the jobs go the support services like tooling, materials, supplies, all the supply chain needed to keep a factory humming.  The state ought to have one thousand or two thousand square foot shops available for rent inside prisons and provide incentives for a business to set up a small manufacturing, assembly, or packaging line.  

You can hire a soon to be released convict through the Carver Center here in Oklahoma City so this isn't a brand new idea.  The convicts earn minimum wage with around one quarter going into a savings account so the ex con has some money to re establish himself once he gets out.  The rest goes toward paying for his incarceration.

But more than the money the inmate is learning to show up for work on time and actually work a job.  They learn new skills, and a lot of companies would hire the person once they got out if they were doing a good job.   In one stroke you have turned prison or a long jail sentence from a life of laziness into productive work that pays for the cost of arrest, jailing, prosecution, incarceration for the term of the sentence, and court costs or fines.

Not all manufacturing jobs will be able to be done, perhaps the volume of materials, machinery needs, even power requirements, but a lot of packaging and assembly tasks are relatively cheap to set up and the costs would be borne by the participating businesses.   Buildings need to be dry and above freezing, which most buildings will be if of concrete construction short of extreme cold weather spells.  Even old hospitals and office buildings would serve for a lot of processes. 

Not all inmates would qualify for the program but probably 80% of inmates aren't there on violent crimes.     Not a lot of security is needed if property configured and it would be self supporting in any event.  Perhaps not all of the positions would be paid, the state could assign regular inmates for cleaning, moving materials and products in and out if needed.  Trustees could supplement guards in some positions.  In fact to qualify for a paid position would be a huge incentive for inmates.

Second, drug addiction does need to be treated as more of a mental health issue along with the criminal penalties for breaking the law.  Once a person has crossed the line in drug use to where they are hurting themselves we either need to let them have fun and suffer the consequences with zero help from the state, from insurance companies, from anyone else, or we need to face up to the fact that they are out of control and thereby incapable of making a rational decision.  They are declared incompetent and a ward of the state until they clean themselves up.  You can't go full libertarian and let them have fun because their family and kids are suffering along with them, they are probably stealing or shoplifting or scamming to pay for their habit, and public services including hospitals have to clean up the mess they leave behind.

Our court system does an excellent job at allowing drug users to keep their record clean after a successful rehabilitation by expunging or using deferred sentencing.  The problem is not that we are not soft enough on crime, we are too soft on crime and these criminals never face any real consequence until years, even decades after their first fall.

The hard core libertarians say these people are just hurting themselves and if we lived in a society where druggies could O.D. on the street and all it cost was picking up the body and donating it to a medical college then I would be fine with that.  But the real consequence is that druggies leave a trail of destruction and crime and broken family members in their wake.  Here is an example, a baby that starved to death after both parents O.D.ed.