“The leader of a violent gang that controlled life inside one of America's most notorious jails testified that he directed guards motivated by sex and money to smuggle in drugs and cellphones and facilitate attacks on inmates who challenged his authority.Tavon "Bulldog" White described a culture of corruption inside the centuries-old Baltimore City Detention Center, led by a gang that has its own language and laws and authorities. The Black Guerilla Family's hierarchy includes a "minister of education" who quizzes members on gang literature and a "minister of finance" who manages the profits sent by cellphones from behind bars.The gang's smuggling schemes even fund the bail that frees gang members who can't pay to get sprung from jail, he testified this week.
Gang leaders, not guards, are the ultimate authority inside the jail, he said.”
I really suggest reading the entire article as the snippets of stories being told in it are quite astounding. This is not the synopsis of a TV show, but an example of what actually takes place behind the walls and fences of a prison – it goes beyond what anyone could imagine scripting for a movie or a show. When jail time is seen as a solution to crime, this is the results we start seeing – not only do gang members ‘go back’ to a life of crime, they continue the same participation and behavior for the entire time of their incarceration. Now – I don’t mean to say it is like this for everyone. I’m sure there are those individuals who get a wake up call from spending time in prison – or in other words, who actually use that time to reflect on their lives, what they’ve done, who they’ve become and whether that’s really who they want to be.
But when criminal behavior is the result of lacking the financial means of doing anything else with one’s life, then being in prison is unlikely to facilitate any form of personal transformation – because they know that once they get out, they’re back to where they started, however much they may want to change – their opportunities in life do not.
Reading some more on Baltimore, it’s clear that it is a city that is struggling with a high crime rate, in a second article, I came across he following:
“Interviews with community leaders and residents show that few are looking exclusively to police for the answer. Though many believe street-level officers should be more visible and work to strengthen ties in the communities they police, most point to jobs as the only way to reduce gun violence."A lot of these cats got dreams — they don't want to do this [drug dealing]," Lawrence Davis, 35, of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood, said as he looked on at the shooting near City College. "There aren't enough opportunities, and this is all they know."City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said police need to boost foot patrols. But he placed much of the blame for the increase in violent crime on the economy."Until we're able to create employment opportunities for our citizens in Baltimore, and to address the drug problem that we have in Baltimore, I don't see where we're going to really get out of this," he said.”
Can Baltimore wait for employment opportunities to be created to reduce its level of violent crime? Can we continue to entertain the illusion that it is possible that enough jobs can be created for everyone who needs one with the increasing tendency to replace jobs through labor saving technology? When the root of the problem is the need to survive then the immediate solution is to provide these means. Every other measure comes second – because those measures would facilitate a transition towards a new life – but no new life can be written if the right to life is not recognized in the act of giving a living income when no other source of income is available.