If I ever doubted it, my visit last week to see a client in prison reminded
me of a stark reality – that prison does not mean rehabilitation
in Arizona. This particular client caused a fatal vehicular accident and
was under the influence at the time. Another attorney represented him,
and it was my job to see if his previous lawyer made mistakes.
Of course, there was much legal work and discussion to be had, but I first
had to establish some rapport. Besides, I was a little curious and nosey.
Amid the faux glamor that the media has created over prisons (e.g. Orange
is the New Black), I really wanted to get a sense of what this guy was
doing to pass his time. Because the guy had some serious alcohol in his
system, I really wondered what type of rehabilitation there was for him.
Short answer: Zero.
Many prisoners have jobs. Jobs they don’t like. Jobs that pay 30
cents an hour. So what many inmates do is find someone else to do their
job – subcontract it, that is – for a lower rate and pocket
the difference. Creative and innovative, perhaps? Well maybe, except for
the fact that there is a notion that some form of rehabilitation is going on. Not.
So while some flunky cleans toilets for my client in exchange for some
extra sodas from the commissary, my client watches television, reads books,
and writes letters. It’s not illegal and the reality is that the
prison doesn’t care as long as the toilets are spick and span, and
it certainly doesn’t care about rehabilitation.
So let’s not be politically correct and not call it the Arizona Department
of Corrections. Call it what it is – the Arizona Department of Punishment.
People are there to be punished. The system has found they have done wrong
and that they need to be separated from society as a grown up time out
of sorts. Some people have done bad things and are dangerous. The public
needs to be protected from them too.
But as we allocate more money to build more prisons, let’s just be
honest and realize that prisons are there to punish people. Let’s
stop kidding ourselves. Prison does not mean rehabilitation in Arizona.
If you or your loved one is at risk of being sent to prison,
contact our Phoenix criminal defense lawyer today.