Thursday, January 21, 2010

Disclaimer: Not Directly Related to Education

NPR had a story this evening about the absurd number of people sitting in jails because they can't make bail. These people are poor; they may only be needing to pay a bail of $150 but they don't have that money. Studies have shown that people who make bail serve much less time than those who must remain in jail. On the outside they have the chance to show they can do the right thing or to get into rehab. Biding their time in jail they can do nothing. Most of these people committed non-violent crimes.

I'm reminded of the opening of Les Mis. Is it really possible that this is how we treat people?

Not long after hearing this story my daughters and I spent $70 at Target, $45 to fill up our minivan, and $12 to go through the car wash. I didn't have to think hard about any of that. How can I live such a privileged life while others lack so much? How can we as a society accept this?

(My husband's immediate response to my comments about this at dinner was, "What can we do about it?" I'm not clear on anything we can do about it, but I appreciated the question.)

6 comments:

teach5 said...

My wife cried looking at pictures in the book, "What The World Eats". We forget just how priveledged we are....

John Spencer said...

That was one of the most depressing stories I've heard in awhile. It demonstrated some of the biggest issues America has to deal with regarding class.

Jim said...

The ACLU is constantly fighting to improve this kind of situation. You can donate to them.

Teacher Tom said...

We have the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world.

One of the biggest problems, in my mind, is that we've privatized so much of our prison system, creating a for-profit motive to jail people and keep them jailed. These corporations are spending millions lobbying local, state and federal officials to make more crimes punishable by imprisonment, and to make prison terms longer.

The problem in the case you illustrate is that poor people need cash in order to make bail, something they don't have. Why not make bail be something like performing some sort of community service, like picking up garbage along the freeway? This way the rich and poor are treated equally. I'd love to see some of these weathly scoff-laws actually have to do something for society rather than just cut a check.

Alien said...

Hay, I think you have such a heart of mercy. I love our article.

Theresa Milstein said...

When I watched "Sicko" by Michael Moore and he said something like, "Society is judged by how they treat their weakest, but how do they treat their heroes?" Then he followed the saga of several volunteers at the September 11th site, who got lung damage, but neither their health insurance or the government would give them adequate care. It's haunted me.