Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2003
Source: Reporter, The (Fond du Lac, WI)
Copyright: 2003 Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Author: Bruce Rideout
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


I am responding to Jeff DeVries who wrote about his job as a prison guard 
at Fox Lake Correctional Institution.

Mr. DeVries is correct that prison guards are no different than anyone 
else. They have families, jobs, futures. He is correct that guarding 
violent criminals is a dangerous job.

But a large proportion of inmates he guards are not violent. And contrary 
to Mr. DeVries contention that "no one is incarcerated for being a nice 
guy," many non-violent drug offenders are, in fact, nice guys - as nice as 
I am sure Jeff is.

Many drug offenders are jailed for marijuana (cannabis). They had jobs, 
families and futures. But thanks to overzealous politicians, their prison 
guard union contributors and prison guards who would rather see thousands 
more Wisconsin citizens incarcerated so they may retain their jobs, we are 
among the leaders of America in per capita incarceration.

Whether Mr. DeVries wants to believe it or not, his insistence that jobs 
overrule decency ends up costing all Wisconsinites hundreds of millions of 
dollars a year, yet violent crime remains relatively the same. Instead, we 
taxpayers, including Jeff, hand over hard-earned income to imprison 
thousands of non-violent marijuana offenders who are the least likely to 
commit violent, or any other, crime, except the insane drug laws against 

Marijuana consumers are your neighbors, your friends, your police officers, 
your doctors and nurses, your teachers. They do not stand out from any one 
else. And for Jeff DeVries to suggest that these otherwise law-abiding 
citizens should bear the burden of keeping Jeff employed is most 
disturbing. Communities are in need of help in so many areas.

Jeff, can't you see the community you live in needs you more than cannabis 
users need jail?

Bruce Rideout

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