Houston, TX — Showing that bad laws actually put good people behind bars, inmates serving time in Texas prisons have made an inspiring effort to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey that laid waste to the South East portion of the state.
According to Texas prison officials, inmates donated more than $53,000 to charity to help with hurricane relief efforts.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says more than 6,600 inmates donated money between Aug. 31 and Sept. 30.
“They were requesting to donate money,” said Clark. “It’s just something they chose to do.”
The inmates mostly donated money from their small allowances -- $95 every two weeks – that are used for purchasing paper, pencils, and personal hygiene items, according to FOX.
While most inmates gave on average of $8 each — nearly five percent of their entire monthly stipend — some inmates gave hundreds of dollars.
So how is a prison, which is ostensibly in place to hold society's worst, able to garner such massive support for a charity? Well, the answer to that question is fairly simple. Many of the people in prison are not society's worst.
According to the most recent data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, nearly 70,000 people were arrested in 2014 for possessing a plant that is legal in some form in over half the country—cannabis.
Of those 70,000 arrests, 97 percent of them were for possession alone. In total, over 122,000 people are arrested every year in the state of Texas for possessing substances deemed illegal by the state.
Of the roughly 140,000 prisoners currently serving time, 56,000 of them are behind bars after being charged with possession of drugs.
Good people who have problems with addiction then start filling these prisons statewide. When these people get out of prison, their lives are ruined as they become unemployable, are unable to find a place to live and this, in turn, results in disastrous effects on the economy.
Tens of thousands of people — many of which are kind and caring members of society, as these donations show — have their lives ruined every year in the state of Texas because they use a beneficial plant that has never been attributed to a single death, or they are addicted to drugs.
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Sadly, this exact same scenario that was just explained about Texas, plays out in every state in the country.
This is no accident either.
The prison and police system in this country has powerful control over lawmakers and it uses this control to keep drugs illegal as a means of justifying their existence and creating massive windfalls for themselves and companies who deal in fostering the growth of the police state.
Millions of dollars a year are thrown at lawmakers to keep the war on drugs alive as the war on drugs is what keeps the prison industrial complex alive.
It was not a coincidence that Jeff Sessions' appointment as Attorney General sent prison stocks soaring. He is a rabid anti-cannabis activist and a massive proponent of the failed war on drugs.
Sadly, people see this extensive network of corrupt politicians writing laws to have cops ruin the lives of otherwise good people and they think this justice. Sadly, they couldn't be further from the truth.
The person who wants to ingest a substance for medical or recreational reasons is not the criminal. However, the person that would enact or support the kidnapping, caging, or killing of someone because they have a different lifestyle, is a villain on many fronts.
So, when does this vicious cycle end?
The good news is that the drug war’s days are numbered. Evidence of this is everywhere. States are defying the federal government and refusing to lock people in cages for marijuana. A record number of law enforcement personnel are even quitting their jobs and joining the push to end the drug war.
Colorado and Washington served as a catalyst in a seemingly exponential awakening to the government’s immoral war. Following suit were Oregon, D.C., and Alaska, and now Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Medical marijuana initiatives are becoming a constant part of legislative debates nationwide. We’ve even seen bills that would not only completely legalize marijuana but deregulate it entirely, like corn — and this was in Texas!
Also, while the idea of treating an addict with compassion instead of violence is a radical notion in this country, in other countries, such as Portugal, its effects have been realized for more than a decade. In 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized all drugs.
14 years later, drug use, crime, and overdoses have drastically declined in Portugal exposing the cruel reality of prohibition. Eventually, more states will adopt this approach, and the drug war tyrants will finally be outnumbered.
As more and more states refuse to kidnap and cage marijuana users, the drug war will continue to implode. We must be resilient in this fight as the donations out of Texas show us that many good people are in a bad place and they need our help.
If doing drugs bothers you, don’t do drugs. When you transition from holding an opinion — to using government violence to enforce your personal preference, you become the bad guy who can unwittingly punish good guys. If these donations show us anything, it is that it is time to stop being the bad guy.