Sometimes watching the news about Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles (just to cover the west coast) is laughable. At what point did we as a society decide to persecute our protectors and coddle our offenders? Those who wish to harm other people by their actions are now provided deflection for the crimes they commit. While the purpose of deflection may be to rehabilitate a person with a drug problem, it does not recover damages for someone who was victimized by that addict’s personal choices. By the time a “drug addict” has finally been arrested, they have undoubtedly victimized someone who wakes up and goes to work every single day, choosing to make a difference in society rather than to live off of someone else’s hard work.
Decriminalizing serious drug offenses is just offensive. There, I said it, I’m officially offended. The fact that someone can steal, break into someone else’s home, vandalize, or otherwise find a way to get money to buy illegal drugs is a crime, and this society is doomed if we forget to hold people accountable. Years ago, I remember thinking that if I lied to my parents, I would suffer for it. They would catch me. Did I lie when I was a kid? Absolutely! Did I get caught? ALWAYS. Each time I was caught and held accountable made an impact on me. The next decision I was faced with, those consequences forced me to pause and consider what the repercussions of my actions would be. Did I sometimes make choices that hurt me? Of course. But facing consequences is how we LEARN.
Certainly rehabilitation should be available to those who need it; addiction is difficult. But they also need to pay the price for their bad choices. Rehabilitation can occur simultaneously with reparations for those who were victimized. Victims need to be made whole again if possible. The drug offender is NOT THE VICTIM. Their choices victimized others. There are amazing human beings out there, many who rose from horrific circumstances to become tremendous people. Somewhere people have to learn that if their choices harm other people, then they are making the wrong choice. For those who continue to choose poorly, harm others, and damage society, there has to be accountability. Did a poor childhood contribute to their choices? Maybe. Many people have very tragic stories. Not all of those people ended up pouring lye and gasoline into a pipe so they could dump it into their bodies. Many of those people became police officers, social workers, teachers, businessmen and women…every person has a choice. In the words of Mae West, “ I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Human beings are capable of overcoming extreme adversity. The power of the human spirit is seen every time a tragedy strikes. Furthering the narrative that we are too pathetic to save ourselves serves no one.
Some politicians are actually considering legislation to “re-label” people who have served time for serious offenses because that labels like “convicted felon” could damage their future. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has reached a new all time level of ridiculousness with their most recently passed proposal. If you commit a crime there, you cannot be called a “convict.” You will be called a “formerly incarcerated person” or even more ludicrous, “a returning resident.” So prison is now comparable to being on vacation? As in, I can go to Paris or I can go to prison…but either way, I’ll be a “returning resident.” Come on. According to San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, “we don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they’ve done.” To be even more exclusive, there was no language to address victims of crimes.
Let’s ponder the danger of this one. There is a job opening at a local clinic. The facility sees mostly female patients. The job is for the janitorial position. It should be relevant to know if the new janitor is a “convicted felon,” previously convicted of rape, not the ‘returning resident” of the local maximum security prison. Just a thought.
People who victimize others should carry that label. If you don’t like your label, then don’t do stupid or horrible things. We all have labels. Whatever choices we make in life give them to us. Doctors, lawyers, criminals, heroes, or comedians. These are all “labels” of some sort. I have a label. It is cop. Former cop. Retired cop… Mom… I’m pretty darn proud of those labels. Do not let your community turn their head to these proposals. It is happening in San Francisco, and that kind of dangerous thinking is possible anywhere. Stand against it. Write your representatives. Call the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and tell them they are running that city off of the rails. Hold yourself accountable. Teach your children to be conscious of how their choices affect others. Our true crime victims deserve better. Don’t let these idiotic ideas further victimize them. Volunteer at your youth centers, provide them with positive examples. Teach them about accountability. We cannot let the values of having a conscience die. A world without self-assessment and personal responsibility is doomed to suffer.
Mater, P. (2019). San Francisco Chronicle, Retrieved from: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/philmatier/article/SF-Board-of-Supervisors-sanitizes-language-of-14292255.php