Punishment or Provision –
This morning, at a County Jail Resource Council Meeting, the group was discussing the different programs and services offered to the residents of the facility. It was stated that we want to do more than incarcerate men and women, we want to rehabilitate them so they can gain the skills and talents to give them the best opportunity to get out and stay out.
One of the programs is an art program. The residents come together and work on a project. A person who works at the jail said the first time he heard the announcement; “…report to the art room,” he thought he was in a school, not a jail. This and other programs offered at the facility have not been without their detractors. “Jail’s for punishing! It’s not for the inmates to have fun, be comfortable, doted on by the staff!”
What most of the naysayers don’t understand is if these folks don’t learn good, responsible lessons from the teachers and mentors at the jail they will learn not so good stuff from each other. I’ve seen the cells, the pods, the lockdown rooms. Trust me they’re far from comfortable. As far our treatment of them, some have never known what it is to be loved, cared for, respected. To understand they are of value is the greatest lesson we teach. If they can grasp the truth that they are of great worth, the rest is easy.
Serving Tea –
I had heard the story many times before. As he started talking I already knew how it ended. He’s an addict. He’s been one for almost as long as he can remember and will be one until he dies. The victory of an addict is not to stop being one but learning how to live life clean as one. He wasn’t living free, some of his old acquaintances had become recent friends.
The big three ways an addict stays away from relapse is a clean (drug, alcohol-free) place to live, a permanent job, and supportive friends. None of them are simple to attain and maintain but in my experience with addicts, the one which is the hardest to do is stay around supportive people. The reason this is so difficult for the addict is that oftentimes their addiction has hurt or destroyed the healthy relationships with family and friends which leave them with other addicts and pushers to be around when they are released from jail or a rehab center. It’s also hard to make new or mend relationships when at first you’re only sober moment to moment, hour by hour.
Wisdom tells us that we cannot stop negative people, negative thoughts coming into our lives and minds. However, we don’t have to stay or take up residence. We can choose to make our lives a priority, take care of ourselves so we can one day take care of others.
“You cannot stop negative thoughts from coming in the door of you mind, but you do not have to serve them tea.” #ZenProverb