A few days ago, I briefly touched on the terrible problems that beset our criminal justice system. Sentencing systems are inconsistent, pro bono attorneys are frequently incompetent or indifferent, support and assistance at the time of release are pathetically inadequate, etc., etc. What are we to do? What should we as a society do to improve this situation?
A partial solution, put together by generous volunteers, is at hand but it needs to be strengthened tremendously and expanded. I am talking about CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants). CURE began in Austin, Texas back in the 1970’s. An extraordinarily generous and effective couple, Charles and Pauline Sullivan, became conscious of the fact that in the Texas prison system most prisoners were incarcerated far from their hometowns making it difficult if not impossible for relatives to visit them. Charlie and Pauline began to develop an informal busing and carpooling system that would pick people up in one part of the state and take them to where their relatives were in another part. They had no idea that with this wonderful but thoroughly small initiative they would be launching an international program aimed at improving the day-to-day lives of prisoners.
From time to time, it is necessary that we remember that incarceration is the punishment; that loss of freedom is the punishment. The state should not add to the burdens of those who are incarcerated. Once again, the incarceration itself is the punishment. Society should not add to the punishment already allocated by the judicial system.
More on the good work of Charlie and Pauline later this week. However, if you can’t wait until then, the website address of CURE is www.curenational.org.