On Holy Monday, there was a fire department ladder company, a rescue truck, a police car, and an ambulance in front of my house. This not a normal occurrence even in my neighborhood.
They were actually for the neighbor. His wife came home and found him unresponsive on the living room floor with a needle in his hand. He has been out of prison for five days after doing a five year stretch on a parole violation.
He's OK for now.
His wife was complaining that there was no addiction treatment in prison. So, I asked her, "Has he asked for help since he got out?"
"No," she admitted, "he is hard headed and wants to do things his way."
Prisons really are for punishment and public safety. If 'penitentiaries' really helped people repent, they'd have something to show for it. The whole idea of the penitentiary system which reforms prisoners has never worked because of one thing.
People are healed by love, and prison is anything but a loving place.
Expecting a prison to heal wounded souls is kind of like asking your auto mechanic to replace your pacemaker. One could make the argument that the two are both mechanical devices, just like we can connect addiction to crime. But, the honest truth is that both are entirely different skill sets.
I would not want my heart surgeon to also be my auto repairman.
Prisons cannot heal, just like churches cannot punish. They are different. This does not mean that one is more important than the other. But, they cannot cross the boundaries of what they really are.
Prisoners should be allowed to form AA or NA groups in prison, but it should not be the responsibility of prison officials to try to treat addicts, especially since even voluntary programs have a very low success rate. Expecting a prison to treat addiction is never going to be effective.
I hope my neighbor gets help. he has been 'in-and-out' most of his adult life, and his children have spent most of their childhood seeing their father through plexiglass. He can make the change if he wants to. Lots of us have.
You can't blame the prison, because it is doing what it does best: warehousing prisoners until they are done with their sentences.