North Texas Daily

Those in jail do not deserve degradation and brutality

Those in jail do not deserve degradation and brutality

Those in jail do not deserve degradation and brutality
August 30
12:00 2018

A person’s first arrest can be difficult to process in the moment. Have you ever wondered what they really go through? The treatment they face? The emotions that transpire?

One person’s experience may differ greatly from another’s. There are also many differences between one criminal and the next. The one commonality is that a crime did, in fact, occur.

We are all guilty of some kind of unlawful act within the course of our lives, if not multiple. Whether it be jaywalking, filling a water cup with soda, driving under the influence, violating a leash law, theft, rape or murder. The only separation between you and a jailed person is that they got caught.

There are some crimes so heinous a reasonable person would not commit them. On the same token, there are some illegal acts many find themselves committing regularly.

Smoking weed is still a federal crime even though some states have legalized its usage and distribution. Sharing your Netflix password is illegal in Tennessee. Having more than one drink in front of you at a time, going to a bar with a 2-for-1 drink special and playing soccer in the park on Sundays are all crimes one can be arrested for in certain places.

All of these unlawful acts may not be prosecuted, yet the crime still occurred. People often argue the morality and ethics of these crimes, but in actuality, even those who arrest and prosecute crimes sometimes commit them themselves. This puts people of those professions in a unique position to understand jailed persons.

Texas statistics show many college students are often cited with DUIs. Priests, teachers, pilots, lawyers and dentists alike receive them as well. These are respected authorities who have dedicated their professional lives in service of others and are not considered inherently malicious people.

While stealing shows proof of a morally corrupt individual, it does not make a monster. Drug distributors do not necessarily contribute to the well-being of their societies, but they also do not force their customers to use drugs, and they aren’t predisposed to violence any more than anyone else is. Gambling is an individual indulgence perhaps the government should have no say in.

Sex work is a highly controversial crime. While adult entertainment is legal and standardized in the U.S., commercial sex work is far from it. Sex workers have just as much a right to earn a living as an adult film star, professional escort or sugar baby. All of these professions are essentially the same thing: performing sexual or romantic acts for money. Unfortunately, it is written in the law to arrest those who work the sidewalks or use Craigslist instead of those who use agencies with written contracts.

There is no such thing as perfection. While we often try to avoid mistakes, they are inevitable. Mistakes do not just result from carelessness — they are often the product of inherent sin.

We all sin intentionally and unintentionally throughout our entire lives. The sin of driving under the influence, theft or drug use should not be held up to the same standards as violent criminal acts. Homicide, sexual abuse and false imprisonment all withhold the intent to inflict physical and emotional distress.

A violent offender does more than violate moral and ethical code. They violate their humanity – they turn against all which makes them human.

But there is a tendency in the jail system to treat all criminals the same. While innocent until proven guilty is beneficial in theory, it is not useful after an arrest. Many offenders, violent and nonviolent or guilty and innocent alike, are given the same callous and degrading treatment during their time in jail.

No one deserves to be treated less than human, although some do deserve a bit more sympathy than others. For example, a drunk and disorderly person should be carefully monitored, fed and given plenty of water until they are ready for release.

The Denton County Jail’s drunk tank has a water spout stemming from the toilet, no cups with which to drink it and absolutely no vegetarian options. There is an understanding that jail is not The Four Seasons, but basic reasonable conditions are not too much to ask for.

There are many cases where sex workers are taunted or abused because they are high-risk targets who are less likely to speak up. That is the case with many people in jail — upon release there is a lot to complain about but the fear to speak up is greater than the desire to demand change.

Nonviolent offenders are at the mercy of misguided contempt and judgement behind the jailhouse walls. The punishment is supposed to be a chance for rehabilitation, but sometimes turns into an opportunity for self-gratification on behalf of jail personnel. Lack of empathy training and other similar seminars allows jail officials to forget that many people behind those bars are just like them, and just like the rest of us on the outside.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Brianna Adams

Brianna Adams

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