We opened the floor for comments, on the post Smith Jail Bond: Open Invitation For Comments Pro and Con and this one was published today. I want to thank the author for taking the time to write it, and I thought it deserved to be on a page of it’s own. Here it is in it’s entirety:
“On any Sunday morning thousands of Tyler’s citizens can be found filling church pews. We are in the Bible belt and I think people who live in Tyler like to believe this is a religious community full of good Christian people. Yet, the Bible tells us that we are to Love our Neighbors. I think that many of the people who fill those church pews have ever thought of the people in the county jail as their neighbors. Yet, they are our neighbors. I find it interesting that such a Bible believing, Christian population puts more effort in to trying to figure out how to lock more of it’s neighbors up than it does in trying to figure out how to help them. That seems awfully hypocritical to me. Honestly, I see very little love for one’s neighbor in this community. I see very little compassion, very little reaching out. I see a lot of people looking down their noses at others.
A lot of the people that end up in jail are simply products of their backgrounds. If you look at the crime ridden neighborhoods they grow up in, the dysfunctional family situations, lack of opportunity, and other factors it’s almost inevitable that some of these people will end up in jail. We need to start intervening before they get their. I know of one local church that recently sent 200 people at one time on an overseas mission trip. That’s great. But what if 200 people spent a week in Tyler trying to help those in bad situations? What could they accomplish with the money it took to fly them to another country?
Did you know there are no church services in the jail in Tyler. Most of the smaller, rural counties around have people who come in and do church services on Sundays in the jail. With the number of churches and church members in Tyler it’s puzzling that no one is providing that service in the jail here. I knew someone who was recently in the jail here for several months. The only church that provided a prison ministry to female prisoners was the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Kudos to them). A church can send 200 people to a foreign country but can’t send anyone to the county jail? Like I said, I see very little love for neighbors in this community.
Maybe if some of the large churches in this town would put together some of their vast resources to help keep people out of jail and help those who have been to jail but are trying to straighten out their lives we wouldn’t need to build a bigger jail.
Additionally, there are innocent people going to jail here at a much higher rate than most people would think. We have serious problems with the criminal justice system in this county. We need to start by electing a new DA. One who cares about justice, not one who just wants to lock up as many people as he can for as long as he possibly can. We need a system that cares about helping those that can be helped. It shouldn’t always be just about punishment.
Another big issue is mental illness. Texas is ranks 49th among the states on mental health spending. Yet we incarcerate more people than any other state (except maybe California, I’m not sure). There is a connection between the lack of spending on mental health care and the incarecration rate. In the 70’s a lot of mental institutions were closed. Mentally ill people were supposed to receive community based treatment. The community based programs were underfunded and ineffective. Now, a lot of the people who would have been institutionalized in the past are now in prison receiving very little, if any treatment for their mental illness.
In Texas incarcerate people at 10 times the rate of communist CHina. We have more people in prison in Texas than they do in the entire country of Mexico. Smith county’s incarceration rate is one of the highest in Texas.
We problems with our criminal justice system that need to be addressed. Building bigger jails and more prisons isn’t the answer.”
“Best not to say”