Dr. Jerry Stahler is a geography and urban studies professor here at Temple University. This Tuesday, he came to our class to talk about drugs and the criminal justice system. Stahler has been teaching in prisons for about 15 years, educating inmates about drugs and drug use. By doing that, he has also been able to interact with inmates and listen to their stories.
The U.S. is number one in the world in regards to people incarcerated and the rate of people being incarcerated. A large amount of those people who are incarcerated are involved with drugs, Stahler said. He also taught us about the dangers of privatizing prisons. When the government creates a financial incentive to incarcerate people, it increases the likelihood of more people becoming incarcerated when there are corporations and lobbying involved.
The prison system is biased and extremely disproportionate. Stalher discussed how heavily influenced the prison system is involved with drugs. And that more black men are in prison or parole than white.
We also discussed the domino effect of when people are taken away from their community. How it can be extremely detrimental to families, especially children who grow up without a father/mother figure in the home. “When you think about punishment, the punishment is losing your freedom and being separated from society. But unfortunately, we have a system where the punishment keeps on punishing. We don’t prepare people to come out of prison,” Stahler said. This is a huge problem and people who have been incarcerated have a very difficult time living their lives after being released.