Imprisonment. Steven’s mother was imprisoned for drug possession with intent to distribute when…

Imprisonment. Steven’s mother was imprisoned for drug
possession with intent to distribute when Steven was just a baby. Steven grew
up visiting his mother in prison. Steven has since become politically active
and has been advocating on campus for alternatives to incarceration. Steven
asks an acquaintance from his philosophy class, Janelle, to sign a petition
that aims to provide more state funding for rehabilitation and drug treatment.
Janelle is opposed to this. She says, “I have no sympathy for criminals. They
get what they deserve.” Steven replies, “But consider my mom’s case. She’s not
»

Imprisonment. Steven’s mother was imprisoned for drug
possession with intent to distribute when Steven was just a baby. Steven grew
up visiting his mother in prison. Steven has since become politically active
and has been advocating on campus for alternatives to incarceration. Steven
asks an acquaintance from his philosophy class, Janelle, to sign a petition
that aims to provide more state funding for rehabilitation and drug treatment.
Janelle is opposed to this. She says, “I have no sympathy for criminals. They
get what they deserve.” Steven replies, “But consider my mom’s case. She’s not
really a bad person. She had a drug addiction problem and she sold drugs to
support her own habit. Her addiction could have been treated by rehab. But she
ended up in prison, which meant pretty hard times for me and my sisters.”
“Well, she should have thought about that before she committed the crime,”
Janelle says. “If we start letting the drug dealers out of prison, all hell
will break loose.” Steven responds, “Well, growing up with a mom in prison was
pretty much hell for me. And now that she’s out of prison, she’s having a hard
time getting a job and an apartment. She feels like it’s harder than ever to
make ends meet, and I worry she’s going to turn back to drugs or even dealing.
How did her imprisonment help her or society?”

Whose side are you on? Is prison an appropriate punishment
for nonviolent drug crimes? Does it matter whether a criminal has a family that
is impacted by imprisonment? Why or why not?

»