Thursday, January 19, 2006
The Craziness of Being in Jail
The picture is of one James Traficant, formerly the Congressional Representative from my home town. Best known for the ending of his daily 2 minute House floor speech by saying "Beam Me Up Scotty."
I am a little upset with a recent story that at best seems to show that the whole point of the punishment system in the US is goofy. But before I get to that, a little background on why I am even discussing the very interesting Mr. Traficant.
Setting: Junior High School - Youngstown, Ohio - Late 70's. (School is known as Volney Rogers Junior High School.)
The school Principal is one Mr. Sam Traficant. He was a very nice, but very strict man. He was also the type that was constantly trying to find ways to reach his student population in different ways. Of course a big issue was always 'Drugs.' Mr. S. Traficant had a brother. (Yes I have a feeling you guessed this. ) The brother was Mr. James A. Traficant. This was before a political career. Mr. J. Traficant at the time was in charge of the county program that would become D.A.R.E. (From here we will refer to them as Mr. S. and Mr. J for simplicity sake.) Mr. S thought that the students would benefit from the information (and weird and disgusting stories) that Mr. J could pass on. He set up an evening program that involved Mr. J. speaking about drugs for about an hour and then answering questions. (My mother being the typical ever worried Jewish mother, decided we should go to the program.)(As an aside I was a very boring kid, never had any reason or inclination to try drugs, let alone the more or less legal things. And this was before health problems.) I had a chance, after the program, to meet and talk to Mr. J. The next year Mr. S had Mr. J back again for the same type of program. (Mom made me go again.) I wasn't particularly into these programs, but anything info is good info right.
Well a couple of years later Mr. J became Sheriff J Traficant. It wasn't much later that Sheriff J was up on tax evasion charges for not reporting bribes he alledgely took from one of the local mobs. (Yes real organized crime families. And before anyone tries to tell me about whether they are real or not, my mother work (in a legit business) for the nephews of one of the mob bosses.) Well Sheriff J beat the IRS and was 'free' to go about his business. He was now very popular in the greater Youngstown area. It was then that he decided to run for Congress, and the rest (as they say) is history. One additional note on Mr. J, he and his wife are good friends of one of my siblings and her husband. (I am quite a bit younger than most of my siblings.)
Now back to the reason for this post. Mr. J has been painting pictures and sending them to a friend and supporter of his 'on the outside' for her enjoyment. This friend decided she like the would sell the art on E-Bay. The result, other than the sale of several pieces, is that the Federal Institution that Mr. J is in has made him stop painting because you are not allowed to run a business from in jail. Now check me on this, isn't the whole point of putting people in jail to 'rehabilitate' them so that when they are released they can be useful members of society. I can see if we didn't want them running illegal operations from jail, but a legitimate money making venture, especially when they aren't in jail for say fraud against an individual, and they are will ing to pay taxes on any income from the legal business ventures, shouldn't they be encouraged to continue to run this legitimate operation. The painting has nothing to do with profiting from his crime or what his crime was. I just really feel bad from Mr. J. (I wouldn't vote for him again, but that is an entirely different thing.)