It was one of those days that dragged on at school, and I couldn't wait for the class to end. I usually go to the coffee shop on the corner where they make the best darn coffee along with the sexiest business men that you could lay your eyes on.
Criminal justice is a hot button issue in this country. Kamala Harris used her background as an attorney general for president on a criminal justice platform. The recent talk of the legalization of marijuana, medical and recreational, has served as a gateway to discussing pardoning people that have been convicted for small amounts of marijuana in their possession. Early on in his presidency, Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, which was very controversial, given Arpaio’s background. It’s everywhere – statistically speaking, around 1 in 3 American adults have a criminal record.
If you Google the phrase "private prisons," a lot will come up. You can read news articles for days. People for and against these private prisons have made sure the topic stays in the news cycle. And it definitely has stayed in the news. The topic of private prisons can be confusing and overwhelming, and if you are someone who doesn't know a lot about private prisons or how they are funded/run, you may be wondering, "are there really that many private prisons and prisoners in the US that this should be such a big issue?"
It's taken me awhile to open up about something that most people in society shun and this will be by far one of my most honest posts yet.
For many people across Arizona, it is becoming more apparent that injustices are running rampant within the state of Arizona. For many of us living here in Arizona, it has shaped our lives in one way or another. People from other states oftentimes are repulsed by the way the state of Arizona has a tendency to run things, especially when it comes to the criminal justice system here. As the state of Arizona has continued to grow, policies have begun to change and somewhere along the line the state took a seriously wrong turn.
Money is the root of all evil. Many of us have been told this all of our lives. When money or financial stability is the drive for what you do, you will always find yourself in desperate places. I truly believe that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to change their lives. Unfortunately, those that find themselves within the justice system have an uphill climb to do it. Once you have a record, you are that for the rest of your life. Getting in trouble again is inevitable, and will happen again; it's simply a matter of time. The justice system has become an open market for entrepreneurs and private companies to make money from others' mistakes.
I love the state of Arizona, but its justice system is a complete joke. Any state that proudly declares: “come here on vacation and end up on probation” is a state that fundamentally misunderstands its priorities. Under no circumstances should a state aim to imprison more people each year, when crime rates across the country are at a all time low.
Cyntoia Brown was released from prison yesterday, yet she is far from free. She will always be the survivor of rape, of trafficking, and the girl who had to take a life to survive. She will carry with her the triggers that are born of abuse and a childhood that never was.
Nine months ago, I arrived at the revelation that I'd had enough of wasting my life pursuing useless jobs that meant nothing to my heart and soul nor to the attainment of my passions and my dreams. And having become fully fed up, succumb to pursuing an archetypal lifestyle and subjecting myself to people and hierarchies that did nothing but depress me, I did the only thing I could think of: I packed my car with a tent, a 50 liter pack and my dog, and surrendered all my material belongings in pursuit of a dream gleaned from an epiphany I had back in 2015: that my destiny was to write a novel on par with that of Divergent, Hunger Games, Twilight, The Maze Runner, or Harry Potter.
Billy Hayes is an American writer, actor, and film director. He is best known for his autobiographical book Midnight Express about his experiences in and escape from a Turkish prison after being convicted of smuggling hashish. He was one of hundreds of U.S. citizens in foreign jails serving drug charge sentences following a drug smuggling crackdown by foreign governments.