Locally, we have programs by faith-based groups and others to help in this effort to stem the growing tide.
We are still trying to find the answers.
Many of our local thugs are just lazy and rebellious. They don’t want anything like a job that would cause them to lead a disciplined life. They like to lie around, sleep a lot and play. Another common characteristic with this group is that they know it all. They reject any instruction from anyone in authority, including their parents.
Hunger is a good motivator, but it seems that these guys and gals always have somebody to give them food, cigarettes and beer. They sometimes stay with their grandparents or other family member, until their host runs them off.
These felons often shop-lift, break into houses or cars, looking for anything of value to sell for a few cents on the dollar. Then there are the greedy scumbags who buy these goods, knowing they are stolen.
Many of these same felons will buy and resell meth, marijuana, crack cocaine or deal in ill-gotten prescription drugs. These low-lifes will do anything to turn a buck, anything.
We see some of these on the side of the road begging, with a sign that says, “Will work for food,” or “Homeless.” Most of them, when you offer them work, won’t take it. What they want is money to buy cigarettes and alcohol or drugs. The wording on the signs is just a gimmick they hope will cause you to give them money.
These people do not need to be pitied just because they are homeless or jobless. They should not be pitied, because of their sorry ways and laziness. Yet, as in any situation, there are always a few that truly need help. Their goal is not to pan-handle money from you, just to buy unnecessary items. Many of these people, when they have actually reached out for it, have found help to improve their situation.
This particular characteristic of most felons is not reserved for this generation of thugs, alone. Past generations of thugs have been just as self-centered and sorry. Even in prison they are that way.
Many years ago, a state prison in Mississippi made the inmates work gardens that supplied fresh vegetables to the prison’s kitchen. Those who refused to work the fields were made to stand there in the fields all day, while the others worked.
Some well-meaning folks think we should make things cushy for inmates. They believe that if you do, the inmates will respond to the kindness. Well, behind the backs of these folks, the inmates mock and belittle these efforts.
Inmates often play on the emotions and sympathies of the volunteer who is reaching out to help them. They will use the volunteer for their selfish needs, as long as they can.
Veteran chaplains are very unique.
They are very caring and compassionate toward the inmates they serve. But, the successful chaplain can be very tough when he sees the con man in action. The chaplain will recognize what is going on and that is when he will take his tough-love stance.
When the new and naïve volunteer begins his or her service there is always someone ready to take advantage of them. Some inmates have been so convincing of their innocence to these workers that the workers make efforts to get them freed. Or, they will speak about the way the inmate has changed. They are convinced the inmate will never commit another crime. These volunteers don’t seem to realize that the inmate is very practiced and, therefore, very good at proclaiming his or her innocence.
Well, some do change.
They take going to prison seriously. These are not so self-centered and don’t want to be away from family. Most of those who truly change do so because they have a change of heart. They are not trying to con the chaplain or volunteer that is conducting a Bible Study, preaching or taking them through a program designed for them.
Our experience is there are very few in the county jail who are responsible for their being there. It is the fault of someone else. Society has held them back, their parents were too hard on them or they were too easy on them. Some inmates, who are seemingly less than human, have blamed little girls for them (the inmates) molesting or raping them. It is always someone’s fault, other than his or her own.
I do not know of anyone who is serving his or her sentence that is innocent. If I did know of anyone that is innocent I would make all efforts necessary for their immediate release.
Back to my point of all this: 20 or more criminals are released upon our citizens practically every week here in Bradley County. If that number holds, that means that we are adding to our population 1,040 or so experienced criminals every year.
Of course, many of these criminals are repeat offenders. Statistics tell us that most of them will continue to break the law. A big problem is that many of them will commit many crimes before they are sent back to prison. Many of them have rap sheets (records) a mile long, but still are not kept in prison long enough to truly pay for their crimes. Instead, they are released back on society.
The reader can quickly see why I have been ringing the alarm, for months now, about the need to prepared and for proper funding of law enforcement.
I can’t keep them from being paroled here, but with the support of the citizens of Bradley County, my deputies and I can keep our foot on the necks of these desperadoes for the coming years. It will take a planned, sustained effort, but we can do it with your help!
It is suggested that we should put these convicts on chain gangs and make them work. Well, under the present situation, it is just too expensive to invest in the equipment and manpower for us to do that locally. We are continually looking for the best methods to get the job done.
A real problem is that many or most of our inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol and unless that is change most will continue to commit crimes to feed their addictions.
When I ran for the office of sheriff, I began to look for a way to help change such situations. I was introduced to a ministry group that has the goal of changing lives and getting as many as possible off drugs and alcohol. They have a program to help change people’s hearts and an even longer program to help get those who really want help to get off drugs or alcohol.
We will keep putting our best foot forward in the battle to do something about crime.
Thanks for listening.