PSJ Member Letter to the Editor: Prisons don't serve taxpayers

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Prisons don't serve taxpayers

Hello, my name is Holden Smith. I lived in North Bend and will return to Coos County upon release. I am an Oregon Department of Corrections inmate serving 12 years for robberies.

I am a first-time felon who made a terrible lapse of judgment. Now, due to my actions, I have to pay society back. I deserve my punishment and know what I did was wrong.

However, the people of Oregon should know that Measure 11 does not benefit the community. Inmates need to be given an incentive to do good. With no incentive or options, they will just sit here until their release date. Many of them come out worse.
 
While incarcerated, I have pursued by college education on my own dollar. I have not been offered any course for rehabilitation. When asked, they told me those courses were for non-Measure 11 offenders.
 
The state calls this the Department of Corrections. Sadly, the name its self is a lie to the taxpaying citizens. No actions are being taken to correct our behavior. The money is being spent on housing and food -- and nothing more.
 
Society needs to become involved. They need to open their eyes and realize being tough on crime is not being smart. I see first-hand the true damage being done at the expense of human lives that seem to be expendable, according to district attorneys, unless their family is involved.
 
Most of the offenders sentenced under Measure 11 will be relocated in the near future. Help the community by helping us. Energy needs to be focused not on the amount of time being served but rather on education, rehabilitation, job skills and drug treatment. Or better yet, use the money on our children's education and extracurricular activities.
 
I love our beautiful state of Oregon, which is why I am taking this step. We all need to get involved in the decision making of our state. There is a terrible injustice in the Oregon budget here at ODOC. All I ask is that you all get involved and carefully read all proposals in the state legislative session.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Holden Smith
Ontario, Ore.