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Lives wasting away in prison camps

By Ruth Carter, prisoner of the drug war

I am 45 years of age and had worked since I was 12 years old - until I was arrested on drug charges. I am now serving a 16-year sentence at Pekin Federal Prison Camp for Women.

I cannot believe the lives being wasted at these camps. There are no fences, no walls, lots of intelligent women here, lots of talented women here, lots of mothers here doing anywhere from 5 to 20 years. We obviously are not a danger to society or fences and walls would surround us.

I do not believe that taxpayers are aware of what is going on here. Like I said, I have had a job all my life, and if I would have known that my tax dollars were going to support a place like these camps, I would have had a fit. We do everything here that I would have loved to have done while on the outside. We read when we want, sleep, eat, work out in the gym, watch TV, attend classes.

I'm not trying to say any of us like it here because there is a lot of heartache and pain being separated from our families. The point I'm trying to make is that if we can be here with no fences and no walls, then we could be at home raising our own families and doing community service. We could be putting money into the economy instead of costing the taxpayers money. We could be paying taxes.

It costs taxpayers $7 million a year just to operate this camp. How many camps are there in the system? There are forty-one Federal Camps and many of them larger than this one. This camp makes $500,000 a year in commissary spending.

I don't know whose plan helped create these camps, but from what I can tell, it is a moneymaker for the government. From where I stand and observe it doesn't cost $7 million to run this Pekin Camp, but that's what the government charges the taxpayers.

There has been much talk in the Congress and newspapers about nonviolent offenders being incarcerated. To quote Democrat Roland Burris, a former Attorney General, "Incarceration is for those individuals who have been convicted of heinous crimes and are deemed unfit to participate in our society." If he's right, why can't we be at home doing community service and then if we violate rules, put us on home confinement?
I hardly think people who are sitting in Federal Prison Camps with no walls and no fences are a threat to society, and I think most US voters would agree if polled scientifically. So what's this really about - protecting society, or simply bankrolling forever the careers of government employees habituated to more and more hardworking, taxpayers' money?

It's past time for the people of the United States to just say NO to drug war injustice.

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