I am a 54-year-old man

By Clyde Biggins, prisoner of the drug war

I have already served almost seven years on a twenty-year sentence for a nonviolent crime. I am 54 years old, a Christian, father, husband, and my release date is 2010. Oh, I could have gotten a lighter sentence, but I had no one to rat on for the U.S. prosecutors and the DEA.

Many responsible people tell me they don't know how you can have a criminal justice system without the use of informants. Well, I say, you can have this informant system, but it lends itself to terrible abuse, in drug cases especially when snitching seems the only way to save yourself. This justice system encourages snitches, encourages lies. It ensures that the people who have lots of information can inform on underlings with less information.

So if it was up to me, and I had to give up using snitches altogether, even those who really helped solve big crimes, I would do it. What is happening now with snitching in drug cases is too unjust and intellectually corrupt.

I hear the younger prisoners talking of their brief past, where they were raised, how they were raised. They sit and brag about how many girls they left behind, how many were pregnant, which girls have children they fathered. Some of them say they've never seen their children. To them it's bragging and boasting, but to me it's stupidity. I don't blame the young men, though. I do blame the government for building prisons instead of schools.

While holding conversations with these younger men, I have found that the majority of them want to make something out of their lives. I hear their silent cries. I see invisible tears. I see them smile to hide the pain deep within. They want help. They need help. They just don't know how to ask for help. They let their pride and their egos hold them back.

This is why the prison system should have motivation classes to help inmates find identity, personal and social. Something must happen before and after release so they can learn practical skills of survival in a community they care about and which cares for them.

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