Punishment, Rehabilitation or Both

By Mark Astor 10 months agoNo Comments

Good morning, everyone. I am coming to you this morning from the Federal Correctional Institute in Miami. This is the federal prison. I was here visiting with a client and a friend. I spend a fair amount of time visiting clients in jail. Typically, I’m in Palm Beach County dealing with individuals who are charged with violations of state crime. This is a federal penitentiary. This is a whole different ballgame down here.
I wanted to share this with you because we seem to have the mindset that we want to punish everyone. I don’t want you to think that I think people shouldn’t be going to prison for specific crimes. You get violent people, people who are committing murders, rapists and people who are abusing kids. Those people have to go to prison. We should lock them up for as long as we possibly can.
There are other people who are committing crimes because they have substance abuse and mental health issues. If you’ve spent as much time in the system as I have, you realize that it’s the bulk of individuals. When I was a prosecutor, especially when I was fresh out of law school, I said to myself, “Everyone that’s here is bad. We must lock everyone up.” If you read the mandate of the legislature in Florida, our mandate here in Florida and in most states is to punish people.
There’s no mandate for rehabilitation. We just want to punish people. Some people need to be punished and locked away. The vast majority of people who are incarcerated shouldn’t be there. We are locking up more people here in America than the rest of the world combined. We’ve turned incarcerating people into a business. Instead of rehabilitating people, we’re locking them up and spending tax payer dollars to keep them locked up. When they get out, we wonder why their addiction issue has not been fixed.
Coming to visit a client, even as their lawyer, is exhausting. It’s emotionally draining. Prosecutors may be carrying 200 or 300 files at any one time. We don’t have any contact with the defendant. It’s just a file. I don’t mean that prosecutors don’t care, that we’re not there to do justice or that we’re doing something that’s inappropriate. We don’t have that level of personal involvement in a case. When you are doing defense work, you get to know the client. That’s a person. It’s someone’s husband. It’s someone’s father. It’s someone’s wife. It’s someone’s son. When I spend a couple of hours visiting with a client that I’ve known for a long time, it’s exhausting. It’s emotionally draining.
I’m going to spend the rest of the day with family. That tends to make me realize that all the things we do to try and make life better for other people is really worth it. I was up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning so I could get here in time to visit with a client. That’s what we do. We’re in the caring business, trying to make a difference.
I want to thank Sophie, who is my social media guru. She had been encouraging me, pushing me, to make these videos for many months. I appreciate Sophie and also my friend Jessica G. who has advised me to get a selfie stick. I’ve ordered a selfie stick and I’m going to get a better phone. Hopefully, these videos should improve.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone for their posts and words of encouragement on Facebook. It has been inspiring for me. It has been motivating for me. It’s made me want to double down on my efforts to try and help a lot more people. Please keep commenting, whether it’s good or bad. I appreciate the input. What I’ve noticed is that people who have had very little contact with me in the past are reaching out to me and asking for help. I’m honored that you would share your stories with me. Please keep doing that. If you know someone who needs help, please put them in touch with me. Let me try and help them.

  alcohol, drugs, DUI, mental health, substance abuse, treatment
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