The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Sitting on the Fence in the Middle of the Road

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

Politics in America is ever changing. As we grow older, our views of the world around us change, whether it is through life experiences or some other means. To quote Winston Churchill, “If you are not a liberal at age 20 you don’t have a heart, If you are not a conservative at age 40 you don’t have a brain.” Well I just turned 30 and that might be why I find myself in the middle of the road on so many different issues.    

I grew up in a very conservative home, where family and religious values were at the forefront of everything we did and every decision we made. I was a Republican because my parents were Republican. I was under the impression that Democrats were some how evil and if they were in power the world would come crashing down. As I have aged and encountered many different things in my life, I find myself growing more towards the middle of the road. In the past I was a Republican and I didn’t want to believe or listen to anything that the Democratic Party had to say. While today I still consider myself a Republican, I am not going to vote for someone just because he or she is a Republican; it is important to focus on each individual issue and see who most closely aligns with my stances on the majority of those issues.    

I graduated in 2001 from IUSB, with my degree in Criminal Justice and I have worked in the field for several years since. While Republicans are seen as hyper-tough on crime and Democrats are seen as seen as super-easy, I find myself in the middle of the road. I don’t believe every criminal should go to prison, nor do I believe that a criminal should only receive a slap on the wrist. For those of you who don’t know the difference between jails and prisons, a jail is ran by the county and is for offenders serving misdemeanor offenses, which are crimes with a penalty of one year or less and a prison is for felonies, carrying a sentence of one year or longer.    

In my opinion, prisons should be made for the worst of the worst, people who have committed such heinous acts that they should never be allowed into society again, for crimes such as rape, murder, molestation of children, etc. I don’t believe someone who uses drugs for example should be in prison with people who have committed far worse acts. Individuals who use drugs have an addiction problem, not necessarily a criminal problem. My fear is that putting people with addictions issues, with violent, heartless criminals, will adversely turn these addicts/criminals into hardened criminals, capable of far worse acts. When they are released (and they are all eventually released), we now have a new hardened criminal returning to society.  While I believe that drug use/abuse/addiction is a serious problem, I feel the criminal justice system/government has better alternatives for these types of issues.    

I worked for several years for the St. Joseph County Drug Court Program, in South Bend, IN. This program is set up to treat the offender, but also hold them responsible for their actions at the same time.  This program is for individuals who are charged with a drug felony and also have an addiction problem. This program is not intended for individuals who are selling drugs or manufacturing drugs. The prosecutor’s office has certain criteria that makes an individual eligible for this program. That individual is then sent to have an addictions assessment and based on that assessment along with information regarding prior criminal activity, a representative from the prosecutor’s office, the judge, and other members from the drug court team determine if that person is eligible for the program.    

Once an offender is accepted into the program, they are required to go to therapy, take drug tests, find employment, meet with case managers and have intermittent court dates to have the judge review their progress. If the offender completes all requirements, they have their charge dismissed and hopefully have a shot at a better life, without drugs and without a felony on their record. Which in theory, will make them a more productive member of society. If an individual in this program does not do what is required of them, the judge can send them to prison at any time to serve the remainder of the term.       

This way the offender has motivation to do well and if they don’t there are consequences. While programs such as this are good in design and practice, we are dealing with people, so it’s not going to work for everyone, but if it helps half the offenders that come into contact with the program, then it is a success in my eyes.    

This is just one example of a conservative having a liberal view on crime. But there are many other issues and scenarios, where a conservative at heart can find himself, dabbling into some liberal issues. And I’m ok with that. 

Larry Browning 

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