PRISONERS’ FAMILIES – Supporting the Families of those Incarcerated
5 People Incarcerated Affects 5 Families and More
The Inti Raymi Fund recently visited the Women’s Prison in Uruguay to see how we could help the families of those who are serving time. Upon arrival, we met with five families who were visiting a family member incarcerated at the facilities called CNR Centro Nacional de Rehabilitacion. In some cases, it is a mother, in other cases it is a daughter, but in all cases, the crimes for which these women were imprisoned were either drug or petty crimes charges. In all cases, the unintended consequences is a disrupted family unit, economic losses and immeasurable and emotional strain for the immediate family on the outside. Most people when considering crime and those incarcerated don’t think beyond the immediate prisoner; however, there is much, much more to these stories which we call the “Collateral Damage of Crime”. To this end, the Inti Raymi Fund provided $5,000 USD per family unconditionally for their use as each family Self-Determines. Some mentioned they will use these funds for new-found legal representation to possibly revisit their case, some will use funds to pay for more frequent visits of their family while in prison, while others will simply have the comfort knowing where next month’s rent check will come from and that’s OK, because we all deserve a second chance in life. I know I received my share, how about you?
Usually, crime and those incarcerated affect the low and very low income people since those with money either don’t commit crimes because they found out how to get the necessities in life legally or as we all know most white collar crimes go unprosecuted or plea bargains/payoffs resolve the matter behind closed doors with the judges and attorneys. Those of modest means don’t start right and very seldom finish right as a consequence of being born in a poor family regardless of which country they live. This is universal truth we have seen all over the world. This perpetual cycle of poverty continues over and over with few exceptions, usually only when someone from the outside intervenes with emotional and or financial support or that person is clever enough to escape the cycle of poverty and despair.
There is more than just a coincidence as to why the majority of prisons are filled with poor people. It’s not at all the reason that poor people are bad, its simply that “put into a corner by the system” which works against them, a small percentage of the poor take matters into their own hands, make bad choices to steal, self-medicate with street drugs and or get into selling drugs as a way to support their drug habit. All the above mentions behaviors can be attributed to the few educational and career opportunities afforded them in their tough neighborhoods.
If you consider being born to a poor family, in a poor neighborhood, then it’s pretty logical to deduce that your school in this neighborhood is either non-existent in the Under Developed World or very poorly staffed with the worst teachers in the Developed World. If the child is lucky enough to have his or her parents insist they attend school all the way to adulthood, then they leave the home with only a high school education at best, from a very poorly rated school. What chances does this child have of success in life as our societies advance at their current pace? Usually it’s much worse than this when these children are put out on the streets by their parents to bring in extra income, then they start to miss some of their schooling or drop out altogether. To add an additional complexity, quite often these children are being brought up in a single parent household due to divorce or one parent is already incarcerated, leaving a stigma on the family on top of the already tough economic issues they face. The financial squeeze is too much to bare for these broken families and the cycle repeats itself again. When substance abuse enters the equation, all logic goes out the door as decisions are made in a vacuum with no apparent thought to the consequences.
Substance abuse affects millions and millions of people globally from the seemingly innocent simple abuse of alcohol to recreational drugs by experimenting teens on the streets, in high school or even college. The wealthy and middle class deal with this problem with more discretion, “sweeping it under the rug” disguising, lying or hiding this problem with many people eventually seeking and obtaining counseling and or medical help. If you are from a poor family all of these options are off the table. This is no safety net for poor people needing social services in mental health care, leaving their only option to run afoul until they eventually get into trouble with the law and get locked up.
Our believe with the Inti Raymi Fund is that there are no “Bad People” only “Bad Behaviors or Choices”. This is the longstanding question of “Nature Verses Nurture” and we believe that most of these issues could have be avoided with an improvement in one’s Nurturing or Environmental Conditions while growing up.
Since we believe in all people deserving equal opportunities whether you come from a privileged background or not, we felt it was important to recognize the added difficulties of families dealing with someone who is incarcerated, with a substance abuse issue or both. The emotional, legal and societal issues are great enough for anyone, not to mention, when you compound these issues with financial stresses of “how you are going to eat tonight?”, “where will you get next month’s rent money?” or even “where does the bus money come from to visit your loved ones in the prison?”
The Inti Raymi Fund hopes our financial contribution to each of these families will alleviate some of their immediate financial pressures, freeing them up to make better long term choices. Additionally, we know quite a few of these families did not have the funds necessary for an attorney to represent the accused at sentencing, almost certainly leading to a much more severe incarceration period. What would have happened to the accused if they had the financial wherewithal to retain an attorney? Would they have been acquitted? Would they have received a much lighter sentence? What if the accused was a wealthy and politically connected member of the community? You can look no further than the current scandals including 100’s of politically connected people in Brasil of 2016 & 2017 to see the enormous corruption web. This collusion by politicians including past and current presidents of Brazil show how none of them are spending an hour in prison after stealing Billions and Billions of dollars of the public’s money through the Brazilian Petrobras Oil Company and the Brazilian Consortium of Odebrecht just to mention a few, as well as their corrupt process being selected for the Olympics in 2016.
Start Date: June 3 2017
Completion Date: June 3 2017
Funded so far: $25,000.00 USD
Total Project: $25,000.00 USD
Lives Affected: 20