As we all know pop icon Whitney Huston died Saturday. As my readers are aware, I believe that change is only affected by taking action and offering solutions. It is simply not good enough to complain and stand on the sidelines.
The death of Whitney Houston illustrates many issues. Her death also will draw the platform needed to shine a light on so many problems in our criminal justice system.
First of all- I am not suggesting that Houston herself had any criminal legal issues. But, her death should make all of us think of how we can get a grip on the crisis in America of substance abuse and the consequences. For example, I wrote much about Conrad Murray and his easy treatment by our court system vs. other drug dealers. I have also written much about our weak and off base penalties for DUI arrests. Simply put, we MUST make changes.
Further, we must have EQUAL JUSTICE. That includes penalties in our State system that are not so different than our Federal Prison system. The analogy of Whitney Houston and our system may seem extreme. It is not. Somebody had to have provided the drugs to Houston over the years and it is a fact that she had a large amount of Prescription drugs in her hotel room. It also true that Houston’s ex husband Bobby Brown could have benefitted from proper programs during the many times he was arrested and incarcerated. Brown is a good example of somebody who needed an Incarcervention. That is a “get real” conversation that included long-term consequences. He is also proof that jail is not the solution to addiction.
As stated, this case illustrates that we must look at programs provided to people who are arrested on drug and DUI charges. Usually a court will order a drug or alcohol diversion program. That alone does NOT work. We need programs that have a long term care approach. To simply go to AA is not enough. Yes, it makes it easy for our courts, but not in the long run. I always suggest community service to my clients because it helps their self-esteem and provides a purpose to people who need a lift on all sides. This seems simple, but the truth is that community service is rarely ordered. I have proposed it be a part of all sentences- not in lieu of jail in all cases but a piece of the total.
There is much to think about and more to come. For now, the lesson must be that change is possible but we all need to look at the facts and come up with alternatives. If we do not use these high profile cases to begin a conversation than we are missing opportunities. For now, RIP Ms. Houston while the rest of us do some major soul searching.