Saturday, July 24News That Matters

Simply how damaged is our felony justice machine? A surprising view from the interior.


Doug Dunbar spent virtually 30 years in senior positions in American govt. He was once the Deputy Secretary of State in Maine. The click secretary to the Governor of Maine and a Communications Director in Congress. He labored for US Senators and state companies.

He’s additionally now a felon.

How the heck did Doug finally end up spending 136 days in prison? And extra importantly, what did he be informed firsthand in regards to the stunning screw ups of our machine of felony justice?

Pay attention to the whole dialog right here:

 This dialog has been condensed and edited.

Doug Dunbar: The tale for me takes to the air following Sep 11th, 2001. I used to be running in Congress.  That day, we have been below assault, and I may just see smoke billowing up from the Pentagon.  Since adolescence, I had suffered from two psychological diseases that I instructed no person about. I skilled obsessive compulsive dysfunction and nervousness each day. As I began to procedure Sep 11th, my nervousness and OCD spiraled out of keep an eye on, and I began to self-medicate with alcohol.

Because the years went on from that time, I moved again to Maine, went to paintings within the governor’s place of business, and my ingesting higher relating to frequency and amount as my tolerance degree higher.

Matt Robison: After which you were given arrested for riding below the affect?

Doug Dunbar: The primary time I believed everybody would to find out as a result of I had fascinating place and I knew a large number of the journalists in Maine. I have been Maine’s leader deputy secretary of state for heaven sakes: it was once a part of my activity to supervise the motor car department. I used to suggest folks in regards to the dangers of having pulled over a couple of occasions and turning into a routine culprit. However I deluded myself that I may just stay it below keep an eye on.

Matt Robison: You instructed your self it will by no means occur to you. However it sounds love it did.

Doug Dunbar: Yeah, at this level I have been self-medicating with alcohol for 16 years. After I were given arrested once more, I believed to start with that it will be like the former six arrests. However after all, it wasn’t. The entire revel in was once stunning. Maximum people don’t see ourselves finishing up in that place, after which finishing up in prison for 136 days.

Matt Robison: What did you do about your habit and your psychological well being stipulations when you have been in prison?

Doug Dunbar: There are first rate individuals who paintings in jails or even some just right techniques, however jails as an entity do just one factor constantly: serving to folks to go back to prison. I stay monitor of the folk in [the jail I was in] and I see the similar names arise again and again. We don’t center of attention on fixing issues.  We go back folks to prison.

So I didn’t get any assist on substance abuse or psychological well being till when I left prison. Actually, everybody round me after I arrived in prison was once obviously affected by a profound psychological sickness. A few of them have been within the throes of substance use dysfunction. Others had every other type of psychological sickness.  However all of them have been in a disaster state of affairs.

And for many of the team of workers, as a substitute of looking to deescalate a few of what was once going and take a look at to calm folks down, I noticed staff attempt to escalate, tease or mock the folks and actually kick the entirety up a notch.

Matt Robison: What did you notice relating to spaces the place we desperately want reform?

Doug Dunbar: Numerous the folk round me have been there as a result of they couldn’t get a hold of very modest quantities of cash to get out and stay their existence in combination. One among my first cellmates had a bail set at $160 and he may just no longer get a hold of it. He was once there for shoplifting an power drink. It is a guy who was once no longer mentally neatly, and he shoplifted to devour and live on. He lived within the woods in Newport, Maine, no longer some distance from Bangor, and he didn’t know his personal age. He concept he was once 26 or 27. It became out he was once in truth 24.  So he sat there in prison for just about 90 days and the taxpayers coated him at $109 an evening. So taxpayers paid $10,000 as a result of he couldn’t pay $160 in bail.

Matt Robison: And we’re no longer speaking about violent offenders right here. We’re speaking about people who find themselves shoplifting and different offenses that experience to do with a substance use dysfunction…no longer the type of factor we must be treating in prison?

Doug Dunbar: That’s precisely proper. So yeah, a method we will downsize our jails straight away is smart bail reform.

Total, whilst you revel in the machine, it’s stunning.  There are two other techniques of so-called justice. The rich are ready to put up bail and pass house and paintings with a personal lawyer and get the eye of that lawyer.  Then there’s the machine for the deficient and the sick, who can’t get out of prison and feature a legal professional to paintings on their case correctly.  So their existence unravels. Did they’ve an rental? It’s long past. Did they’ve a role? Long gone. Did they’ve kids? The youngsters may’ve been taken. Did they’ve Medicaid? Now not anymore. Now not since you’ve been convicted of one thing, however merely since you’re incarcerated.

We proportion edited excerpts from the Nice Concepts podcast each week that provide an explanation for how insurance policies paintings and provide leading edge answers for issues. Please subscribe, and to listen to extra about how felony justice reform, take a look at the whole episode on Apple, Spotify, Google, Anchor, Breaker, Pocket, RadioPublic, or Stitcher



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