Richard Van Wickler, the Superintendent of the Department of Corrections in Cheshire Country, NH and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said in an interview that drug addicts should be shown compassion rather than jailed.
He said he had seen numerous examples of people who were damaged or completely destroyed by drug abuse, but that current drug laws did little to nothing to solve the problem.
“Drugs just seem to be something that was connected to an awful lot of people, bringing them to jail, labeling them, ruining them for the rest of their lives, when in essence the pain and suffering that they were going through was enough,” Wickler said. “There is nothing you can do to these people to make it worse. And I realized early on that help is really what they need, compassion is really what they need.”
He explained that compassion needed to be brought into the penitentiary system to prevent prisoners from “losing their life” in both a literal and metaphorical sense.
“I think that if we’re good at what we do, that should be part of what we do,” Wickler said. “We shouldn’t be a place were people who are banished from society or who do things that the rest of us don’t agree with, we shouldn’t be a place that makes them more miserable. We should be a place that tries to give them hope and turn them around, because everybody comes to jail is going back to the community. The question is do they go back to the community better or do they go back to the community worse?”
In addition to serving as the superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections since 1993, Wickler is also an adjunct faculty instructor in justice studies for Keene State College and the New Hampshire Community Technical College.
Watch the interview, courtesy of LEAP, below: