6 APR 2015 :: Catching up with the past

I have an ongoing battle to pay off the debt I have collected during my poverty years and failed efforts to improve my situation.  These include student loans that have gone from about $30,000 to maybe $130,000... medical debts that have gone to judgments and have increased with interest and collection fees... tickets for driving without insurance and expired tags while I was homeless, some having gone to judgment and making driving again impossible...small amounts that couldn't be paid and have risen to levels that require a miracle from GOD to pay.

Several times I have made lists of my debts, better known as "what the locust have eaten."  I have always expected GOD to help me repay these debts because I kept trying to find a way through my economic problems, and focused on building a business-ministry for the Body of Christ.

I have always planned to pay these debts through wages or other income efforts, but the years keep going and they remain.  Working Together was meant to be my work, situations beyond my control have been a part of my battle, and my options have been reduced by age, health, and resources.  Does GOD hold this against ME, or is there a miracle waiting for me in the future?

I will be trying to make another list of my lifetime of poverty debts, but it is hard to remember all the years and all the hardships.  If I can't find the place to send them, I can add them to Working Together's benevolent fund amounts.  Somehow, they can be paid if I can create the income to pay them.

This burden of debt is also an issue in the prison systems. We want people to pay for their crimes, to pay for the damage they cause, to suffer for the problems they have caused.  I don't think prison is the best solution in all cases, especially theft crimes. 

I call it double jeopardy, which I believe
is paying for the same crime twice.

Convicted individuals pay in prison time and then have to pay for years after prison in restitution and debts that accumulate while they are in prison. Does this solution really help solve the problems that caused the crime to happen and allow a better person to emerge from the corrections process?

People steal for a variety of reasons, sometimes just to get food or shelter, other times because they are driven by addictions, and other times because they develop a level of greed that can't be satisfied any other way.  All thefts are equal to financial restitution and can be dealt with better by creating a solution that includes working and making payments on their crime debts, with supervision by corrections departments.  This would reduce our prison populations, allow mentoring relationships, education, job training, financial skills, accountability, and more.

This restitution focus can be their consequence,
their rehabilitation, and the remedy for victims.

Having experienced both juvenile and adult prison systems because of my sons, I have a parent's view of how prisons deal with money issues, conflict, rehabilitation, education, and other related activities.  The costs of crime and punishment include restitution, child support, lost and reduced wages, mandated collections, and ignorance of the ongoing changes in the societies inmates will be released back into.  Inmates now have to help pay for their supervision after release.  The desperation of prison budgets are visible in a wide variety of rules and regulations.

One of my now adult sons is back in prison for the same cycle of issues that sent him to prison as a juvenile... bad choices in friends, addictions, and thefts.  Now that I have a very small income, I am again facing the issue associated with sending money to my son.  When an inmate makes $20 a month from a full-time prison job, the prison system takes half of their income.  Not only do they call wages income, they call gifts from family and friends income...and take half of that amount. 

This really irritates me, as their mother, because I have very little to send them. When I do squeeze money out of my budget, always with some level of sacrifice attached to it, I am trying to help my sons provide for themselves in a difficult and hostile environment.  I also DONT want to pay their fines, I want to help my sons with their needs.  The small amounts I struggle to send would not provide much at full value, when the prison takes half of that away it makes me really angry.

We all have debts to pay.  I would never have accumulated debts if I had the ability to pay them.  I don't know what I can do to change the issues I see in the corrections systems, but I don't think the current solutions work.  What incentive is there to achieve slowly, increase your situation every year, and build a future if the past is going to take the rest of your life to overcome?  If inmates come out of prisons worse than when they went in, maybe we need to establish better rehabilitations methods, and include the things that are needed to build a new life :: education, job training, mentoring, self-esteem, budgeting instruction, fair recovery standards, and realistic expectations.