By A. Hysock, P. Berman, & K. Hecht
If I say yes, I can get out. I want out so bad. If I say no, I am trapped and lose my protection!
Larry should be excited. He could get early parole. But he wasn’t excited. He was feeling smashed down, controlled, no choice visible anywhere. Martin was trying to reassure him that it was going to be okay. Sure, Larry couldn’t go home but he would get out of prison!
The gang leader that was watching out for Larry in prison was part of a large drug cartel that had a base I several major northeast cities; it needed some new dealers in Philadelphia. This cartel would front the money for an attorney to go with Larry to his parole hearing and “make sure” he made parole. The good part of the deal was that Martin would be sent with him to teach him the trade. The bad part was that he was being sent about four hours away from Claire and he didn’t want to sell drugs. Sure, he
had spread some packets around in jail, but once he got out, he had hoped to maybe get a job with a future, something he wouldn’t be ashamed to tell Claire and Davy about.
It had taken a long time but with Manuel’s help, he had finished the book about relationships. He understood enough of what he read to know that in relationships that lasted, couples respected each other’s choices; even when they didn’t agree. Larry knew that selling drugs would not be an occupation Claire or those Carsons would approve of. Larry didn’t even like giving out drugs in the jail, even though he didn’t have the “bad” job of dealing with the guys who didn’t pay up… but he saw how the men who were regular users deteriorated; it made him feel like his dad to give guys things that were destroying them from the inside out.
Larry hated his father. He realized that someday Davy would be old enough to wonder what type of dad he was; Larry didn’t want to be hated. He was going to services sometimes with Manuel. He didn’t really believe there was a God. The service talked about God being all powerful and loving everyone, it was impossible to believe that. Where was this all powerful being who loved him when Larry’s dad was beating the skin off his back? On the other hand, Larry did like Manuel and he did feel calm around him and at the services; calm felt good to Larry.
Martin had been a good friend to Larry, and he came to the religious services sometimes also; but he was always handing out drug packets to the guys at the service in the back rows. Martin didn’t get why Larry wasn’t happy about the parole thing. He knew Philadelphia was far from where Claire was living but so what? He could just tell Claire to move herself to where he was. It would take a few months, but Larry should be pulling in enough money as a dealer, to put himself and his family in a decent apartment.
Larry was used to keeping all his thoughts and feelings to himself. It was dangerous around his house to show any emotion at all. Claire had been Larry’s only friend for most of his life; he had shared more with her than anyone else- but still she knew little of what he was thinking and feeling. Now he had two more friends, Martin and Manuel but they were encouraging him towards very different paths.
What should Larry do?
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has found that most individuals in jail for drug dealing, are low-level street dealers and others who move drugs from one location to another. Putting them in jail has little impact on the drug trade. As is being seen in Larry’s case, when a dealer or mule is taken off the streets, a new person is sent to replace them. According to the Pew Charitable Trust (2018), 10% or more people in the USA report having used an illegal drug recently. Pew found no relationship between a state’s drug imprisonment rate and the state’s drug problems. Recommendations for more effective reduction of drug misuse included: police interference in trafficking of drugs; police interference in the development of new markets for drugs; alternate sentencing for non-violence offenders; drug treatment services; and, services for prevention of drug use. A combination of psychosocial treatment and medication were recommended for reduction of drug misuse. To read about this go to: