Senior Project Advisor
Kathleen Brian, Thomas Hummel
Whatcom County, Jail, Substance Abuse, Treatment
Researching the failures and successes of the criminal justice system leads to numbers, not lives.
What drove me to this research was my internship with the Whatcom County Public Defender’s Office, where I interacted with detainees on a daily basis. The narrative power of their stories was enough to make me question the role that jails should play in our community’s response to substance abuse. None of those stories have been included.
It is easy to paint horrifying portraits of inmates rotting in prisons, brutalized by a system designed to torment them. But this is not reality. It is comfortable to imagine drug users as agentless victims of disease, or as vulgar leeches on social services. But this is not reality.
“Inmate” is not a category. “Addict” is not a person.
No matter how frequently and in how many different ways we refer to them as a vast, law- breaking monolith, denying the complicated realities of incarcerated people prohibits meaningful engagement in this conversation. Diversion programs in a primarily punitive system will never provide nuanced treatment. Bureaucracy is a violence.
Davidson, Kaitlyn, "10-50: Addiction and Confinement in Whatcom County" (2022). WWU Honors College Senior Projects. 606.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Criminal justice, Administration of--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Substance abuse--Treatment--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Prisoners--Washington (State)--Whatcom County
Whatcom County (Wash.)
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