Chicago Unemployment, Drugs and Crime
The great City of Chicago has many things that distinguish it from other large American cities, but the fact that it is a hub for drug trafficking is probably not high on its list of bragging points. This explains the fact that over 80% of people arrested and incarcerated test positive for at least one illegal drug in their systems upon arrival at Chicago area correctional facilities. This fact is also not high on the City’s bragging list, but a fact nevertheless.
Another startling fact is that more than 30% of those entering the Chicago area correctional system did not graduate from high school or complete a GED program, almost half are unemployed and more than 75% have no health insurance.
These numbers support studies that have shown a direct correlation between drug abuse, unemployment and criminal behavior in the City of Chicago. While mostly young people, especially those under the age of 21, admit that they smoke marijuana regularly (the way many people drink alcohol), many criminals older than about 35 years of age admit being addicts who are physically dependent upon at least one illegal substance, including crack cocaine or heroin.
Interestingly, while addicts are usually the ones caught committing property-related and/or violent crimes, the majority of drug arrests involve marijuana users, a generally benevolent group of people. Apparently methamphetamines and prescription drugs are not as much of a problem for Chicago area residents because few people arrested admit to having issues with those types of drugs or they just manage to stay out of trouble.
Over 50% of inmates incarcerated in the Cook County Jail test positive for marijuana in their systems, 25% test positive for cocaine, 10% had heroin and other opiates in their systems and 20% test positive for some combination of illegal drugs. This trend is so ordinary that correctional law enforcement officials assume that most people entering Chicago area jails have some kind of illicit drug in their systems or are in withdrawal from something at the time of incarceration, the symptoms of which withdrawal go largely unnoticed by law enforcement officials who deal with thousands of addicts that pass through the area’s correctional system each and every year.
These facts beg the question “what are we doing wrong?”
We are all aware of our public school systems that continually fail students who aren’t academically inclined, but shouldn’t we be providing alternatives to those students that include vocational schools offering a variety of disciplines? Many students are not college material, but would greatly succeed as electricians, pilots, chefs, welders, builders, mechanics and a host of other valuable occupations and shouldn’t we be including those careers when attempting to guide our young people into successful lives as adults? As well as providing a means of educating them in those disciplines, all of which are absolutely essential to our lives? America has not done this and, as a result, we have college graduates starting their adult lives deeply in debt with student loans who are forced to work as secretaries (or other fields outside their chosen discipline that don’t require a degree), while competent people without degrees are unemployed and unable to find work because they’re always competing with college graduates. This lack of planning and foresight has left millions of college graduates without work, as well as leaving those we defined earlier as “not college material” with few choices as far as paying their own way in life.
Maybe America should create a system similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC’s) that was established after World War II as a means of employing lots of young people to perform jobs that benefited the country and its infrastructure. Or maybe our young people should be required to serve the country in some way, not necessarily in the military, but some kind of community service from which they could gain knowledge and experience to help them achieve successful adult lives.
Would legalizing drugs have a positive or negative affect on American society? Drugs, legal and illegal, are already rampant in this country and incarcerating addicts or recreational drug users is not rehabilitative, but rather punitive. Does this achieve anything? No young person aspires to become an addict, a criminal or incarcerated in their adult lives, but it happens. Would legalizing all drugs help identify those who need help early on and thereby reduce the numbers of drug-related crimes, convictions and incarcerations to which drugs contribute? What would America be like if we offered help to those addicted to drugs, including alcohol? Would we still have the drug problem that we have today? Also, shouldn’t we be providing rehabilitation to those incarcerated for crimes, instead of just putting them in a cage for hours, days, weeks and years on end, while doing nothing to help them make better lives for themselves if and when they are released?
Why is America’s health care system a “for profit” endeavor? Everybody will eventually get some kind of illness that needs medical attention, many of which result in death (especially when there’s no access to health care), and none of us are getting out of this alive, but “the powers that be” in the United States do nothing to change the system and health care costs continue to climb astronomically, making health care unaffordable and inaccessible to many hard working citizens. America has the best and brightest minds in the world for health care and leads the way in medical research and advancements, but what good is it if most people aren’t able to utilize the benefits of all that research and the money poured into producing more and better medical options? Maintaining good health should not be reserved only for those who have a lot of money!
The number of unemployed people in America continues to grow as corporations out source jobs to foreign countries, where they can pay employees less and avoid paying U.S. taxes (which hurts our economy), while offering no benefits to employees and not being required to maintain safe working environments. None of these things are beneficial to America, but only to the corporations whose only concern is more profits. Shouldn’t American corporations be penalized for this since it is detrimental to the country as a whole?
The City of Chicago and the entire United States of America is a wonderful place to call home, but there are many things we could do to change systems that we know don’t work and continuing with them in vain is a waste of time and money. Let’s use common sense approaches to resolving our problems and see what THAT does to the perpetual issues needing resolution in Chicago, as well as nationwide.