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I have no reason to believe that it is not true ... and yet, it is so outrageous that I find it hard to believe.

I have a friend ... we have known each other since we were in Junior High (before there were middle schools), we were college roommates and talk to each other at least once a month (often more frequently).  She is basically truthful, even if she is very right wing and loves Rush and Hannity.  We disagree on most things but I was the first person she called when her sister died; she was the first person I called when I came out of my 2 week coma. There is no reason for me not to believe what she told me ... and yet, I find it hard to believe.

My friend has a son Ben who is a little slow. Chronologically, he is in his early 30s but, mentally and emotionally, he is in his early teens. He got caught in a sting operation ... he got into an online chat with what he thought was a teen girl, it was a police officer, of course. I genuinely believe that he is not a sexual predator but that he is looking for someone who is his mental and emotional age which does not match his chronological age. But that is beside the real issue.

He got parole for a number of years since it was his first offence. My friend and her husband did everything that they could to follow the law, bought him a house the required distance from any place that might attract children, supported him, etc.  One of the requirements of his parole was that he find a job. At the best of times, Ben has not been able to hold a job for more than a few months. Under these circumstances, he could not find a job. He got lonely and bored and went out with some friends. He had a drink of his friend's beer and then failed the monthly lie detector test because of that drink of beer.

So, parole was revoked and he landed in county jail, waiting to be sent to state prison for 10 years. All this is sad and crazy making, but I can see how it happened since they live in Texas and that is a bad legal system all around. But what she was telling today sounds beyond incredible ... but maybe I am simply naive.

When I talked to my friend today, she told me that Ben was no longer in county jail but she did not know where he was. He had been transferred last week but no one would tell them where he went. And, he can't call because when he was transfered, he lost the money they had paid into his telephone fund ... so he has no money to call and they have no way to send him money since they don't know where he is.

Furthermore, she fears he might be sick since he had a cold last time she talked to him. But again, he has no money to see the nurse. Apparently, a prisoner can only see the nurse if he pays up front for the service and then has to pay for any medicine that might be prescribed. The prisoners get absolutely no medical care and very minimal food. She is also scared that Ben might be put in with hardened criminals. He is a first time offender with no history of gangs or violence and should not be put into a hardcore situation ... but just recently she read of a young first offender that was put in a cell overnight with a prisoner being held for murder and the next morning, he was found hanging with his cell mate's DNA under his nails.

So my friend is scared for her son ... worries about where he might be, wonders if he will survive, believes that all the money they have will not be enough to to help him survive for long. It is such an incredible situation and my heart goes out to them all.

Part of me wants to point out to them that much of this is the result of their right wing voting record (but that would not be right or compassionate), part of me cannot believe that we as a society can be so cruel that we require that someone in prison pay to get medical care when the prisoner has no way to work and get money. What if the prisoner had no family or any way of getting money, would the prison system just say, "Too bad; die quickly."?

Does this happen in other places or just in Texas? My brain believes that we have come to thsi, but my heart does not want to believe.

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