January 24, 1999 Nathan Miley, Chair, Public
I am writing this letter in support of the "No Spanking Zone" under consideration for Oakland, Ca. While I am currently a Florida resident, I resided for many years in the Bay Area.
I am writing today out of my personal concern. Though these concerns arise through my work over the last twenty some years, I speak for myself, not the agency for whom I am employed.
However, in my work in substance abuse and mental health programs in the Florida Department of Corrections over the last 9 years, I have become aware of the high rate of correlation between offenders with substance abuse dependence issues and a history of childhood physical abuse.
While I cannot give you any figures off-hand, there is a considerable body of research that supports this observation. Moreover, a recent Columbia University study indicated that 45% percent of repeat offenders were found to be heavy substance abusers, compared to 19% of first time offenders. So we are referring her to the inmates who find there way little by little to the last revolving door that won't open any more.
Almost to a person, the inmates I have worked with have related stories of childhood abuse as they began to grapple with the core of their substance abuse problems. While at first these issues are referred to in an off-hand, casual manner, during the course of treatment the memories become more painful - often moving the person to deep, sobbing tears.
I should add that the population I have worked most with are males, incarcerated in maximum security institutions, many with 25 years to life sentences.
It is my sincere hope that experiences such as these will find a place in your deliberations
PO Box 6155
Tallahassee, FL 32314