Nonviolent Addict Sentenced To Life Without Parole

Drug addiction isn’t pretty. It’s easier for people to deny its existence than to try and wrap their heads around it. I’ve given it a little thought today.   I tried to imagine the struggle. I think it may feel something like being in dark hole with no walls in sight to climb your way out. What makes seemingly young, healthy people keep falling deeper into the hole? Is it a cycle of self-loathing? Unhappiness with one’s own life has someone looking to something for happiness, but once the chemicals take hold, do they hate themselves a little more each time they succumb, because they are faced with their own weakness? Over and over, digging deeper and deeper, and the deeper they go, the further they find themselves from their ability to find happiness within themselves?

I don’t think I’ll figure it out. I’m grateful I’ve never fought the battle. I’ve seen loved ones go through it though. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone fully conquer it. My father was an alcoholic, and he never conquered his addiction. I’ve loved and known others, with their various poisons. I’ve seen what they do in their darkness.   They’ve stolen from loved ones in moments of weakness, only to realize it when clarity returns. The result only makes them feel further isolated and alone, having betrayed the ones they love.

Addiction is pain, plain and simple. In its simplest explanation, that’s what it is. I read about Rayvell Finch today. He was an addict, the same as those I have known and loved. He hadn’t been in trouble for a while. Just a victim of his own disease. Hurting himself, but not violent with anybody else. He was with a friend one day in Louisiana, while visiting his aunt and grandmother. The two were sitting on the steps of an abandoned house right next door.

There was a police officer and DEA agent patrolling the area to target violent crime that day. They saw Rayvell and his friend, and arrested him for trespassing. Rayvell was a heroin addict. The officers found eight aluminum foil packets in his sock. They tested positive for the drug.

At the age of 23, Rayvell Finch had no record of any violence. A few years earlier he had been convicted of possession of stolen property worth over $500, followed a year later by being charged with possession with intent to distribute 24 rocks of crack cocaine. This was Rayvell’s third strike.

That was in 1997, nearly twenty years ago. Rayvell was sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. In other words, the door was shut, the key thrown away, and no one ever has to see him again. No possibility of parole. That’s one way to deal with addiction.

Are we so shallow that we have become a society that locks away the weak and damaged till they die, so we don’t have to see them? Rayvell paid for his previous crimes. Because he was an addict, and had his drugs in his sock that day, Rayvell was sentenced to spend the rest of his days on earth in prison, without love or family around him, until he dies alone. I don’t know the law, and I don’t know the words they used to justify it, but that is the reality of the outcome.


Wishon, Jennifer. “Nation of Criminals: Three Strikes on the Way Out.” N.p., n.d. Web.                          

2 thoughts on “Nonviolent Addict Sentenced To Life Without Parole”

  1. It is disgusting: and all this locking people up for nothing – or for excessively long sentences for something – has to stop. I always feel uneasy when I see stories in the UK press where our sentencing policy seems to be more approaching yours. I don’t even like magazine petitions to lock up drunk drivers – or even wife-beaters – because I honestly don’t think prison is the answer.

    I would have thought that all the Judge Dredds and Inspector Javerts in authority in America would have been eventually put off their draconian schemes because of the *cost.* But I suppose fascists never learn and besides they are too scared of the poor and their eventual uprising not to persecute them! See

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