In the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC), we have what you call Extended Family Visits (EFV’s). DOC 590.100. Prisoners who qualify for EFV’s are allowed to spend 1 to 2 days in an “on grounds” trailer visit with his immediate family members. In order to maintain his EFV privilege, a prisoner must submit to routine strip searches and urine analyses (UA’s) before and after his trailer visits.
For security purposes (introduction of weapons, drugs, etc.), DOC highly scrutinizes offenders who come into direct contact with their family members. Strip searches and UA’s are just two of many security measures taken to ensure the prison’s integrity isn’t compromised. For just because a prisoner passes one strip search and UA without issue doesn’t mean he’ll pass the next.
Each strip search and UA, among other things, is conducted as a checks and balance. First, it checks prisoners for contraband and their continued EFV eligibility. Two, it balances DOC’s interest in (1) offenders establishing sustainable relationships important to their reentry and (2) incentivizing positive behavior from offenders with longer term sentences against (3) maintaining prison security. DOC 590.100 – Policy I.
Now, imagine the implications of prison security if DOC removed its checks and balances. The result would be disastrous. Both staff and the offender population would be in jeopardy of the breach in security. Weapons and drugs would flood into prison and prisoners could reengage in the same criminal conduct that in many cases led them to prison to begin with.
Therefore, it’s not much of a stretch for some of these checks and balances to be implemented in the free world. If gun owners wish to maintain their gun privilege, they should be willing to submit to periodic mental evaluations while connected to a lie detector machine. Say, for example, that a neighbor alleges that she heard her next door neighbor, a gun owner, yell racial slurs to a passerby and threaten to shoot him. The concerned neighbor lady’s report would prompt an investigation that may warrant a mental evaluation of the gun owner while connected to a lie detector machine.
The threatening gun owner would be asked basic questions about his thoughts toward using the gun based on a disagreement with someone, feeling disgruntled toward someone or about something, or perpetrating a mass shooting on innocents. If he wishes to keep his gun privilege, he must submit to taking the lie detector test or, as a drunk driver who refuses the field breathalyzer test, his privilege “will be” revoked.
And if the gun owner fails to pass the standard test to the reviewer’s satisfaction, his privilege will be revoked. If he reapplies, he must pass the test and agree to additional probationary tests. The same goes for people who post violent-natured online content and are reported by someone.
The public has a strong interest in identifying which gun owners pose an appreciable high risk to society at large. This interest must also be balanced against gun owner rights. Considering the fact that we live in a world that is dramatically different than when gun rights were initially created, this discussion should be front and center on the agenda of our politicians.
But instead of politicians, it is the youth who are lifting their collective voice for change. Politicians should take a cue from youth that it’s time to shake things up a little. Victory is often attained by chipping away at the wall of opposition and not giving up until cracks turn into a hole.
About a year and a half ago, my own son was shot 13 times (for no apparent reasons) while on a run to get bread for the nursing home residents where he worked. After being placed in an induced coma and undergoing multiple major surgeries, he is alive today without disability by the grace of God. So I stand with the youth and lend my voice to their cause. And I say that mandatory mental evaluations should be required of any gun owner who exhibits behavior inconsistent with the exceedingly high standards of gun ownership.
Though one could argue that such measures are a prelude to a police state, the claim could be overcome by the public’s interest in maintaining safety and security. Prison strip searches and UA’s and drunk driver breathalyzer tests have already proven the necessity of checks and balances. Now we need to persuade lawmakers to pass bills that utilize comparable means to achieve similar results.
For the sake of our kids, let’s push for mandatory mental evaluations and lie detector tests for irresponsible gun owners.
Categories: Jacob J. Gamet