Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"How America's Prison Systems Could Be Fixed (Part 2)"

What leads to most of the behavioral problems in prison? We could blame the fact that there are so many different personalities forced to live in a confined space together. We could blame the individuals, saying that they are incapable of acting in a socially constructive manner. Many factors may be pointed out, including economy and even racial barriers. The truth is, that while these factors may play a part, they are avoidable. Our militaries see many of the same factors come into play, with less of the problems.

I believe that the main reason for this is the time we have on our hands. As busy as I keep myself, I still find long periods of time with nothing to do. The sheer boredom, combined with the many grating personalities that surround me, often leads to feelings of anxiety and frustration, which turn leads to antisocial acts or behaviors.

I am not saying that I act out, but certainly I have not always filled my days with productive activities. I love to gamble. There have been times when the boredom has set in and the poker table began calling my name. Before I realize it, I'm locked in to the table and neglect all other duties. Even writing takes second place.

Now, if more of our hours in here were spent geared toward productive ends, if we were forced to live and act as a responsible members of society, not only would we be more prepared to reenter society, but there would also be a decrease in behavioral problems within the institutions.

How could our time be spent more productively? Well, there are a number of ways, and certainly some of the population does pursue productive activities, but it is the majority we need for prison to be successful.

Here are a few of my own ideas:

1. Set up prison boot camps - Allow for inmates to volunteer for military training programs, just as if they were joining the Army, the Navy, the Marines, or whatever. Or course, there would be no provision of guns or ammo, but nothing else need change. Those who do well may join the actual division upon release, on a probationary enlistment. This would help increase recruitment and being military run programs, it would be rehabilitation without the added expense to the state's budget.

2. Show more support for talents of prisoners - There are many artists, poets, musicians, authors, and other talented individuals who find no outlet for their works. Most are not as luck as I am to have a sister who supports me by posting this blog. Resourceful individuals will find ways to hone their craft, but after a few years, without a way to share your work with others, the work begins to lose purpose and soon the inspiration is gone.

3. Offer college scholarships to prisoners - Perhaps an athletic scholarship is not possible, but there are quite a few in there that could qualify for academic scholarships. The more we educate the people, the greater our society can become. Neglecting to better those in the prison population, or at least offer the opportunity, means our only expectation for them should be failure.

4. Create a job market in the prison system that is comparable to what one would find beyond the walls - This means not only placing prisoners in positions that aid in the operation of the prison itself, but also developing more prison operated businesses that provide products or services for the communities (construction crews, furniture making, TV repairs, farming, etc.) This would do more to generate funds to cover prison costs and provide necessary services to the state which supports said prison. Rather than being helpless burdens on the state and the taxpayers, prisoners become self-sustaining, responsible citizens working toward the goal of establishing themselves as productive, up-standing members of society.

Certainly, the above ideas need some fleshing out. They are meant to be seeds, that hopefully grow towards necessary changes. Other ideas are needed as well and I would welcom any ideas others may have. But, I am still just a prisoner. My words can only reach out to ears that are willing to listen. Others must make the changes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"How America's Prison Systems Could Be Fixed (Part 1)"

Many of my essays have focused on my social dissent, but what good am I serving by pointing out problems without offering solutions? Perhaps that is the greatest problem we face, too many complaints and not enough answers for those complaints. Personally, I don't believe the answers are so hard to find. If every person in the world cam up with one good idea and put it into action, maybe we would begin to see a difference.

Unfortunately, it is not that way. Too many of us are waiting for the problems to just go away, or for someone to come along and fix them for us. I only wish I could fix everything. I wish I could right the wrongs, and solve all the world's troubles, but I am only one man. I do what I can to voice my opinion here and hope I can make some difference, no matter how small.

I begin with a problem I am currently facing, the failure of our prison system. If you read my three part essay, "Why Prison is Failing" posted in July of 2010, then you are familiar with some of the problems we are faced with.

Perhaps you are wondering why this is a concern, not just for prisoners but for our nation...Maybe the world as a whole (Prisons are everywhere, and they are all failing to stop crime rates from rising). I would answer that by saying that, though prisons are filled with violators of social order, those "violators" are also members of society. A society that can't function at its maximum potential if all of its citizens are not productive. Prisons have one adverse effect on the economy and stability of a nation. Indeed, it is a small part of the problems facing our world, but a problem in need of solutions, nonetheless.

Tomorrow, I will work on homelessness and world peace...For now, here is my idea for the one problem facing society.

To begin with, Prisons have to cease being nothing more than human warehouses. Over 70% of the population are non-productive during their time here. The hours are spend playing board games or basketball, simply waiting for another day to end, when they can go in their cells and watch TV or sleep. After a few years of this they are dumped back into society, institutionalized and unable to function. This, in turn, leads the individual back to prison or forces the state to support the burden of another skilless, uneducated citizen.

The solution is to treat individuals in prison just like they are in society. Make school and work mandatory. Pay the inmates actual salaries or hourly wages, then bill them for food, rent and clothing. Make prisoners pay taxes, just like we would have to if we were free men. This will instill the responsibility required to be successful upon release. It will also allow the prison to be more self-sufficient.

This brings to mind my second point: If prisons were completely self-sufficient, or at least generated enough revenue through a number of inmate operated business to provide for necessary expenses, millions of dollars could be saved by the state. Those millions could go to education, law enforcement, drug and alcohol programs, aid for the homeless, and whatever other areas are in need of support, that would ultimately lead to a decrease in the crime rate.

Also, by paying higher salaries to working inmates, it reduces the financial burden on the prisoner's family and allows for them to offer some support of their own wives, children, parents, etc.

Now, the question remains as to what should be done with the prisoners that refuse to go to school or work? Simple! Put them in segregation units, stripped of all privileges. Why should this be treated as just a vacation for the dregs of society? It should not be. Prison is a wake up call and you either get our of bed and make it to work on time, or you hit the snooze button and oversleep, thereby missing the bus.

In summary, prison must reaffirm its focus on rehabilitation, but even more keyed in on creating responsible citizens, capable of functioning in our societies beyond the fences.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Social Discontent"

A cycle of events
Playing repeatedly in my mind
Create to destroy;
Destroy to create,
Rebel against the divine plan...
Stray from the intended path.

You claim to possess Truth,
Yet divide into factions,
And kill in his name!

Kill yourself with Sin...

But Cause means to take away nothing

Cause brings about effects,
The art of creation,
The gift of life.

So how is it we find
that our answers lie
In the dropping of bombs?
And blood on a sword
Is our show of understanding?

Perhaps we should check the books again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Waiting for The End to Come"

Recently, a religious leader began "prophesizing" that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. When it didn't happen, he claimed that there had been a miscalculation on his par and the correct date was to be some time in October. Many factions argue that we are currently living in the End Times prophesied in the Bible. For centuries, there have been "hellfire and brimstone" preachers that spent countless hours talking about the horrors that await the unrepentant.

Now, I am not one to argue Scripture, or try to sway a personal belief. However you choose to think your end will come is your business. My grievance is with the pessimistic attitudes that almost seem to desire the End and mass destruction. I get the feeling many of them are mad at the world, and want to watch it burn.

Is this what we wish to pass onto future generations, dissidence and cynicism? If we are just waiting for the world to end, then what is the point of living?

Fools! Open your eyes. See the realms of possibility and hope. We will create our own destruction by seeking it out. There is an old saying that goes "What you put in is what you will get out..." If we keep instilling a hopelessness in mankind, mankind will continue to not care what happens in this life.

There is beauty in the world, but so many look for its downfall. Why? You could help build it up, instead you look to tear it down. God never said to just sit around waiting for Him to destroy the world. He said "be vigilant". In the meantime, he wants us to be good to each other.

A new Heaven and a new Earth comes not in the flames of destruction. Paradise is not born from falling buildings. Our future is the hope that I see in my Nieces' eyes. It is in the artist's paintbrush, capturing the essence of the human soul. It is the pen's might over the sword. It is life and living to our fullest potential.

Let us begin planting the seeds of a New Eden, rather than fearing a New Babylon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Only The Young Die Good"

It's always raining in my mind
Deadly drops of suicide
suffer the puddles of yesterday
Praying to God that the dam will break
And wash away all the pain inside
Cause it's always raining in my mind.

And we all go down
Wishing that we could
Live to be 110
But only the young die good

Now I know the smack is God for some
Look at me, I'm the chosen one
Heaven, it seems, just takes a prick
What gives you the right to say I'm sick?
Judge me to be your forgotten Sun
My God is smack until I'm done

I would rather crash now
Than to fade away
I would rather go out
In a burning blaze

And we all go down
Wishing that we could
Live to be 110
But only the young die good

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"What The World Needs Now"

The world needs what it always needs, its heroes. Now, perhaps, more than ever. It is the reason comic book thrill-rides are enjoying such popularity at the box office. We want to cheer for those larger-than-life figures overcoming great transversity. We want to witness the ordinary rise above and become extraordinary.

The problem is that there are no true giants amongst men in this day and age. Don't misunderstand me, now. There are plenty of stars in the sky, but it seems that none are bright enough to light up the world. We are in an era of supernovas that flare up for but a moment, then fade into oblivion. Perhaps this trend is the product of our mass media and technological advancement. Perhaps the heroic spirit has died in the hearts of men.

But what is a hero? A symbol of selflessness and hope? A source of inspiration? A legendary figure that transcends the standards and defeats all odds? I say that a hero may be all of these things, or only one of them. If we look to George Washington as a hero, he certainly embodied these virtues, but can we say the same about James Dean or Kurt Cobaine? How were they selfless? Certainly, they are more symbols of tragedy rather than hope, yet they are heroes in the eyes of many because of the inspiration they have provided through attitude or music.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They are heroes for many different reasons. My dad has always been my greatest source of inspiration, my hero if you will. Not because of anything spectacular, but because of the way he raised my sisters, because of his intelligence and creativity, and because he has always tried to do the right thing. Maybe I didn't always see things that way, but age and maturity has cleared my vision.

But back to the world in general.

Heroes should begin at home with the parents of a child. If we can't be the inspiration our children need, then what future do they have? Men must stop just fathering children and start being good fathers. Women must be mothers after they have given birth. Once a child comes into the picture the parents have to grow up and start showing some responsibility. Then, perhaps we will begin to find our heroes again.

We must bare in mind, though, that heroes are still just human. People have flaws. One of the reasons why I feel we lack Lincolns, or Lennons, or even a Gandhi is because we are so quick to crucify them for the slightest transgression. We look to exploit any weakness. No longer do we find those giants amongst men, for we are too busy tearing each other down.

The world needs its heroes, let us each do our part and may we stop looking for villains. Rise above all expectations and be what the world needs and our children deserve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"A Silent Friend"

It clicks,
but no life.

They have come with their suggestions
They offer diagnosises
But nothing else

My friend sits silently,
And I burn within.

The loss weighing heavily upon my mind,
Squeezing sanity from my veins.
Nothing to drown out the voices.
Nothing to burn the images from my eyes.

It clicks,
But no life
and no hope for tomorrow
or the day after.
If I knew its cause
I would rip the problem from its heart,
Give it a spark...

I would resurrect the dormant giant
That sleeps across from me.

My only friend,
My only sactuary...

It clicks,
But no fire.