Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Why Prison Is Failing (Part III)"

3. Low success rate of productive reentry: It is well known that prison is often a revolving door, with many convicted felons being released only to commit new crimes. Responsibility must lie with the offender but a measure of blame lies with the corrections department. So much more could be done to motivate , prepare and prevent. The problem is so little is being done. The end result is most guys leave prison in far worse circumstances and mental state than when they came in.

While the institutions claim to be promoting "structure" by enforcing a number of meaningless rules, all they really accomplish is the creation of a society unable to function without the institutional structure. When the institution is gone, these mindless pods return to the only other structure they know, crime. A rule that acquires us to be clean shaven or one requiring beds to be made at 8:00am does nothing to teach discipline or productivity. If these so called "rules of structure" worked to mature or rehabilitate then why are so many inmates former military men? Many of these rules are the same as those enforced by military organizations. If they provided rules that helped create productive citizenry, it would have worked in the first place.

The focus should not be on forcing structure but on teaching or supporting us in the development of our own structural lives, lives that are productive and work towards righteous goals. There are no proper preparations made for release. Another major problem is that while in here it is difficult to establish oneself as a working class citizen. There is no focus on establishing job skills or in allowing one to make use of skills they possess. Everything is handed to us on a platter, we don't have to work for anything. The skilled are not always given the skilled positions. Education is rarely encouraged and is often difficult to obtain. On release we find it difficult to overcome our pasts. As felons, we are often looked down on or feared. Society makes ex-cons into villains, even when we are trying to do the right thing, so many of us revert to old ways.

I will always remember what was said to me nearly 15 years ago upon my first release: "I don't think you will come back for the same thing but you'll do something else..." Thanks for the vote of confidence. It may have come true but that statement is what drove me to the state of mind that I was a criminal, so why should I try to be anything else.

Finally, prison isolates us in such a way that we become cold and dis-associative. We lack the capability to function in social settings. This leads to loneliness and further isolation. Again, many ex-cons fill this emptiness in their lives with "old friends" such as drugs, alcohol and violence.

It is for these reasons so many felons become repeat offenders. Again, I stress that a majority of the blame lies with the individual who commits the crime but some of the re-offenses could be avoided if more effort was put into rehabilitation.


  1. I think the motivation and input of meaningful outlook starts way before anyone goes to prison. The problems startes in the school system and other intstitutions of our society.

    I do think rules of structure are necessary in an institutional setting such as prison. The problem goes back to the mix of personality and attitudinal types thrown together in the prison environment. Those who can cope with a different level of structure or lack of, have to accept the structure as a necessity for those who have no organization of thought or behaviour.

    If the structure were not imposed, the environment would probably be chaotic. The solution might come with dividing the population into types, but then we would be creating aritificial microcosms of social groups. In the outside world we are a hodgepodge of types and must adhere to certain societal structure, though not in our private environments for the most part.

    It is all something that does need further study and, eventually, to be changed in order to be more effective.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Lee makes some solid observations here and I largely concur with him.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'


    I agree that motivation and even structure begins early in the individual's life but it is really up to the individual to work towards a productive existence. As you well know, many people tried to direct me to success and yet I self-destructed. I can blame no one but myself.

    Now, I will say that perhaps some areas of my life lacked the best of motivational techniques and maybe some things could have been done differently but even in the worst of circumstances, the individual can make lemonade out of lemons.

    I actually plan to write something in the near future concerning the early development of the individual so I'll leave it till then.

    As for rules of structure in here, regardless of how many they create, the environment remains chaotic...I don't disagree with rules or structure, in fact I think they are important but a line must be drawn between the unnecessary, insignificant rules and those that actually create a social structure. The focus must be on changing the mentalities that exist in here to productive citizenship and not just on maintaining control.