The APWA Editors;
Dear Sirs, First I would like to thank you for this opportunity to be apart, of what I consider to be a ground breaking endeavor. I am pleased and blessed to be apart of such a movement. I hope this is the first of many letters to this organization.
Secondly let me apologize for my penmanship. I know it leave something to be desire. But as I write this I am currently serving my time in the S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit.) better known its the hole, and I am writing with a rubber pen (security issue) So my writing lack the proper definition. I only ask that you bare with me!
Now to this edition, I dont have any one particular issue to discuss, for I feel all that you mention in your introduction letter are extremely important. So I will simply give you a glimpse into my life as it has unfolded in my years in American Prison System both State (Illinois) and Federal. I first became a convict in 1985 in the State of Illinois My first penitentiary was the famous Joliet Correctional Institution, famous for it's placement in the movie Blues Brothers. from there I have spent the last 29 years in and out of different prisons. I first came into the Federal System in 1998. Since that time, I have personally witness the system turn from serious attempts of rehabilitation to now merely warehousing inmates for money and political gains. Here in the federal system, you have alot of these correctional officers, who are ex-military now working on prisons, and they see us as enemies not human beings, they are ill equipped to deal with the needs of inmates, because they cant see them as humans. Simply put, and it set the stage for failure. The B.O.P. (Bureau of Prisons) has a $6 billion dollar budget for approx. 300,000 inmates. Let that sink in. America leads the world in 3 things. (1) The amount of money spent on it's military (2) The number of atheist and (3) The number of people it locks up. That is what the U.S. leads the world on And the way in which it deals with it's prison population is appalling. I personally see, how the mentally ill are ignored and filled with medication, how the Health Care System is unprofessional, uncaring and ill equipped Think about it Who goes to medical school to work in a prison? Most of the medical staff are society's rejects and they act as if they are here by choice!
I want to briefly talk about the most important book I have read in my 29 yrs dealing with the systems. The new Jim Crow ( Mass Incarceration ) by Michelle Alexander is a must read for anyone who is serious about prison reform, and understanding how the system has gotten to where you have to have a prison archive. I have read many books including The Oxford History of Prison, and many others, none come close to The New Jim Crow. The current prison system especially federal is really aimed at men of color and it was a plan, never was there a war on drugs. How can you be at war with a inadomant object? It was always a war on colored people and now it is being revealed bit, by bit.....
Until next time thank you for your time & efforts in this matter.
- Steven Matthews -
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