Terrence A. Roundtree
22 January 2019
I am an incarcerated person within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division. My name is Terrence Anthony Roundtree and I was sentenced to 99 years for the offense of aggravated assault on a public servant and as a first-time, indigent offender.
This letter/essay is for the purpose of elucidating the flaws of the criminal justice system in general and the lasting effect it has on society as a whole, including the offenders, their families as well as the public and victims of criminal offenses. As the cogs of the criminal justice machine churns it tends to only reinforce and worsen the criminal mentality, not taking into account particulars such as mental health, financial situations, and/or the fact that most—if not all criminal mentalities are developed and deeply rooted in factors involving any one or combination of these.
Many of the same factors that create the criminal mentality are also the most prominent incubator of the terrorist mentality; is not aggressive offenses considered terroristic? Many incarcerated individuals are farther pushed down the road of criminality while incarcerated as I can discern through personal interaction.
For instance; a petty burglar tends to commit their offense due to either financial need and/or addiction in which they resort to criminalistic and nefarious means to support their habits or fulfill their need. If the criminal justice system doesn't take this into account then not only does it place a burden on the system, but also the individuals who have to scrounge for the means to obtain sufficient legal representation.
Once the offender is formally charged, indicted and legal proceeding commence and either a state-appointed counsel representative is assigned or the offender's family is farther burdened financially, the deterioration of reformative behavior begins. Example; if I am living at or below the poverty level and suffer from mental illness ie. schizophrenia and my child is in need of food and I commit crimes to provide such, how then am I expected to pay bail, legal fees, etc...
To expedite and lessen the financial strain and greatly due to the prosecutor's reluctance to investigate mitigating factors and/or the court appointed representatives desire to resolve the issue expediently in order to secure 'paying clients' the defendant normally opts for plea bargains the include lesser sentences, but more long-term disadvantages due to listed convictions.
You house a petty criminal with addiction issues and no vocational capabilities with a harder, more seasoned criminal it becomes to the one bad apple affecting the next. This is the same manner in which neophytes are indoctrinated into religious radicalism.
Another issue to this exacerbation of reformative possibilities is the issue of sentencing guidelines, paroling criteria and rehabilitative and educational program availabilities for those who have been charged, tried and convicted for criminal offenses; particularly within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division.
If an individual is indigent within the system they are more prone to violate rules to obtain needed items and the disciplined for doing so which can cause liberty interests due to the loss of earned good-time. Also, officers are not trained to properly handle mentally ill or developmentally challenged prisoners. Within the security orientation and training handbook prisoners are labelled and profiled into groups ie: con man, recalcitrant, etc. and the new security hires are convinced that all prisoners are basically murderers, sex offenders, or drug dealers w/o deviation.
Exorbitant medical co-pay fees, commissary prices and policies that respect the exercise of First Amendment rights in the form of oppressive indigent offender mail policies and restriction of the option of offenders to purchase stationery from outside vendors places upon the prison and their families an excessive and undue burden.
At the end of the day we must acknowledge without reluctance the fact that it is mostly the national and in particular, the criminal justice institutions the reinforce the criminal mentality. Also and on reciprocal we must also acknowledge that prison is not a wholly or inherently bad place if properly governed and regulated; it is a good place to put those who have committed bad acts and [of?] some who after experiencing it and receiving education and rehabilitative assistance will reintegrate and become productive contributors to the local and national society.
'But this also may only be my unsound opinion"
Terrence A. Roundtree
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