Prisoner’s solution to prison’s problems: A proposal for a new paradigm
Smith, Andrew Jackson
America's prison population is a community with characteristics parallel to any other, but in unique proportions. In a previous paper entitled "Mass Producing Mentally Ill Citizens in America's Prison", appearing in Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America __ University Publishers 2014, I addressed one pole of the prison population. The opposite pole on the inhabitants continuum is as remarkable.
The societal law abiding segment of our country would not find it difficult to readily accept a criminal element thriving while incarcerated and continuing to conduct their lives in a heinous manner. It is all to alarmingly true that theft, violence, substance abuse, rape, predation, conning, gangs, racism, militant, religiosity, economic fraud, human trafficking, and the likes exist in America's prisons. Any unconcerned president has failed if this growing population is not noted as a threat to out national security, at least.
However, this ill population contributive to an ever-expanding younger generation in America with conduct disorders progressive to sociopaths is not the focus of this paper. May I conclude that thought by saying the most extreme polarity of APA DSM IV clusters B type personality disorders are incurable, incorrigible, and recalcitrant. Prison is appropriate for most, others belong in guarded psychiatric units, and few are fit for society. Those are rarely identified prison, and likely nor were they in society, thus attributing to their facilitation of crimes. The solution to this percentile is complex.
Now what American citizens, unfamiliar with prison (defined as not having lived in it for lengthy periods) may find surprising is this opposite pole. That pole is beyond ignored and in fact often denied. There exists a tremendous qualitative potential for contribution to our country and populace by a quantitative small segment of prison inmates.
The Judicial System in our country is horribly flawed. Senator Patrick Leheay and others on the Senate Judiciary Committee should assign technocrats (probably from universities) to investigate the matter as a while. And to a more specific problem of high rates of plea arguments, unwillingness of prosecutions to apologize to the proven wrongfully convicted, inability to adequately substantiate or deny claims of innocence and claims of gross prosecutional misconduct. I broached this path in order to present a stonewalled nuance orchestrated by the Judiciay System that no, simply stated, "outstanding U.S. citizen" could possible be found confined in out prisons. This a misconception and so devestatingly damaging to our nation that it equals the neglect of our accomodating and promoting anti-American militant extremism under the guise of allowing equal constitutional rights.
This is a qualified view into an extreme pole living in prison and terribly malutilized. Most wil deny it's very existance, claiming the following description fantastical, biased, and at best hoped for. Understand the hierarchial structure promoted by officials in our prisons. The most influential persons are most likely placed in positions of power and benefit. These too, are the most likely adept sociopaths who will hone their criminal skills in prisons. The officials see this as an attempt to have prisoners deal with prison problems on prisoners level, thus reducing the need for staff intervention. In reality this ensure the most heinous persons set the tone for the prison while recieving accolades from the officials and accompanying fringe benefits. This is not a concrete rule. Sometimes meritorious inmates wind up in high positions. However the opposition to such an individual by both staff an inmates is so great, seldom does these endure for long, and if so, them while taking on extraordinary disproportionate abuses. With the most egocentric in influential positions, this ensures that deserving persons remain supressed and seldom acknowledged. Even when an inmate is commited to advancing the good and well being of other inmates, this is often denied by officials, and described as conning or manipulative. There in lies the problem: How can an offical differentiate them (in their quaters, not simply on the same compound) and then only if trained in both normal and abnormal psychology.
The means by which to change course of our current prison system is to (1) identify the exceptional minority portion. (I estimate this to be 3-5%); *(2) afford them the opportunity to do well while in prison; and (3) integrate this model so as to influence the majority of the population. This will exclude most of the opposite pole (I estimate 15-25%) of state prisons, less for federal prisons. How would one implement the institution of such a new prison paradigm where extraordinary inmates were largely in control. First, because this is a "new" paradigm, it might be best to go with a private prison system with a well defined ideology. To some extent the United Kingdom Justice Ministry utilizing social impact bonds has conducted improvements specifically, at least at the Peterborough England Prison. However I am suggesting advancements in our prison system far greater that those demonstrated. I suspect, one would be met with resistance by the State Governments and Prison Commisioners, more exactly to decline such an opportunity. Research and Development could be used prior to predict and validate the success of such an effort. The U.S. sprends about 30% of all world R+D monies, a high percetile. Regardless, it is dubious to think, much, if any, is allocated toward prison improvement. But the Obama Administration did set aside 200 million dollars in pay for success bonds in the first administration which could be used to improve prisons, as far as funding is concerned. The formation of a committee of experts would be vitally instrumental to evaluate "success" of the new system in well defined measurable entities and to ensure the fullfillment of stated goals. It might be expected also to modify original plans to some extent. This committee would consist of experts, to include, but note limited to a security person, economist, logician, educator, social anthropologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, business administrator, and the likes of interviewing and testing procedures would be initiated to screen applicants (inmates). Once a right candidate was confirmed, a system of referal would be emplace, in order to add into and/pr replace the population as need, to sustain it.
Many inmate improvement programs currently exist and most work to some extent. An element that appears to be missing in most is the inculation of long term permanent characters change that shapes the future identity of the inmate from what he/she is today. These type of virture traits are instituted through arduous longer term habituations carefully planned and implemented. Where other programs fail is by no viewing the subject wholostically and then advancing the subject from a multi-disciplinary approach. There is no reason why we should not be doing this now and achieving permanent positive results for a minority of the prison population, which in turn is expected to affect the majority.
The remainder of this essay then addresses such a program to institute change in our prisons in generalized terms, in the interest of brevity.
Many questions may arise in the form of apparent ommissions, as a result of this attempt at explaining a new paradigm. These matters (ommissions) may be best served in seperate papers. For instance, funding for such should be expressed seperately and shown advantageous to existing funding policy.
The principle involved here is simplistic: Prisoners need resolve prison problems. We are the most affected. As is the case for most problems solved within a context of gerater arenas, it is minority which will change the majority.
So then, here we go on a path to describe a prototype of new prison organization. And this environment needs to be segregated from the whole, somewhat. The segregated community should draw from the whole, and thus we transfrom the wholative disfunctional system to meritoruos, little by little.
An inmate should enter a dormitory of approximately 70 (largest populace) with the least requirements for a standard (21 days), which is conditional.
This is a system of progression. One moves from larger to smaller populace upon successful demonstration of ability to meet lesser to greater (both qualitative and quantitative) requirements. Three main areas of individuals development are addressed: (1) physical (2) mental and (3) character. The term development here infers increased productivity by demonstratable and measurable criteria. Phases are described culminating in an expected stability that ensures success in and/or out of prison. We will label phases (interchangeable with dormitories) as alpha, beta, charlie, and delta.
Alpha phase would be housed in a dormitory with a capacity of 70. physical expectations would be the priority. Each resident would be required to participate in a continuous aerobil activity at a predetermined time of day for 45 minutes per day times 21 consecutive days. Forty five minutes indicates reasonable time to show benefits. Twenty one days is minimal to induce anatomical and/or physicological beneficial changes in the brain. Privilages should be minimal. Rules of living, likewise minimal. Only when a person meets the requirement should they advance to brand phase/dorm. The capacity should be for 55. Greater benefits (beyond required size) should be apparent, for example two TV's instead of one, two microwaves, more accomodating bathroom features and likewise increased/stricter rules of living. An SOP would established rules specifically in bravo dorms. Now requirements increase in bravo dorm to (1) two 45 minute sessions of physical fitness (one of cardivascular and another of strength/muscle tone) And (2) one 90 minute class session, for 21 consecutive days. You may get the feel for the instituting ideology. Comfort increases, requirements increase, opportunities for avoidance of commitments also increases by way of free time.
In charlie dormitory the capacity should be 40. The requirement should be (1) three 45 minute physical fitness sessions. Once cardiovasular, once strength/muscle tone oriented, and one flexibility/agility/coordination oirented at least 50% of the time incorporating competition/games. (2) Two 90 minute academic sessions. And (3) one 45 minute character building development session. This also for 21 consecutive days prior to advancing.
Delta dorm should be 25 capacity with following requirements. Daily 45 minute cardiovascular, 45 strength/muscle tone, 45 agility (1/2 days combines with competition); two 90 minute academic sessions; two forty five minute character development session; one thirty minute humor session; and duty assignment four days per week.
Incentives should increase as dorms progress, as previoulsy mentioned. For example alpha with one communal TV, bravo two, charlie three and delta to individual TV's at each mans cubicle.
Delta dorm should have primary responsibility to supervise the camp program. Delta dorm included 25 and three others 165 for a total camp site of 190. The ratio of delta to population would be 1:6.6.
The principle to instill is to utilize time in productive ways daily until habitual. Likewise, one should have more opportunities to engage free time, physical fitness needs combined with motivational activities to produce a synergistic effect off-setting the sedentary and pessimistic enviornment of prison. Human as pleasure should be mandated daily to enhance and maintain neurotransmittors conducive with well-being. Fitness combined with competition serve as social interaction.
Progress to an optimal level and maintainment of such level should be the goal while doing so autonomously without strict structure. The intent of a new prison paradigm would be to establish a minority prison population to positively affect the majority and if and when returning to society, that also. It would be experimental as to how best conduct a meritorious system to instill virtues leading to permanent character improving. It would be worth the effort. Some may argue such persons capable of participation in such a program would do well anyways is society. But his has not historically proven true as much capable persons have succumb to America's prison trap by the revolving door.
As prions are today, despite argument to the contrary by political neo-conservatives, rarely would anyone emerge from a lengthy prison stay in America a better person for it. Prison is not rehabilitative and only a slight detterant. It is however an island out of reach from main land America. A dangerous island, that would not pass the test of basic human rights if in the public's view. Prison is a absolute nessesity to keep our nation safe, but it should be done better, so as not to contribute to further degradation also.
Leaders are not born, they are made. This paper is about an idealistic vanguard approach to indentifying prisoners capable of conducting themselves in such a manner, so as to attract the middle mass of fellow-inmates to do likewise. Many unforseen synergistic benefits can be predicted. More physically fit inmates should reduce health care costs by reducing catastrophic events such as stroke and myocardial infarctions, etc. Academically inclined persons, progessing conventionally demonstrated by summative and/or formative testing should delay onset of early alzheimers type dementia symptoms induced by long term cortisol secretion secondary to chroniostress, and offset situational depression. Character development will avoid violence by acquiring argumentation and conflict resolution skills. Numerous benefits could be identified.
This new approach will take continuale assessment of results until an agenda is well established.
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