Release date…

Amen, Tshombe

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Release Date... Locked behind a door, behind a wall, behind a fence lined with razor wire I live and breathe. This confinement is my home. Some people enter into this place of physical confinement on a temporary status, and some people enter into this place of physical confinement on a permanent status. Physical confinement places a strain on a humans ability to fully utilize their mental capabilities. Physical constraint diminishes a humans natural ability to explore. Controlling a humans movement and subjecting a human to different types of confined movement (taking area away in which for them to move, placing restriction on their movement, during certain hours they have more room in which to move, and the hours remaining, movement is more tightly confined and restricted. I.E. recreation time vs. cell time) adapts and conditions the minds activity to also be confined and restricted. The subtraction of natural experiences, and natural environment causes a deficiency in daily thoughts and rituals. Nothing new is introduced daily unless supplied through a synthetic source (television, magazines, books, etc.). The mind can be as restricted from exploration and usage as the body, of the physically confined. Is this the goal? Is physical confinement of (basically warehouse) human beings societies basic need for prison institutions? Does this confinement (warehousing) make society safer? Is societies goal to be crime free? For ten-years I have watched many people live and breath behind these walls. Looking at the massive number of people/bodies walking around me it's sometimes hard to fathom that we all went through the same process to get here. Every prisoner/inmate has been convicted of a crime. Every prisoner/inmate has went through the court system. Every prisoner/inmate has been sentenced by a Judge. Every Prisoner/inmate has been prosecuted (by the people?) for crimes against society. These different people walking around me come from all walks of life but the majority of them come from poor and broken communities. I have seen a man's mind so shaken he can no longer speak. I have seen men who have lived forty-plus years of their lives behind a prison wall. I have seen a man who's lived forty-plus years in prison for a crime he committed when he was nineteen years old. This man who'd lived the last two-thirds of his life in prison was well accomplished: He could type, he could draw, he could navigate you through the law library and provide you with legal advice because he was a certified paralegal, he'd obtained a bachelor's degree in political science. He spoke eloquently in three languages. He exercised daily. His spirit strong and full of life as if he'd just received the news he was to be released. This man I called, "Big Earn" is a gentle giant of a man who made a mistake when he was just nineteen-years old. That mistake cost him the next forty-years of his free life. Yes, he made a mistake which by standard of correction he should pay for but, is the mistake of a teenager worth more than twice their life? Is a person still unfit to live in our society after 40 years of trying to pay for their mistake? I have questioned society's approach to punishment and corrections. Society's focus on prisons as a means of protection is not saving our citizens from those lawless souls who commit crimes, what level of protection does a prison provide? Yes, it is hard to break out of most prison's but do prison's reduce crime? Crime prevention should be our goal as a society. Instead of having victims of crime we should be working toward having no victims of crimes. Yes, I know...it sounds absurd to have a world without crime. How do you stop a person from committing crimes? So instead of focusing our tax dollars and collective efforts on crime prevention, we focus our collective efforts on what to do after crime happens? Most people who commit crimes commit more crimes? What does this mean about the system we have created to keep us safe? Are we safe or, are we the luck of the draw in a maze of statistical information which basically comes down to: It can happen to anybody? Anyone, anywhere, can be a victim of crime. So, why do we not place more emphasis on crime prevention and rehabilitation instead of looking into the world of what happens after crime has been committed? At this current time California's prison sentences are mandatorily prescribed times for which a person should complete before being released from prison. These mandatory sentencing laws have no conditions for release. You do the amount of time prescribed without getting into trouble (while in prison) and you get released back into society. Even if you get into trouble (while in prison) you will be released back into society. There is no incentive to learn other than more recreation time and to be released on the initial day prescribed by the courts mandatory sentence. For violent offenders this means you can get 15% of your full sentence off for good behavior. There is no incentive to change. This is by far the worst model for a prison system to rehabilitate people who will be released back into society. This system promotes recidivism. You take people who commit crimes, hold them for a period of time, and release them without the proper tools to change their patterns of behavior, and wonder why they resort back to old habits? Most prisoners in California are released from prison without receiving a certificate or trade in any field of work. We hold people who commit crimes in a state of physical confinement and then release them back into society? This is a time out without any attempt to understand why they committed the crime or how to keep them from committing more crimes when they are released. Let's just lock people up and release them back into society without trying to make them better citizens. The more people we hold the more money we can take from tax payers. California's prison system is now full to over capacity with more crime offenders on their way in (and back in). This system is worth ten-billion tax payer dollars annually. I walk around these walls and see time wasted. Men just doing what they do until their time is up. I wonder what would happen if the prison system allowed those inmates with certified trades and mental health program completions, to get out of prison early? Would there be more of a demand for inmates to complete those programs? Would teaching men and women in prison a better way to live once released into society lower the recidivism rate? Would lifers like Big Earn receive a release dat after doing over forty-years? As a society we need to evaluate what we want from our prison system. These prison systems are taking away from our children's education. These prison systems are paying for...? What do we want our prison systems to provide us with? Safety? Protection? From what? From people who will one day be released? Do we simply want to control a man or woman's movement and then release them back into society (after they have already been removed for committing a crime? Is it such a far fetched notion to want to create ways where fewer people are victimized? It's for you to decide. Not everyone in prison gets life and simply holding someone who commits crime is not enough to curb their old patterns of behavior. We must develop a system which changes law breakers to law abiding citizens. Warehousing people for profit is not working America. Sincerely, Tshombe

Author: Amen, Tshombe

Author Location: California

Date: October 15, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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