The much needed change

Downs, Robert L.



The Much Needed Change by Robert Downs Until some very drastic measures are taken there will never be any real, lasting rehabilitation among prisoners. Being among the incarcerated I know all to well the lack of rehabilitative classes and the utter idleness that plagues the prison population When only one type of class (G.E.D.) is offered to a prisoner what is he going to fill his day with once he completes the class but gambling, getting high, watching T.V., and getting into pointless fights? Without any sort of real change, what can be expected to keep happening? The U.S. prison population as of 2013 was 1,575,434 and North Carolina's prison population was 37, 136; North Carolina ranked #12 in states with the largest prison populations. The numbers have surely increased, slowly but surely, and are more than likely going to keep increasing. As I was processing into prison I was among 90-100 men who were waiting to finish the process and be sent to another prison. Every Wednesday 25-30 men would ship out while an almost steady stream comes in from the county jails. This system is only concerned with one thing: recidivism. It has become a revolving door that never stops and never breaks down. A correctional system that helps prisoners not only better themselves but return to society as useful, productive, and stable citizens who are capable of staying out of prison is what everyone needs--prisoners and citizens and guards alike. Communities would also benefit from the added income that's generated. Compared to the same broken system that cares nothing about rehabilitation and what needs to happen is clear: a total overhaul of the "correctional system." The system only offers the bare minimum--basic education, sub-standard job training, AA, NA, health care, mental health care; a "balanced, nutritional" diet, and that's only because they have to. They would offer a grain and drain diet (bread and water) if they could. I have spoken with numerous men who have told me that, if offered, they would gladly sign up and attend rehabilitation classes such as: positive thinking, anger management, parenting classes, yoga and meditation classes, etc. Unfortunately these classes don't exist in North Carolina's prisons. Other states offer a wide range of programs: creative writing, computer programming, web site technician, just to name a few. These states are also helping prisoners when they leave prison (when it matters the most) with clothes, food, help with searching for work, and many other valuable resources. Why aren't all states doing this? We can't simply be locked away and forgot about (outta site outta mind); that doesn't solve the problem. It only makes matters worse. Even though a few programs are offered--G.E.D, trades such as masonry, commercial cleaning, upholstery, furniture, etc.--there will not be any real rehabilitation until prisoners are taught how to, first, think and feel about themselves and, second, how to act, react, think, and feel about other people. Getting a G.E.D. and learning a trade is great but these things are useless if the mind is allowed to go about its old ways and its bad habits are left unchecked. Unfortunately not everyone will be willing to be reprogramed (in the end that's what it is); there will be plenty who will fight the change with both tooth and nail. I believe the prison population should be divided into two groups. Group one would be those who are serious about taking educational and rehabilitative classes. These men should be write up free for at least 90 days. And to ensure that the prisoners aren't in Group one only for the benefits--e.g. weekly movie night, a cook-out, etc.--they must not only be signed up and attending classes but actively participating and passing every class as well. Group two would be comprised of those with no desire to better themselves and those who constantly get into trouble. Hopefully with time prisoners in Group two, after hearing about Group one's better privileges, will decide it's time for something better; once in Group one, and among those who are serious about bettering themselves, the prisoner will be more apt to take the first step. Prisoners who aren't accustomed to "prison life" or its inhabitants have exiled themselves in segregation so they will not have to deal with it. If the prison population were to be divided, those exiled might be willing to leave segregation, thus freeing the much needed rooms. Someone shouldn't have to suffer mentally/physically just so they will not be forced to deal with the prisoners/guards/system. Psychological studies have proven that prolonged time in segregation units is extremely dangerous and in some cases deadly. It is my opinion (for what it's worth) that until drastic steps are taken to restructure the "correctional system" of North Carolina, nothing is going to change. If anything things will get worse. Those that are "in charge" must be concerned with true rehabilitation and not recidivism. Until those with the power to enact The Much Needed Change, choose to take the first steps, things won't get better; NCDAC (North Carolina Department of Adult "Corrections") will always be a system of hate, fear, ignorance, racism, oppression and recidivism. Sources: 1 2016 World Almanac and Book of Facts pg 120 U.S. Prison Population. 2 2016 World Almanac and Book of Facts pg 120 N.C. Prison Population 3 Survivors Manual: Surviving in Solitary by Bonnie Kerness Robert Downs, North Carolina

Author: Downs, Robert L.

Author Location: North Carolina

Date: August 7, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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