The prison system is always a delicate

Coonradt, Wesley Lee

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[No Title] The prison system is always a delicate subject to discus and has strong opinions from both sides, those in prison and those who are not. Inmates, administrators civilians even judges and lawyers have their own unique opinions on how the justice system should work. In order for a democracy to function properly it is very important that we hear from every segment of its population, even those who are serving time in the State Penitentiary. The average hard working, honest US citizen see prison inmates as criminals and thugs, they see them as low-life down and out losers, or tattooed gang bangers with wife beater stamped on there shaved heads. As a prisoner myself I have to honestly say that a good percentage of the inmates I just described are exactly that, illiterate kids with no goals in life except to hang out with their hommies and act and talk tough. The prison environment is a perfect place for them to be. Its a sad state of affairs, when the hard working tax-payers provide them with three square meals a day, clothing, bedding, heat in the winter and A/C in the summer. They have cable TV in every cell, and a commissary to buy whatever they need, if they have the money. It takes approximatly 45 to 62 thousand dollars to house one inmate for one year in the state prison thats not counting court costs or the burden it puts on families of the inmate or victims. Inmates our being better taken care of than most the civilian population. I can see first hand that alot of the guys in here actually enjoy this environment. There only responsibility is to comply with a few simple rules and keep their nose clean. I laugh at some of this guys who cant even do that. Its no wonder the recidivism of inmates that come back to prison is over 70 percent and climbing. Prison is a cake walk compared to the trials and tribulations of everyday life. There are no bill collectors banging on our doors. But this is only a small reason why our prisons are over populated and overcrowded. I am a guest of the state because of bad choices I made under the influence of alcohol and my addiction to it. Just the word addiction brings to mind addict, which usually applies to someone who is apparently hopelessly dependent on some kind of substance. The mere mention of the word addict conjures judgmental images of low-life losers who will steal you blind. There is no doubt in my mind that there assumption is correct in a lot of cases. But what about the ones who don’t have their head up their butt. Can the prison officials learn from them and if so why don’t they at least try. The problem is they lump the prison inmates all in one category. Very few people are interested in the views, opinions or ideas of a person who is doing time or has been in prison. The point of view from a inmate should at least be discussed with the officials who run the justice system. My suggestion would be, coming up with a screening process with a questionnaire or test to weed out the inmates who do have their heads in the wrong place. Then take the ones who might have some worthy insights and bounce some ideas around. With the right guidance and the willingness to listen I am sure things could improve. The ideas could be used from the public defenders and judges to the C.O.s and Wardens. But most of all the hard working tax-payers will benefit. Administrators who run the prison and jails, slash Correctional Facilities could actually learn from the very people they are putting in prison and guarding. There is no doubt in my mind that we could reduce the population of the jails and prisons, save the tax payers money and move the justice system into a better direction. For the guys who like it in here, I suggest we put chain gangs back in affect, and for most crimes we should have at least 6 months of hard labor. Put the inmates to work with very little pay improving our cities and roads. Prison is to easy, and for the guards. Why can’t the guards pedal bikes around the perimeter of the prison instead of wasting gas and wear and tear on the vehicles. This are just two ideas that could be discussed. Could this ideas work or does the correctional facilities not want to change, and if not why. Here’s a theory. Citizens slash tax-payers need to know that the jails and prisons are a growth industry, with conferences and advertising, with sales reps trying to pawn their products ranging from billy clubs, toilets, cloths, bedding to cafeteria. Commissary is supplied by vendors who can provide anything from candy to TV’s that the prison sales to the inmate at inflated prices. While the wage of the inmate hasn’t changed for over ten years. The private companies who contract this products and services rely on the justice system to allow profits to grow only through the containment of as many individuals as possible. If the prison beds go empty, funding for prisons get cut. This practice reduces the industries desire to challenge recidivism and criminal behavior or addiction. A innocent person is just as valuable as a guilty one, they want people to go to prison and stay in prison. Its expensive to be innocent in todays justice system. The parole board is more likely to release a person if the chances of that person returning are good. I have seen it over and over. A inmate who shows a strong desire to better him or herself and not come back to prison has a tougher time being released or paroled. Its almost as if there goal is to keep the inmate in the system as long as possible, guilty or innocent. As inmates this is how we feel, I hope we are wrong. By far the biggest reason our prisons and jails are overcrowded us because of addiction. Almost every crime that you read about or see on the local news is in some way related to drugs or alcohol. The jails and prisons are full of men and women with drug or alcohol addictions. Roughly 72 percent of those incarcerated today are there as a result of drug or alcohol related crimes. The rate of recidivism is approximately the same, meaning approximately seven out of ten inmates will return to jail or prison in one to three years. Our present solution is to incarcerate individuals who have a illness, rather than offering them a viable option to remediate the cause. Try if you will to imagine the devastation inflicted upon families and friends due to addiction. I have yet to meet anyone who started out wanting to be a addict. The best way to solve this problem is to go to the root of addiction. In order to battle addiction we have to make a stronger effort towards helping the parents learn techniques to better educate their childrens individual concerns and needs. They have to know the harmful effects of alcohol, drugs, or any kind of addiction. Most all young kids began out of experimentation with alcohol or drugs is 13 years old. 10 percent will likely gravitate towards continual abuse. To remediate addiction we need to start when kids are learning right from wrong, when their minds are developing. We should set a goal to change 10 percent to 5 percent it’s a reachable goal and will make a drastic change in the prison and jail population. Now if we could only find someone who will take us seriously. I know first hand the frustration of not being taken seriously. With the help of my family I have written and published two books. One is about addiction. Its called “Life Inside A Bottle” and you can find it on Amazon.com Author Wes Coonradt. I have written over 50 letters to school districts, Co Library’s, Boys & Girls Cubs of America and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, explaining my willingness to help young kids and their parents understand the consequences of addiction. I have only received one answer and that was from the Governors Office who commended what I was trying to do, so much so that the gave me the address and phone # to the Utah Education Dept, and the school superintendents name. The two letters I have written to there offices have not been answered. Proof, that very few people are interested in the views, opinions, ideas even when they are trying to do something good, when their doing their time or have done time in prison. This kind of prejudice against ex-felons is a problem I think needs to be looked at. But because I am a convict the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

Author: Coonradt, Wesley Lee

Author Location: Utah

Date: October 19, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 6 pages

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