Ending criminal behavior is portrayed as this highly complex and unattainable thing. Admittedly, there is a small percentage of people who don’t want to change. The majority want change. They are gripped by drug addiction or criminal habits. The cool crowd in prison propels more criminal and divisive behavior where the drug trade and criminal behavior is rewarded with acceptance.
Change is not complex in and of itself. People involved are. Their pasts are complex, their filtered views on life are. But change is simple. Especially in cultural climates, like prison. Policy makers forget that they don’t create culture and cannot influence it if they are not a part of it. They can demand change, they can reward change, they can even beg for it. But until that culture decides its time to change, it won’t, they will only get better at hiding it or demand it be accepted.
Change has to come from within. Once a few influential people say that “this” isn’t cool anymore and “that” is, they will influence a wave of change. Then that becomes culturally acceptable.
This pattern is simple to execute. But policy makers aren’t listening to those of us who want to do this. First, its free. Second, it requires adaptation on their end. Inmates aren’t the only ones who adapt to this culture. Staff comes to depend on inmates behaving a certain way, so when a contrary behavior is displayed, it goes unrecognized and shunned. Thirdly, inmates aren’t taken seriously when they present solutions. Mainly because someone cannot stamp their name on it to advance their career.
Your a hero if you keep the bad men in. Your a liability, if rehabilitating 10,000 men and one re offends, 9,999 men changed because of a simple idea. But just one hangs your career.
So what’s the solution?
1) Work with the culture of prison to dismantle the culture. Both inmates and staff. Then, rebuild a new one based on rehabilitation.
2) Give platforms that work. Education, yoga, cultural pursuits, family mediation and repair, units dedicated to rehabilitation of specific needs.
3) Policy makers need to spend more time in the field. White papers and reports are good if you know how to view the data. But if you haven’t spent time with your own empathy and the people affected by your decisions personally, you have no idea if it will work.
Expect more on this..Check back often for updates.