I have often pondered what would make prison a more effective rehabilitation tool. Let us be completely honest here, if prison effectively rehabilitated felons, then prisons would have worked themselves out of a need hundreds of years ago. So the logical conclusion is that prison administration is FAILING. So what would make it work? That is the topic of this particular writing indeed.

Here is a quick list of major points, expanded upon below:

1. Create more Special Needs Yards (SNY’s)
2. Focus more on mental health
3. Eliminate “broken windows” tactics
4. Eliminate militarization
5. Educate
6. Utilize inmate designed rehabilitation programs

So there is a quick list of some things, there are many more though. However, if I built a prison, these things would be our focal point. With a few additions. First of all, I would drive home to all my employees that every year they have a job is another failure on their part. The number one goal is to eliminate victimization through recidivism and that 33% of that responsibility rests squarely on the backs of all DOC employees. The other 67% is divided between our communities and the offender themselves. Most importantly would be the role of staff, under no circumstances would they add to the psychological degradation of an inmate. More on that in a minute though. Let us expand upon our list.

If you were to tell an inmate they could go to a prison with no violence, most would choose to go there. Then, if you told them no one would hassle them over tucked in shirts, unmade beds, or when the rec areas are open that would definitely get their attention. Then if you went further and provided adequate mental health care using qualified mental health professionals…then we are getting somewhere.

Yes, folks who come here are damaged, but not beyond repair. Child molesters, rapists and murder are ingrained in our minds as the most offensive. They hurt our communities the most leaving untold amounts of pain behind, no doubt. But I know hundreds of perpetrators of all kinds of crimes and so many of them are entirely different people after the right kind of help is administered, myself included.

In order to understand why prisons in their current condition do not work, we must go back to the end of American slavery. Prisons began to be packed full of inmates when cotton farmers needed free laborers after slavery was abolished. To appease the agricultural community, which was our economic bread and butter at that time, laws were instituted to create a new free labor force for cotton farmers to choose from, inmates.

Those who made their living from controlling slaves needed jobs, where was their demand when slavery was abolished? Prisons. Since prisoners took slaves place the same problems with the same demographic occurred, mental control was still needed. So, make sure the prisoner feels that they have no power over authority and are in a lesser class (use of military-like persons and make sure the public deems the offender as less than) that way they are less likely to rebel. Anyway, I could write a book on this, and I just might, but for now let us move on.

Our current prison system is still using the tactics of the slave trade. Corrections Officers are nothing more than modernized slave keeps. Probation and Parole officers are nothing more than modernized runaway slave trackers and punishers. The exact same tactics used by these professions are interchangeable, mostly psychological in nature and designed to make a person feel incapable and powerless over themselves. Where the path to regain personal empowerment is complete and total submission unto the presented authorities. Staff eat it up like the ocean dissipates dye droplets because we are “deserving” of such treatment.

Lest I should make this unread ably long, I will end here for today. However, I have an entire month to talk about this and further distinguish my points.

I hope you decide to participate in this conversation.

With Love
Jeff “Jeffebelle” Utnage