Letter from an inmate

Here is a letter excerpt from my correspondence with a former student:

“..the [state] prison system is very very broken there is no rehabilitation.all the system is doing is making better criminals look at this facility for instantce,there are right at 3200 men here and only about 400 program spaces.that leaves 2800 guys walking around in a fog learning bad life skills and honing up on there outside bad habits.our wonderful states idea to cut out college to inmates and flood the prison with more guys with longer time wasnt the best of answers in my mind. you would think that society would want there to be reform and education programs to give the guys goin home a fighting chance .i think society thinks that once a guy gets locked up hes here for life on any crime commeted.that is a sad belief. we need advocates on the outside to voice that they want guys reentering society to have some sort of direction and be able to get a half ass chance to prove himself again.i get the fact that not all men can or even want to change,but jeez give us a chance to decide that for ourselves. ok enough of that rant….”

Indeed. In the name of self-preservation, society should take an interest in rehabilitation, to say nothing of having compassion for those who are in prisons and jails. Finally, society is beginning to realize this. Slowly, we are realizing that merely locking up offenders in the name of being “tough on crime” has only bloated our prison systems beyond capacity, racking up massive government spending. (If your political philosophy is to reduce government spending, fix your eyes on the costs of incarceration.)

Basic, common sense ideas to bring sanity to the incarceration system:
1) Stop the “war on drugs.” Drug users are sick, they need to kick the habit and integrate as a functional member of society.
2) Punishment alone is rarely transformative or redemptive. Spend money on rehabilitation: education and life skills for inmates. Statistically, Inmates who have education degrees are far less likely to go back to a life of crime.
3) Address the poverty and social conditions that lead to criminal behavior.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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