Yep, you read the title right. This post is about stuff that happens in prisons. Good stuff.
I came across a very interesting blog the other day as I was visiting new followers. This is by far THE most unique follower I have to date. There are some others too of course – like the topless waitress site and other *ahem* slightly off the edge types. It always fascinates me what pops up in my email box.
But I digress. The new follow was from InmateBlogger.com
When I saw the name, I must admit I did a double take, wondering if it was some sort of play on words. Nope. It’s a prison blog. Or, to be more accurate – hang on, here’s what the blurb says on the blog itself:
This site is a collection of blogs written by inmates. It serves as a platform which allows them to share their individual stories, opinions, talents, and their inner thoughts. You can lock up a man, but you can’t lock up their mind. We support, understand, and believe that writing can be a great source of rehabilitation, growth, and healing.
Blogging is such a positive alternative when compared to all the misconduct that goes on within prison. Please help spread the word about InmateBlogger.com.
I would recommend you go visit. Read a few. Leave comments. It’s a connection to the outside world. My bet is that it’s worth far more than the words and time you spend on the visit.
This got me to thinking about the whole prison thing. When I was still working, I was involved with the mental health offenders program here in South Australia. Although my main focus was community work, I did have some involvement in the prison sector too. As someone once told me, ‘there are those those who are mad. Then there’s those who are bad. And worst of all are those who are mad and bad.’
I know there are seriously nasty, evil people who are incarcerated and should never be released. Equally, I know there are many who should never step foot inside a prison. There those too who need treatment for mental illness which they seldom, if ever, receive. And then there are those who themselves are victims.
Many years ago TRH (The Retired Husband) and I used to do some work interpreting. My work was usually in the health field – hospitals, doctor’s appointments and the like. TRH occasionally did some court interpreting. I remember him coming home one day having attended court for some trial or other. As he was waiting for the case to be heard, he sat in the court room listening to other proceedings. It was some weeks before Christmas. One gentleman was a recidivist well known to the judge. The conversation, which is what it was, sounded something like this –
- Hello George.
- Good morning, Your Honour.
- I see you’ve been up to your usual tricks again.
- Yes, unfortunately I have, Your Honour.
- You do know, George, that this time I will have to sentence you to some prison time. One week.
- And with that the judge hit the gavel and called for the next case.
- *Ahem* said George loudly.
- Yes, George? You wish to say something?
- Your Honour, if it so please you, could you make that two weeks ? That would see me through Christmas and the New Year.
- George got to spend Christmas in jail.
How sad. The other sad truth is that often people who have been incarcerated for a long time find life on the outside too hard and re -offend just to be in a familiar, ‘safe’ environment where they know they will have a bed and regular meals. There must be a better way.
Emma’s Acres in Canada is one such place.
It’s an agricultural social enterprise in Mission, B.C. where victims and violent offenders work side-by-side on a 3.2-hectare farm. Together they grow vegetables that are sold at farmers’ markets or given freely to the families of homicide victims.
For the offenders, Emma’s Acres is where they can make amends; an opportunity rarely afforded to those incarcerated.
“Frankly, there’s not many opportunities to give back in prison, and even when you get out to volunteer, it’s almost impossible because they ask for a criminal record check,” Flett says, noting that just hearing this makes offenders give up.
The Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton, Pennsylvania has an innovative education program set up for female inmates…. positive changes are on the horizon at the facility, with three new programs recently added to boost the rehabilitative offerings for female inmates. It’s good news in a county where only 49 percent of inmates have their high school diploma compared to 89 percent of the general population.
This article summarises prisoner rehabilitation programs in various countries around the world. With these kinds of initiatives there is hope that things will change for the better.
© Raili Tanska
Be merciful one to another