Innovation in Prisons

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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

Steps for Peace

Be merciful one to another

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23 thoughts on “Innovation in Prisons

  1. What is frustrating to me here in the states is that addicts and alcoholics are put in prison instead of rehab. I get the prison term if they’ve killed someone while high or drunk. They absolutely should have it. The guy sitting on the curb with an open container or the guy at park smoking a joint. I don’t think they belong in prison.

    I don’t think pedophiles and rapists should go to prison either. They should be put to death. Pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated nor can rapists. These vile people just take up space and our tax dollars.

    I also think that if a person has committed a violent crime resulting in death, and beyond the shadow of a doubt with DNA proof and the whole nine yards, have been found guilty. They too should be put to death. Again. Taking up space and our tax dollars. I know it sounds harsh but we can’t just keep overcrowding our prisons and spending money on convicts. We have so many homeless people and children going to bed hungry. I’d like my tax dollars to go there.

    1. It’s a fraught and complex subject. I’m personally not in favour of the death penalty and have heard the strong arguments on both sides. Sometimes people do horrid things because they too have been victims of having horrid things done to them. Perhaps no-one has shown them how life, and they, can be different. There are no easy answers but there has to be a way forward where we as a humane society honour and treat each other with respect.

  2. I think we really do need to think through the whole gamut of our justice system. It is archaic. We have made huge strides in psychology and could make a far better system if we put our minds to it. – Revenge, Rehabilitation or Isolation from society. What is the intent?

    1. Thanks Calen. I know there are lots of other good things happening in this area, just as there are still some of those horrific, medieval conditions and approaches.

  3. Thanks for the share- I will be checking that blog out for sure! Here in Canada, we have what is known as Restorative Justice, which is sometimes and option for Indigenous people. I have been in attendance at some of those hearings, and it is amazing to witness- most of the time, once someone sees where the offender has come from and what they have survived, the anger and pursuit of punishment fades away, and the offers to be involved in the healing process begins. 🙂
    Hurt people hurt people- a very short and simple way of understanding- as you would well know having worked in Mental Health.

      1. In the UK, the suicide rate for prisoners is high. Many of the victims are young people on short sentences. Their inability to cope with the harsh environment is killing them. I welcome any effort to improve their lives. Also, that blog has the chance of changing the attitude of those on the outside. It’s inspiring. Thank you for publicising it. I’d back it up with a follow-up post, but I can’t write at the moment. This calls for a reblog…

      2. That’s so sad. Here there is a disproportionate number of indigenous people in jails. And yes, suicide rates are high too. You can always write one later, Jane. I’m sure they will appreciate any support, any time.

  4. I just ran across this post while searching for blogs about prison. I am brand new to blogging but felt that I needed an outlet for my thoughts and feelings.
    I’m not an inmate nor have I ever been. But I have someone inside. So much of what is seen and heard focuses on the inmates. My blog is about what it’s like for those of us waiting outside the fences.
    I’m not looking for followers. This is for me more than anything else. But I just thought I’d share.
    I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    1. I truly appreciate your comments. You’re right. Life from the outside looking in cannot be easy. And again, you’re right, not enough is said about that perspective, although here in Oz it is starting to get more airspace. Welcome to blogging. I hope it brings you joy and friendships. I know it has for me. I look forward to your visits. And thank you so much for the follow. I will pop over to yours soon. Wish you well

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