Monday, November 17, 2008

It’s discouraging to walk around my dorm on any given day. Actually, it’s more sad than discouraging because I think many inmates have given up. They waste hours each day with ping pong, card games, television and sleeping Upon arriving to prison, I presumed many were sleeping all day because they were ill. Wow, was I wrong. It appears as if they can’t muster the energy to do anything productive with their day.

Many prisoners succumb to the pressures of confinement. Under current law, prisoners have no control over their future and no way to advance their release dates. In prison it’s easy to loose touch with reality. I’ve been in prison nearly 7 months and I already feel a sense of detachment. Many adjust to prison in ways to forget the real world and the responsibilities we will face as convicted felons. I often hear, “I’ll prepare to go home when I’m a few months out. Why worry about it now? I have 5 years left.” That’s the problem. Rather than focusing on activities for release, many inmates follow mundane activities that simply get them through the day. I wish there was a way to correct this problem. I know many inmates are bright and full of talent. It’s a shame their positive traits and skills are wasted.

Not only are many inmates failing to prepare for re-entry, there is nearly a 70% chance they will return to prison. Numbers do not lie and recidivism rates prove that our current system is flawed. The system extinguishes hope and encourages failure. Sentences are too lengthy and men are taken away from their families and communities for too long.

Not surprisingly, many inmates are in no hurry to leave prison. An inmate told me today that he turned down the 6 months he was offered in a half way house. “This is no time to look for a job. I’ll let the system take care of me a little while longer.” Some are just comfortable being lazy. We are locked up but we’re also well fed, housed, clothed and provided with medial assistance. In a strange way, I can see why so many are not in a hurry to leave. Prison delays the responsibilities of real life and many of the inmates know the inevitable troubles that lie ahead. Of course, there are many inmates who are eager and determined to leave prison. We need a system that will release these men earlier ONLY IF they complete detailed and thorough education programs aimed at helping them success upon release. They should be allowed to earn their way to an early release. I’m confident that the recidivism rates would fall dramatically.

Despite our crimes against society, we are owed more. We deserve a chance to live a productive life and prisons should help. I believe inmates have one life and I’m tired of watching inmates sleep their sentences and lives away. Enough is enough.

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