Sometimes as a writer, I am unable to express my thoughts the way I want to, and sometimes, I attempt to be so respectful and humble that I am unable to explain how I really feel. Today, I want to release some of my feelings and thoughts and truly speak my mind. I want to speak the truth.
Sometimes, I ask myself: how the hell can anyone say they want safer communities but not give a damn about what is going on in our prisons? As an incarcerated individual, I realize that many people do not care about people in prison. But any person who would like safer communities should be concerned with what is going on in America’s prisons. Why? Because over 80% of prisoners will be released and return to the community.
How can anyone think that it’s safe to release someone who has spent months, years, or even decades locked away–being abused and mistreated by law enforcement? Not only is this happening, but it’s becoming a common practice, and people in power are allowing it to happen. The solution to this problem isn’t locking up individuals for longer periods of time or leaving them locked away for life; instead, the solution is to rehabilitate these individuals and begin to treat them with some form of decency.
My Perspective on Justice
I have come to the point where I’m beginning to believe that reform may never come to prisons. If prisons did what they were supposed to do – which is to correct individuals’ behavior – people would leave the prisons reformed and changed. And if people leaving prisons were rehabilitated, our communities would be safer. And this would lead to a lower recidivism rate, which would lead to a lower prison population.
But while a lower prison population is good for our communities, it must be noticed by those employed in this system that a lower prison population would mean reduced funding and fewer jobs in this industry. It is a job security issue. So these individuals make the conditions in these prisons so harsh that prisoners leave mentally compromised, go back to the community and commit more crimes, and then end up right back in the system. People say that the system is broken, but really, it’s not at all. No, the system was designed this way, and when the individuals who are running it look at it, they say “it appears to be running just fine.”
People also say that this is purely a race issue, but the bigger picture is class. The rich remain able to avoid prison, and when a kid from a nice neighborhood has a run-in with the law, he or she can avoid jail and is offered all kinds of programs to help and rehabilitate. But when a kid born into a poverty-ridden community gets in trouble, he is sent into the system for a traumatizing experience.
The state and country have been getting “tough on crime” for decades and have failed, only causing a high incarceration rate. It is time to get “smart on crime.” This means sending youth to diversion programs where they can receive the help they need; this means ending the practice of sending youth to adult courts; and most of all, this means reshaping our prisons to be a correcting and rehabilitative environment. Getting smart on crime will make the public safer, saving both our communities and those who have made mistakes.