December, 2008

Successful Adjustment to Prison Does Not Happen by Accident

Writing about prison adjustments is an important part of my adjustment. I have been serving time in prison for longer than 21 consecutive years, and thriving through confinement is one subject that I know a lot about. I began my term inside a high-security penitentiary, and I remained locked inside those walls for longer than […]

Prison Reforms Should Include Parole

When I began serving my sentence, in 1987, a parole system was in place. Tough-on-crime legislators abolished the use of parole in the federal system, and such decisions contributed to a surge in the federal prison population. Whereas fewer than 40,000 people were locked in federal prisons when I began my term, today we have […]

Top Ten Prison Reform Goals, Article 5: Prison Reforms Ought To Enable Financial Stability

Prison rules that prohibit inmates from earning an income do not serve society’s interests. More than 650,000 people return to American communities from places of confinement each year. Those who have served lengthy periods of time leave confinement without the resources necessary to function. They lack clothing, shelter, and money. For many, finding employment may […]

Madoff May Bring Attention to Need for Prison Reform

I hope the case of Bernard Madoff brings some real attention to the absurdity of America’s sentencing scheme. Newspapers are reporting that he may face up to 20 years in prison. I know that sounds like a lot of time in confinement. Truthfully, as a man who has just finished his 22nd holiday season in […]

Prison Reforms Should Introduce the Concept of Parity

Bernard Madoff, the con artist who led the largest Ponzi scheme in history, is said to have misappropriated more than $50 billion of investor funds. I’ve been reading about the people who suffered as a consequence of his massive fraud. One news report described people in their sixties and seventies who would have to return […]

Prisoners Can Be A Resource For Society

As a long-term prisoner, I am also looking for opportunities to contribute to society. One of the strategies I enjoy is writing, but when possible, I also enjoy speaking. I participate in a group at Taft Camp that goes by the unusual acronym TOAD. The name stands for Those Outspoken Against Drugs. Its purpose is […]

Top Ten Prison Reform Goals, Article 4: Prison Reforms Should Include Partnering Prisoners with Community Leaders and Mentors

Blinky and I were confined in the same housing unit when I began serving my term. He had been incarcerated for ten years and he had a set pattern for serving time that I found typical of the penitentiary. Every morning he left for work in the prison factory, where Blinky presided over an operation […]

Top Ten Prison Reform Goals, Article 3: Prison Reforms Should Encourage Prisoners to Build Supportive Success Networks

Prison administrators like to hang signs and posters promoting success platitudes. Reach For The Stars! Be Persistent! Never Give Up! The motivational signs might fool those in groups that tour institutions into believing that administrators make authentic efforts to prepare offenders for successful re-entry into society. Those locked in prisons, on the other hand, recognize […]

Federal Prisoners Serve More Than 85% of Their Time

I recently received a question from a reader who asked whether it was really true that federal inmates had to serve 85 percent of their sentences. The sad truth is that inmates who are sentenced to federal prison today must serve more than 85 percent of their time. Many prisoners mistakenly believe that they will […]

Maintaining Loving Relationships While in Prison

I recently received a question from a reader who wrote that her childhood sweetheart was serving a life sentence and he suddenly broke off their relationship. She worried that her sweetheart may be breaking off the relationship as a consequence of something going on inside the prison. As a long-term prisoner, I value my relationship […]

What is life like at FPC Fort Dix?

A¬† reader¬†recently wrote to ask me a question about what life is like at the Federal Prison Camp at Fort Dix. He wanted to know what an individual should expect on the first day of placement in a prison camp, and what the typical routine was like. For more than seven years, I was confined […]

Top Ten Prison Reform Goals, Article 2: Prison Reforms Ought to Offer Incentives to Transform Prisoners into Students and Teachers

Our prison system churns out repeat failures at an alarming rate. As a prisoner who has been locked in various prisons since 1987, I’ve learned a great deal from the thousands with whom I’ve served time. Personal experiences, observations, and lessons I’ve learned from others convince me that I know the prison reforms necessary to […]

Top Ten Prison Reform Goals, Article 1: Prison Reforms Should Influence Positive Attitudes

To succeed, prison reforms must begin by changing prisoner attitudes. After more than 21 years of thriving through prisons of every security level, I am well aware of the attitude necessary for a successful prison adjustment. I also know the changes administrators must make to reverse the costly and troubling trend of high recidivism rates. […]

Redemption in Prison has Meaning Under Obama Administration

We must pass through a few more weeks before a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will swear President Obama into office. Yet reports I have read in various newspapers indicate he is moving quickly to fill the void of wisdom in leadership for our country. As a long-term prisoner, I am particularly interested in […]

Consider Prisoner Voices in Deliberations on Prison Reform

President-elect Obama spoke about reforms he intended to bring to America’s health care system. He said that in working to improve the system, as President he would bring all parties to the round table for discussion. Mr. Obama wants input from doctors, nurses, patients, administrators, and others who can suggest steps the Congress and our […]