December, 2008

Ordinary Americans Face Harsh Justice, While Powerful Enjoy Christmas at Home

In 1987, I was 23-years-old. That was the year I was arrested. I did not have more than a high school education then, and I had made some bad decisions. To earn an income, I wrongfully joined a group of friends and acquaintances to sell cocaine. We distributed cocaine to consenting adults only, and we […]

Expanding The Broken Glass Theory for Prison Reform

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference , the author wrote about The Broken Glass Theory. I had read about the study before, as many law-and-order types extolled its merits. The Broken Glass Theory held that when society allowed the most trivial offenses to go unpunished, more […]

Dan is Getting Out of Prison

After 14 years of imprisonment, Dan is going home. Dan has been incarcerated since the summer of 1994. At the time of his arrest he was a 25-year-old without much more of a formal education than the GED he earned in night school. He had been working in an Arizona gas station when friends who […]

Prison Culture: Are You a Convict or an Inmate?

In the prison system, a difference exists between a convict and an inmate. Each word has its own connotation in prison culture. The words describe the manner in which a prisoner adjusts within the system of confinement. In minimum-security camps the terms don’t carry much weight. Yet in higher-security prisons, where the stricter boundaries prevail […]

Does the Corrections System Care About Inmates?

I can relate to the feelings of tax payers who want vengeance from those who have broken society’s laws. Prisoners have been convicted of crimes, and many of you want them to pay. Yet prisoners eventually pay that debt and return to society. Although punishment should represent one component of society’s response to crime, an enlightened […]

Prisons Fail to Prepare Prisoners for Society

A noted historian named David Rothman wrote in his book, Asylums that prisons were total institutions. Those of us who live in prisons must function within the rules and policies that prison administrators set. Prisoners do not necessarily abide by all of the rules and policies, though they must function within them. For example, prison […]

Serving a Prison Sentence Without a Gang

Prison environments frighten those who have never been exposed to confinement before. Television shows and popular myths influence perceptions. New prisoners have heard stories about  prison gangs, prison rape and brutal guards. In reality, the worst part of prison is the unknown. When I began serving my sentence in 1987, I didn’t know anything about […]

How Prisoners Focus on Goals in the Midst of Negativity

Prisons are volatile environments. The infrastructure is one that extinguishes hope. Many of the men who serve time choose to abandon thoughts of the outside world because they cannot project themselves decades into the future when release dates loom. Some respond with violence, or with bullying others. Despite my having served more than 21 years […]

In Our Current Economic Crisis, do Prisoners Have Life Too Good?

Our country currently suffers through an economic crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure. Others live with worry about whether they will be able to hold onto their jobs. Credit is drying up, yet basic costs of living are rising. Those who live in prison, on the other hand, receive clothing, food, […]

How To Reduce Violence in Prison

Prisons become violent atmospheres as hope is diminished. When administrators implement policies that decimate an individual’s opportunities to distinguish himself in positive ways, the prisoner feels as if reasons do not exist to even attempt to reform. Instead, he focuses on improving his life within the chaotic boundaries of the penitentiary. Those efforts frequently lead […]