February, 2009

Prison Reform Should Include Work-Release and Study-Release

How does society benefit by locking nonviolent offenders inside prison boundaries for years, decades, or multiple decades? I’ve heard the term justice, yet I’m not quite convinced that we serve justice by simply watching calendar pages turn while separating an offender from society for such long periods. As leaders contemplate appropriate prison reforms, I hope […]

Prison Reforms Should Bring E-Mail Access to All Prisoners

Recidivism rates for prisoners in the United States exceeds 60 percent. That number ought to appall all Americans. Many factors contribute to the reasons so many people fail upon their release from confinement. I know because I have been locked inside prisons of every security level since 1987. During those 21-plus years, I have made […]

Why I Write About Prison

I’ve written more than a million words about the prison experience. Through the pages of several books my publishers have brought to market, and countless articles, I describe prison from a long-term prisoner’s perspective. Administrators don’t like that I work so tirelessly to expose this creepy underbelly of society. Like the boundaries that separate prisoners […]

America’s Prison System Represents a Tribute to Marxism

During the more than 21 years that I’ve served in prison thus far, I’ve read a fair amount of books on political philosophy. As I read the work of Karl Marx, I was struck by how the American prison system models itself on Marxist principles. Prisons, I am sure, are as close as we come […]

The Poor Get Prison, The Rich Get Pardoned

David Muniz serves a prison term with me at Taft Camp. He is a 28-year-old father of two who is serving a sentence of 11 years. During the three years that David has served thus far, he has earned his GED and he has begun accumulating college credits that will lead to his associate’s degree […]

Reforms Should Facilitate Ties Between Prisoners, Family, and Society

According to Congressional findings in The Second Chance Act of 2007, the Bureau of Prisons’ own metrics show that strong family and community ties represent “the most important factor” in helping those who have been released from prison to succeed upon release. That same Congressional Act found that “families are an often underutilized resource in […]

Prison Reform Should Include Incentives to Encourage Positive Growth

With a surge in violence in federal prisons across America, Bureau of Prison officials have responded by creating a Special Management Program inside the walls of the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg. The new program design makes living conditions at USP Lewisburg much more restrictive than other high-security penitentiaries, yet not quite as restrictive as […]

Influences of John Locke and Thomas Hobbs on Prison Reform

I’ve heard a couple of poignant political explanations since my imprisonment began, in 1987. A Democrat, I’ve been told, was simply a Republican who had been arrested. A Republican, on the other hand, was simply a Democrat who had been mugged. Such descriptions simplified political parties, of course, mistakenly reducing their total platform positions to […]

Prison Reforms Can Help Solve Gang Problems

In the 15 December 2008 issue of U.S. News and World Report, Alex Kingsbury published a lengthy story entitled “The War on Gangs.” According to Mr. Kingsbury’s article, the FBI estimates that nearly 800,000 people belong to more than 26,000 gangs. Those numbers are high, yet they exclude prison gangs, a group with which I […]

Motivating Prisoners to Make Positive Changes

In the fall of 2008, Forbes.com invited me to contribute an article on the concept of Power in Prison. As a long-term prisoner, I considered the opportunity a privilege. Intrigued with life inside the society of felons, readers issued a top ranking to the article. My wife, Carole, periodically checks the article and prints comments […]

Prison Reform Should Include Pell Grants for Prisoners

In today’s punitive prison system, fewer prisoners have access to higher education. I read an article that Matthew Ryno published at Wiscnews.com, for example, that described how the federal prison in Oxford was about to substitute a program through which inmates could earn degrees from the University of Wisconsin in order for the prison to […]

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Five

Prisoners Should Think Win-Win Prisoners who succeed on a high level commit to adjustment patterns that bring victory to all parties. Success necessitates a focus on much more than the prisoner himself. Successful adjustments require the individual to enhance the lives of others, not just his own life. Too many prisoners serve their sentences without […]

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Four

Prisoners Should Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood Prisons differ from other communities in America. Those of us who live inside the boundaries must contend with administrative rules and policies that frequently seem ridiculous. We, as prisoners, do not see the logic in restrictions that preclude us from nurturing family and community ties […]

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Three

Prisoners Should Put First Things First Once prisoners understand how to begin with the end in mind, they can advance to the next stage of a successful adjustment pattern through prison. That strategy requires prisoners to put first things first. It means developing a timeline from which they can measure their progress. For example, if […]

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Two

Prisoners Should Adjust with the End in Mind Prisoners sentenced to serve one year or 25 years share at least one eventuality in common. Both have scheduled release dates. As such, they can both begin serving their sentences with the end in mind. Those prisoners who envision how they want to emerge can chart a […]