Prison Management Suggestions

The Pervasiveness of Prison Apathy

An old maxim holds that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The prison culture is one that imbues staff members with an inordinate amount of power, while simultaneously stripping prisoners of a sense of efficacy. Consequences follow from such a culture. In the 1960s, Professor Milgram conducted an experiment at Yale University that […]

Rigid Rules Influence Prisoners

One of the reasons prisons rock with violence, gang pressures, and corruption is because the rigid controls extinguish hope. Prisoners live inside the boundaries with a continuous pressure. Granted, most of the prisoners brought that discomfort upon themselves through their criminal convictions. While locked inside the prison boundaries, however, the prisoners adjust to the culture […]

Reform Prison Guards

In the 1970s, Professor Phillip Zimbardo conducted the famous Stanford Prison Guard experiment. Many academics have cited his findings. Matt Kelley quoted some of Professor Zimbardo’s findings in an article he recently wrote for The academic experiment at Stanford, together with my own experiences as a long-term prisoner, convince me that when guards enforce […]

Family Ties Lower Prison Recidivism

Asha Nettles asked me how I thought family ties, and personal commitments such as marriage influenced whether prisoners would revert to crime upon release. She also asked whether I thought prison administrators should limit their hiring to those who believed in the power of rehabilitation. I’m grateful that Asha has given me this privilege of […]

Incentives Would Lessen Lure of Prison Gangs

Kassandra Fraga commented on my article entitled Prison Reforms Can Help Solve Gang Problems. She wondered whether I thought most prisoners would take advantage of opportunities to earn incentives rather than succumb to gang influences. Kassandra also asked how I thought prison gangs would respond to those who pursued incentives. My experience of living in […]

Prison Camps Waste Taxpayer Resources

President Obama has repeatedly said that under his administration, leaders will evaluate the effectiveness of every government agency and program. Those that provide useful services to society will received appropriate resources, and those that fail will undergo reforms. I know the economy, the war efforts, foreign policy, energy, and health care take priority. As long-term […]

Prison Administrators Can Lower Recidivism Rates by Offering Incentives

As I watched political news shows this past Sunday morning, I heard many Republican pundits assailing President Obama’s economic stimulus package with accusations that it lacks incentives for success. I wish those conservatives would support the use of incentives when deliberating over strategies for prison reform. For more than 21 years I’ve served time in various […]

Prison Furloughs Can Lower Recidivism

American citizens have a vested interest in preparing offenders for successful re-entry into society. Those who leave prison without strong networks of support, without employment prospects, without a fundamental knowledge of the communities to which they will return, and without resources, stand a significantly higher chance of failure. When offenders revert to criminal activity upon […]

Prison Reform Like Foreign Policy Reform

As a prisoner in the midst of my 22nd year in continuous confinement, I have had a first-hand look at this system. I’ve served virtually my entire adult life within prison boundaries of every security level. This perspective has given me unique opportunities and experiences from which I have learned. They convince me that prisons […]

Prison Camps Waste Taxpayer Resources

Prison reforms should include the elimination, or significant restructuring, of minimum-security camps. I have been a federal prisoner since 1987, and since then I’ve served time in high-security penitentiaries as well as Federal Correctional Institutions. In 2003, administrators transferred me to serve the final decade of my sentence inside the open boundaries of various minimum-security […]

Prisoner Access to E-mail Makes Society Safer

J. Michaelsen wrote me a comment in response to an article I wrote suggesting that prison reform should bring email access to prisoners. The readers asked why I thought email access alone would help offenders prepare for release, and asked whether gang members would abuse such a privilege if it were offered. I appreciate these […]

Prison Administrators Should Encourage Prisoners To Nurture Community Ties

In the federal prison system of early 2009, a huge disconnect exists between administrative platitudes and the policies by which prisoners must live. Often, those discrepancies hinder individuals who are striving to prepare for law-abiding lives upon release. Prison reforms could and should bring the expressed concern for rehabilitation into harmony with the rules that […]

Prison Policies Block Families from Nurturing Ties with Loved Ones in Prison

In the Second Chance Act of 2007, Congress found that although close family ties represent one of the most effective resources to help offenders in prison transition to society successfully upon release, prison administrators under utilize the resource of families. As a long-term prisoner, I know that Congress missed the point. Administrators not only fail […]

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 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 […]