Most prisoners are uneducated, riddled with unresolved traumas and ill-treated mental health problems, drug and alcohol addictions, and self-esteem issues that are beyond profound, bordering on the pathological far too often. The vast majority has never received competent health care, mental health care, drug treatment, education or even an opportunity to look at themselves as human. Were any of these far less draconian interventions even tried, before the descent into this wretched cave, no doubt many of my peers would be leading productive lives. Nothing else works is not a statement of fact; it is the declaration of an ideology. This ideology holds that punishment, for the sake of the infliction of pain, is the logical response to all misbehavior. It is also a convenient cover story behind which powerful special interest groups hide.
Prison employees benefit by our failure. This startling fact contains within it a monstrous truth. These well-organized government workers created the victims’ rights movement, a sad shill for the prison-industrial complex. Using the handful of politically active victims of crime to obscure their actual agenda, propositions are passed, laws are changed, and policies that could prevent victimization in the first place are suppressed. Both of these groups, working in tandem with the corporations that supply and construct prisons, pour millions of dollars into the political process to achieve a system guaranteed to fail. But this failure by any other measure – high rates of recidivism, high rates of internal disorder, growing prison populations serving longer sentences – results in greater profits to the corporations, increased membership in the unions, and ever growing piles of dollars to buy still more influence.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Kenneth E. Hartman, "The Trouble With Prison":
Posted by Al at 9:54 PM