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mark johnson

CEO Life To The Brim, Inc, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Retired

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Do we Ignore incarcerated men, women and juveniles or help Restore them back into community?

I am recent retired Department of Justice employee (Federal Bureau of Prisons)and Dream Coach. Part of my life's purpose is to Inspire, Impact, Empower and help Transfrom those in the space I occupy. Understanding that rehabilitation does not happen just by incarcerating a person, but actually takes place when the individual recognizes the need to change from the inside.

The likelihood of this happening is when (society) the institution create and provide programs for the inmate to participate in while incarcerated. Is such an idea grandiose? And if not what type of programs would cost effective and cognitively meaninful?


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    May 30 2012: In the USA the correctional systems are not the issue, its the laws which have been created and subsequently fill them up which is one serious problem. From my perspective and experience from friends in criminal law and police force would suggest education is one key ingredient often ignored. To ignore "people", (people, not resources, not inmates and not carbon units) is simply not acceptable. Will you and others impact everyone, likely not. I do suggest the most serious people you have had dealings with lack a few very basic characteristics: Sefl esteem, self confidence, and anger management. I have no stats but would bet most to a high percentage have never had much of a chance considering a poor role model and parenting skills to develop skills many of us take for granted.
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      May 31 2012: I have worked extensively with this population and they do NOT lack self esteem... they need all those skills often but they do need polices that support everyone in the community having the same opportunity..
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        May 31 2012: Fair enough. I would be interested in what policies would be needed and how you would implement these so, as you said "everyone in the community has the same opportunity". Aren't the policies already in place through education programs, sports, arts, etc at a young age, which in turn determines the opportunity?
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          Jun 1 2012: No they are not! It is a nice myth that our system is fair and equitible. it is not. The USA is the most in-equitible countries of all the western nations and more in-equitible than many thirdworld nations. When measured we find that equality in a society effects many aspects of that society.

          So I would change many policies. this is not a simple answer. It is complex. But sufice it to say the changes would have to be both micro, or to help the individual cahnge, and macro to help society change.

          Yes I know what those changes are, for the individual we need to follow evidence based practices, such as the following the Principles of Effective Interevention, which utilizes the principles following social learning theory because it shows the most robust findings and has an increased success rate of 35%. That was the strongest level of success of any of the programs.

          Then on the societial level the policy shifts would be toward people, away from corperations and individuals. This is not any quick study that I can say in a few lines all the complexities of it but I can say there are many studies that support and back my perspective. and there are many case studies where other countries have turned around these same issues. One very important one is Enrigue Penilosa, He was Mayor of Bogata Colombia from 1999 to 2002. He chose to dedicate resources to benifit the people and specifically the poorest people in his city and one of the outcomes of this decision was a 70% drop in the homicide rate. Bogata at that time prior to Penilosa taking office was the highest in the world. so by a shift in policy that benifited the people that had the highest needs he changed another aspect of his city, crime.

          Like I have said it is complex. I went back to school and went as far as earning a masters degree studying these issues. I was fortunate enough to have some great Professors, one in particluar that has been instremental in helping me sort out the issues.
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      May 31 2012: James,
      In my perception, lack of education, self esteem, self confidence, poor role models, poor parenting skills, and anger management are some very common factors that contribute to the lives of those incarcerated.

      Edan East,
      You say those incarcerated "do NOT lack self esteem"? Honestly? Are you serious? That seems like pretty common knowledge.

      Approx. 95% of those incarcerated are drug and/or alcohal dependant. Do you think/feel it is confident, content people who depend on a substance, often ignoring all other things and people in their life to obtain the substance? Do you think/feel it is people who have high self esteem who repeat the same patterns over and over again, which lands them in jail?

      Many of the incarcerated men I worked with adopted a tough guy persona, and that often happens as a defense mechanism. A majority of those incarcerated have also been physically, emotionally, sexually abused as children, so they create this tough guy persona. Perhaps that is what you observed Edan East?
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        May 31 2012: Hi Colleen, I believe your comments are bang on and I appreciate your insight. I do acknowledge we all have self esteem, even those which Edan deals with on a daily basis. However, I would suggest this self esteem is misinterpreted and is a defense mechanism for misfortunes along the way.
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          Jun 1 2012: Self esteem is not the isue for men in the prisons, they often have high self esteem and that is why coming out of their communities they choose to do the bold and brazen crimes they get caught for... High self- esteem! If it were just self esteem it would be an easy fix, but that is not the issue. But that would be nice if it were that easy.
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          Jun 2 2012: Thanks James,
          I agree James...tough personas are often misinterpreted as confidence or high self esteem, which, off course is the purpose of adopting those characteristics.

          People with genuine confidence and self esteem do not prey on other people. They do not abuse and violate the rights of others. People with genuine self esteem live in peace and harmony in the community.
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        Jun 3 2012: Colleen I am sorry so many beleive selfesteem is such a key aspect to their change. but no I know the tough guy personnas many put on... but I also know from bith expereince and research findings that these men do not lack in self esteem. with in the communites they come from they develop levells of esteem based on their environment... you may be misinterpreting this as false self prmotion, but in fact is what esteems them.

        but again I will saw what is found to be the most important indicator of criminogenic behavior and an indicator of their future is 1) Attitude, 2) Associates, 3) personality, 4) History, 5)skill/eductaion, 6) Family, and last.7)addiction.

        so change the attitude and change the peron. change the associates and you often change the attitude, address the personality issue, ie. sociopath or other mental illness issues and you see whether change can take place, of course look at the history of anyone and I can tell you what they are more likely to do when faced with similar curcumstances... those first 4 are the most important... the rest job/education family and addiction play a smaller role, as in they can tell you of further isssues they may need to deal with, such as going home to a family of drug addicted gang bangers in a community with no jobs and education is poor.

        This is not an issue that is solved by those who work in the field following what "they think" works or what "they beleive" works... it is solved by taking all the data we have and doing a meta analysis with that data and seeing what works with whom and when and then implementing that and following the outcome to make sure we are staying on target and getting the results we desire.

        Colleen you seem so nicce and that is why you are probably blinded by your feelings on a personal level. We all have a shifting self esteem, but when measuered and when used as the indicater of treatment, they found it does ot work, because You are telling men where their self esteem is...
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          Jun 3 2012: Dear Edan East,
          You seem to like "stats", so if you look at some statistics, you might discover that it is pretty common knowledge that people who are incarcerated often lack self esteem. If you want to feel "sorry" about those facts, so be it. I agree that attitude, associates, personality, history, skill/education, family and addictions are factors, which often influence self esteem.
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        Jun 3 2012: that is arogant and fails on the first level of not bringoing your own standards when working with other populations... One with low self esteem would not have the attitude that they can perpetrate teh crimes they do and get away with it, or that they deserve and it is owed to them for them to committe their particulare crime.

        so... set aside your own personal social beleifs and take another look...
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          Jun 3 2012: I've been looking at this for many years Edan East, including the "stats". I have also been involved with offenders and the process for years. Thanks for the advice anyway:>)

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