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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: Having been very fortunate to have spent 2 years in maximum I can say with absolute certainty that to rehabilitate criminals by putting them all together in a prison system is not a very smart idea. Firstly, you are putting the states/countries best criminal minds together. This sharing experiences is a learning ground for how not to get caught next time. The other thing prison does is totally demean a person by taking their rights away. When you demean someone like that they are going to want revenge. Thirdly, there is just to much time on peoples hands. Also the system of politics within the prison system virtually makes it impossible to survive if you want to do the right thing. This is perpetrated by the very system which claims to rehabilitate. In essence you are brainwashing people to commit more crimes when they get out and this is backed by the reality of the situation and the statistics available.

    The ideas of creating programs while incarcerated is one good idea. One needs to look forward to a future and with the advent of finding meaningful work due to criminal history further diminishes hope and leads the perpetual cycle of crime through having opportunities available (through prison contacts and also through acquired knowledge)

    The best systems i have seen involve reflective therapy. They are where meaningful interactions take place by helping others. In other words giving the person the opportunity to make up for what they have done wrong. You can imprison a man all you want; you can torture him, you can demean him, make him wear a uniform and make him walk the line but you can never imprison his soul and it is up to him and him alone to make the decision of reformation.

    Those programs where you see older men warning youngsters about the dangers of a life of crime are an excellent example. I believe if you followed the statistical rate, you would find a lot of those men are less likely to be re-offenders compared to the general population.
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      May 31 2012: I support your first paragraph... but after that your argument follows what you think based on what you see... that is not based on the science that researches down the road what the outcome of those programs... there are some very good studies that show "Scared Straight" increases likelihood of going to prison... most of those young one already feel troubled and see going to prison as a badge of honor. some young men whose fathers are gone from their lives see going to prison as a way of getting to know their fathers. I delt with one young man who was greatly disapointed when he finally met his father. when we remove more that 3.2% out of a population we destabilize that population, the children in that population are growing up in that destablized environement... and we wonder why certain populations are more prone to trouble youths of gangs? the stats show what works. using programs that are based on scientifically supported policy we will continue to harm the lives of people like you.
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        Jun 1 2012: For sure, sorry... i only had a word limit. Everything you say 100% correct in my experiences. You have to understand, i have a deep intimate connection with what works because a lot of criminals are highly intelligent and can bypass system processes. In other words, they know the program and know how to evade in order to get reduced sentences. By being there inside the system you get to see a whole different story that no statistics can compensate for because the statistics are being meddled with. A man searching for his freedom will find ways. You can see this in some of the escape plots which are very sophisticated. I have never met such intelligent people and that is even after going to university for 4 years since my release.

        One thing i think we could talk about further is child abuse. Talking to people in prison and incidental in setting, one gets the distinct impression that almost every one suffered some form of child abuse. This can broken down into a number of areas. Men who were emotionally abused by mothers as children, generally fall into crimes against women such as rape and violence against partners. Men who were sexually abused by men as children are usually bank robbers, murderers and highly violent offenders (could be referred to as psychopaths). People who are psychologically tortured are usually drug addicts and mentally disturbed. Some people can handle these types of experiences and will not go to prison/commit overt crimes, but the personality types (usually very sensitive people) who do are the ones we are talking about.

        The key factor in all this is that the person who has been abused feels let down by society. Most kids are abused (of the non-sexual types of abuses) in public places. The child feels like there is a conspiracy against him when no one defends against the abuse. How many of you have seen a parent screaming at their kid in a shopping center and have done nothing about it? end of word limit. to be cont....
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        Jun 1 2012: So... the key factor, and i think we should stick to answering the question asked by Mark Johnston, is building trust again. I think dehumanizing someone as a punishment does little to build trust and trust is a two way street. However paradoxically, also you have to be real about who you are dealing with. Here is a case in point:

        I met one young person who was sexually abused by his uncle for a number of years. One day the boy defended himself and stabbed his uncle with a knife a number of times until he was dead. The abuse was not just sexual but also mental in that the boy was told that if he mentioned anything he would be physically harmed. The boy was found by police. The media did a story on how movies influenced him and everyone was happy to put the boy in jail for a very long time. He was put on remand in a prison system in which sexual abuse is rife and did not defend himself by making note of the sexual abuse for obvious reasons. From his perspective, social workers, layers, judges should be able to work the obvious out and of course he would be let down. This young boy would live in a system which society (including the media) had condemned him to. Is he going to have a healthy attitude towards society when he leaves?

        Another man who was put in for fraud and basically a greedy person on the other hand, learns that by becoming a Christian a judge would be more favorable for early release. While inside, he plans not to get caught next time. His plan involves taking a bank manager's family as hostage and chopping off the fingers of his wife over a mobile phone until the bank manager opened a vault. This man gets early release because he has become a born again Christian. He has played the game that suits people's ideas of what reality is. Sure enough within a year news reports come over that a bank manager was taken hostage in similar circumstances. Perhaps a coincidence? Maybe someone else picked up the idea? Who knows?
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        Jun 1 2012: The idea of creating a system where you you have an us against them system which is already perpetuated by personal experiences as children is a major stumbling block. Within the prison system is a rigid set of laws created by those inmates who have already been let down and the laws are much harsher than in society generally. If you dare speak publicly about plans or prison politics you will generally get a death sentence. This death sentence can be carries out by anyone and because people are trying to make a name for themselves, usually, is not hard to find.

        A lot of inmates found this law system better than the one offered outside because it is black and white. It is known. The law system is full of grey areas and you constantly see people with money evade justice or create it so justice favors them and their situation. The law has become very complicated and supports those that have money. The treatment of poor people in the US justice system really is a joke... further perpetuating distrust.

        Now the question being asked here is how do we restore these people back to society?
        It is not an easy question and has a number of problems. I believe everyone should work together on this. Social workers have great insight but often are taken advantage of. Prison guards probably have the best insight after prisoners themselves, however have worked with structures whereby its impossible to reform. Prisoners need to get over themselves and their past hurts and stop trying to hide it all by acting tough. It's their actions which create harm and they need to take responsibility. They need to make up for what they have done wrong and not just spending time in prison. They need to go out and help others.
        We all make mistakes and all mistakes can be rectified. There is not a crime which can not be made up for.

        So Mark johnston has a good goal. He is retired but yet still continues his mission to empower and to transform and i think that is a very valuable goal indeed.
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          Jun 1 2012: Jason,
          I agree with everything you write so clearly and well articulated. I'm wondering if you are doing anything within the justice/correctional systems at this time?

          Are you familier with the "Real Justice" program, which began in Australia? If so, what do you think about it?
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          Jun 1 2012: Yes all those things you noticed or discovered are true, and as I discovered while working in the prison a cmmon reality.... that is why I needed to find answers... I too went to school and studied the proble... no the stats do not lie... some stats are questionable but you can see that when you work with them.

          Yes a lot of inmates are quick to figure out the system. The system is deeply and inherently flayed.

          I do not know off hand aboout the real justice program, but it sounds like a retrebution based program and those do not hold a high incedence of overall success. the success in those is for the victim.

          we need to follow evidence based treatment. if we are not then we are just perpetrating a fraud on society and the inmates.

          Looking at the childhoods of thes men is often tragic. that is why the solution needs to look at a systemic or societal solution. It is a fact that living in the poorer neighborhoods tend to see more abuse. this is a no brainer, where people are under increased pressure to survive, this creates an environement at increased risk for all kinds of problems... this trickles down to the children. one study found that the children growing up in Watts, CA show a higher incendence of postramatic stress disorder than children in Bhagdad Iraq. So what do we expect out of those children when they grow up...

          The issues are complex and need shifts and major overhauls in many arias befor we will see the change that is neccesary.
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          Jun 1 2012: Edan East,
          I'm surprised you are not familier with the "Real Justice" program. It is actually a program facilitating restorative practices, and has been very successful throughout the world. It shows evidence of benefits for the victim, offender and the community.

          I served on the reparative board for years, also served as a mediator within the program, and we had many successes. The program is an alternative to jail time, takes into account the offender's background, the impact on the victim, their families and the community. Based on what you have written on this thread, it sounds like this program might satisfy your goals.

          Take a look...this link will link to several others, where you can find information about this program, contacts, calender of events/training sessions, books and workshop materials, etc. etc. etc.

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        Jun 2 2012: Regarding statistics: I left 1st year psychology because in my university at least, there was a culture of making statistics fit your agenda. I do not know whether this was because it was encouraged from the top down but certainly there were strong indications that this was so, especially where funding was concerned (ie. the agenda of the funding body whether commercial or government was pushed) However, the model of control studies is a great model and allows for anyone to replicate, discuss and reinterpret. So with great care and careful approach statistics is a valuable tool agreed.

        Colleen: Thank you. I am not or have ever worked in the Justice/correctional system. However, i have helped many people who are a part of the system, especially those who are post incarcerated. I suppose the best way to describe this is by coincidental meetings.

        What i represent is someone who doesn't fit the idea of what prisoners become. Not only did i not become a re offender, but i went to university and received high honors, started my own business and have been in control of multi thousands of dollars while maintaining very high levels of integrity. I have used the positive aspects of my experience to my advantage or converted the negative aspects into positive aspects. For instance, having faced many life threatening experiences where i was certain i was going to die, i can tolerate massive amounts of confusion and aggressive attacks without loosing my cool. I can be threatened with death and it doesn't phase me as much as it would someone else. I also learn valuable tools like the best way to get what you want to achieve is through patience.

        For me, I stand as an example and that is the strongest and most potent form of enabling change in others. I do this not because of societies merit but rather because of spiritual reasons. It doesn't seek instant results... it is a seed that is planted.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason,
          I agree with you...there are OFTEN instances where people make statistics fit a particular agenda. Statistics are a valuable tool when used appropriately, and can be easily misused.

          I noticed, in one of your comments that you went to school after being incarcerated, and it seems that you have used your experience to learn, which is why I asked if you were involved with corrections now. You are very articulate, have learned some important life skills, and are a great example and role model for what CAN happen.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason... you are a nice example of the enomily, it is also the unfortunate standard that is held up to measure the rest and give credence to the system when the system blame the offender for failure. However Good Job for you... Also you are in Australia and the society is different, believe it or not, it is.

          Yes statistics can be falsified, that is why it is imoprtant to know mre about the studies, which when you are reading a journal paper which gives all the info, theory/hypothisasis, ltierature review, methodology, conclusions, and limitations, the validity of the conclusions can be easily accertained. It is because of this "faking of Stats" that the research went in the direction it did for the past 40 years. in the 1970 Robert Martinsen wrote an article that was taken to say "Nothing Works" in corrections. He was interviewed on 60 minutes and at the time the right and the left wanted change and to further their agenda, Both sides used this to support the shift in corrections to a "Get Toough" agenda. Palmer, a leading researcher and university professor took this statment as a challenge, he wanted to find out if anything did work, if something did, then what, when and with whom. Martinsen having been caught up in his own ego and running on fame was ashamed of himself and discredited within the research community for not following scientific proticol and jumped out his aprtment window in front of his teenage son, to his own death.

          From that paper our correctional system shifted. prior to that shift from the 1915 when we started keeping records to 1970s the "rate" of incarceration remand about the same, fluctuating slightly following societal events such as wwII. then with that shift in policy the rate started to rise, from a rate of about 100/100,000 to the last stats of 968/100,000. that is an increase of about 1000%. now this was a get tough on crime agend and policy, and yet the crime rate did not go down...
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          Jun 2 2012: ... the prior population of about 100/100,000 pollows what we know to be true about any population, that sociopaths make up about 1% of the population, 100/100,000 is 1% of the population. We then were having trouble with the issue of how we were treating them, we followed a rehabilitative model. it worked some but not always. How we were treating them needed to be addressed because we were still following some prisoon models that were cruel and unusual. ... so we needed to find out what works when and with whom. Martinsen kicked it off inadvertantly, he was a sad victim of what happens when the media and politics get a hold of information and use it to further their agenda.

          Colleen... I do know restoritive justice models and know them to be just like what Jason said not something that works for everyone...

          The issue I hear the most is people thinking that they can ask someone that has gone through the system to know what works. That person may know what they beleive what worked for them but it is far more complecated than that..

          so what does work... with the most robust results is to follow evedence based practices, which this supports the rehabilitation model. then use a rehabilitation program that follows the Principles of Effective Intervention.

          Having said this, this is only one small part of the problem... this will just reduce the offender return rate, we also need to address policies wihtin society that set this up in the first place, like get tough, and three strikes law. Except sociopaths all people want to live a life of personal control and to be rewarded for a days work with a days pay. this is not happening in the USA. and I can tell when ever I hear of crime rates going up that there are issues of equity withing that society. Equity is the strongest indicator effecting homicide rates, highschool drop out rates, teen pregnancy rates, mortality rates, and a couple others. that is why Penilosa was able to effect the homicide rates by .....
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          Jun 2 2012: dedicating resources that benifited the poorest in his community.

          So the issue of do we ignor, yes on the one hand and no on the other...

          we ignor the many wrongly incarcerated that are truly victims of a society that allows for one man to be higher valued based on his worth in $,

          we do not ignor them once they have been there so they can never get out of the system, case in point, on one of the projects I worked on last year I was talking with a Parole Agent and an FBI agent and the PO said quite proudly that "Only one parolee has ever successfull gotten of her caseload and been released from parole" and of that one parolee, she took the credit for his success, but did not see the rest as her failure. As I have worked within the system and gone back to school and earned a BA and an MA, with honors in both, I have observed this attititude throughout the system. again we know what you are ost likely to do based on your 1st) Attitude, 2nd) Accociates, 3rd) Personality, 4th) History and so on, this is true of those oin the system too and as was seen so clearly in the Standford Prison experiment, we shift our moral compass to fit the role. Even Dr. Zimbardo failed to see the harm that was occuring, it was his girlfriend who showed up to she how things were going that saw the harm and told him he had to stop the experemnet.
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          Jun 2 2012: This is a very complex issue... however we do know what works, when and with whom, however too many in places of power are furthering their own agenda. I have seen so many politicans running for office claiming they will be tough on crime! Yet they fail to say tough on crime does not work...

          A foot note here, we do need to incarcerate the sociopaths... the Philip Gauridos and the Richard Allen Davis's... they are who the system is supposed to be for... we shifted a war on crime to a war on drugs to a war on poverty, not realizing we were targeting the people rather than the issue. we can stop poverty today by simply shifting how big business and corperations are allowed to victimize their workers. 30 years ago the average CEO made about 30 times what his average worker made, that was an equitable sharing of the fruits of the labor of all involved. today the average CEO makes about 300 times what his average worker is making, and that worker is expected to put out more product at a fster rate and to be higher quality.... We have marginalized so many and then we wonder why there are problems for those at the bottom...

          As I said this is a complex issue, but it is one with solutions... the opeple that get into positions of power need to be accountable for what they do...
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          Jun 2 2012: Edan East,
          You say..."Jason... you are a nice example of the enomily, it is also the unfortunate standard that is held up to measure the rest and give credence to the system..."

          There is nothing "unfortunate" about the standard Jason lives by, as he has expressed it here....there is NOTHING unfortunate about what he has done with his life, and to criticize it in that way is ridiculous. A person who has gone through the system is one of the BEST resources, in my opinion.

          First you said you were NOT familier with the Real Justice program, but it probably doesn't work anyway...now you say you "do know restoritive justice models". NOTHING works for everyone Edan, and in my perception, everything and anything is worth a try. You keep dismissing ideas and contradicting yourself right and left.

          You write..."So the issue of do we ignor, yes on the one hand and no on the other..."
          What exactly would you like to gain from this conversation?
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        Jun 2 2012: Regarding Real Justice... reading the website i realized i was actually a part of this when i was first ever caught doing something as a teenager. I am Australian.

        It must have been in the early 1980's.

        I think it was very embarrassing and i wasn't really ready for it.

        I think if it is given as a choice then it will be very effective and i think the key parameter is choice.

        If a judge imposes it as part of a sentence i think it can backfire.

        If the offender could have the ability to go off and state what they did wrong in their own time and draw their own conviction/punishment and how they were going to create restitution then i think it is a very potent tool. Obviously, there are a lot of problems to be overcome in such a situation. The program has probably matured well. I shall read more about it.

        Australia is an interesting case study because the government involvement is a lot stronger than the US. The Australian government traditionally is more of a mix between socialist and capitalist societies. We have a very strong social welfare system. We also have a history of criminality, being basically a prison state at inception. That is of course separate from the traditional owners who have inhabited the country for 40,000 years.

        A society i believe, should be judged not by the public relations campaigns they push but how they treat their weakest members. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Ironically that is also a criminal saying... " a lock is only as strong as its weakest point" another valuable lesson on security.

        At the end of the day, choice for reformation cannot be pushed. A society which has its long term interests at heart is patient. I think a key ingredient is on the one hand supporting those who want to make change and rectify their mistakes and on the other maintaining a strong hand of law on those who don't. It is here where a lot of problems arise and having people who are wise in positions to make decisions valuable.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason,
          I realize you are from Australia...I looked at your profile:>) That is why I asked you if you are familier with the "Real Justice" program, which was starting to bloom in Australia in the 80s'.

          Not everyone IS ready for it, and it can be embarrassing because it encourages offenders to be accountable for their actions. If one is not ready to be accountable, the program is not effective.

          I agree with you regarding "choice". It is a choice here to a certain degree. The program is presented to appropriate candidates during the court proceedings, so it is a post court program. They have already been charged, and found guilty of the crime. Then the question is are they ready for this program? Or would it be better for them to serve time in jail? So, there IS a discussion, and ultimately, the program is court ordered if the offender seems appropriatly ready. If the program does not work for them, they still need to serve time.

          During the meetings with the reparative board (volunteer community members...we had one past offender on our board too) the offender, the victim, sometimes their families, friends, etc., have the opportunity to meet...when/if the victim chooses to participate. This gives the crime human faces. As you may know, often court proceedings involve the judge and attorneys, and the offender and victim are often left out of the loop altogether.

          All participating parties are part of the process to decide how the offender might pay restitution. What is s/he capable of? How do we integrate him/her back into the community? What educational programs might help? Community service? etc. etc. Two very common elements with most of the offenders I was involved with was GED (high school equivilency education) and community service, preferably somehow related to the crime.
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          Jun 2 2012: An example of the "Real Justice" program:
          An offender was driving under the influence (DUI), crashed into a town building and damaged town property.

          When he worked, he worked in construction, but he lost his licence to drive because of previous DUIs, often couldn't work because he had no transportation, or because he was drunk a lot of the time. It was a cycle...didn't work, drank because he was depressed, got into trouble because he was drunk...when he was drinking, got back into his car to go somewhere...more DUIs...on and on!

          Part of his agreement with the reparative board and the victim (the town) was to do community service by working on the town road crew, as well as physically repair the damage to the town building. It was close enough to his home, so he didn't need transportation, he got to repair the damage he had done, he apparently stopped drinking, made friends with the road crew, was a good worker, and when his community service was finished, they hired him!!! He stayed out of jail, was integrated back into the community, and apparently turned his life around.
          That is a win-win situation in my humble opinion:>)
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        Jun 2 2012: Just as a finishing note for background: I grew up in a single parent home in a poor neighborhood. I was the first person in my family's known history to go to university. My niece is studying law, my nephew architecture, another niece psychology.
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          Jun 2 2012: Kudos to you my friend:>) Sounds like you are a GREAT role model!!!
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        Jun 3 2012: I think edan east has some valuable contributions and i think it is worth while investigating the convergence of contradictions arising in this conversation without getting personal
        I think there are different levels. It reminds me of that song which has the following lines "any love is good love, so i took what i could get"

        One level is in the individual. That is a personal journey and it is what i hope to represent. The personal journey.

        The second level is in the current system in place and how people within that system can provide better aid to people. Which is what this thread is about.

        The third level is how society can change to improve the conditions of all it's people which is an angle Edan East is taking.

        I think every level is worthy of discussion.

        The thing is we are people who care and we are in a position to enact positive change.

        Don't worry about the one 1% who are psychopaths. Worry about the 1% who actually care.

        The United states has the highest population of prison inmates per population of anywhere in the world. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_pri_per_cap-crime-prisoners-per-capita

        This has to be an alarming statistic for a country which presents itself as the leader in the value of human liberty.



        I think all these levels need to be investigated for anyone who cares about human liberty.
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          Jun 3 2012: I agree Jason...all levels need to be addressed. It is interesting and sad that the US has the highest population of prison inmates. The "land of opportunity"...one of the most abundant countries in our world. We also have one of the highest rates of drug/alcohal dependency, one of the hightest suicide rates, and one of the highest rates of anti-depressant use and perscription drug abuse. What's wrong with this picture?

          I volunteered in the women/children's shelter, family center, advocate for kids in state custody, and the dept. of corrections. One thing I noticed, is that the same families are going through these programs generation after generation, falling through the cracks of programs/systems that are supposed to be supporting them with their challenges. We're seeing the same families, dealing with the same issues over and over again, which I believe to be one of the underlying causes for repeat offenders. If we, as a society keep repeating the same patterns, we cannot expect to have different results.

          That is what I like about the restoritive justice programs. It provides an opportunity to get to some of the underlying causes. I once had a mediation session with three felons...a mother, father and son....all serving time in the same facility....all in and out of jail for years...dependant on public assistance and the systems that failed them for years. The son was going through the reparative program as part of an early release agreement. I don't think the three of them had ever actually sat down together to talk about their situation.

          One of the first questions I asked an offender in programs I participated in is..."what were you thinking...what were you feeling when you committed the crime"?
          The answer was often....nothing....I wasn't thinking or feeling anything. That seems to be one element of the underlying cause...thinking, feeling, cause and effect, ramifications.
          They are disempowered and have lost touch with the idea that they have choices.
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          Jun 3 2012: Thank you Jason... you are getting what I am saying and have found some of the valuable statistics that I realized as I went through this educatioon process to search for an answer of why so many men were incarcerated that did not belong there.

          Colleen... you attack me and the information I post when it seems to be inconflict with what you beleive... I do not think it is sad that Jason turned his life around, I think it is sad when people look at a single individual and his unusual success and wonder why all the rest did not do as well.

          That is a big problem with our system. we blame the offender when he fails, yet it is the system that has failed him.

          this is a very complex issue and you are looking at it from a personal level. looking at individuals and their individual cases. I am looking at an over all solution that works for the magority of the population not just the enomily. That is what I ment by what I said.

          I care so deeply and was so moved by my experience of working in the prison that I went back to school and earnd a BA and an MA in an effort to, one find a solution and, two do something about it. My children are grown and so I can dedicate my life to this issue. This is my own "peace Corp" here in my own country for men that are living right now right here. I have watched the fall out of the failed programs that these men are promised are "The Answer" to their cicle of incarceration, and then when they go back to a community that is its self failing and with out hope and they return to the only thing they can and now are being watched by the system end up back incarcerated. The return to custody without a new charge is a large segment of the priosn population. This means men that did not commite another crime but were instead incarcerated for something that you and I could do and not be charged for.

          Colleen you look at this too personally and too individually... I discovered early on that I needed to step back and hold my personal experiences ..
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          Jun 3 2012: ...aside and look at this from an empiricle perspective... once I set aside anecdotal evidence I was better able to help those I cared about.

          I still remeber the individual enomilys from my time working in the prison... those were the unusual cases that stood out, but we can not all fall into the outliers... most fall into the center. Those ooutliers can make it without my help, it is the average the ones that do not get that rare expereince that needs the system to change.

          So as for why I discount the program you promote is because I know from an empiricly reviewed perspective that those help only a small segment of the population and those that they help is questionable because it is close to the same out come if left alone. I saw the research adn know the men that are the actual victims of our system when we enact or promote programs that "feel good' or look like they work" instead of programs based on evidence of what works.

          In other words Colleen all the programs that are not really working are doing harm... there is a lot of valid and reliable research that supports what woks, when and with whom...

          I understand you care and it is dificult to shift your beleif system on this, but that is the problem I face when trying to change the system and those that work in the system...

          but thank you for making me argue my point and go back in to the relm of this very disturbing reality... after I worked in that field and then studied that earning my degrees with honors and spending time living in the worst of the worst places here in the USA in order to expereince what so many of the men I worked with experience, I took time off to cry... and feel ... and think... and now I can look into what I can do and where my life will go next... I have this knowledge from both sides and need to do more... it is just such an uphill battle... you have no idea. I have advocated for change, but the people in the place that can enact change are stonewalls .... this is hard work
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          Jun 3 2012: However I remember vividly the man I was working with and he told me his stoory fo repeat incarceration and repeat programs that were going to "fix" him. He said after the first one when he was 17 and in priosn and thought this would be that change he needed so he could live up to his own beleif in his potential, failed, he begain to doubt whether he was fixible. By the time I knew him and he was doing "Life on the installment plan" he had completly given up on himself. This is the tragedy of those programs that work for the few and fail the rest... it is not the problem of the individual it is a problem with the program... the doctor does not blame you if his treatment fails 70% of the time. in the mix of treatment program and offender it is the program that is supposed to be the professional! Think about what that implys... based on informened and trained knowledge ... so when these programs fail they further victimize those already victimized... those that go to that "doctor" or program beleive they are getting help, but when change does not happen, they shift their beleif about themselves... The man I speak of said to me he is really good at crime and that is what God has shown him because nothing else works for him... this is the problem of the programs that do not opperate on evidence based practices... in some cases those programs INCREASED the return to crime in the people it was working with by 35%... so if those people would have been left alone they would have done beter that if they had gone to that program...

          Can an offender sue or hold accountable a program if it fails to deliver on its promise? It should be! Mostly the tax payers pay for this and those being treated are the tragic victims...

          So yes Colleen I do have a strong opion about this, because I have looked at it from all angles and been open to gaining information from valid and reliable sorces that fit with what I could see to be true...
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          Jun 3 2012: and I shifted my beleifs but held on to my humanity. I cared about all, not just the successes... as for the man I spoke of... he is now 32 and in prison for a further crime, he has gone through 5 different programs... he is what is typical of this system... his first program was a restoritive justice program, it was working for the forestry service, but when he returned to Watts at 20 years old with a criminal history, even though he was 16 when he got in trouble and was with a trusted adult from his community he could not get a job, especially in a community that doesnot have jobs... and as an african american male he was aced out of getting a job outside his community...

          Trust me Colleen this system is failing so many, yet we have the answer... but to have so many well intentioned in the way as well as the illintentioned becomes a huge weight that at times feels overwelming... I want programs that succeed 70% of the time or better, not fail 70% of the time and then claim it is the fault of the marginalized without npower in our society.
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          Jun 3 2012: Dear Edan East,
          Sorry you feel attacked. I am genuinely interested in what you write, agree with much of it, and do not feel that most of your concern or goals are in conflict with mine at all.

          I think it is GREAT to look at an individual, recognize and acknowledge his/her accomplishments. On that, apparently, we disagree. You are right...I am indeed looking at individual cases because it is as you say...everyone is not the same...everyone may not change. I focus on the ones who DO change, and believe they make wonderful role models for others who are often in the process of change as well.

          As I said in another comment, we had a past offender on the Reperative Board I served on. He was a GREAT asset to the process. We hear about one success story here on this thread. I have seen many successes, and that is what I focus on. Every journey starts with a single step, and it is the small successes that will add up to larger successes...in my opinion. You seem to want to say that does not work, and that's ok...I respect your perception.

          I trust that you are sincere in your quest, and so am I. We apparently have different perceptions, and that is ok.
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        Jun 3 2012: I have to say also, the real justice program may have influenced me later without realizing it.

        Secondly, without the support of people who work in the system who had the ability to give me humanity, i can not say i would have survived. It is these people who hold society up. Not the system. So keep up your good work even when you can't see the changes happening. :) Keep believing that most human beings are actually good when given a chance.

        "Be the change you wish to see in the world" -ghandi

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