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Redefine the term "rehabilitation" in context of prison

The way I understand it, prisons are established for three reasons. 1. Deterrance: fear of getting caught keeps people from committing crime. 2) segregation: Keep people who have harmed others from doing it again. 3) Rehabilitation: the idea that the criminal will change in some way so to not break the law again.

I think the idea of deterrance is good. I also believe deparating criminals is a good idea, but ONLY if they endanger others. I do not believe the current prison system is concerned with rehabilitation. The term needs to be dropped, redefined, or removed. If anything, the prison does worse than rehabilitate.


  • Feb 14 2014: Actual rehabilitation requires the following:
    1. Practical and scientific understanding of what causes THAT criminal to engage in THAT criminal act.
    2. Using #1 to figure out how to prevent THAT criminal from being in THAT situation again while doing the least necessary damage to the criminal in the process.
    3. The will and resources to do what is necessary to enact #2.

    It is that simple.

    The first problem is that dogmatics and dimwits do not want #1, ever, under any circumstances. They want their dogmas to be accepted without question. Note that "dogmatics and dimwits" is not synonymous with "liberal", "conservative", or any other specific political cult's name. It refers to anyone who uses a Cartesian approach to the question instead of a Baconian one.

    The second problem is that bureaucrats and pencil-heads do not want to do the work for #2, under any circumstances. They want cookie-cutter procedures that require no thought or responsibility on their parts.

    The third problem is that tightwads, along with dogmatics and dimwits, either want NO resources to be expended or they only want methods that agree with their little cult beliefs to be used.
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      Feb 27 2014: Looks to me very rational and reasonable analysis of the issue, as it should be. One thing important to remember when trying to rehabilitate criminals is that the rehabilitation process should not cause anyhow any risk or harm to the surrounding society and particularly to the criminals' victims. I know some cases from the news where I live when such rehabilitation trials had caused real and irreversible damage to innocent people, including a murder of a 16 years old girl in street by a criminal who was on a vacation from his prison in the name of such rehabilitation ideals.
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      Feb 26 2014: Excellent ideas Carolyn, have any prisons been designed around this approach you know of, I'll check myself in?
    • Feb 27 2014: It is the best redesign plan for the prison system I have heard. The guards would not have guns or tazers? No yelling, cursing, or hate speech? Would there be solitary confinement, and if yes, would that be punishment?
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      Feb 27 2014: That would be an interesting transition to observe Carolyn!

      It reminds me of a tiny thing I did when interacting with incarcerated offenders. I make aroma therapy "stuff" from garden herbs....usually starting with a base of mint and lavender infusions, then add other herbs as the spirit moves me:>)

      The facilities are dark, drab and smelly, so I started bringing a very small plastic spray container filled with aromas, which I sprayed on all permeable surfaces on the way to the sessions and in the room.

      At first the guys made fun of it, noticing that I had "perfumed" the room. I told them what it was, and that sometimes it just makes us feel better. They continued to joke about it and I continued to do it.

      After a couple times, they started commenting about how good it smelled, and soon they were asking me to spray their papers and notebooks so they could bring the scent back to their cells. A couple times I forgot to bring it, and they started playfully chastising me for forgetting it. It was interesting and enjoyable to observe the transition:>)

      Have you watched this TED talk?
      • Feb 27 2014: Colleen,

        We each bring an aroma with our presence and attitudes... usually starting with a base of this and that infusion, then other 'herbs' as the spirit moves us ::>) I hold that you comment can be generalized and abstracted into a wonderful process:

        We each bringing about a spray container filled with aromas, which we spray on all permeable and impermeable surfaces on the way we pass to the intersessions and in the rooms. At first other may make fun of it, noticing that we have "perfumed" the room. (some may even say we stank up the place) Tell them what it be, and how that sometimes it just makes us feel better. They may continue to joke about it in disbelief and we may continued to do it in belief.

        After a couple times, those in disbelief may start commenting about how good certain beliefs smell/feel/look, and soon each may ask to spray the papers and notebooks so each can bring the scent back to their cells. when someone forgets to bring the soothing sent , others can start to playfully chastising them to remember and bring it on. It can be interesting and enjoyable to observe the transitions taking place here and elsewhere.
  • Feb 19 2014: If the system really wants to rehabilitate people, they should be offered an immediate aptitude test and then basic training in some necessary skill that would enable them to find a job upon release. A son in law of mine learned welding while in prison. He not only makes a living now, he has become a serious and sober parent who is attempting to keep his own children from going down the drug path. Not everybody can go to college but wouldn't it be cheaper and more effective in the long run if these, the most hapless of our citizens, could emerge as effective providers for their families?
    • Feb 19 2014: Joan,

      Maybe take that initiative a step further and help them to become their own independent bosses capable of providing others the opportunities to better themselves... and others.
    • Feb 19 2014: It makes you wonder why schools still only teach subjects and not skills such as welding, plumbing, electrician, mechanics, etc... Every child should leave school with at least one of these abilities.
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        Feb 22 2014: Great point - even though children may be unable to handle some professions fully (some do demand heavy work) but schools shall INTRODUCE kids to different professions not only by describing these by words... However, this practicing might be pricy for schools - in terms of obtaining some equipment and paying new teachers.

        Non-profit organizations can make a great change practically supporting education in this direction.
      • Feb 23 2014: That kind of "education" is okay for proles but not for those who want to actually innovate or run society. Let proles get a prole "education".
        • Feb 23 2014: I know many upper classes and middle classes in these job roles. And I am not just talking about the skills mentioned in my previous post. I am talking about skills across the board from mechanics and plummering to journalsm, party politics and leadership. Surely learning journalism or forensic psychology would be far more beneficial to learning English or chemistry Respectively as a broad subject that leaves you clueless to your career options?

          We leave 13 years of education and all we are employable for is a checkout assistant or customer service role (if we decide not to go onto further education). 13 years!!!! There is something either completely flawed about the education system or it's a deliberation to keep those who don't feed into the further education system in the lowest paid jobs. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly had the Intelectual capacity to learn my university education whilst at high school. It would save time and money to educate all kids from 14 years onwards in the fields they are interested in. The average person will never need to know algebra or logarithms to be successful in their prevered field of study. I have never used half the subjects In my adult life that I was taught at school.

          I would also like to say That those who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth often have more aspirations and abilities than those who are. This may however be the problem. The rich are used to buying their position in society whereas the poorer have to work for it, but t the end of the day if the poorer kids were educated in the right field of study (manual labour or proffessional) they would certainly prevail as they also have something called life skills.
      • Feb 23 2014: Mint,

        In a way schools are more like baby-sitters that enable both parents to work...
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        Mar 10 2014: The keys is education - but also the people have to ask what does the term "criminal" really mean. "If you deface property with graffiti you can be charged with willful damage which is punishable with 5 years in prison." quoted from the Queensland, Australia, legal website. Whereas hooning (qld term for reckless driving) attracts a maximum of 6 months jail.

        A system that enforces such laws is definitely incapable to design meaningful rehabilitation programmes. Such a system is beyond reform and I can understand that many youngsters have no respect for perverse justice system of this sort.
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      Feb 19 2014: Absolutely Joan....it would be wonderful if incarcerated people could emerge as effective providers for their families. Thanks for the story about your son in law. It sounds like a very good outcome:>)

      Welcome to TED conversations Joan!
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      Feb 21 2014: Joan, Your story gives an inspirational example for Everyone - showing it is possible to learn under very difficult circumstances and even Use the troubling situation of any sort and turn it into something rewarding, mentally and practically.
  • Mar 9 2014: Without having read any responses, I'd like to express my first thoughts on the subject. Prisons seem to be an attempt at a 'one size fits all' fix. To me this seems grossly unintelligent and like Andy Johnson, I feel it does more harm than good in a lot of cases. In order to rehabilitate, you can't mix everyone together. As it stands, prison looks like somewhere you have to 'survive'... not learn a lesson or get better.

    in my mind, offenders should be locked up with similar offenders... And the staff on hand should be trained in the rehabilitation of their specific issues.
  • Feb 20 2014: The problem with all these ideas is that to change someone (which is what rehabilitation is), the person really, really, really has to want to be changed... and even then is likely to fail to change their habits.

    How do we make people want to change?

    What do you do with people that fall back into old, destructive habits?
    • Feb 20 2014: Darrell,

      I was going to state how what you said be at the core of the issue, and how it's even useful within dialogues where individuals choose to hold embrace cultivate certain ideas and how in exploring/resolving the issue of me thinks x---, you thinks y----, and moving to think about z--- (using angles radiuses rather than orthogonal 'moves' ) seemed reasonable .... until I realized an alternative, that has to do with disregarding wants and focusing on doing what ought to be done... learning and enjoying it

      You ask : How do we make people want to change?
      Simple answer : We invite them to ... enjoy ... suffer ... do what ought to be done. In other words they will learn and do what ought to be done one way or another sooner or latter willingly or not.

      You ask : What do you do with people that fall back into old, destructive habits?
      Simple answer: encapsulate them within a protective shield to keep them from harming others, stuff, themselves.

      I realize that my first paragraph is highly condensed and codified, if need be will help anyone interested in decoding it and understanding what I meant to convey by it. For the record, I think that to change, an individual just hast to change.In fact its bound to happen sooner or latter with or without the willing consent of the rider; for the ride process will take place "the rite of passage" will happen --- might as well have the proper attitude and move forward rather than backwards... of course it helps to move forward if one holds the appropriate habits, skills disposition and does what ought to be done, as it ought to be done, when it ought to be done..

      Know how to do it
      want to do it
      be able to do it
      accomplis the deed
      savor the ramifications (or suffer the consequences)

      Thank's your words and inquires made me thing of somethings and wonder about it...
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      Feb 20 2014: You are absolutely right Darrell...for someone to change, s/he really, really, really has to WANT to change, and if s/he really wants to change it might be more successful.

      We CANNOT change people, and we CANNOT make people want to change. We can offer some ideas (tools) which might facilitate change.

      Offer something different in a way that might entice them to want to learn more about it. In the cognitive self change sessions I co-facilitated, we stressed the idea of choices. People who repeat the same patterns over and over again causing challenges for themselves, have usually forgotten that they have choices regarding their behaviors. We usually started the sessions by talking about choices. As children, many of them did not have choices, so they repeated learned behaviors. As intelligent adults, they DO have choices.
      • Feb 20 2014: Colleen,

        As children, EACH of them had choices; they just didn't know all of the actual choices they had!
        As adults, each one does has choices; some which are known, and some which are unknown.

        Its true that if s/he really, really, really WANTS to change, a change might be more successful... of course its also true that some changes will happen wether one wants them or not... at most one can choose and influence a bit how the changes moves.
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          Feb 20 2014: Esteban....many of them did not have choices. When someone forces a child into being used sexually, OR get beat up, that is not a valid choice. Awareness and information sometimes helps people make choices which they themselves are in control of.
      • Feb 21 2014: Colleen,

        Even when forced into some situations each has choices regarding what to think/say/do ... Please note the empowering fundamental notion behind this statement... Also please realize that this seeks to short-circuit the blame game... I realize that many 'victims' get entangled in the blame game... rather than reporting factual objective observations, considering the options, and taking action.

        In other words recognize what happened (or what be happening) and move on to effectively deal with it.

        Again they did have choices and Awareness with information about the possibilities they had could had facilitated making different choices for themselves ... lets recognize what happened and move on to effectively deal with it.

        Yea some things are within our control and some things are outside of our control...
        Like the serenity prayer
        "serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
        Courage to change the things we can,
        And wisdom to know the difference."
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          Feb 21 2014: Esteban,
          My comment is..."As children, many of them did not have choices, so they repeated learned behaviors. As intelligent adults, they DO have choices."

          Very young children do not have the mental stability or knowledge to make informed choices. A 2 year old who is being sexually molested by male relatives, including his father has very few emotional or physical resources to be able to make different choices. It might help to familiarize yourself with some of the stories of those incarcerated, so you can speak about the situation with more knowledge.
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        Feb 21 2014: Colleen, I agree. When somebody wants to change it's a a moral obligation of the society in which he lives, provide him/her with the best tools, the best means to achieve this.
        A society does not benefit itself disregarding the person who really wants to improve, in the first place, because it's not moral disregards their need for real support, and secondly because if the person who wants to integrate can't do so by lack of means, society will again suffer the consequences of their conduct.
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          Feb 21 2014: True Sean,
          If we want to change the incidents of crime in our societies, it is helpful to be engaged with the process.

          I think many people assume that incarceration is taking care of the problem, when that is not the case! It is not in any way solving the underlying issues with individuals or society.
        • Feb 21 2014: Sean,

          As you sort of stated
          it is in the best interests of the society and the individual to procure and provide the best tools, the best means to achieve positive changes for everyone.

          regarding the person who really wants to improve, AND the one who doesn't
          each will 'benefit' from the consequences of individual conducts thus it is in one's own benefit to benefit others and help them to do the same... disregarding if some want the help or not and also disregarding if some want to help or not... it's a a moral obligation and even a selfish act to help each to be helpful . As Colleen stated "it is helpful to be engaged with the process... taking care of ... the underlying issues with individuals or society". Now days someone business ... is everyones business.
      • Feb 21 2014: Colleen,

        If you want to profess and insist that story-line rather than an alternate story-line so be it...
        as I see it you are basically stating:
        - an individual does not have the mental stability or knowledge to make informed choices
        . then an individual does have have the mental stability or knowledge

        the alternative story-line I am putting forth
        - Even when forced into some situations each has choices

        Of course that alternative story-line may just be a delusional notion because in reality individuals have no choice in the matter, some just think that they do have a choice and some just think that they do not have a choice...

        Basically individuals either have a choice or don't :
        1- having a choice, thinking one has a choice and choosing the better ways leads to the optimal state
        2- having a choice, thinking one has no choice leads to suboptimal state
        3- having no choice... well that says it ... a choice-less state

        IN the case that 'one has no choice ' I am not sure which is better --- recognizing what be or thinking one has a choice --- ultimately in this case it matters not; for in such a case one has no choice in the matters.

        Thinking one has choice, can be because one has no choice or because one does
        either way one proceeds as if one has a choice ...

        Personally I prefer to assume that everyone has a choice, though I do recognize the possibility/reality that some proceed under the influence of 'stuff that strips away any choices ... resulting in choice-less states'. Personally I prefer to assume that everyone has a choice even in the choice-less states because thinking one has a choice and choosing the better ways may leads to the optimal state.

        Just imagine the tragic humorous irony imprisoned by their beliefs, thoughts, ideas of being imprisoned... individuals could choose a better option they just choose not to choose it, while thinking that's better ...

        That's one of the reasons I state: chose what ought to be chosen.
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          Feb 21 2014: Esteban,
          My statement is clear...here AGAIN is my comment....
          "As children, many of them did not have choices, so they repeated learned behaviors. As intelligent adults, they DO have choices."

          "Very young children do not have the mental stability or knowledge to make informed choices. A 2 year old who is being sexually molested by male relatives, including his father has very few emotional or physical resources to be able to make different choices. It might help to familiarize yourself with some of the stories of those incarcerated, so you can speak about the situation with more knowledge."

      • Feb 21 2014: Colleen,

        You apparently taken the statement "Just imagine the tragic humorous irony imprisoned by their beliefs, thoughts, ideas of being imprisoned... individuals could choose a better option they just choose not to choose it, while thinking that's better ... " and found a particular subjective interpretation YOU deem worthy of cultivating and which evidently you projected for everyone who reads this to contemplate, think, experience... I noted how you chosen to create something and project it into words, capitalize words... I find what you have chosen to do and post to be an atrocious association that needs to be recognized for what it be.

        Yes your statement is clear and it advocates the story-line : "many of them did not have choices, so they repeated learned behaviors"... It is clear to me that you do not see how you are repeating your learned behaviors that disempower the fact individuals do have a choice. I realize that it may be the case that you do see how you are repeating your learned behavior and consciously choosing to repeat such way. It is just that I choose to prefer to think that you don't see it and thus act the way you do; for considering that you do see it and still choose to act the way you do to advocate that disempowering story-line rather than choosing to cultivate an empowering story-line seems to me quite atrocious...

        Originally I was going to agree with the notion that "HERE IS NOTHING HUMOROUS ABOUT THEIR STORIES" regardless of the fact it completely shifted the focus to a quite a different context... I was going to agree that indeed there isn't anything humorous about their stories... Then I realized that somewhere within their histories there be humorous things ... So is it a fact that there is nothing humorous to the situation or is it just that some individuals have chosen to see only certain stuff in a certain way?

        AGAIN I prefer to assume that everyone has a choice, you seem to prefer something else.

        Choice or no choice?
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          Feb 22 2014: Choice or no choice Esteban?

          I repeat...
          "As children, many of them did not have choices, so they repeated learned behaviors. As intelligent adults, they DO have choices."

          "Very young children do not have the mental stability or knowledge to make informed choices. A 2 year old who is being sexually molested by male relatives, including his father has very few emotional or physical resources to be able to make different choices. It might help to familiarize yourself with some of the stories of those incarcerated, so you can speak about the situation with more knowledge."

          Your foolish, inconsistent, contradictory comments are tiring Esteban!
      • Feb 22 2014: Colleen,

        the story-line I putting forth:
        - Even when forced into some situations each has choices
        At each moment each has choices.

        The words each 'employs' reveal what each thinks and that reflects back on what it is each chooses to cultivate... some observe their thoughts /feelings /actions reflect on where these lead consider the alternatives and decide the direction to follow.... some just keep repeating what they have learned...

        Thanks for your contributions to this conversation.
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          Feb 22 2014: I am very aware of your "story-line" Esteban.

          Little children often do not have choices, and there are many wounded children in our world, who grow up and continue the cycle of wounding others. Many of those who are incarcerated are wounded, and that is why Robin Casarjian wrote the book...."Houses of Healing"..."A Prisoner's Guide to Inner Power And Freedom". Wounded people generally do not function as well in our world.

          As adults, their is an opportunity to evaluate thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions to determine what choices they will make, which is what the Cognitive SELF Change program sessions are about.....providing the tools (ideas) that might help break the cycle.
      • Feb 22 2014: Colleen,

        I find the ideas in your first few line almost overwhelming and would prefer that you focused on actually providing positive ideas.

        Do you realize what it is you are feeding and cultivating with the notions:
        - 'they' do not have choices -
        - 'they' continue the cycle of wounding others-
        - incarcerate wound do not function as well?

        Why is it that you insists on invoking 'the negativity' rather than 'the cycle of healing others'?

        It seems to me that you want to keep the cycles you mention rather than embrace better ones. Now please focus on positive contributions. Lets make a definitive once and for all transformation that moves each and everyone towards a much better state where individuals appreciate and value positive ideas as they ought to do.

        Let's realize what it is we are feeding and cultivating with the notions/thought/feelings/actions/words/intentions we invoke :
        - 'Everyone' has choices - let each choose the better alternatives and help others do the same
        - Each can initiate, establish and maintain beneficial habilitating cycles of healing and enrichment
        - Lets confine and encapsulate what ought to be confined and encapsulated while promoting and liberating what ought to be promoted and liberated to function as well as possible and even better.

        That is insists on invoking 'the positivity' and bring about 'the cycles of healing'.

        In life there is always an opportunity to evaluate thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions to determine what choices will make better choices, as we improve ourselves, and our surroundings including others there...providing the tools (ideas) that bring about help and ensuring adequate implementation.

        Keep in mind the imagery of what it is actually desirable-sustainable-congruent with the ways of life.

        Use this opportunity now to take appropriate actions to improve...
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          Feb 22 2014: I prefer that you focus on the topic question Esteban!

          "Redefine the term "rehabilitation" in context of prison"
      • Feb 22 2014: Colleen,

        I am focusing on the topic question while I am also addressing you:
        - insists on invoking 'the positivity' and bring about 'the cycles of healing'.
        - Lets confine and encapsulate what ought to be confined and encapsulated while promoting and liberating what ought to be promoted and liberated to function as well as possible and even better.
        - Each can initiate, establish and maintain beneficial habilitating cycles of healing and enrichment
        - let each choose the better alternatives and help others do the same

        In life there is always an opportunity to evaluate thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions to determine what choices will make better choices, as we improve ourselves, and our surroundings including others there...providing the tools (ideas) that bring about help and ensuring adequate implementation.

        Keep in mind the imagery of what it is actually desirable-sustainable-congruent with the ways of life.

        Use this opportunity now to take appropriate actions to improve...
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          Feb 22 2014: Esteban,
          You are focusing on preaching to me, rather than addressing the topic question.

          I am in favor of learning, growing and evolving in every single moment of the life experience, and I do it with good, beneficial energy for myself and those I interact with. That being said, there is always room for improvement in all of us.

          I also encourage and support choice in people who are ready, willing and able to make choices for themselves. Little children often do not have the ability or opportunity to make choices for themselves.

          If you insist that children can make choices, watch this TED video, and tell me if the children featured had a choice.

          Many of those incarcerated, were abused and sexually assaulted as children...they did not have choices, and those are some of the underlying challenges they are dealing with.
      • Feb 22 2014: Colleen

        the underlying challenges we are dealing with here and everywhere have to do with what individuals choose to cultivate and do (and not do)... and what it takes to get changes to take place for/in/with the individuals, the circumstances, the groups, the institutions, the systems and a bunch of other locations. We each chosen to partake in this conversation seeking to address certain points and hopefully help figure out better ways which will spillover into actual specific actions through society that individuals take.

        I have chosen to propose and expose certain story-lines put here in a way that I consider individuals will find helpful and which will 'force' them to move and embrace changes in a better way.

        I see you tint and paint what you perceive I am doing... with your assessment that I am focusing on preaching.
        If we wanted we could delve deeper into the matter to see if in fact your assessment of what I be focusing accurately corresponds with your assessment ... or if the truth of be something else. Personally I have more interest in exploring more relevant matters and focusing on other topics related to this conversation...

        BTW I now that I find that resorting to such preachiness comment as a justification to dismiss out of hand without much introspection the notions expressed... I also observe how the claim "I also encourage and support choice in people..." is contradicted by the claim "they did not have choices".

        Little children do have the ability and opportunity to make choices for themselves... investigate the research... I recently saw an article about it... which said that even six months old choose the nice bunnies - I think i saw it on cnn and had the title : Do babies know right from wrong?

        Yes the children featured had choices, some choices where better than others... of course it would be much better if everyone had much better choices and even just access to only good choices...
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          Feb 22 2014: You cannot "force" individuals to change Esteban, and I do not agree with even trying that method. I understand from our very first conversation however, that is what you would like to do.

          Children often do not have choices Esteban. Yes, of course a six month old will choose a "nice bunny", as you say. Will that child choose to be raped? Can that little child do anything about it if someone chooses to rape him/her? No.

          If you actually watched that video and still believe that little children have choices, there is something missing in the information you choose to accept.
      • Feb 22 2014: Colleen

        I said 'force' within apostrophes for a reason... I realize that for individual true change to happen the individuals need to choose it ... what I would like to do is find a method where each and everyone actually chooses to embrace the better method regardless of the fact that they may want a less desirable one... in other words how do we redefine the rehabilitation process to ensure everyone there gets out of there and even serves to prevent others from getting into there...

        You insist with the story-line that 'Children often do not have choices' Why is that?
        I am sure you can find examples to justify your argument that they don't
        Can you find examples to justify the argument that they do?

        I can see how "there is something missing in the information you choose to accept" in fact I think you made that statement to me as a reflection of something you need to see and consider yourself... please followthrough and make the appropriate actions...
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          Feb 23 2014: Why do I say that children often do not have choices Esteban? Because it is true.

          Why do you want me to argue that children have choices when they often DO NOT have choices? That is ridiculous!

          Stop preaching and stick to the topic of this conversation Esteban.
      • Feb 23 2014: Colleen,

        Based on factual observations its clear to me that each and everyone has choices and possibilities regardless of the fact some (like you) claim otherwise. IF what you said was true, was true THEN you would be right in saying it was true.

        How do you reconcile the claim:
        "I also encourage and support choice in people..." given you claim "they did not have choices"... Maybe it is that you do not practice recognizing children as people...

        I also wonder how you reconcile the statement:
        "I am in favor of learning, growing and evolving in every single moment of the life experience, and I do it with good, beneficial energy for myself and those I interact with". with "That is ridiculous! Stop preaching ".

        The reason I ask is that actually a bit of an exploration related to this conversational topic. Imagine if it's so difficult for us to reach shared consensus on such a matter as "each and everyone has choices and possibilities"... even you have expressed the claim "I also encourage and support choice in people who are ready, willing and able to make choices for themselves." then how much more difficult it will be to attain such shared consensus with others... I suppose that given the factual observations... either you are not ready, are unwilling, are unable to make choices for yourself or a combination of those happens...

        Please note that I may choose to stop responding to your comments because I reached a point that I consider you will maintain unchanged your behavior.
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          Feb 23 2014: Esteban,
          Based on factual observations while volunteering in a family center, shelter for women and children, and the dept. of corrections for several years, and simply observing and exploring the life processes, with many people, it is clear that there are many possibilities for change with people who have the cognitive abilities to evaluate the situation and make informed choices.

          I am NOT "claiming otherwise" and it does you no good to continue to twist my words. You only discredit yourself.

          I have said over and over again, that little children often DO NOT have the cognitive ability and/or the freedom to make informed choices for themselves. That fact is backed up with psychological research Esteban, and if you really care about it, you can do your own exploration.

          Again.....often little children do not have the cognitive abilities or the freedom to make informed choices for themselves. Adults DO often have cognitive abilities and freedom to make informed choices for themselves. There is nothing to "reconcile" with those statements, and if you do not understand the statements, it is ok.....there is no useful purpose in twisting my words to try to justify your argument.

          While many of those incarcerated were abused and sexually assaulted as children, when they did not have choices, they DO have choices regarding their behavior as adults, and the "cognitive SELF change" sessions I co-facilitated, helped those who did not have choices as children, to learn that as adults, with exploration of "self", they DO have choices.

          You continue to twist my words and use statements out of context, Stay on topic Esteban. This conversation is NOT about analyzing me. The topic question is..."Redefine the term "rehabilitation" in context of prison". Please note....I would be grateful if you stopped harassing me with your off topic twisted comments.....that would be a gift to me...thank you.
      • Feb 23 2014: Colleen,

        Indeed " it is clear that there are many possibilities for change"
        - with people who have the cognitive abilities to evaluate the situation and make informed choices
        - with people who lack the cognitive abilities to evaluate the situation and make informed choices
        - with people who still have to acquire abilities to better handle the situation and make better choices
        - even with people who have it all.

        Based on factual observations of what you just posted... and a couple of notions...
        it does you, me and others no good to continue to discredit yourself (and others) by saying one thing and then the opposite. Yes you insist and continue to proclaim that in essence little children often DO NOT have the freedom to make choices for themselves when in fact each and everyone has such freedom (to some extent)... I put them words in parenthesis for you, to ease the acceptance of that last statement.

        I have done my own exploration and found that psychological research and other research results do validate the fact that individuals have choices. I realize that those under the influence of stuff can be impaired from following certain choices unless the impairment is resolved and they are under the influence of different stuff. Which in a way redefines the terms and abilities each holds, employs, uses, supports, practices.

        There is something to "reconcile" with those statements (you just don't see it; or see it and choose not to see it), if you actually understood the statements, and ramifications you would act differently. There is a useful purpose in twisting, dancing and interacting between us and others... I hope you come to see it...

        I too would be grateful if you stopped harassing me with your discrediting comments... I would appreciate if each and everyone would seek to appreciate and value the gifts each brings into the conversation... even if / when they don't understand it...
  • Feb 20 2014: I have been locked up and learning is a huge part of being locked up. I learned more about being a criminal during my time i spent there. i met new people inside that after my release furthered, and raised the bar (so to say) of my wrong doing's. it's safe to say that i received a degree for criminal knowledge while my time locked down. I also have associates that are older men now that have never worked a 9 to 5 job a day in there life. they also have started with mediocre crimes in there past, and after a few different incarcerations have gained a wealth of knowledge of many different activities. what i'm trying to say is if you don't get "scared straight" you usually end up just going to school for criminal knowledge. Now with that being said I have decided throughout this past year (starting a new family) to put away my old ways and turn over a new leaf. it is the right thing for me to do so i decided to do the right thing. However as far as REHABILITATION go's THAT'S A JOKE. it is purely a cash in hand business for the men and women who run it. the inmates are lowered to animal instinct's and treated like such. so why should they not hold a grudge at the system during and after there time spent there.
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      Feb 24 2014: These is a great personal story Michael, thank you for sharing these observations. It is not difficult to read between the lines here; you are someone that has made a great effort to reclaim your life and that is not only noteworthy, it warrants our support.
      I'm curious though, you have not included much about how you managed to accomplish all that you have. Perhaps I can encourage you to write a little more about this part.

      How did you find TED and this community?
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      Feb 24 2014: Kudos to you Michael for putting away your old ways and turning over a new leaf! You can tell us more about the system than anyone....welcome to TED conversations!
  • Feb 14 2014: Rehabilitation has definately been removed from our Justice system. The main culprit is the Private Prison System where convicts are not rehabilitated. Instead they are trained to be repeat customers. Isnt' Capitalism wonderful? Other causes are the Rich, who can buy Justice (Affluenza, anyone?); the War on Drugs which makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding people; and the emerging Police State.

    Any Rehabilitation program is a Soft Science. That means lots of money, poor results and recitivism. Will we pay for it? Will we accept the failures?

    A Line must be drawn somewhere, beyond which you are 'not redeemable.' After that line a criminals only use to society is as a bad example. All rights should be revoked. Execution should be swift, public and gruesome. That would make a better deterrant than 'Life in Prison' aka '20+ years on Death Row at a cost of $75k/year then a quiet and dignified painless death.' All money saved should be used to pay for education thru college for the victims family. That might break the cycle a bit.

    The problem is that the Draconan measures needed will never be taken. Some of the solutions would be worse that what we have. For example, if Scientists found a 'crime gene' or developed a drug which erased bad thought processes the use would destroy more of society than it saved. Besides, such a 'crime gene' is actually important for the human race - all forms of deviant behavior have a purpose when looked at from the standpoint of Humanity's growth. (But that's a WHOLE 'nuther subject entirely.)

    Rehabilitation does need to be the goal. But we have choosen Retribution and Profits instead. Whatever happend to 'Paying your debt to Society?'
    • Feb 15 2014: Crime gene? Not exactly, but 80% of prisoners have education issues. 60% have reading disabilities and the majority of them are know to be dyslexic. One person in five in the population is dyslexic to some degree. With rare exception, public education is devoid of the programs capable of teaching dyslexics. Bring these programs to prisons and public education and the possiblility exists to reduce the prison population by half. For the other half, some could be trained in new skills, some cured of mental disease and for some a painless death might be deemed less cruel.
    • Feb 18 2014: I completely disagree. Rehabilitation has not been removed because you cannot remove something that never existed. There has been next to no actual rehabilitation in our penal system.
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    Feb 24 2014: We might also bring into the discussion the research to two leading neuroscientists, David Eagleman and Michael S. Gazzaniga


    "When a criminal stands in front of the judge’s bench today, the legal system wants to know whether he is blameworthy. Was it his fault, or his biology’s fault?

    I submit that this is the wrong question to be asking. The choices we make are inseparably yoked to our neural circuitry, and therefore we have no meaningful way to tease the two apart. The more we learn, the more the seemingly simple concept of blameworthiness becomes complicated, and the more the foundations of our legal system are strained."


    "Today courts rarely admit brain scans as evidence at trial for both legalistic and scientific reasons. As neuroscience matures, however, judges may increasingly see such scans as relevant to arguments about a defendant’s mental state or a witness’s credibility.
    The greatest influence of brain science on the law may eventually come from deeper understanding of the neurological causes of antisocial, illegal behaviors. Future discoveries could lay the foundation for new types of criminal defenses, for example."
    • Feb 24 2014: Theodore,

      I have the idea that there exists an intricate body-thought-spirit interrelationship... which complicates matters a bit more... especially when individuals interact within and across circumstances and systems... nature, nurture, individual choices and a couple of other factor all play their parts.

      Fortunately the point here centers on what to do with the situation ... how to redefine the term related to rehabilitation ... or if need be related to habilitation ... from a theoretical stand point I agree lets do away with the death penalty ... in other words ensure everyone lives and learns to live appropriately... How do we do that with someone bent on their and others death?
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        Feb 24 2014: For starters, the so called "war on drugs" put people in jail ruining their chances of education jobs and housing.
        Let's change that. Prison make these peoples lives unredeemable.

        Secondly, we have the right to a defense, as long as you have the money for a lawyer and your not a person of color.
        "William Stuntz was the popular and well-respected Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard University. He finished his manuscript of The Collapse of American Criminal Justice shortly before his untimely death earlier this year. The book is eminently readable and merits careful attention because it accurately describes the twin problems that pervade American criminal justice today—its overall severity and its disparate treatment of African-Americans."
        • Feb 24 2014: Theodore,

          I think that prison is just a symptom of a much deeper disease... related to the 'addicts' ways... and the present system to treat individuals 'possessed' and under the influence of all kinds of stuff, physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, circumstantial , systemic etc... of natural and unnatural origin. Similarly the so called "war on drugs", it is also a symptom of a much deeper disease...

          How do we rescue and restore someone bent on their and others death? what to do to remediate the situation ... how do we redefine the term related to rehabilitation ... or if need be related to habilitation ... from a theoretical stand point I agree lets do away with the prisons ... while ensuring everyone lives and learns to live appropriately... Maybe some level of segregation, 'sequestering' and encapsulation be required... to contain the disease and to protect the healthy public... of course ideally with the processes to advance from one level to the next ... It seems to me that this conversation here centers on precisely figuring out these processes and methods...

          Drugs and addictions can make peoples lives unredeemable just as make peoples lives bearable... Good addictions aka habits can ensure wellbeing... BTW I just noticed how you planted the story line:
          - ruined your chances of education jobs and housing
          In actuality that story line is a seductive lie (which was likely unintentional stated) here is a much better true alternative story-line
          - the so called "war on drugs" can put people in jail and complicate individuals lives including their access or opportunities to procurer education jobs and housing. Of course rather than get those things individuals can create them or the conditions to attain them things for themselves. Which is what rehab is about...
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          Feb 24 2014: You may have seen this article in today's NYTimes on this subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/opinion/keller-crime-and-punishment-and-obama.html?hp&rref=opinion
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          Feb 24 2014: Good article Fritzie, which also mentions how crime impacts families, our societies, and speaks of a "broken" system.

          I believe there are several broken systems that are all intertwined and adversely impact families and society. As a volunteer in a shelter, family center, and with the dept. of corrections, as well as a case reviewer for awhile with SRS (state agency which oversees children in state custody), we saw the same families going through all of these systems generation after generation. There are a lot of people falling through the cracks of systems that are supposed to be helping them.

          I observed some folks going through the motions with jobs in these systems, and not really paying attention to the people, and the reality of their lives.
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        Feb 24 2014: America’s justice system suffers from a mismatch of individual rights and criminal justice machinery, between legal ideals and political institutions. When politicians both define crimes and prosecute criminal cases, one might reasonably fear that those two sets of elected officials—state legislators and local district attorneys—will work together to achieve their common political goals. Legislators will define crimes too broadly and sentences too severely in order to make it easy for prosecutors to extract guilty pleas, which in turn permits prosecutors to punish criminal defendants on the cheap, and thereby spares legislators the need to spend more tax dollars on criminal law enforcement."
        William Sturz

        New order to rehabilitate the prisons we must rehabilitate the systems that fills them.
        • Feb 24 2014: Theodore

          The other day, I asked someone what it would take to change what individuals did and change the system
          They said to do that we must change the system that incentives them to act in such a way
          AND they said that the system isn't going go change so individuals aren't going to change.

          their response was a bit of a chicken and an egg conundrum... maybe we need to talk to the rooster

          I believe that seeking to change 'them' will be futile, we need to present a better alternative that catalyzes and brings them to change.
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        Feb 24 2014: It is frustrating to me that my resources are ignored by you.
        Did you listen, read, consider them?

        Here is a simple answer: We must change ourselves first. We are the ones that allow these things, they are done in our name.
        • Feb 24 2014: Theodore,

          Yes I listened, read and considered some of your resources. Why is it that you choose to feel frustrated rather than choose a different 'thing'? Why is it that you choose what you did choose rather than some other alternative? For example I think you could have been curious about the matter at hand...

          Why did you choose to consider that I ignored the resources rather than chose to focus attention on something I find a bit more pertinent to this conversation?

          Yes we must change ourselves first if we ought to change ...

          Allowing you to jump of the cliff does not make me responsible for you jumping off the cliff
          even when you do it in my name ... it does not make me responsible for what you choose to do
          Please reconsider carefully what it is you want to do and what you choose to do.

          The ones that do these things ... need to reconsider what it is they do...

          Now I again have that urge to blurt a notion : With this I fulfill all of my debts as previously agreed.
          THIS IS A WAKE UP CALL :-)

          Of course now we can choose to move on and focus on what to do next...
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          Feb 24 2014: Esteban,
          This discussion may be a wake up call for you regarding this topic, and some of us have been addressing these issues for years. It might be beneficial for you to listen to information that is already well known.
        • Feb 24 2014: Theodore, & Colleen...

          Considering the notion that free will is a very limited proposition will make for this dialogue to be very limited in scope. Yes I hold and presented a 'free will' stance and way of thinking. Far from arguing from opinion, I am presenting statements for your (and others) consideration. If you care to dialogue, converse and explore them statements then great let's do that. If you want me to argue and convince you of the veracity of the statements then I will pass... been there done that too many times... besides having fulfilled all of my debts as previously agreed... it's now a matter of our individual choices.

          Considering the notion that free will is a very broad proposition will make for this dialogue to be very broad in scope. Let me know through this medium if you would like to delve into and jointly explore certain matters.

          Colleen from what I been observing here you may be addressing these issues for eons to come until a redefinitioal singularity point just happens... and the present wake up call is recognized and accepted... take all the time you need... if it was me I would heed and choose to embrace the present wake up call ... right now. Let me know through this medium if you would like to delve into and jointly explore some matters.

          Would like to just add a thanks ... so thanks.
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        Feb 24 2014: Where are your references? Are you arguing from opinion?
        You are presenting a "free will" argument here. Free will is a very limited proposition.
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  • Feb 21 2014: Prisons can create violent criminals, because some prisons are really rough inside and inmates have to defend themselves. If non-violent crimes are committed people should be ordered to pay stiff penalties or commnity service if they cannot afford to pay, there is plenty trash to be picked up off of highways, streets swept, parks cleaned, our prisons would not be so filled and tax payers would not have to pay $40,000.00 a year to house one inmate. Mandatory education in the prison system would be the way to go not just counseling..Educating. Make productive individuals not lifetme criminals. If the aim is to truly to rehabilitate run like a Military camp.
  • Feb 20 2014: I suppose we also have to remember that not all criminals are from socially deprived backgrounds. In fact there is an equal spread of criminality across all social classes if we exclude Petit crimes and robberies (which may be directly related to social class inequalities).
    The crimes which people really do require rehabilitation for are those which are violent and tormenting in nature. Tax dodgers and supermarket theifs don't bother me too much and should not even be locked up in the first place. If we start using the prison only for those that really need to be there/need to be rehabilitated then better rehabilitation programme can be concentrated on.
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      Feb 20 2014: Good point Mint Thinny!

      That is why I like the programs that focus on diversion, repair, education and community involvement. That is why I also like the idea of a self-sustaining village as a correctional facility.

      Putting people who are involved in misdemeanors, in with felons, simply gives the first time offenders more information about crime, and the atmosphere of a prison is not a good place to try to change the habits and behaviors that got them there!
    • Feb 20 2014: Mint,

      It seems to me that two things need to happen for a better redefinition of the term "rehabilitation" in context of prison.
      1- A shift from punishing them for what they have done to getting them to learn what they ought had done
      2- An institutionalization of a programs that focus on effectively 'directing', repairing, remediating and educating participants for enriching beneficial community involvements.

      Lets imagine a 'stratification complex' which be like a self-sustaining village of volunteers (be it by their choice or by the choice of others) where individuals can check-in and stay-in till they can manage to be self-sustaining 'productive' members of society.

      I would like to see a place that will take those needing habilitation and help them along the path of becoming better individuals that is optative for anyone while being a required for some. I think many just don't know better ways to follow to better themselves... Kind of like what someone mentioned regarding good behaving children who seek attention and their counterparts who resort to 'misbehaving'... In their mind I am sure it's something along the lines of whatever works thats what I will employ. Maybe there is a way of bootstrapping and get some traction for betterment which includes an open door to anyone who desires to partake in the initiative.

      I read that some 'criminals' commit a crime to go back to the way they know ... it would be nice if they could just go there to get genuine help... Ideally paying their-way through their participation.
  • Feb 19 2014: Prisons don't seem to invest the right type of time or effort into rehabilitating criminals. I am not sure if the government is bothered about rehabilitation programmes as many politicians and members of the public are incredibly sceptical and judgemental of a persons ability to change. The government also knows that to employ more control elements into society such as CCTV, I'd cards etc.. They need a continuose stream of criminals. Criminals help to establish the governments control agendas, so rehabilating would be counter productive to this as would helping disadvantaged groups and communities to the extent of lowering crime. In fact it has been known and is evident that the CIA, fbi mi5, etc..deliberately create criminals/encourage criminal behaviour for their own agendas. I personally would like prisons to be more about rehabilitation than punishment, as it is a more humane aproach to criminality especially since certain crimes have strong links to the circumstances of the individual that commited the crime. However this opinion will not be shared by many as people are predominantly revengful.
    Scotland upon independence aims to lessen the divide between rich and poor, something the UK government has been ineffective in doing. Increasing social equality will likely decrease certain crimes. So perhaps it's not just about rehabilitation, but equally about prevention through iradicating inequalities in society.
    Although we should not make too many excuses for crimals (as inheretently good people would not commit crimes no matter their circumstances) and we should sympathise with victims, we do need to recognise some of the contributing factors that give rise to crime. If we can eradicate these factors then crime will inevitably decrease.
    As such rehabilitating is not enough, as the contributing factors that drove that person to crime may still exist upon their release. These factors need to be removed from society, but few governments ever take responsibility
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      Feb 19 2014: Hi Mint Thinny:>)
      There actually are requirements regarding rehab programs, and it doesn't seem like they are always implemented within the correctional facilities. I also would like to see more attempts at teaching offenders skills and practices that might give them more incentive to stay away from crime. I would like to see correctional facilities be self-sustaining villages where offenders could learn skills and also learn how to live in harmony with others. As you insightfully point out, there are many contributing factors with this challenge.
      • Feb 19 2014: Many criminals are put on rehabilitation programmes, but I don't think these programmes make much difference because it is more about process/ticking the boxes than engaging the criminal in order for change to be achieved.

        I love the idea of correctional facilities being self sustaining villages. It really does make sense, but try convincing those that just want criminals to be punished and left to rot. They will tell us we have too much compassion for those that do not deserve it, but I think that is the way to be. Love breeds love and hate breeds hate.

        I agree with you that criminals need to be taught new skills in order to increase their self worth and opportunities. It makes you wonder why schools teach subjects rather than skill sets. It would most certainly benefit a child to leave education with skills in practical life assignments than to leave with knowledge in subjects that they are not interested in and that they will never use.
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          Feb 19 2014: I agree Mint Thinny....which is why I said the programs are not implemented....the offenders are often not really engaged in the process. I observed, in facilities, that there is sometimes a door with a sign saying "counseling services"...."AA meetings"...etc., when those programs were not actually available.

          To encourage learning skills and education may be demonstrating compassion for the offenders AND it also demonstrates compassion for the community. If offenders do not have an education and/or skills to help sustain them on the outside, they are probably going to repeat the same old patterns. By supporting them in changing a lifestyle, we are actually helping ourselves as members of the communities that are very impacted by crime.

          I agree...love breeds love and hate breeds hate....good point. I also believe that we are all interconnected, so with our effort to support each other on our life journey, we contribute to the whole.

          I also agree with you....it is beneficial to have skills to face real life situations. Without those skills, people sometimes repeat the same destructive patterns over and over again.
    • Feb 20 2014: Amaazing perspective. Prison as a socioeconomic cannabailistic system.
  • Feb 18 2014: We know that one of the basic human desires is the ability to change your environment, to be appreciated, recognized and respected. To be noticed and interacted with!

    A 5 year-old may stack blocks and then say "look at what I did mommy"! The 2 year-old, lacking the skill to stack the blocks will be content with their ability to knock over the stack of blocks made by someone else, then look to see if the parent noticed what they were able to do.

    Disaffect: "to alienate the affection or loyalty of; also : to fill with discontent and unrest "

    How much of our crime problem is the result of large disaffected groups of people? People feel trapped by circumstance, unable to make positive change, unable to receive positive feedback for their positive accomplishments, settle for having a negative change, getting the notice of other criminals and thugs.

    My daughter begins to ignore her 18 m/o daughter. The baby drops the TV remote into the dog's water dish. Mom jumps up and runs to try to save the remote. While mom is distracted drying the remote, the cell phone is next to go into the water dish.

    My daughter asks "Why is she being such a brat?"

    I say "She is trying to get your attention by attacking the things that take your attention from her, the TV Remote and your cell phone."

    "Well, I wish she would quit!"

    "Then turn off the TV, put down the phone and give her the undivided attention that she desires!"

    Kids growing up in the inner-city, surrounded by drugs, gangs and crime; sent to ineffective schools where teachers are underpaid, overworked and unappreciated, where the students that do well are beat down; disadvantaged by their skin-color, their ethnic sounding name and the household income of their single parent( or parents in rare cases), what opportunity do they have to cause positive change? What attention and appreciation would they receive? If they can not cause positive change and receive recognition for it, how would they not become disaffected?
    • Feb 19 2014: From reading what you posted I think the kids are looking for attention and validation that they can get from the extrinsic rather than the intrinsic domains. A while ago who one was stemmed from their values and work etiquette not status symbols, presently there seems to be a shift towards the material stuff individuals have. There was a time where an individuals word of honor and name sufficed to seal a deal... nowadays even with contracts and there subtleties in language used deals are dishonored ...

      Its easier to get negative attention than positive one... heck even generating positive attention can lead to attract the negative stuff... because it's easier to knock someone down than to raise to the top... its easier to take the stuff than pay for it... Everyone has an opportunity to cause positive change ... thing is bad apples tend to grab all the attention and immediate actions... while the patient generous ones may go without... as you said to your daughter ... if you pay the attention she needs she might learn there are better ways to behave and grab your attention ...

      The cool hip way to be should involve doing well and helping others do well... the insecure are the most violent ones to deal with
      • Feb 19 2014: That last statement resonated with me. I think insecurity may lead to selfish behaviors, since the unconscious frames everything within a narrative that seeks to validate. If, for whatever reason, we truly believe we are not of sufficient standard, we will do things to defy that narrative. This internal struggle maniifests as selfishness. With it comes cries for validation from others. We know the ways. Learn to fight. Work out. Look good. Get a degree. Even the appearance of selflessness may appeal to. One afflicted with this internal struggle: they will become involved in philantropy just to seek validity. How much more this is amplified in prison! A hell within a hell, living to validate. Peace and happiness are a rarity. Many would choose death, but the fear that the afterlife may be worse entraps them. A prison within a prison within a prison, in hell. For absurd lengths of time.
        • Feb 19 2014: Andy,

          cries for validation from others will rarely satisfy or provide the self-validation some individuals seek... Looking for self-esteem through what others esteem of self isn't going to be self-esteem :-) though what others esteem may facilitate the creation of one's self-esteem.

          At one time I thought/felt inadequate, regardless of the fact of being quite adequate. What helped me let go of that inadequacy thought/feeling involved focusing on what someone else thought/felt, which enabled me to think/feel adequate. Note that the fact of being quite adequate didn't really play much into the thought/feelings.

          BTW Peace and happiness are a thought away... of course only the appropriate thought will do. I have to wonder what makes some believe that they will resolve the matter if they just get the opportunity as they let go the present opportunity. One afflicted with this internal struggle will be afflicted by this internal struggle so long as they continue to be afflicted with the internal struggle. Maybe they need to redefine the term, what it means, and what they do about the matter.

          when one allow the current chance to be one of many possibilities and focuses on bringing about the better possibilities everything can change:

          How much more this is amplified in the present live moment! A dream within a dream, living to dream and bring about dreams. Peace and happiness are a rarity that each and everyone can enjoy. Many would choose to live the dream, and the peace that exists before-life during-life and after-life if they could just envision it. A thought entraps them while the thinker think it. A prison within a prison within a prison, a dream within a dream within a dream, a home within a home within a home. For ludicrous lengths of time experienced in an instant that endures so long as the thinker thinks it. Peace and happiness are a thought away; of course only the appropriate thought will do, and only, so long as it be thought; which can be forever.
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    Feb 18 2014: 1971, Attica New York, prison riot clamed 43 lives and was directly attributed to denial of basic and constitutional rights, an enclosed space containing twice the population it was designed for with racial prejudice at its core.

    Attica, where the famous "how you gonna RE-habilitate us, when we ain't never been habilitated in the first place?: was declared.

    Most folks scorn anyone possessing a criminal conviction and are morally outraged by the very existence of some. But those who have worked in the non-profit communities that attempt to offer some modicum of support to the disadvantaged amongst us will attests to, for many of these unfortunates their whole existence has been defined as either predator or prey. Either you are the one picked on or you are the one doing the picking. Laws and personal space and what is 'right' and 'appropriate' are transient.

    Prisons are all about prejudices and discrimination. A prejudice against violence or theft would seem to be universally acceptable and targeting such perpetrators for public sanctions has great popularity within the family and it follows to the community as well. But in both the family and the community there are always going to be those who abuse their authority and those who exploit opportunities for their own gain.

    so the emotionally, or physically, or psychologically abusive parent or sibling - whether consciously or not - inculcates the child/sibling with the understanding that what others would deem to be disrespectful, inappropriate, abusive or even unlawful is "normal". And it becomes increasingly more normal the longer the child/sibling is subjected to that person's influence.

    so when they go out into the world on their own, the die may well be cast and who ever bothers to see how the "criminal" was habilitated in the first place?
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      Feb 24 2014: This is the point supported by David Dow in his TEDTalk.
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        Feb 26 2014: sorry to be so long in responding.

        Unfortunately here we are 40 years after Attica and still most folks still have their heads firmly up their butts when it comes to prisons, crime and habilitation itself.
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          Feb 26 2014: If there is a positive to be found it is that we may be seeing a new age in politics, a return to states rights after a prolonged period of federal actions. The federal government have stalled on enacting any further changes, but some states are making progress.
          Corrections is one of the places where individual states can change. Lets call for an reform of drug laws, end the death penalty and end solitary confinement, for starters.

          * It costs $40,000 to house a prisoner, but we only spend on average, $8,000 to educate a child.
  • Feb 18 2014: I think the number one, biggest problem is that we treat drug addiction as a crime rather than as a mental disease.

    You cannot "fix" a drug addict by locking them up for a few days/weeks/months.

    A drug addict will do whatever it takes to get the money needed for their next dose: theft and prostitution are the two big ones that come to mind.

    Putting them in jail for the petty crimes may prevent them from committing crimes for the duration of the incarceration, but as soon as they get out they are back on drugs and back committing crime. It is doomed to be a revolving door.

    That said, I do not know the solution.

    You cannot help a drug addict unless they really, really, really want help, and most do not.

    Attempts to go after the dealers has resulted in increased price of drugs, creating crime on both sides of the transaction as dealers fight for the distribution territories and addicts have to commit even more crime to buy drugs.

    The war on drugs has been an unmitigated, total failure. It has not reduced drug use and has actually increased the amount of crime associated with drugs.

    But what would work better? I fear the answer is to de-criminalize, let prices fall, and just accept that a certain portion of the population is going to destroy their lives via drug addiction.
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      Feb 18 2014: I do not perceive drug addiction being treated as a crime Darrell. Many drug addicts are selling, and that is what gets them a spot in jail. Also, as you insightfully point out, a drug addict will do whatever it takes to get the money needed for a "fix". Often, drug addicts are incarcerated for theft, B&E, assault, robbery, etc.

      You're right....it's a revolving door.
      • Feb 19 2014: Drug addiction is a neurobiological disorder with a strong behavioral element. That being said, a large "natural study" has shown that many traditional professional assumptions about drug addiction could very well be flat-out wrong. This large "natural study" is the USA's involvement in the Viet Nam War. The level of hard drug use by American soldiers in the Viet Nam theater was amazingly high (it can be looked up). What was astonishing is that the vast majority of these people cleaned up and stayed sober once they were permanently removed from that environment. In essence, they were living inside a mental septic tank, and moving them to clean surroundings let most of them clear the disease.

        Now, how do we permanently remove people from the home-grown environments that spawn and perpetuate this disease? How do we do so in a way that doesn't violate various legal, moral, and philosophical principles? Remove the environment from the people? Who pays, and how?

        Don't know, just asking.
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          Feb 19 2014: I am aware that drug use in Viet Nam was high Bryan, and I'm not so sure how many "cleaned up" after leaving that environment.

          I don't know for sure either Bryan....wish I did!

          I suggest, however, that it would not be very beneficial to simply remove people from their environments. It might be beneficial to give people the tools that might help them make their own good choices.
      • Feb 19 2014: That would fall under removing the environment from the people.
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          Feb 19 2014: In my perception, it would fall exactly as I wrote..."It might be beneficial to give people the tools that might help them make their own good choices".
      • Feb 19 2014: Colleen

        Indeed " it would not be very beneficial to simply remove people from their environments"
        It would be very beneficial to give people the tools that help them their environments be good for them and others by helping each make their own good choices.
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    Feb 18 2014: Misdemeanors, felony misdemeanors, felonies, for theft, DUIs, drugs, fraud, assault, etc.....

    The avg. man in prison will have about 10 charges over a span of 10 years usually starting in their teen years of the above mentioned prior to getting a prison sentence.

    Treatment, house arrest, probation, fines, etc.... none proved effective in deterring the criminal behavior.

    Our last result is prison where these men are housed with all the other men who had upwards of 10 chances to stop making bad decisions but went ahead and continued to offend.

    When you've got a group of over 1000 men who have a long standing and fully developed bad habit of making horrible decisions, they end up reinforcing each other in a negative way instead of motivating any kind of change for the betterment of their lives.

    Inmates spend a lot of time jaw-jacking and in many cases talking up their criminal past to the others around them looking for the approval of the group. They rarely stop to think about the fact that they are looking for the approval of the lowest class of our society.
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      Feb 18 2014: All true Ang! So the facilities, as they are now, are not working...and we keep building more of the same kind of facilities that are not working... to hold all the repeat offenders who keep coming back to the same facilities that are not working........

      Aren't we a brilliant society!!! Repeating the same behavior over and over again and expecting different results???
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        Feb 18 2014: The very definition of insanity implemented on a grand scale by our leaders.
        • Feb 18 2014: I have never liked that as a definition of insanity. More like stupidity... unable to see a pattern in the data.

          I think of insanity as hallucinations, imaginary friends, faith, and other major brain malfunctions.
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        Feb 18 2014: Stupidity is repeating the same actions over and over "knowing" the results.
        Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over "expecting different" results.
        Very subtle change in the language.

        Insanity and mental illness are almost synonymous but not quite.
      • Feb 18 2014: The apocalypse is upon us. I agree 100% with this statement. Rehabilitation must become a priority, or we might as well just start killing all the convicts or branding them to use as state-owned slave labor. Warehousing doesn't work. However, the problem is that there are strong forces on the "left" and the "right" who will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent rehabilitation. We do not blink an eye at the restriction of free action of "mental patients" who are often only harmful to themselves, but to restrict, to the same extent, the activities of a rapist or man who sells poison to kids in order to change his lifetime behavior, that's a "violation of rights" of some sort.

        Well, then, let's lay it out: Are the criminal in their right minds? If so, then there is NO NEED for rehabilitation. Their habits are just fine, they just need to be reminded of the rules. If they then refuse to obey the rules, there is no moral barrier to removing them from society permanently. If it really is just a matter of free choice, then rehabilitation is a non-issue. However, if they do have to be fully rehabilitated, that means that psychiatric means are appropriate as needed on an individual basis. It would be no more a "violation" of "rights" to impose them on a convict than impose them on a "mental patient". Nobody wants to take that step. The left wants us to adopt a medical model of cause WITHOUT using medical modes of treatment while the right simply rejects any medical model.

        "Medical model" includes "environmental causes". It is completely accepted that therapy and drugs are appropriate remedies for "mental illness" with "environmental" causes. Likewise, it is perfectly accepted that forcible removal from an "environment" is acceptable to treat "mental illness". If criminal behavior is not purely moral, if it is not undertaken by a fully free agent making fully free choices, the alternative is a medical model. In that case, medical means are correct.

        Nobody wants to do this.
    • Feb 18 2014: Felony misdemeanors cannot exist. If it is a felony, it is not a misdemeanor. If it is a misdemeanor, it is not a felony. The two categories are mutually exclusive by definition.
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    Feb 17 2014: Rehabilitation is a tricky thing to get right - I'm not entirely sure it's ever going to be successful. Ex-prisoners may have the best intentions but when they return home, they are surrounded by the same issues they were in that caused them to commit the first place. So they're stuck in the same situation, they do the same again and again.

    So for me, the money should be invested in preventing it in the first place. Look at Singapore, which has some of the lowest crime rates in the world - 16 murders in 2011 with a population of 5.1million. Unheard of!

    It's down to a very harsh justice system (3 months in prison for graffiti!) with firm penalties (i.e. each offence has a maximum and minimum penalty). It has also been linked to birth rates - Singapore's crime rates dropped when they introduced incentives and penalties for mothers to stop giving birth after having two children. Penalties in the form of reduced child support and the additional child delivery fees and incentives such as priority school admission for the first two children. The reasoning for such a link is simple: Legalised abortion made it easier for women to obtain abortions, and since unwanted children are statistically more likely to turn to crime, it follows that crime rates are lower.
  • Feb 17 2014: Very few people are aware of the laws thus deterrence is not a factor.
    Segregation is needed for a small percentage.

    A major factor is that in the U.S. prisons are for-profile corporations with the main goal to make a profit for their shareholders. Thus they need prisoners to make a profit.

    There is a lot of corruption in the legal system. The incentive structure is designed to benefit lawyers.

    Lawyers have created thousands of laws most of which very few people even know exists. Their strategy is to set a trap. They catch people who are completely unaware of the laws and then charge people thousands of dollars with hopes to avoid jail.

    We must reform the entire legal system.

    Secondly the legal system including prisons must stop blaming and trying to use guilt as a method of changing people. These methods clearly are ineffective and very out-of-date.
    The legal system should identify the source of the unwanted behavior and address any issues including mental health issues or negative past programming.
    Thirdly the legal system needs to educate the public about the laws.

    People who are accused of crimes should be treated as someone with any other medical condition, i.e. with care, love, and positive treatments. They should be put in a positive, nurturing environment that demonstrates the positive traits of human nature.

    The current legal and prison system in the U.S. does much more harm than good. It destroys self-esteem, puts people at risk of physical harm, fails to provide a positive environment.

    A complete change is desperately needed.
    Many people in society do not care about anyone classified as a criminal.
    And once convicted of a serious crime a person is not allowed to vote.
    Politicians are motivated to show they are protecting society.
    The bottom line is that people are all human and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
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    Feb 16 2014: I know that prisons in Michigan (where my daughter was an inmate for 3.5 years) is just lip service. When I investigated their system it was, and still is, a farce.

    My daughter had me send her materials to regain her Project Manager certificate when she got out. NOT many of those that are incarcerated have that drive.

    Most seem to have given up. I think it is because they have lost hope.

    The major reason I was given was that there is not any money in the budget to help prisoners get training and some kind of education.

    There is the stigma of having been in Prison that some can not overlook. I think some potential employers would recognize the desire of a prisoner to go straight if they know the prisoner went to school to improve themselves.There will be failures and there will be those that try to game the system, and that may be what got them into prison in the first place, but we should provide the opportunity.
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    Feb 16 2014: Andy, I have worked in law enforcement and the prison system. I can assure you that the only remorse they feel is getting caught and that most of the felons have absolutely no remorse and feel they are the victims. They force their will on others. Prison is no different than life ... bullies exist every where. They did not obey laws on the outside and do not obey any laws or rules on the inside. They treat family with distain .. most have a wife and family and two or three girlfriends .. we monitor phone calls and mail ... if out to recreation they will stay until over and then go to visit family waiting for a hour or two.

    These people go to kiddy jail, then to Juvy, and finally end up in prison. Education was available and even forced on them .. the opportunity for change was available ... they didn't want it then and don't want it now. They go to classes / church / anything to get out of their cells to make drug buys and extort others.

    I worked on high risk yards and for a while on low risk yards ... the mentality is the same.

    Prisons are not funded for rehibilitation ... to be honest they are storage areas for the undesirable elements. You keep making reference to the mental illness .. courts make sure they are capable of standing trial ... that does not say they are not nuts ... by thier action (crimes) alone they are out of the norm.

    Are there some who should be in a work camp instead of prison sure .. but they committed the crime and must be punished in some manner.

    Crime and punishment is as old as time ... I have read your comments ... very liberal thinking ... how would you change the legal system?

    If you think prison is bad wait for the emerging liberal/socialist police state that is emerging .... you ain't seem nothing yet. The media, education, libraries, and the educated population will be the first targets ... so says history ... good luck professor.
    • Feb 16 2014: Robert,

      The story-line " they committed the crime and must be punished in some manner" is actually a Non sequitur... quite similar to "work hard and enjoy the benefits"... neither one seems to considers the notion of enjoying the benefits bestowed by others... nor changing to embrace the better ways...

      The police state you seem to refer just takes the concept of a prison and extends it to the general population...
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        Feb 16 2014: Do the crime and do the time is a player ... just like working and enjoying the benefits .... only the lazy, self centered, and free loaders of the world think in terms of enjoying the benefits bestowed by others .. that is a liberal/socialist concept ... so what is your better way?

        Do you not think that lving in a police state would be simular to prison????

        I have worked within the system and can tell you that they consider the very peoiple who work to eliminate the death penality and cry over conditions are weak. They see them as someone they can dominate.

        Is the subject still rehab?
        • Feb 16 2014: Robert,

          a family member can think in terms of enjoying the benefits bestowed by others as a gift without this implying they be lazy, self centered and free loaders, thus it stands to reasons that not only the ones you mentioned think in terms of enjoying the benefits bestowed by others... In fact some members may enjoy being able to bestow benefits on others members of the family to enjoy.

          Labeling a particular concept a certain way may serve you to justify doing away with it but that's akin to dehumanizing the enemy to do away with it.

          Yes I think that living in a police state would be similar to prison. I also realize that some of them think they can dominate others when the truth of the matter is that they can't even dominate themselves. It's quite common for individuals to project unto others and detest stuff that they can't bear to consider about themselves.

          When a family member enjoys the benefits bestowed by other family members actions they can both rejoice.
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        Feb 16 2014: What you say is true ... the subject was about prisoners .. not family.

        I was under other opinions of the subjectand was not considering family.

        You are of course correct.

        • Feb 17 2014: Bob,

          I got involved in this conversation because I misperceived the subject line and then thought it would be appropriate to share that misperception I had ... In a way the subject about "rehabilitation" in context of prison (OR in context of poison - the poisoned) can be extended to everyone who is a prisoner of their beliefs, thoughts, feeling, actions, societies, sotry-lines.

          Something I sort of do involves looking into the fundamental srotiy-lines being put forth and drawing attention to them 'beasties' ... 'Do the crime and do the time' like 'no pain no gain' 'one must suffer for another to enjoy' 'work hard to enjoy the benefits" seem to me like a bad idea disguising as a good one. There are a bunch of additional underlying notions and story-lines playing along on multiple levels. In fact yesterday while waiting in line to make a payment I got into an interesting conversation regarding what was required for individuals to change and change the system. Curiously the other said something like for people to change the system has to change but the system isn't going to change thus people are not going to change. To me thats akin to So which comes first the chicken or the egg... maybe it's the rooster!

          I think many operate under the influence of the story-lines they hold and it may be possible to embrace better stories to alter what individuals considerations and choose to do. I have at times wondered about how some prisoners roam the streets while some freemen reside in prisons, even how some of our brethren be imprisoned in need of rehabilitation. Well maybe it isn't rehabilitation; maybe what better describes what is needed is habilitation - ‘made able' - a restoration implies the reinstatement of a previous practice, right, custom, or situation- and what be needed is an establishment of a better way. A good start is through Redefining the terms used and story-lines employed.

          Maybe 'prisons' should be habilitational bootcamp workplaces without pay.
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        Feb 18 2014: In referece to your interest in story-lines, you may take interest in this talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/shekhar_kapur_we_are_the_stories_we_tell_ourselves.html
        • Feb 18 2014: Yes indeed story-lines can be told in multiple levels using different forms and views... I learned that in visually conveying information even the absence of something can be rather meaningful. Of course to appreciate the fullness requires encoder and decoder to dance with the meaning.

          To use a metaphor teacher and student learn together each being the teacher and the student and the learn... Thanks for the link.
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      Feb 18 2014: I wholeheartedly agree Robert...." bullies exist every where"....some get caught....some don't....some are accepted in society....some are not accepted in society.
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      Feb 18 2014: Robert Winner-

      This TPC Initiative...what have you heard about it so far and what do you think?
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        Feb 18 2014: By TPC do you mean the3 Transition from Prison to Community Initiative?

        This is the latest in the effort to reduce recidivism. There are three basic tenants:

        •Collaboration - The DOCR working closely with state, local, and private agencies that have a stake in public safety to craft evidence-based policies.
        •TPC Model - Utilize the model to improve outcomes at each decision point of an offender's movement through the system.
        •Organizational Development - Empower staff throughout the agency to develop their skills in working with offenders to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism.

        All of the elements involved both static and dymanic and have remained consistant. The bottom line is to provide the community with and asset while providing for public safety and reduction in crime.

        The barriers also remain constant. lack of family supoport, divorces, communities that have adopted no felon zones, limited employment opportunities, lack of education,and lack of skills.

        The things not discussed are the influences of gangs in the life of the felon who wishes to "go straight" ... the return to his neighborhood where his friends and associates bring him back to the environment that sent him to prison before.

        These initiatives are very costly ... and more than not are ineffective.

        The successes are praised and widely acknowledged ... while failures are returned to prison in the dark of night for fear of jeapordizing the program.

        Because the programs are both state and federally controlled is also the reason they are doomed to failure. Documentation is not used as a tool to advance and learn from but as a weapon to defeat the project. Government run programs are seldom successful.

        Being a felon is the modern "Scarlet Letter". The odds are against you ... no study, program, or another approach can overcome this.

        Liberals give lip service ... but no active help ... throw money at the program and sleep well.

        Thanks for the reply .... Bob.
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          Feb 19 2014: It's coming to a prison near me very shortly.

          I've been reading up on the concept and looking at PDFs of the models and I completely agree with you.

          The failure to work with an individualized plan for these offenders and find out what would have to change in their personal life after being released to keep them out of prison in future means the program is far too rigid to be effective.

          Many of the statistics I came across were open for interpretation as to what it was actually referring to.
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        Feb 19 2014: You broke the code. Most of these are cookie cutter programs ... one size fits all. The language is decieving and written in governmenteze. Never believe the stats they put out ... Always remember that "Liers figure and figures lie".

        The socialist/liberal left are very much against prisons ... which is really funny. The most harsh nations against all of the things that they want the USA to endorse, gays, no prisons, drugs, etc are all delt with in those socialist/liberal nations with death, guglags, or real bad treatment. But yet they want the USA to endorse this. They also have ridgid laws against immigration (both ways) and attack the USA for its policies. Even funnier is that the media, colleges, and the unions who sponor all of this will be the first to be "controlled" by a socialist/communist take over. Pick a nation Russia, Cuba, Venseulea, etc ...

        One way that this program could work would be if the states swaped inmates and individualized the efforts. ... it would take the friends, neighbors, and their neighborhood out of the picture ... the gangs however have long arms and could still track them and make them do "errands" for them.

        The final analysis is that if the felon "really wants" to overcome all of this he may be able to and I wish him well .... if not then there is no program in the world that can make him.

        Thanks for have a open honest and clean conversation on this subject ... most often it is overcome by emotions and political indoctrination.

        I wish you well. Bob.
        • Feb 19 2014: Bob,

          Thought to highlight a key point in what you stated (replaced 'felon' with 'person'):

          "The final analysis is that if the (person) 'really wants' to overcome all of this he may be able to and I wish him well .... if not then there is no program in the world that can make him".
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    Feb 16 2014: The whole concept of prison is sickening. Legislators conceive the definitions of criminal acts and if we look at their history we'll see they range from the absurd, (failing to adhere to religious dogma in effect at that time (burning witches?), to the petty ones contrived by police, (driving without a license), to the current popular focus on drug abuses which is mostly based on laws rather than their impacts on society. Is a man slumped on the sidewalk after ingesting crack or heroin really a threat to those who walk by, or just a sad failure? Is a man smoking pot in his own home dangerous to the rest of us?
    So why are so many arrested, thrown in gaol to suffer disgraceful attacks and evil indoctrination from other inmates? Clearly, the system of incarceration is out of control and, worse than that, is now moving into the hands of for-profit private companies. Prisoners don't lounge in the library, they pump their bodies on gym equipment. Just what we don't need – muscles rather than education.
    Bullies among street pimps and cops with Taser guns are crippling society. Those of us who never cross the line of good behaviour drift comfortably through life while those who made mistakes are beaten into the gutter to rot. Is this our future path of humanity?
    Here's where we are: guns are being placed in our schools and even into the hands of the children with the twisted approval of the powers that be. Do you think crime will rise or fall?
    Perhaps a strange, impractical suggestion: send offenders to work apart from the general throng: forests, oceans, desert water pipelines, for example, definitely not in the army where they are trained to kill. Again, we do not need people returning to our communities with the so-called PTSD whose only friend is their machine gun.
  • Feb 15 2014: As a college student majoring in psychology, I believe rehabitative services are the most important/powerful aspect that prisons can have on convicts. Prisons segregae criminals from society for a time, but once released they usually go back to their old ways. The US has issues with overcrowded prisons, and rehabilitation is the way to resolve the issue. Rebilitating criminals would lower the amount of money going towards funding prisons, as well as increase money in the market place as criminals get out and find ligitimate work.
  • Comment deleted

    • Feb 14 2014: As I said about dogmatics who are not interested in actual science in my earlier post...
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    Feb 14 2014: The idea behind rehabilitation is to re-structure the persons behavior in a controlled and rigid environment. Ideally the "criminal" is put there to think of what he/she did wrong, to be reminded that there are consequences for doing wrong in our relative society, and also to be reminded that there are consequences for their actions. So if the person who did wrong is not is a controlled and rigid environment then the person is not likely to change. The problem with the prison system is that it essentially concentrates the bad and in that environment a wrong doer is unlikely to change, but it is the best option we have currently for people who choose to be above the law. Personally I believe that prison should be for murderers, rapists, robbers, and abusers and that is it.
  • Mar 12 2014: Two words: clockwork orange.
  • Mar 11 2014: I though appropriate to repost here something I said elsewhere…

    "Stories seek to share values and beliefs. Storytelling is most worthwhile when one contributes what one stand for, and enriches what individuals think/feel/ do. I think our attention be precious. What matters is to matter, and enrich Lives. Be what made an actual difference to change for the better… be the tipping point that establishes once and for all the appropriate direction to accompany".

    How do individuals do that?
  • Mar 10 2014: love!
  • Mar 9 2014: I was just thinking the same thing. And sometimes certain drugs lead people to crime. Alcohol seems to put many people at risk for violence, for example. Then treating some of the uunderlying causes may help. And maybe grouping people could help in some situations. Maybe there are common causes for similar types of crimes. This would take a lot of the work out of the equation when it comes to rehabilitation.
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    Mar 7 2014: "The Onion" takes on Prisoner Rehabilitation in a tongue in cheek fashion:

    WOODBOURNE, NY—Reportedly left dumbfounded by the news that recent parolee Terry Raney had been reincarcerated on charges of assault and battery, officials at Woodbourne Correctional Facility struggled Tuesday to make sense of how the prisoner had not been rehabilitated by 15 years of constant threats, physical abuse, and periodic isolation. “It just doesn’t seem possible that an inmate could live for a decade and a half in a completely dehumanizing environment in which violent felons were constantly on the verge of attacking or even killing him and not emerge an emotionally stable, productive member of society,” said chief warden Albert Gunderson, who noted that, as hard as it was to believe, Raney’s recidivism proved that his criminal impulses had not in fact been corrected by the sense of grave distrust he felt toward every other person in the facility, including both fellow inmates and prison authorities, every day since 1999. “We surrounded him with a combustible mix of rival gangs and made sure that he was consumed by a round-the-clock sense of terror that the slightest misstep on his part could result in a sharpened piece of scrap metal being shoved into his neck, and yet he still leaves this facility with the same criminal thoughts and violent mindset as before? I’m truly at a loss for how this could have happened.” Gunderson then noted his additional confusion at how the man’s criminal record and the social stigma of his prison sentence had somehow failed to land him a steady job immediately upon his release.
    • Mar 7 2014: Theodore,

      In a tongue in cheek fashion, a rehabilitated individual through such a system would indeed be a wonderful thing to behold… just imagine they had everything against them and some how still manage to turn out ok...