The following article was written by Commander In Chief Levon “Vandem P” Hinton:
People currently incarcerated in the North Carolina Department of Correction aren’t being rehabilitated in the manner that is helpful for the citizens of this state. In the state of North Carolina there are currently 38,389 people incarcerated; 100,045 People on Probation; 3,505 People on Parole for a total of 141,939 people currently incarcerated or under some kind of supervision. The majority of these people are guilty of crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. There are some that aren’t guilty but are victims of a corrupt judicial system. There are (2) big questions: 1.) Are these people really being rehabilitated to return and function in society? 2.) Is society welcoming to these people with criminal records?
Now what is Rehabilitation? Rehabilitation is to restore or bring to condition of good health, ability to work, or productive activity. Now let us analyze this definition compared to the actual activities in the prison system itself. There are people in the prison systems that are from all kinds of backgrounds and environments. Not everyone is the same or understands the same things. The prison population is mixed with the worst that society has to offer and also the individual who was basically good, but made a mistake through nothing more than human error. A lot of people are from broken homes with no one to help them or give them a chance to do anything productive. Some people just haven’t been introduced to anything in their lives. So instead they turned to crime. Whether selling /buying or possessing, drugs, has caused a lot of damage to our society and a world as a whole. Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of colorblindness” spoke in detail how the war on drugs was targeted to the poor communities across America. (Reference video link Above)
Yet you also have people that come from good families. They have seen the fruits of good hard work. But something happened in their lives that led them to do whatever it is that they did to go to prison. There are a lot of people that continue to go back and forth to prison. Now the question is why are they going back? Some people assume that, those people incarcerated, continue to return and can’t be rehabilitated. But what is the real reason they continue to return to the system. Can it be that the system failed to rehabilitate them the last time they were there?
The North Carolina General Assembly has made a list of guidelines for the North Carolina Department of Corrections. These guidelines if followed correctly should rehabilitate the majority of the people currently incarcerated. But that isn’t the case because these guidelines aren’t being followed as the General Assembly requires. Now some of those guidelines are that every person has an opportunity to an education, whether it is a trade, high school diploma equivalent (GED), or college classes. You have to take this guideline and compare it to the person currently incarcerated. At some prison facilities these educational opportunities aren’t being given to the people incarcerated. On the other hand, some people who are enrolled are forced to participate in a college class/trade that they don’t have an interest in or desire to learn.(Taking up space for someone who desires to learn.) They are merely thrown in the class to satisfy quota, or to say prison officials are rehabilitating these people.
The judicial system has also provided some people who are incarcerated the ability to participate in the work release program. (Depends on behavior) This is when an incarcerated person is given the ability to work a normal job. Now this privilege has 2 routes: one route is that the court sets it as part of the sentence/punishment. The second route is that the incarcerated person earns this privilege through good behavior. Now you have a lot of people incarcerated that are sentenced to immediate work release. But they all don’t get the chance to work. The reason is the prison, majority of the time, ignores this part of the sentence/punishment. Now is that helping that individual prisoner? The court system feels that this program will help rehabilitate that particular person but the prison system doesn’t respect the court’s decision.
Now that brings us to the actual Department of Correction. Every prison has a Superintendent. The Superintendent is required to make sure everything at that prison is operating correctly. Under the superintendent you have lieutenants then you have sergeants and correctional officers. This is the structure of the Department of Correction. Every person incarcerated is assigned to an individual caseworker. This person isn’t an officer but is someone who is supposed to help rehabilitate the individual person by helping them find the right trade and/or educational opportunities.
Now you have everyday life in prison. This is what the people incarcerated go through on a daily basis. Some are housed in different custody levels, which depend on the crime/time remaining, along with behavior. Now, people who have less than 5 years or have had good behavior are placed in minimum custody. This is the custody level where a lot of privileges are offered. Now a lot of the problems come in when you have correctional officers who aren’t educated enough to work with individuals from different backgrounds. A lot of the officers are from the rural parts of the state, because that’s mainly where the prisons are located. Officers who lack the much needed experience bring with them personal discrimination. This is discrimination based on their lack of knowledge of the environment that they currently work in. This in turns brings nothing but trouble for not only the prisoner but also the society itself. Some people incarcerated are given a probationary period where they must remain out of trouble. If you have officers who dislike some people incarcerated based on race, sex, religion or handicap, can cause an environment to become more than hostile. Prison itself is already a hostile environment. To have other factors that make it an even more hostile or violent environment isn’t helping in the rehabilitation of any of the people incarcerated.
In the Department of Correction there are rules and regulations that people who are incarcerated must abide by. If these rules are broken by a person incarcerated they are then put in segregation. Segregation separates the individual from the regular population. The person is housed in a single cell with barely enough room to take just a few steps. Depending upon what rule the person broke, they can be housed anywhere from 72 hours to months/years at a time. Now there is a process, much similar to the court system, in prison that each person accused must go through to receive any amount of time in segregation. This process is called Disciplinary. Which is a mock court used to find the person guilty of whatever the officer(s) say the person did. Even if the person really didn’t do anything they still find him guilty. This leaves the impression, on the person found guilty, that the system is corrupt and their word means absolutely nothing because they are incarcerated. This is not helping that person or society.
A lot of people incarcerated have a true desire to return to society and live a normal life and there are others that don’t care about anything. So that leaves two different forms of people incarcerated. One who wants and needs rehabilitation and the second who don’t want anything but to be set free. Some try really hard to do what they know is right.
There are many programs/organizations that people incarcerated can become involved with upon their being released from prison. These programs aren’t being utilized because the majority of people being released have “NO CLUE” that they exist. Some of these people have no one to turn to that will help them become productive citizens. They are left with nothing after being incarcerated for years at a time. After they finished paying their debt to society they are punished AGAIN because no one will give them a chance to prove themselves. There are some corporations that will hire formerly incarcerated people because they are hard workers. Those corporations are few and far between. People need to learn from their mistakes, not be punished in every facet of life AFTER years of paying their debts to society. There are a lot of people that are released and they live productive lives, while others are put right back in the same environment where they don’t want to be and cannot be productive in. This is the most frustrating thing that can ever happen to a person. To be isolated from society for years, then come out with goals and aspirations only to be placed back in the same environment that got you in prison to begin with.
Some members of our society feel tougher laws; with longer sentences will make the crime rate decrease. But that solution hasn’t worked! If anything it allowed for more poor people to be targets of ‘Mass Incarceration’ because prison industrial complex is BIG BUSINESS. Building more prisons is not the solution. The real solution is correcting the mistake, and helping those people that desperately need and want help. To do this means that every source of rehabilitation be accessible to all people incarcerated that are interested in receiving it. Everyone isn’t going to change, but those that will, can someday help those that don’t want to change now. There are a lot of good people that are in prison, and all they need is somebody to take a chance and help them.
Why are formerly incarcerated people being discriminated against for some of the most menial jobs known to man? There is a new caste system in America where people formerly incarcerated or with a criminal history are being discriminated against for jobs, housing, educational assistance etc. Do these same businesses accept money from people formerly incarcerated? Yes! So they can spend their money in your store but cant work in the same store? My next article we will discuss the history of convicts in the United States so if you are against second chances you will definitely want to get ready for this jaw dropper. Coming Soon…
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