Change In Corrections
April 4, 2016
I don’t know how many of you saw the 60 Minutes episode regarding German prisons. The German system was highlighted as different from U.S. prisons, but one thing was similar: the separation from family and freedom is the punishment. Prisons are not to “inflict punishment” beyond the separation from the free world and those that the inmates have left behind. What was clearly different was what they called “normalization.” The inmates in Germany wear street clothes, decorate their cells, have video games, art classes, vocational training, and keys to their cells which are solid doors for privacy. Some of their cells were larger than the college dorm rooms that I have seen in Arkansas and as large as the nursing home room my grandmother shared. Their officers have two years of training as compared to our six weeks of BCOT and the focus of their training is in psychology and “calming down,” or deescalating, situations. The officers are not expected to “show” their power. Does that sound like our CORP (Culture of Respect and Professionalism) training?
I want to thank everyone for the work being done at our units to focus on re-entry and preparing those leaving prison to succeed upon release. That statement is not to imply that there haven’t been programs for decades to assist with substance abuse, sex offender treatment, obtaining a GED, etc.; however, the focus to assist all of those leaving, including those who don’t need “treatment” programs, is encouraging. Recognizing that those in our custody can and should leave with our encouragement to succeed is important. Once they leave our facilities, they are neighbors to our family and friends, and we all want them to succeed. Encouraging them to seek help whether it is from an AA meeting, a workforce education center, a charitable organization, a house of worship, or their parole officer, can make a difference. We all need help sometimes, but asking takes courage.
I truly thank each of you for your work and pray that you stay safe.