Saturday, February 29, 2020

Those Who Try and Those Who Don't      by    Ruth Utnage

I have taken a bunch of programs over my nine years in prison. In fact, I have nearly 70 awards and certificates. I know people that have been down since the early 80's and don't have a fraction of that. Certificates don't change people but they are an indicator of effort and if you're even trying.

I have come to realize that most folks don't see that some inmates are determined to change themselves, at all costs. And, some just won't. I don't have the reasons why someone won't, maybe maturity or rock bottom hasn't come, maybe they enjoy being who they are? I don't know but they aren't all of us.

I recently had to adjust my thinking because I thought people recognized that not all inmates are the same. Especially volunteers and sponsors. That we are not from the same "lump". Opportunity in prison is limited and interaction with the community is even more limited and nothing makes someones heart sink like watching a bunch of effort, effort that could be more effective elsewhere, go into someone who's straight up hustling and lying. From my point of view though, what makes my heart sink is seeing that so many folks from the outside are okay with this behavior. They literally have no idea and instead of taking the time to understand our culture and work with us to overcome it, they remain blind despite our attempts to educate them. It's like going to another country and flashing the American peace sign as a greeting but the locals only know that as a hostile act, when someone tries to inform you that you're making a mistake you simply ignore them saying "but I can show them better", completely missing the point.

We are so starved for meaningful relationships, remember, our punishment is banishment from the community, it's maddening. It makes sense that some guys will do anything for a few seconds of face time with a community member, in fact, many inmates live for it. And that's the problem.

What's valuable to a free person is not valuable to an inmate. Remember, we are a different culture, living in conditions that are drastically different from yours. Like all people, we value things based on how they make us feel and their perceived scarcity. A reward for us is a 3 minute conversation with someone who is not in prison. The fact that volunteers don't understand that is disheartening. What's more disheartening is watching volunteers put effort into someone who as soon as the volunteer is out of view is already planning their next victim. They spend more time learning how not to get caught then they ever will on changing. Some try to change for the better and some don't.

Some speak all the right things, tell all the stories that tug at heart strings, present themselves as a challenge to be fixed (but realistically that's a tactic they learned to get women to begin investing in them emotionally, one they practice over and over again, I know, I watch them do it every day which is why it pisses me off when I see a volunteer entertaining it especially at the expense of someone else who has good intentions and is being overlooked) in an effort to get attention. They are masters at it. I am not willing to do such things.

The day is coming where I will be out of prison and I will spend the rest of my life shouting from the rooftops that those prisoners who are legitimately putting in work to change themselves, not for attention or face time with people, but because they want to leave here better people, should get more resources and more help than those who aren't trying.

We all have the same choices in here. Choose to be better or don't. Choose to try or don't, but they are without excuse for examples because there are many, they simply choose to not put in the work. But hey, its your time and your resources, do with them what you want.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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"A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust." ("Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire )

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Friday, February 28, 2020

How Inmates Handle Depression/Sadness    by    Ruth Utnage

Something that's universal in inmates is depression. Nearly all of us tie feelings, irrationally, back to our identities as human beings, i.e. "I'm in here because I'm a bad person, that's why nobody writes".

It is common knowledge that if you take an animal from its natural environment, say...a whale, it succumbs to depression and becomes dependent. Whales, as far as we know, don't question their identities as good or bad whales, whales don't have emotional systems that are as complex as humans'. It stands to reason, then, that inmates, removed from our natural habitat of society, will also succumb to bouts of depression and with that comes the question of our identity as overall good or bad. Bad means no longer accepted by the world, good means accepted by the world. During our state of depression we must reconcile that because of our very real separation.

To address how inmates deal with this I have to break us up into groupings. 15-70-15. 15% of inmates are very toxic people, have no inclination to change for the better for whatever their reasoning. 70% generally quiet and very order driven, they will do whatever most anyone who seems stronger than them will tell them to do. 15% are very driven towards improvement, leading the way in pro-social doctrine. For our purposes I will label them change-averse, followers and change-driven accordingly.

Change-averse quits everything. Though there isn't much for them to quit because they typically don't start much of anything but trouble. For them, depression gets dealt with via drugs, violence or anger. They will tell you they don't feel it, but they do and it maddens them. Like putting hornets in a jar and shaking them. In the rare cases when they do admit it outright, this demographic will provide emotional support to one another via unhealthy outlets, usually drugs or violent favors as gifts.

The followers typically resort to drugs as well. The get isolated because their aura's and attitude drive down others and it's not socially acceptable to provide comfort to one another in this demographic. They are too afraid of how the aggressors will perceive them, so they isolate, do drugs, or act out violently with a case of the "f**k its".

The change-driven group, my group, we admit our feelings pretty openly and seek help when the emotion cannot be dealt with using usual coping mechanisms. We will ask to see mental health, we will take breaks from things, stop things that are unhealthy for us, seek emotional support from our peers because we know that they will provide well-guided advice and reasonable support.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Contact Info:
"A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust." ("Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire )

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Jonathan Mera is NOT mediocre.     by    Jonathan Mera

As I sit here and contemplate how I can be better today than I was yesterday. I can't help but to think once again about Kobe Bryant. Hard work and effort made all of his dreams come true, and after he was done being the best in the world at his craft he decided to help everyone else he could accomplish their dreams, as long as they were willing to put in the effort and hard work.

So let's not waste another day being mediocre. Let's try build a legacy that we can one day be proud of. It is not impossible, and it won't happen over time, but if we put in the work and effort, we can all make it happen, then after that we can help others with theirs. Happy days, and good health to all of you.

By Jonathan Mera #328554

Jonathan Mera #328554
MCC TRU A-509-1
PO BOX 888
Monroe WA 98272
-or-
E-mail through:
J-Pay.com Jonathan Mera DOC#328554

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Learning To Dream Again    by   Ruth Utnage

It's my most recent adventure, learning to dream again. It's the lesson I teach about most frequently, daring to dream. It seems taboo to hope. Funny, as kids we did it recklessly, be whoever we wanted and without shame. I wanted to get back to that mind frame, endless possibilities again.

It first struck me like lightning in 2017 when a professor with Edmonds College, Ms. McKay, opened my eyes to possibility. All, she said was I was intelligent and she said it in a way that made me believe she believed it. That night I went home and had a full on panic attack in my bed where I shook under my covers all night because that opened my eyes to a whole world again, it was both awe inspiring and terrifying... sensory overload. But I haven't looked back and sent myself right into orbit with a direction, perseverance, and tenacity. Now I teach others how to do it and delight in watching them finally realize, they're worth it.

I have lit a torch and stood on a hill and now my peers have expected to stand in the light I shine, instead I surprise them by lighting their torches and standing next to them. Pretty soon we'll illuminate this place so brightly the whole world will see it and wonder, what is it about this prison?

We've learned to dream again, against all odds, we dream.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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A System of Oppression...    by   Rory Andes

...is far more insidious when you encourage that it oppresses the people that fund it.

A few days ago, two NYPD officers were shot in the performance of their duties. Make no mistake, I and most of the people I know both in and out of prison, find actions of violence towards anyone reprehensible, much less toward police officers. The keys to civilized communities are the enforcement of laws. Additionally, no person who decides on a career of service to their community should be fearful for their life for it and should have an expectation of safety as they conduct their duties. Period.

That should extend to a municipality's citizens as well. ALL OF THEM. I heard something on the news that deeply troubled me. It was a NYPD union representative attacking Mayor Bill deBlasio on his enforcement of policy and how it negatively impacts law enforcement as an agency. While I wouldn't be supportive of most of deBlasio's liberal policies either, I can't fathom why this union rep would stoop to degrade the people with criminal backgrounds and shamed the mayor for defending the "one percent" as he put it. Shouldn't everyone get a fair shake against oppression? Even ones with difficult backgrounds who pay taxes?

He did it on social media on behalf of the police, as a tax funded agency. As Joe Citizen, please feel free to have an opinion. As a private American, know it, voice it, vote it. That's what vets like me (and my colleagues that both served and died) have defended since our country's inception. But, when a tax funded government agency makes a point to broadly target it's own citizens, most of whom are at the bottom of today's caste system, that wreaks of a system run afoul.

My heart breaks with every occurrence of the nation's protectors who are harmed doing their jobs, often their passions, like police, firefighters, and military. But there is no way retribution and oppression should be enacted on citizens. Even if the citizen did the harm, they deserve a chance with due process, humanity, and redemption. Wash, rinse, repeat if needed. Ok NYPD, please be frustrated with policymakers and the mayor. I agree. But damn it, don't take it out on the New Yorkers who, like me, have worked like hell to overcome and correct the errors in our pasts and became more than a record.

by Rory Andes

Don't make citizens pay you to hate them. Just see them as people....

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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Rory Andes 367649
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Monroe, WA 98272

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Most Influential Piece Of Literature I've Ever Read: The Master Plan by Chris Wilson   by   Ruth Utnage

It's been weeks since I've read this book. I sat down on a Friday night and by that Sunday morning it was complete. Have you ever had a rush of cold air just when you were barely able to breathe? It felt like that.

This guy put to words how I have been doing my time. I am a motivated woman, relentlessly so. I am dedicated to my personal change and continued growth. This guy is on another level when it comes to belief and I want a whole lot of that.

I owe one serious thank you to Defy Ventures Washington's for buying all of us who graduated a copy of this book. Life changing, game changer, uplifting, motivating...I'm making all my friends read it, because the are all just like this guy, we all are.

Do you want to know what rehabilitated does? Read this book then look at any one of us who write here and you'll see that reflected, and if you don't, you need to get to know us!

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Why Don't People Write Prisoners?   by    Ruth Utnage

It's a question I've had for 9 years. I've watched for 9 years as prisons biggest scum bags, guys that are just grimy manipulators get letter after letter because they spend all day working on and concocting lies to get that money from a woman or man. They'll pretend to be gay, Christians, Muslim, helpless, limitless, gangsters and whatever else one can think of. Once they get it, they brag about it.

I refuse to sink to the level of lies to get letters. I lied my entire life. I'm done with lying. I've been done with it, for a very long time. As much as I want o turn this into something playful and maybe a little satirical, all I can muster is the courage to ask:

Why don't you write?

What is holding you back? Seriously?

I get some interaction with various program sponsors, but that's not good enough. That's mere seconds and makes me feel like a damned circus animal in a cage performing for a morsel of food when I'm starving. I need interaction that lasts longer than a few moments and is usually a few key phrases anyway "keep trying" "don't give up" "when you get out...", the same thing everyone else hears. I need a conversation, an actual conversation. Let me rephrase that, I need conversations, plural.

Look inside yourself and ask, "why not?".

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Moses and The Seedless Orange   by    Ruth Utnage

Early on in my sentence I explored spirituality. My take on it was if God was real, the onus was on Them to present Themselves because I had already searched everywhere that I knew to look. One afternoon I was in a bad mood, mainly I was hungry and a little jealous, feeling a lot forgotten. I was in the process of dropping a bunch of weight, about 75 pounds by that point, and I was always hungry. The prison had just gone from making its own food to outsourcing with Correctional Industries which meant we got a lot less of it. One of the major changes was that we were only allowed to have one piece of fruit per meal and for months, only oranges were served. Except, these were terrible oranges, out of season and obviously rejected by any other kitchen! More often than not the seeds inside had sprouted a root system, but all were heavily seeded, which I loathed. On top of that my cellmate at the time wrote his church the month prior and guilted them into taking a collection so he could get packages, stuff like shoes and food. The way he asked them was greasy, I found it distasteful and was even more disgruntled about it when they actually sent him everything that was able to be purchased. He wasn't even appreciative, in fact, he called the pastor and complained because they bought him the "wrong kind of shoes" and he berated them and rejected the order demanding a new one.

Meanwhile, I had nothing.

So there I was hungry, looking at this guys unappreciated stuff and comparing it to my belongings which consisted of state issued clothing, Velcro shoes issued by the state and 2 rotten oranges. I was still hungry and so I began to peel and orange, as dinner was still hours away. Because the peel would stick to the orange meat, I peeled slowly and pulled it off in dry sections. I tried to eat around the roots that had all but consumed the insides, but it tasted acrid and earthy. Still I tried...and about halfway through I had finally had enough. Everything had finally boiled to the surface. I was tired of being lonely. I was tired of seeing that the only people receiving mail and community support were the type that were hustling places like churches. But most of all I was mad that I had to look at oranges at all! I resented them. In a fit of rage I threw the remaining bits at the wall and watched it explode as I shouted "Goddammit! Why can't I just get one, stupid seedless orange!" I cleaned my mess and proceeded to feel foolish for shouting at the walls and coped the only way that made sense anymore. I worked out more.

Three days later I was in my cell hungry again, this time with a better attitude, and I noticed that on my shelf was an orange. This was strange because i stopped bring them back. I didn't want to look at another one, not with my view on them. Unfortunately, there it sat. Another orange. Without much further thought I began to peel the orange and didn't notice it peeled perfectly. I didn't take notice that I broken it in quarters and the juice ran down my arm. I didn't notice when I bit into the first wedge and it was sweet and my teeth didn't crunch into anything. I popped another slice into my mouth and began to savor the sweetness when a memory suddenly returned of me throwing the orange. I heard my words get repeated back to me "Goddammit! Why can't I just get one seedless orange!" and then I heard "See, one seedless orange."

I pulled the orange in for closer inspection and realized that it was, in fact, seedless and Out loud I said "But I cussed, I wasn't talking to You".

"Yeah, but I heard you and furthermore, I answered. I have provided you the answer to your prayer, one seedless orange."

"Of all the prayers You decide to answer, this is the one?" I replied sarcastically "The orange is the miracle You decide to provide? The Almighty and Powerful God, the Provider of Oranges! Behold!" I shook my head and said more to myself than anything "That wasn't even a prayer, that was just me yelling".

The voice only continued "I hear everything, you addressed Me, you said my name, you requested something of me. You put the onus on Me to show myself. Remember? I know precisely what you needed to see in order to prove I was real, not you, Me. I know what hurts you, I know what ails your grieving spirit, I know what makes you run and why you cry at night, I know why you really despise oranges and I, I alone, am making a covenant with you. Whenever you see an orange remember this day and know that you are unable to deny My existence any longer, you are without excuse. I love you and forgave you, long, long ago. Oranges are no longer a source of personal torment but a reminder of the redemption you have received and remember this well, just because you whisper and curse alone and in the dark does not mean I am not listening or valuing what you say, neither of those things stop me from feeling your words or your pain."

That made me stop. Until then I felt crazy and at that moment all I could do was cry. I felt loved. At the same time I felt stupidity, regret, shame, joy and embarrassment all at once. Oranges were a reminder of my son, Moses. Nobody knew that but me. I never told a soul because it was too shaming to think about, let alone tell people about. In fact, I wouldn't talk about my children at all. I actually went through a grieving process where I "buried" my children as if they passed on. This is a coping mechanism that many inmates employ. They act as if their loved ones had died and that's why they cannot contact them. They grieve their loss and attempt to move on, but, I did this with my own children. To this day I have a hard time with this. I even refer to them in the past tense despite the fact that they are still very much alive. I don't know any other way to cope with not being able to communicate with them.

I wish it were different...

I have told this portion of my story many times over the years but I have never told what the oranges reminded me of exactly. I always stopped before that point bringing testimony to the nice, warm and cuddly close that stories like this are supposed to have. Until today. Today I finish it. The seedless orange is a warm and fuzzy memory of realizing for the first time I could begin to find self-worth, that I could be forgiven, even loved. But until now I never told anyone why.
My middle child, Moses, loved fruit. The kid would eat watermelon until his stomach bulged no matter what was being served. Fruit was always a first option for him, particularly, he liked oranges. He would eat them by the bag if he could. Problem was his fingers weren't strong enough to peel them. His finger couldn't break the flesh of oranges yet. So he'd ask me, constantly.
Unfortunately for Moses, he wasn't born to a very good set of parents. I was so wrapped up in my own misery and self-pity, still wearing ridiculous masks covering up the fact I knew I was a woman. My then wife was beginning to slip farther and farther into what we later found out was schizophrenia and had become altogether unmanageable for any of us. I was angry all the time, mainly because I was still alive, something I tried to "fix" about a year later . I had already committed my crime and was not planning on living much longer, literally. On top of just giving up on my own life, I gave up on everyone else's too. I couldn't get anymore distant. In retrospect, coming out would have stopped nearly all of this. But I wouldn't be courageous enough to face that for another 7-8 years.

One afternoon I was in a particularly sour and surly mood when Moses chipperly and politely asked me to peel him an orange. "Daddy, can you peel me an orange?" he asked.

I made such a big deal of it, I responded with such venom that I watched him shrink back. My 6 year old watched as I grabbed a kitchen knife and angrily chopped several oranges in lazy quarters and slammed them on a plate and shoved them at him. "Here!" I shouted bitterly.

"Thanks, Daddy." Moses said solemnly. It was the worst possible thing I could have heard because I knew I deserved neither a thank you nor the title of Dad. Moses took the plate with his head down and walked away sobbing.

I should have stopped everything right there. Hugged him and changed everything right that moment and if I could go back and do that, I would. Even in that moment I hated what in was doing. I was so ashamed of so much up to that point already. It is one of many moments I wish I could go back and undo, apologize for at least and make up somehow. My child just wanted an orange, peeled by his parent who should have been more than happy to be spending any time at all with such a wonderful child. He should have felt love. Instead, he given neglect, disrespect and surely felt unloved. Even as I write this my mind is screaming at me to change it. To go back and peel the orange. Tell him that I love him, hug him tightly and never let go because as I sit here in this cell it's all I can think about doing.

I replayed that memory and every time I seen an orange. Reminding me of that day and what an awful person I once was. They reminded me of what I cannot take back and the hurt all those moments caused and continues to cause today. They reminded me of his face dropping in sadness as I yelled at him for no reason. Of his little hands taking the plate and slowly walking away with his little shoulders slumped. Of how I stole the joy away from him as he quietly ate each piece despite it being obvious he had lost his appetite. From that day I hated oranges because they reminded me of what I did and I had to relive my bad choices, and no matter what I did, I couldn't get away from them.
I'd give anything to peel a million oranges for him, day and night I'd peel oranges.

Inevitably I thought of my youngest and all my mistakes with him as well. Then, of course there is my oldest whom, well, we won't discuss that but let's just say I wronged in a way that no child should experience. But I'd give anything to rewind and change it, to stop it. It would have been so easy to intervene, a simple "just come out, be you and be free, it's okay, it's not as scary as you think! The bad memories you have as a child, let's talk about them finally." I'd give anything to be a present, real, loving parent to my kids.

For so long all I could think about was getting a "life" sentence I deserved. I had failed in life, given up on everything. I lost everyone and everything imaginable. I had stopped thinking about forgiveness, self-worth or ever reconciling. I had no idea how to begin rebuilding my life. I was lost. Then the seedless orange happened.

It has taken me nearly 10 years of intensive therapy to confront my former self. I had been such a coward until the past few years when I decided to finally let go and face my fears. Owning my life has been the most empowering thing I have ever felt. Dispatching painful memories by illuminating them, taking away their powerful grip on me and removing the shackles of shame. Now I get to move forward towards my purpose in life.

If there is a lesson I have learned since I have been in prison and from this incident its you cannot change who you were, what you've done or where you went. You can change who you are and who you'll be. You can change what you're doing and what you're going to do. You can change where you are and where you're heading. All you have to do is have the courage to begin. Begin with love...

Ruth Utnage

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Community Contact For Prisoners Is Just Like Click Treating For Dogs    by    Ruth Utnage

One of the hardest things for me to cope with is not enough community contact. The lack of letters for months and years on end is debilitating at times and I end up spending vast amounts of mental resources learning to deal with such realities. After all, I must learn to move on. While my fellow prisoners have become family to me and we depend on one anothers emotional support, nothing replaces what we are isolated from, you.

Volunteers trickle in from the community to run various programs which are always packed with long waiting lists, especially those that have prolonged and direct human contact with outside, or "free world", people. This causes great concern for me because I know how desperate I am for meaningful contact and I'm not the only one. Take a program, get contact. Don't take a program, don't get contact. It just so happens that one of the biggest lures available is religious practices. I'll leave you to decide if that's a good thing or not, I'm not presenting religion as good or bad. I am, however, presenting that here we have a truly vulnerable demographic (inmate) who has an inarguable need for meaningful contact with "society" and it is used as a reward.

Granted, I doubt it's intentional, nobody's behind the scenes rubbing palms together and plotting psychological torment. Nobody, specifically, is responsible and can be held accountable. This is simply a consequence, not an intention of a system that is, in my humble opinion, outdated. But what do I know, I just live here.

What I do know for sure is that I've been asking for more visitors, letters, emails, phone calls and mentorship and those things don't come and it hurts. It makes me feel as if I am no longer welcome in society which is a scary feeling seeing as how I am set for release next year. I do know that when I take a program and get to speak, however brief, with a free-world person, I feel better but eventually grow resentful that contact always come with a price, performance and/or belief. Believe in what I say, prove yourself valuable to me and I'll spend just a little more time with you, prove invaluable or have differing beliefs and I'll ignore you for others who will.

I never feel more animalistic than when I hope for someone to contact me.

Can't wait to be free.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Decade In     by   Ruth Utnage

It's odd how over time a natural change occurs in our demeanor and temperament. I have been in prison nearly a decade and my acceptance of confinement, having a realistic view on my circumstances, has dramatically shifted since I first fell. Things like dealing with cellmates whom I do not know, being forced to live with someone I don't know. I used to get worked up over such things but a calm and confidence happens as you deal with nearly every situation possible.

Learning to accept things as they are has been a difficult road. I see others struggling to encapsulate their environment and their experience as their own doing, but the opposite is true, it encapsulates you and provides you with a certain level of experience. There's just no way around that truth. I find it disheartening to witness others learn to cope with this in every way other than acceptance. I'd imagine that, like myself, coping with reality was a major part of why they came to prison in the first place.

Something else that changed over a decade is who I looked at as strong and who I feared. I used to fear the overly aggressive and look up to those who were overly aggressive but had empathy for me, specifically. This is no longer the case. I now have a healthy respect for those who keep their humanity and follow their values despite the current environment. True strength is understanding reality and dealing with it head on, but that's just one woman's humble opinion. Who I fear is those who follow and are soft-minded (a term that one of my heros wrote about in Strength To Love, Martin Luther King Jr.), unwilling to grow or change over time.

I have been forever changed by prison. Understand this, I have had to choose that it was for the good.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Hi Everybody, this is Valerie, I received this email from Ruth today and it breaks my heart. I hope it breaks yours too!

Let me ask you a serious question, should we give this up? I'm very discouraged and am frustrated with the inability to interact meaningfully both with the site and the community. I'm disappointed that we just can't seem to take off and despite having a steady small reader base, they still don't interact. Likes are not what I'm after, comments aren't either. Penny for your thoughts. Maybe it would lighten the load for you too? Maybe it would provide one less stressor for me. I have a lot of faith that once I'm out I can dedicate the time to market the site properly and gain the attention for it and the remaining writers so they can get the support we all seek, but I feel like for me I gain nothing except additional stress surrounding why I'm failing so miserably. Very discouraged.

Ruth


But truthfully, for me, I'm not ready to throw in the towel. It doesn't take that much for me to do this, and I believe the benefit to them is worth this little price I pay.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Andragogy In Prisons    by Ruth Utnage

The adult learning experience is of personal intrigue to me because of the principal of scarcity. What is limited is that which I seek to affirm my social status in any given environment. To be blunt, when I feel like I'm living in a space where cognitively disabled individuals presumably reign as authority, I seek to be educated because education is the commodity in the scarcest form. Adult-based learning is also the point of prison. Consider the phrases:

"I hope you learn your lesson"
"Prison will teach you a thing or two"
"Correction center"
"Prisoner rehabilitation"

All of which point to adult-based learning objectives as the underpinnings of modern confinement. As research in andragogical learning emerges what is painfully clear is that the ideal learning conditions for adults is not achievable in today's prisons. "The instructor's role is to facilitate rather than dominate the learning." (Merriam, Saharan B., and Laura L. Bierema. Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, John Wiley and Sons, Incorporated, 2013). The "instructor" in the case of prisons is the elected officials who mandate what educational systems are required by law to be offered. We can then further delve into this theoretical approach and critical analysis of prison instruction by pointing out that every prison employee then becomes an educator, or, instructor. The presence of militarily clad authoritarian officials is now in direct opposition to modern research of how to best "teach a lesson" to an adult.

The opposition appears best when we see the dress code and apartheidic systems of the instructor (prison employee) and the student (prisoner). The clear distinction draws a correlation to class separation and a mood of unattainable self-actualization (as introduced by Abraham Maslow) where one demographic has autonomy (a need for adult learners) and one does not. The question, then, must be asked: If prisons aren't well-suited for adult learning as proven by modern science, what are they well-suited for?

I want to leave you with this, dear reader, prisons were designed to "teach a lesson" and deter the next generation from committing crimes. The thought has been to make prison as harsh as possible, and for a long time they were. There was public executions where bloody and brutal displays were touted as the cutting-edge in public safety and did absolutely nothing to stop crime of any sort, we know this because crime continued despite the morbidity of a given punishment (for more on this see Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish). As technologies emerged like the electric chair and science pointed to cognitive reasoning as the culprits for crime punishments became more advanced and clever because older systems had not only failed to stop crime, crime increased to a point where old systems of morbid and harsh penalties were no longer possible to maintain, there was too much demand. This proves a complete failure of that model and "cracking down and making things harsher for criminals" was not only ineffective, but made things worse.

Now we are here where the "instructor" has simply given up and is still holding on to old beliefs and wives tales about corrections, ignoring the data being freely given that not only fulfills the ideological purpose of confinement by truly making "safer communities" but is also a more humane approach to correctional systems as a whole.

Written by Ruth Utnage

I am a trans inmate incarcerated in Washington State since 2011. I intend on entering the field of Human Resources and intersecting that with technology-based HRM. I am highly interested in being mentored in business and life in general. Feel free to contact me! My name is legally Ruth Utnage but any letter to me must have my initial incarcerated name lest I forget I am a partially owned human being. I am the founder and owner of

Contact info:
Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 C-601-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

or via jpay.com

Name: Jeff Utnage (can, and should, address email to Ruth, not Jeff)
DOC#: 823469

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