Every state spends millions of dollars on programs that inmates despise. “Thinking For A Change” is a perfect example. The state spends millions on this program that teaches us basic manners. I am not exaggerating when I say that we had to practice saying please, thank you and how to introduce ourselves in four steps!

You paid millions for that. They claim that it will help our recidivism rates decline. I disagree. What they did was pad their success numbers by taking guys with 5-12 years left on their sentence and padded 80% of the participants with guys that were minumum custody, very low infraction history and were classified as “easy keeps”; meaning we obey authority well. Then housed us in medium custody. 

Its no wonder that we have such a high recidivism rate. The one thing that did work was real educations. It drastically lowered our recidivism rates and was cheaper. It cost, on average, $5,000 to educate an inmate once and $30,000 to house an inmate year after year. Pretty simple math really. 

Besides college educations being nearly impossible to obtain in here the other thing that’s missing is heart. No one gives a shit. We are neatly packed away in a cell and so long as we only hurt each other things are fine. Well, no they are not fine. While inmates are in here beating he hell out of each other crime rates are still climbing in your neighborhoods. How can that be if the bad guys are locked up? I thought we were contained to this cell? You get my point. The truth is we have a societal problem, not a singular criminal problem. 

This means that we must begin treating a condition rather then punishing an act. Men and women are no longer learning needed skills for societal integration. This cannot be done by teaching basic manners in a prison. and charging the state millions to cover up major offenses while they do it. 

As inmates we know that we have control of our prison culture. In order to create a paradigm where violence ends and compassion begins we have to convince our neighbors that it will work to keep them out of prison and that success out there is possible. Every year inmates submit proposal after proposal that addresses specific needs. Needs that if met would actually help our recidivism rates decline. But year after year we are denied help because “funding” “lack of volunteers” ” lack of staff” and the list goes on…

The single most effective tool for reducing crime is education. It just so happens that it is also one of the cheapest long term. But its the one thing we are not allowed. You tell me what we are. Because it seems to me we are no longer people to be helped but a commodity to be controlled. While we attempt to fix ourselves in here out there your world is falling apart, only one group of people benefit from that, the rich, specifically the rich who are invested in the prison industry. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage