What if you could see my rehabilitative process? What if it was not limited to just me you could witness, what if it was everyone in state custody?

I have dreams of a day when prisons are no longer the solution, but I cannot be so naive to think that pushing an abolitionist ideology is going to solve our community problems, there are people here that are entirely change resistant. But prison does not make them better, it simply contains them. Some folks need that containment, where they are not a danger to others but these are relatively few.

There is a middle ground that we can step into. No need to spend billions in experimental theories, but we can make small, inexpensive, nearly risk-less changes. First, identify what a rehabilitated inmate does with their time. Let you, the public, see them, get to know them and see for yourself what the model is, something for you to compare against. DOC has no good idea what that is, they are still stuck in theoretical ideals that were useful 250 plus years ago for the subjugation of slaves and pushing Puritanical theology the means has simply evolved with technology. Then we wonder why they are so ineffective, the model is outdated. Second, create a safe space for those who want to be rehabilitated to do so effectively.

Despite the images you may have in your head about prisoners, many of us are not killing, raping, unmanageable terrors that all belong to ridiculous prison gangs. Many are just looking to make changes to themselves, get clean, be better parents, get a job that helps them get that American vision of success, the house with a family. A few of us are aiming higher and want to be prepared for higher education and seek to change our entire thought pattern into one of successful-oriented efficiency and adaptation to a changing world and it is worth noting that those of us who think like that, admittedly few that we are, have similar behavior patterns in prison: we influence our environment to be non violent, we believe higher education is a rehabilitative mechanism, we are actively working to positively impact our communities both inside and outside of prison. There are more, but I’ll rest the point there.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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