Reward based systems are used all throughout our culture to promote good things. One such instance is companies who track performance by their emoployees. They set standard goals that are universal and measured to everyone. When an employee reaches whatever goal or milestone then they recieve whatever reward correlates to each designated goal. 

This type of system has been proven to be highly effective for the promotion of positive behavior within the confines of a professional spectrum.

However, people are people are people. The way they react at work is the same that they will react to the same situation in their home or at the grocery store. People respond to positive reinforcement no matter what environment. It is not unique to companies, but universal to our species.

As a child I watched a cruel man potty train a puppy by waiting for the animal to discharge inside the house. Once it did, he terrified the creature by becoming loud, larger then he really was, rubbing the animals nose in its own discharge and then throwing it outside, literally. It was awful to watch and effective for training the dog because it was traumatic. 

However, it also set the tone for that relationship between submissive animal and dominant human. It was trained with negativity. 

As prisoners we are never formally rewarded for good behavior, only negativity is regarded when we do something wrong, like the puppy. Only humans are more impacted by trauma because our range of emotion is wider, at least our expression thereof. It is worth noting that the healthiest and most effective way to train an animal is with a reward-based system because they react overall healthier through positive reinforcement then through abusive punishment alone. 

The same principal must be applied to the offending person as well. It is already slightly in effect through “Good Conduct Time” but that has come to be understood as your expected release date, rather then something earned.

Prison gangs will initiate members through violence. They use this violence to control one another, control their environment, gain respect etc. The only thing they respect is fear and submission because that’s all that’s been given to them that’s effective. Then along comes DOC where the only policies in place are ones of punishment. There is no policy to reward positive change. It goes against our species nature to never have our positivity encouraged through recognition, brain stimulation, and reward. 

As children our parents, teachers, and society as a whole used positive reinforcement to establish good habits and behavior. That style of learning is not used so widely because its ineffective. Drugs use the same methodology. You take a drug, it makes you feel good -or- “rewards” you by feeling pleasure. So in turn it seeks that feeling more and more, it does this on its own, involuntarily. See, our brains are designed to seek those things that make it feel good.

We can do the same thing in criminal corrections. Still punish the negative behavior, but create goals that will be rewarded with some sort of brain stimulating reward. But it must only be dependent on each individual person, not groups of cooperative people. The idea is to promote change within a broken person, make them realize that they alone are responsible for their change. 

Just my thoughts. The reward could be simple, inexpensive if it cost anything at all. It could be their own good time, or it could be a special title, instead of “Offender Utnage” it could read “Mentor Utnage” once I have displayed real changes. 

What do you think? What are your ideas?

With Love
Jeff Utnage