JPay Blog

Do Prisons and Mass Incarceration Keep Us Safe?

Some believe prisons actually do more harm than good – creating a ripple effect that harms both incarcerated individuals and their families. A recent interview with outspoken Maya Schenwar, the author of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, explores the philosophy of punishment and how “corrections” in this country is actually the opposite from what motivates people to change – breaking down the bonds that hold people and communities together.

What are your thoughts? Watch TRNN’s Eddie Conway interview with Maya Schenwar

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48 Comments

  1. Angelina Vigil

    December 27, 2017 - 12:31 am

    What can we as a people do about changing how the prison system operates and that inmates are given good medical and mental health is properly treated? If any one has any info it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God Blessed

  2. Nikki K.

    September 5, 2017 - 3:46 am

    I would say that the prisons here in the United States are in desperate need of a few SIMPLE fixes. Fixes that yes, will take money out of pockets of the already rich, government, and the entire system. But it will help to end poverty among most of the United States. Money is such an ugly item, it forces people to ruin entire livelihoods only to earn that extra dollar. Its wrong and sickening. The prisons need activities, reward programs for inmates, learning programs… Not boredom, where they are forced to sit and stare at the blank walls day in, day out with nothing to do with their time, no way to prove their self worth to anyone or even themselves, no way to help themselves or keep their minds busy and focussed on bettering their lives or selves. These people…. Living breathing, human beings are treated as anything but just that. They are thrown into a tiny space with no privacy, no family, NOTHING that they have been accustomed to on the outside, no feeling of comfort…. But yet you want them to “learn their lesson” and somehow come out a better person than when they went in? How is this ever going to happen when there are no programs to teach them a better way to life, there are no ways for them to explore different talents of theirs in hopes of finding one they like, there is no rewards for their actions while they are in there, no incentives on things they have accomplished and done, nobody there to cheer them on from the outside and give them hope. Alot of The guards look down on them like their trash, continually talk bad to them making their life and stay a miserable nightmare. Not all do, but MOST do and that’s what their trained to do so inmates don’t take advantage of them… I can see that to a certain extent. I know prison isn’t supposed to be home away from home, comfortable, or a place you ever want to go back to… Its supposed to be rough, and they want to make it hell so you wouldn’t think the inmates would want to go back… I don’t think, or I know that isn’t the answer. What the inmates have lacked throughout their lives is love, attention, people who truly care about them… The majority of the inmates have no families other than their gangs or close homies, they don’t have homes, or healthy happy homes, nobody has ever gave a crap about most of them and that’s exactly what has led them to where they are today . because they have given up, they have nothing if not very much to live for so they will go to great lengths to make their lives into SOMETHING rather than to continue on with NOTHING. So why keep up with the hard crap and treating them poorly if it isn’t and hasn’t been working while knowing that is most of these peoples way of life as it is already. I think this country not only prisons but this country needs to be more understanding, lending out more hands and hugs although that sounds cheesy… This prison system is so grimmey and its known so why continue to keep it this way? To fill the governments pockets and the ones who truly don’t need it. Start saving lives of others, start actually caring about others and what they are going through and see what an amazing change this world will start to make. Money is the root of all evil . I think its time we rethink our ways of life, start penalizing the system for betraying our country and our people and treating our country and people any less than they are. Addicts DO NOT WAKE UP AND SAY “Maybe I should become an addict today, that sounds fun. The dope is absolutely everywhere so why not” NO… ADDICTS ARE AROUND IT SO MUCH THAT THEY OF COARSE ARE GOING TO END UP TRYING IT EITHER BY CURIOSITY, PEER PRESSURE, SADNESS, LOSS… MANY MANY REASONS WHY THEY WILL AND ONLY A VERY FEW WHY THEY SHOULDN’T… ALL IT TAKES IS FEELING IT JUST ONCE AND ITS GAME OVER. So until there are no more drugs on these streets (which will never happen) than why continue to punish the addicts as if its their fault this crap is all over, as if its their fault that they made the simple mistake to try it one day and felt its amazing out of body experiences… Its not them to blame. . . how about the government and the ones who brought the crap to us all in the first place to make more money? Its not right. Addicts should not have to penalized more so than a murderer who purposely , willingly, went out and killed someone. No, addicts become addicts by accident more so than not… That’s what else this country and school systems should teach more of, is the actual, true effects that drugs have upon you. Nobody ever told me how.badly you hurt when you withdrawal in school, no they only.ever spoke of your teeth rotting out or your hair spraggled out… Not ever did the schools or adults tell me how truly horrible addiction is and just how badly withdrawal are. Better educating our youth would make a dramatic impact all in itself. Make a school class instead of the physics and crazy math you will never need nor use in your life and make classes that teach us ways of life and how to live them… Something this world and these people could actually value in throughout life and use throughout life. Such small changes could make such a dramatic impact on all of us if the government would let go of their greedy and the system would stop focusing on pulling more inmates in for money and rather focus on our children’s futures and bettering our world SO we all can live healthier, happier, more meaningful lives than we are living now . it can all start with these prisons better educating our inmates, rehabilitating our inmates, and giving our inmates a reason to want to do better… Instead of throwing us dirt and telling us to make ourselves better with it. Its not okay. It has to stop.

  3. Olivejuicy

    April 23, 2017 - 4:02 am

    I loved C Kent’s comment and response. I totally agree with your whole outlook and the spoke was truthful, painful and the best thing is the ending. Love will help you… Not hate or toxic response from anyone. So good luck and god bless.

  4. Julie.A.Bertrand

    January 5, 2017 - 2:20 am

    I am a 44 year old woman who has done time in Canada, North Dakota, Minnesota. Not until I hit Minnesota did Prison do anything to change my life. I was an addict that did financial transactions to fund my addiction than after having a prior drug charge I was waiting to go to Teen Challenge and staying with my boyfriend whom happen to also be a bondsman. He borrowed my car the night before when he was looking for a guy that had jumped bail. The next day I left to visit a friend and leaving her place the cops pulled me over and found a loaded gun under the seat. The gun was new and never had one finger print of mine on it or on the box it was in. They pulled out a box, when open and there was a 9 millimeter w/ the clip in it and an extra loaded clip. I got 5 years automatic, minimum mandatory is what I was told. I ended up sitting in Minnesota prison for 43 months. While I was there I was given the opportunity to get my GED and did Office support and Cosmetology, all while also working and paying off my fines. I was released in Aug of 2012 and violated that May 2013. After sitting for 120 days I was kicked back out on my SRD. I have been so much better since getting released with my GED. I now am in College working on a Psychology degree in Addictions. When I did time in North Dakota it was horribly boring. I relapsed after 20 minutes of leaving, and was back 2 years later in trouble. Since I have been going to school I have learned not only was I born with a predisposition to be addicted but The environment I lived in nurtured the addiction side of my personality. I will say, “Yes”, the healthcare system needs some work, but the entire Judicial system needs a complete overhaul. If each person that had a complaint filed it with the Ombudsman’s office, the system wouldn’t be the way it is. By sitting and waiting for a change, but doing nothing to be part of the solution than you become part of the problem. Anything that makes movement in the direction of change will result in momentum and that will bring faster change to our loved ones, our communities and ourselves. Please if there is a problem that you know about it e-mail the Governor’s office and file a complaint with the head office of the state DOC . Every little step in the right direction brings us closer to the change this country needs. We are all responsible for the future, the past is gone but we can use it to recall past mistakes so we don’t make the same.
    Good Luck and Please be kind to a stranger in 2017. Happy New Year, People do change for the better as much as the worst.
    Julie.B

  5. Brandon Mills

    December 29, 2016 - 11:40 am

    In North Carolina the recidivism rate is over 90% within five years. That means if you line up ten inmates next to each other, chances are likely that not a single one will make it on the streets for five years before returning to prison. That statistic alone represents what a huge failure the Criminal Justice system is in our country. So go ahead and say it, they’re criminals of course they’ll be back. Bullshit. In Sweden, 85% of inmates WON’T return, and their prisons (a 3 room suite for every inmate) are like luxury apartments compared to those here in America. The truth is, the number one priority in our country, to the people in position to make positive change, is making money. Whether it’s personal money, making money for the Corporation who just spent half a million to lobby for legislation in their favor, or directly writing legislation to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, that’s the bottom dollar. There is so much money to be made in locking up low level drug offenders, the FDA blatantly lies about the (proven) medical uses of Marijuana, and judges would rather incarcerate an addict than rehabilitate one. Well, just wait and see five years from now how far down this heroine epidemic takes our society. By that time, old addicts will be getting released into even worse life situations than they were in before when they were in the grips of full on addiction. Our nation is being poisoned it’s own leaders, all to make a buck. Where do you think the world’s largest supply of heroine was in the early 2000s? Afghanistan. Right about the time doctors began to flood the market with prescriptions for Oxycontin, our military began to invade heroine country. Several years later, they rip the drug from pharmacies and low and behold, they have created a heroine epidemic, and control the supply after they have increased demand by 5000%. Then Mexico came along and started harvesting poppy. The US government didn’t expect that, and now they have created a monster they cannot control because they have never actually attempted large scale rehabilitation. The only way a system of incarceration will ever work is if: low level/non violent drug charges don’t see prison, a true equal employment system is put in place for released offenders, and the government cuts out private prisons. Privatized prisons will ensure that there is never a hope for a truly functional system. More prisoners = more $$$, which means someone will always make sure it is hard for prisoners to leave and even harder to stay out. Go take a look at the statistics for states with private prisons versus the states without. If you’ve been paying attention, then those statistics won’t surprise you, but they may overwhelm you. All offenders: don’t ever give up, because that’s how the system beats us (and you further the stereotypes). We have to come together to show that we are more than ignorant criminals, if given a chance we can be very hard working and productive members of the community; stay away from whatever lifestyle landed you in prison to begin with, and help to set an example for your peers. There will always be those who make us look bad, but we have to separate ourselves from those who want to be criminals and those who just want a chance at life like everyone else. If making mistakes was enough to keep a person from living a full life, then every man, woman, and child should have to struggle like we do to live a decent life. I don’t want to be on food stamps or welfare; the fact that I beat my addiction this long makes me never want another hand out, so please don’t force me to ask for one. The people hurt the most by my crimes have forgiven me by now, I served my time, and payed WAY more than my fines – I shouldn’t have to wear a scarlet letter the rest of my life; to every job interview, to every child born to our family, on every application to put a roof over my family’s head, to purchase means to protect my family. The only reason felons are stripped of voting rights is because they know we would vote in leaders who would help to reform people instead of using them to make every penny possible, ever think about that? Have a great day, keep your head up, and never, EVER let the system beat you without them having to sweat and bleed for it.

  6. Paul Lewis

    December 25, 2016 - 6:12 pm

    Having done time myself, ten years. Prison is to keep violent offenders, and repeat offenders off the street. I understand this. the first problem is health care. government, state officials continue to cut funds. even court ordered treatments are not addressed because of budget cuts. I watched many of my friends die of heart attacks and so on. two court ordered drug and schooling are cut all the time. -prison is a violent place. you fight for scraps to eat fight to stay alive. then fight the depression of being in prison. then after time you become custom to life in prison. it may hard to believe but its true. you get up, go to work eat sleep. some convicts stay in their cells all the time choosing not to do anything because the have given up or don’t care any more. after 7 years the man or woman that entered prison has changed into something most people don’t understand. IT TOOK ME MONTHS to acclimate to life in the free world. my brother watched me walk around the back yard. he said I was looking at the plants, trees as if I was seeing them for the first time. it’s true. I didn’t see a single tree or plants for ten years. we take so much for granted in our lives. the judge said I’m sending you to prison, gave court ordered classes to rehabilitate me. I get to prison and nothing all classes have been cancelled. so I survived I read everything I could. worked , worked out. I had to fight to keep my sanity. I had to come up with a plan to make up for my crime, hurting those I hurt because of my crime. it’s hard on convicts when they come home because of the stigma of being in prison. no one is willing to give us a chance. and those that do, make up work harder for less pay. its true because I live it every day. no one see’s what we’ve done to be a better person. no one believes us when we say we never want to return to prison. all you see in a crime not a person. some of us hide our past. we become outstanding members of the community, until someone see the app. for released convicts and the list goes on. and we are back to being an outcast and have to move yet again. then there are those who, even tho they’ve become better persons can’t handle the guilt of hiding their past and end up ending their own lives because if someone finds out about their past what they’ve worked so hard at is undone because someone will find out. everyone hates prisons convicts and non convicts. we are not perfect. but no one whats to stand up and fight for a better system. walk a mile in an excons shoes, spend a day in prison. hell go tour a prison. the guards will only show you their side. ask about health care. eat the food we have to eat. spend a day in the cell we live in for 24 hours. until someone stands up and does something prisons will turn out violent convicts, exconvicts and repeat offenders who are institutionalized.

  7. alicia scroggins

    November 18, 2016 - 1:20 am

    I don’t understand what is going on with the prison facilities, that want give the inmates medical
    treatments. I have a son right now in this private prison New Castle and he is in bad shape and the want take him to see a doctor. Is there any one else having this problem with there love one.

  8. debbi64

    August 21, 2016 - 9:40 am

    The Prison system is completely out of control, as well as the so called justice system. People going to prison for ridiculous terms over minor drug offenses (rather than to rehab) and others only serving a few months for the death of a child, where it was at the very least willful negligence. Then inside the prison !st you have the gangs, join one or else, 2nd you have the contraband (brought in by the corrections officers, who are making a profit), 3rd you have the unfair practices in there….they promote boredom and depression and expect these people to stay out of further trouble…do not properly address addiction problems or psychological issues….are completely cutting out college courses in many facilities….

  9. Toni

    August 17, 2016 - 12:11 am

    The answer is NO. In a nutshell prisons and mass incarcerations are an abomination – cruel and unusual punishment. Thousands upon thousands are locked up due to drugs and addiction and many years of lives are given up to incarceration, for what? Only to maybe get out one day – with the SAME monster of addiction lurking deep in the soul! Our system of locking up anyone and everyone is a crime unto itself. I say lock up lawmakers, prosecutors, and judges

  10. Denice

    August 14, 2016 - 6:03 pm

    Gangs are a huge problem in prison, and those who do not join pay the price. G-5 security prisoners are treated like animals with food thrown at them, never allowed to leave the cell and with another person in the cell with them. Mentally ill prisoners are put in with sane prisoners, drugs dispensed, and if you so much as try to intervene, there is retaliation.

  11. Denice Gardner

    August 14, 2016 - 5:55 pm

    I agree 100%. The pain and suffering that has impacted my family due to my son being in a Texas prison for 4 years now. He was given a 5 year sentence, but not once did any judge ever send him to treatment for his heroin addiction. I never realized there was such a lack of true rehabilitation in our prisons. He will have support when he is out, but what about those who do not?

  12. edward

    August 11, 2016 - 8:47 pm

    There is one reason that the US prison system has grown so large: Cheap Labor Because incarcerated individuals can be forced to work for as little as a few cents an hour.

    “The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

    The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

    China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000 with over 500 private prisons. It used to be that your local connected and corrupt redneck families owned the probation departments. The bar has been raised-Like something out of an Ayn Rand book. The way things are going I can forsee in a century, a country with 3/4ths of is population incarcerated and enslaved to serve the rest

    interesting articles here: Read and be informed
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/prison-labor-in-america/406177/

  13. Sean

    August 9, 2016 - 10:02 pm

    I have done a good part of my life locked up. What this lady has to say is spot on. I have a friend who now has spent a good pae of her life locked up. She is now looking for a change. Thankfully I an driven enough and when I decided it was time for a change, I set out to do it and for the most part have suceeded. She is fortunate she has a strong family system and me to come out to. It is time to reconsider what these places do to people. I learned a plethora of ways to do more things, I however choose to not follow those leads. It would be far better to rehabilitate than to ostracize persons convicted of crimes. Recidivism would go way down.

  14. Mama Dee

    August 2, 2016 - 9:02 pm

    Hands down prison is absolutely harmful to not only the incarcerated but their family. We have to look at the life of the person before entering DOC! Rehabilitation needs to be done, extensive therapy, life skills, showing them love. Not everyone has humble beginnings so sitting them in a prison for 1-100 years teaches them nothing! Some people had it bad from birth or were born into a life of crime so they have to be retrained.

    Psychology major AND fiancée to a an inmate serving 13 years

  15. shay hill

    July 26, 2016 - 4:34 pm

    I watched a TV show last night (true story) a lady had 5 kids. Her & her boyfriend decided they wanted more money (they sold drugs), so they decided to rob another drug dealer. They heard from someone else that this person had money in their home. So they decided they would go and rob him. Once in the home they beat him, knocked his girlfriend out and demanded money, which none was found. They shot the man, shot and killed 2 of the male children ages 12 & 13. The woman and her boyfriend got life. These are the people that do need to go to prison.

  16. Jared

    July 16, 2016 - 2:36 pm

    I spent 7 years incarcerated for a non-violent offense, which consisted of lighting trash on fire during my late teens. During my extended visit to DOC, I will most certainly say that nothing good comes out of this solution of incarceration. What makes me hang my head at society is that there is this tendency to try to bandage things, rather than solve the problem. I have become a firm believer that the number one thing we can do to protect ourselves from falling victim to the judicial system is to receive an education. The number one thing that has kept me from going back is education. Since my incarceration, I have gone to college, and I now work in the medical industry, working directly with patients with varying conditions, with little to no supervision. 5 years ago, I never would have thought something like this was even remotely possible in my future.
    Sadly, education isn’t an option for everybody. Some people in DOC have never had an opportunity to complete any schooling whatsoever. Some people in DOC no longer are sane enough, or never were sane enough to handle the rigors of receiving an education. Others just don’t care, or it doesn’t matter to them.
    I guess what I’m really getting at is that there is no easy solution. I was lucky enough to get out and I continue to stay out. What helped me, won’t necessarily help everyone else. Incarceration certainly won’t help. Maybe we should start to address why people feel a “need” for committing crimes. If we start to address what people really need, then prisons would start to cease to exist. Treating symptoms only works for as long as it works. Recovery and healing occurs when you take care of the condition causing the symptoms.

  17. james

    July 3, 2016 - 12:28 pm

    Its pretty bad when the only thing that is different between the inmates and the guards is a badge ( not that it stands for anything but a get away with it card ) . The judicial system locks away people for rape and assaults and other sexual crimes but thinks its ok for the guards to do it to the inmates . Dont want to believe me ? Go on the inside as an offender and find out for yourself . Its not just prisons , county jails are just as bad . No one cares . As soon as you are sentenced you are no longer human . Youre a piece of meet , cattle, a quick poke , a sex toy that cant tell . Im talking primarily about female prisons . Everyone says tell the warden , tell the prison inspectors , tell the attorney general , tell the governor , get a lawyer . Just makes things worse on your locked up lived one . They get locked diwn in solitary confinement (no Cameras) and become a target for anyone with a stiffie or sick fantacy Wile the people you reported the crime to “investigate” when in actual reality do nothing . Prisins should be shut down . There is nothing goid comeing out of prisons . Just damaged people and greater criminals . We should also do away with district attorneys and judges . In the old days it was up to the offended community to deside the fate of an offender . There is so many other ways to punish someone besides subjecting them to multiple daily rapes , beatings , and unhumanizing behaviors . Before convicting someone , get all the facts (no bribes) . Now days the rich is innocent and the poor is screwed . These things i know for a fact . I would tell all but she has suffered enouph . Find a way to protect our loved ones from the ones that are suposto protect them . Stop the crimes commited by the law enforcers . The ones with the authority and power to di something actually do it , not talk about it . We need to join together and put a stop to these injustices .

  18. April

    June 24, 2016 - 2:45 pm

    Being incarcerated does not help the person or the crime committed. Being in prison is a business that requires customers. Which means laws have to be created that our government know will be broken in order to get as many customers to keep their business running. Maybe the punishments should fit the crime than people may not be so quick to commit that crime. If you sending someone to prison helps than why does it cost taxpayers so much. Who is it helping? The victims are taxpayers so now they have to pay tax dollars to house the person or persons that committed a crime against them, how fair is that? Then the people that get sent to prison really get off scotch free because they have no bills, no kids to look after, no real responsibilities that we left on the outside have to still face. Then the truth doesn’t even matter when it comes to convicting someone because the law is a game of which side plays the game better and smarter. For example, I know of a person doing life in prison for a crime he did not commit, but because the other side was able to play their hand better than his side, he’s now doing time for a someone who walks the streets still committing the same if not worst crimes. NO, incarceration does not help, not the inmate, the family, or the victim.

  19. Garrs

    June 24, 2016 - 1:14 pm

    Aggressive people need to be locked up. Thieves need to be locked up. Perverts need to be locked up. Destruction of property needs to be locked up. Drunks need to be locked up. Drugs? Depends on the drug, but I don’t agree with prison for marijuana. That should cover all bases. Don’t do the crime, or do the time.
    On the other hand, I would agree that conditions in prison should improve, except for the fact in many cases having TV at all starts fights, same with other items. What ever you got, someone inside wants it.
    Many of the people you offended, want you dead, so your somewhat lucky to be confined.

  20. M. Cashen

    June 13, 2016 - 1:35 pm

    Incarceration is the sentence. Taking someones freedom for x amount of time. Is everyone in prison guilty??? If you look at the stats you know there are innocent people in jail. If you can’t afford the right lawyer, if you are a minority it is more likely that you will go to jail. All that aside why the additional cruelty? Why limit food families order through their vendors? Most are there for bad decision and some for heinous behavior but once incarcerated why the additional punishment? Justice’s eyes are blindfolded and now I know why-the things done in the name of justice are anything but. So you have people who repeat their bad decisions and behavior because instead of rehabilitating them-you beat their spirits with inhumane treatment. You deny their loved ones any opportunity to make their stay bearable. You punish their families and friends for loving them Shame on the system and shame on those that support the inhumane treatment

  21. Tom Anderson

    June 7, 2016 - 5:36 am

    Hi, I go by the name Tom.

    I just got out of prison after spending 25 years locked up. Although I will never do what I did to get in prison this time. It is my belief that I came of prison a worse person and a bigger criminal than I ever was before.

    I find that I care less about people. I expect less other people. I am so tired of people that think that prison does some good. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people that I’ve met that deserve to be in prison; but, in lots of cases it seemed to do more harm than good.

    I don’t know what else to say. I will try to be the best person I can. From this point forward I will do everything I can to be within the law; however, I have less respect for the law and less respect for the judicial system.

  22. Kristi

    September 6, 2015 - 7:59 am

    As someone who has been in and out of the prison system not physically, but alongside my husband, for the last 15 years…no. It doesn’t work. She is correct, ripping someone out of their bonded environment does not produce anything but pent up anger, frustration and fear…the opposite of what prison is supposed to instill. Let me tell you a little about him. He grew up literally on the streets of Philly from 12 years old. Having to steal to eat, have clothing and anything else he needed. This was in the mid 80’s so there was not much in the way of resources for children and his parents didn’t care as they were drug addicts and drunks. He learned to grow into this lifestyle. Not by choice. Now that he is older and “knows better” and has the ability to live different, he does, but not entirely. We thought he was addicted to drugs at first… but he has not one drug charge on his record…its all…theft of various types. Its in his blood. He hates it, but we realize after 3 trips to the pen and several in county that he is addicted to the rush he gets from the theft. Prison taught him nothing but what he did wrong in getting caught, not what he actually did wrong. He has learned now, through a program he was eligible for through work release in FL, Bridges of America, how to control his triggers. Prisons are not rehabs and do not even pretend to be such any longer. Everyone here, look into why Sweden and Switzerland are able to shut down a good majority of their prisons and their crime rates are dropping like flies. They have enacted a new justice system and it WORKS.

  23. joe

    July 28, 2015 - 6:10 am

    iknow prison is not supposed to be a fun place to be it is a punishment and maybe a time to try to rehabilitate those that can be but come on what is it teaching someone to lock them in a cell for god knows how many hours a day letting them out only a few hours a day making them urinate in bottles and deficating in a plastic bag because of no toilet in the cell isnt there some kind of law against cruel and unsual punishment then expecting a person to serve their time and be able to return to society as a well rounded productive citizen hell no theyd be scared for life and im not saying they should have all the comforts of a 5 star hotel but come on certain rights of decency at least

  24. M H S

    June 17, 2015 - 2:42 pm

    In the 90’s my 14 year old son was sent to St. Anthonys in Idaho for smoking cigarettes in the city park. He was abused and tortured there. Parents were not allowed to visit. Thankfully the place was later shut down due to the abuse but naturally none of the sadists running the place were punished. It didn’t do my son any good. He’s in prison today. I think he would of been much better off being a cigarette smoker. I know lots of people who smoked as teenagers when you didn’t get thrown in jail for it. They grew up and never went to jail. So many things these days are considered a crime against society that really are not a crime against society and shouldn’t even be a concern for the legal system. It’s really sad they ruin so many lives under guise of doing good.

  25. J L

    June 3, 2015 - 9:28 pm

    “15 and Review”…..bringing back Parole to WA state!! PEOPLE!! get your community together to vote for this bill to be passed in April 2016!! Everyone deserves a second chance and this is it!! Check it out; look it up! It’s been going on for 3 yrs now and many know nothing about it! You can do something to help! go to WA Coalition for Parole; the people running it will let you know what you can do to help get this bill passed and our loved ones home!! Praise GOD!!

  26. J L

    June 3, 2015 - 9:20 pm

    SPREAD THE WORD!! support is MUCH MUCH MUCH needed for “Fifteen and Review”. Bringing back Parole to WA state! Check it out! June 20th is a huge meeting in Seattle. GET EVERYONE TO GO FOR SUPPORT to get this bill PASSED in April 2016!! it’s called “Fifteen and Review”…do your research; support this bill so our loved ones can come home again!!!

  27. susan

    May 29, 2015 - 12:01 am

    I am agrivated because all the states don’t do what all other states do you can for instance get less time for murder than robbery or drugs its not right and then when a person is in jail for so many years and gets out they have so many conditions go to this class meet with there p o he’ll most can’t get a ride they give them no help getting back out there with anything it’s made harder and if they miss a class which is what a friend of mine did because he COULDNT get there he wa as in violation and he was given 15 months which he served came back up for parole and was given two more years because he had a charge for tobacco two more years it’s out ratio is and when I called to. ask about the time given the parole board lady said well he can’t follow the rules in here so why will he on the streets two more years for tobacco!!!! this is why our system is so messed up!!!! I am outraged!!!! but in some states you can kill get it reduced to manslaughter and get six years what is wrong with the SYSTEM stupid people in charge that’s what’s wrong!!!!it’s not right and it’s not fair but the state of Kentucky is where this goes ON does anyone read these can anyone do anything and he wasn’t even allowed to be at his parole hearing they told me only class d felony could be because the didn’t have enough people for the parole he as hearing sounds like his constitutional rights were taken away its all about money it’s all so corrupt but they let child molester out to kill and hurt more people and lock a man up for basically four years for missing a class not right

  28. Kandi

    May 17, 2015 - 3:36 pm

    In this state and I’m sure many more it’s a pound of flesh for a pound of flesh. My husband and our families have been threw hell and are just at the beginning of the appeal stage. I’m extremely hated by so many for my actions by having an affair which I KNOW affected the outcome of this entire case. Being a VERY high profile case in this state is a life sentence in itself. Everyday is a battle, but I refuse to give up. I’m not alone and I know this, I just want to tell all the others that struggle daily with “what if’s” things WILL get better and stay POSITIVE and STRONG!! Don;t let the system beat you!!!!

  29. Kandi

    May 17, 2015 - 3:22 pm

    Hi everyone!!

    I’m very new to this site so I’m just going to do my best! LOL

    My husband is currently at I.S.C.I. in Idaho and received his JP5 last week and is pretty bummed that it only came with 2 games? I just got off the phone with JPAY and he said that this JP5 is so new that they don’t have all the programs available for the system yet. I asked if he knew when they would be available and he did not have an answer.

    Also, the e-movies and e-books are not available like they are on the JP4. He stated that they will be soon, but again could not give me any specific date.

    Just thought I would let everyone know if your loved one was asking as well.

    Hope all of you have a wonderful day. Remember to stay positive.

  30. J. Chubb

    May 17, 2015 - 6:38 am

    Hello All, My lady has been in Mountain View Unit, Gatesville for 20 years with another 10 before parole is considered.
    She was persuaded to plea bargain for a murder she didn’t commit & was not even aware of originally.
    She was told that at a later date this would be easily sorted out at a later date & would stop her being put to death for a crime that she didn’t commit.
    Prison in Texas is just a warehouse to keep the general public happy that the “offenders” are out of sight & out of mind.
    Of course prisoners say they haven’t done the crime, it is only natural but when they can name the perpetrators then they should be listened to. Now I ask this, who can they talk to in Texas that will help them.
    Unless they are on death row no one will listen or help because there are so many folks locked away as Texas’s “Easy Option” that is why.
    I was in Law Enforcement so I am not just blowing hot air.
    Thanks for reading this & you are welcome to email me my address is on Helen’s website.
    May your God go with you. Julian

  31. Michelle

    May 8, 2015 - 9:17 am

    Charley Kent, while I am certainly not religious but live with a strong faith all you have said resonates within me. I don’t understand why we continue to warehouse when the name REHABILIATATION and CORRECTIONS is in many facility names, yet no where to be found for the most part.
    I hope at some stage we progress and open our eyes because all you have shared is what is not only wanted but needed in society, for change to take place. Very well said, thank you!

  32. Eva Fechtler

    May 6, 2015 - 7:53 am

    Charley Kent, can you email me?

  33. Bobbie

    May 5, 2015 - 2:00 am

    Well said Charley Kent, well said. I was raised to believe in our criminal justice system. However our criminal justice system doesn’t work. Why? Among other reasons, because there is no interest in getting to the truth of cases, just so they can win a case. If you cannot afford a good attorney and have an attorney assigned to you for free? Well, you’ll be found guilty of something before it’s over. If you are a person of color? In more cases than not, you’ll get a harsher sentence than the white person for the same exact crime. I could go on and on. This country has more people ‘warehoused’ in prisons than any other country in the world. Other countries impose a penalty, people serve their time and get out and attempt to get on with their lives. This country on the other hand impose penalties that don’t even fit the crime a lot of the time and people spend their lives locked up in prisons. Makes me ill thinking about it. And no, I’ve never been to prison and I am as white as white can be. The system is beyond flawed. We should all be scared . . .

  34. Ragman

    April 8, 2015 - 12:38 am

    Too many words written here to answer the original question. The answer is yes. Prisons exist for a reason. No first time drug offense will net 80 years as stated above by one writer no matter what the drug. And if they had 11 ounces of cocaine as stated, they probably weren’t first time drug offenses. Yeah, prison ain’t fun, spent a good portion of my life in one but guess what? The effects that ripple down through children, wives, families and communities were brought upon them by the PERPETRATOR’S themselves. The judge didn’t ask for the criminal to commit the crime. In some cases the family actually helps them along by denial or allowing things to happen that could have been avoided. It’s called responsibility and it is something we should all have a part in. It is sad that it is children that probably get hurt the most of all. But if having children would keep a person honest, hard working and crime free guess what? They wouldn’t have gone to prison! We all are accountable for our own actions but isn’t that one of the laws of nature….something like for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction….you may not agree with me but if I have lied or stated something in error, please feel free to point out my error. I guarantee you I have experienced first hand what I am talking about!

  35. Glenna

    March 25, 2015 - 2:20 pm

    After reading many of the comments here it seems the word Balance is what everyone is struggling for. My brother is in prison for something he definitely did wrong, and should have gone to prison for. However he has been there longer than Multiple Murders and that does not make sense to me… No he did not kill anyone and no one died during the crime. Attempted only…I have to ask myself why he is still there, is it because they were Peace Officers, I do understand that, but there comes a point when sentences like these only serve to hurt the message rather than get it across. Long term offenders do not receive any rehabilitation or relief from the monotony and he refuses to let me see him. Maybe he is OK, not sure. I think he has a pretty good job, but prison services could do so much more for LT outlook’s instead of treating them like it is all Shawshank and over.

  36. Petrice Henderson

    March 22, 2015 - 6:59 am

    The question do prison’s keep us safe. Who is us and what mass? Mass could be anything what is this pertaining to? Prison is not what someone has been told. Seems like someone is trying to figure out some missing pieces. Mass can be count or number in weight. Mass could be church what, I want to know the topic is Does Prison Keep Us Safe; who is us? Now seriously there is help all around the boarder. Mexico a state and a part of the United States. You can learn Spanish on the computer as of 2015. This is also Audio learning. One way to release someone that is incarcerated. Hopefully this will bring some justice to someone in more than one way. You have to ask the Librarian. Change occurs wheather people like it or not. Keep up with the change of time. Becoming a new you or person is a good thing.

  37. reginald Moore

    March 9, 2015 - 3:05 pm

    Education is the best method against the revolving door of prison, even though some states have cancelled education, Its just another way to keep those in prison coming back. The system in place now is really aimed at keeping as many locked up as possible. This country has the biggest prison population on the plant, theirs a reason for that. Sooner or later this country will have to change how they deal with its legal system or it will implore from lack of understanding.

  38. Michelle Velez

    March 7, 2015 - 5:02 pm

    I would like to say to Teresa Sams that there are ways to get your grand kids, if you can go to the CHS (Children’s Home Society) and ask for help if you think your grand kids are in danger, also Every court in America has a self Help program in the Family Court, U must contact an agency where you live and have a home study of your home and and interview with you, This is to show you and your home is more stable then their present living conditions it will cost around $300.00. If they agree with U then U file a Temp Custody Complaint in Family court have Grandmother and Mother served and go in front of Judge. It is important that the person you hire to do Home study is willing to go to the children’s School and get the school records and they ask the school to have the school phycologist talk to the kids, and ask if they want to see you are they good at home ECT.
    Get all facts to prove you can provide mental and physical care for them and they would be better off with U. Then U must make sure all of these people put there recommendations in Writing and be in court to testify.. Cover everything get police reports for the address where they live, if police have been there to the home for any reason get reports cuz it will show problems in the home, There are No laws to cover Grand parents rights, so U must prove Unfit People and Home for your Grandkids….Good Luck, it takes work to do it but if they are not in the best home then it will be the best for them, even if you don’t get them, I am sure a Judge will allow U to see them because the mother turned them over to her mother, so she isn’t fit to have them it makes a difference that she did that.

  39. janie

    March 6, 2015 - 6:42 pm

    I agree that prison does some good in some cases but, in other instances it it just wrong what is being done to some people. My son went to prison for 80 years. His girlfriend and him were arrested , he was driving, no D.L. Upon being booked and incarcerated, inside penal facility. While being searched, 11 oz. of cocaine were found on her. I realize it belonged to both of them. She has been in rehabs since 13 yrs. old. She recieved no jail time, probation, nothing. He got 80 yrs, It is the D.A.s that run things. My son went to trial. The sitting judge was asleep. My aon never spoke to his lawyer, just lawyers flunky, but was not given the option to get another. Prison bis the best university of crime. If you are not really a criminal when you go in, you are if and when you are released. They don’t make you a better person, that is not their job. No rehab there, just throw away people live there. This was his 1st drug conviction. Live in great MITCHELL CO. and find out.

  40. Charley Kent

    March 6, 2015 - 1:04 am

    I believe in justice. I believe in mercy. I believe in second chances. I believe in rehabilitation. I believe we are all human-beings no matter what we have done or said. I believe that everyone has a conscience. I believe we all have to live with the choices we make in life. I believe that there should be punishment when we are wrong. However, I do not believe that people should be locked away with no room for rehabilitation, because in the end we are creating more problems. I realize the jail/prison system is to make it so hard that a person would not want to return. I can understand that mentality, but at the same time help that person to see there is another way to live. That there is another way that wrong could have been handled. Help them to see what they did, what it cost someone else that in hindsight there are other ways, than crime, to live.
    I said before that I believe that everyone is a human-being no matter what they say or do. If you have those over prisons and guards that treat inmates like animals then it causes problems amongst the ones inside, and ultimately those on the outside. Someone is going to be angry at the way they are treated, so who else to turn that rage upon? If you treat a person like they are nothing–then that is what you will create. I realize that having a justice system is better than none. However, I believe those in these positions should really look into these crimes and make sure the punishment is for that crime, or just a way to lock someone up. We are dealing with young men and women, who will go to prison for 20-30 years and to come out and be just as angry when they went in. They will be raped, beat up, starved, mistreated by guards, and others. Year after year the person is hardened, and when they return to society, and haven’t been rehabilitated, they have held on to what put them there and more. It is even harder to think of the men that are being released, after the case has been reviewed, after 40 years or more for crimes they did not commit.

    So what are we doing with those in prison? Locking them away and throwing away the key so to speak. We are saying you broke the law and you deserve to be punished for the rest of your life. You don’t deserve to be treated as a human. You are nobody and you will be treated as such. That treatment erases any chance for that person to feel anything. You break their spirit, and the will to better themselves.

    We live in a world that is full of hate, pain, selfishness, coldness, violence, and injustices. We turn our backs and walk away and forget that what affects another will affect us all in the end. We close our eyes to decency–to humanity. We close our eyes to human beings and expect them to act that way after being released from a cage. If we don’t rehabilitate; if we don’t treat people like people; give them choices, teach them to see that there is a better way to act, to live. If we don’t do this–we will keep having people return again and again to the prison system. It is terrible that we have so many people incarcerated, and most are black males. Some so young–and we know after their spending most of their lives in prison, if not helped, will return to the streets and do worse (for the most part).

    Yes, I believe in justice. I believe in Mercy. I believe that there is a God and we all have to give an account for our actions. I believe that when we go to church on Sundays or whenever, it does not excuse us from what we have done, or allow to happen to people that are locked up. How do we know that one act of kindness to an inmate might change their whole life. Give them something to think about–and make them think that there is another way to live. That there is another way to respect other people lives, their families, etc. If we close our eyes in the justice system, and allow injustices to go on when we know we can do the right thing–there exist no God in us or our lives. We will be punished the same–perhaps not at the moment, but our time will come. You see, that which is not changed, will continue to happen. We start a cycle and unless we change it more people will continue in their way of life, more people will get out and commit worse crimes and it might even involve someone in our family or our lives. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It is true.

    We have to start treating people like they are people. No, I am not saying you make it so good that people will want to return time after time; but make it that way, added with mercy, care, and the view to correct. Help that person to see what they did really hurt someone and their families. This is where you get to the bottom of a wrong, even to what is in their hearts. and what caused them to act in such a way. You see this system is about helping people as well as them being punished. The Bible says that whom God loves he disciplines. You see discipline does not mean beatings and treating a person like an animal…. It means you care enough to help another person to return to the world and become a productive part of society. If we don’t do these things we are allowing people to keep what brought them into the system, and add more to that while in there, and then to go back into the world with the same mentality.

    Martin Luther King left us quotes, which can change our ways in thinking, in the way we view other people. Believe it or not we are more alike than different. You know why, because we were created in God’s image and he loves us all–therefore who are we to set ourselves above another. We all need him, more than he needs us. Martin’s words–

    “The time is always right to do what is right.”

    “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?””

    On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

    “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

    “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

    “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”

    “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

    “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

    “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

    “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

  41. Jennifer Embree

    March 1, 2015 - 6:34 pm

    My love of my life has been incarcerated for 10 yrs. For a case that I know has been over charged for. The person that was with him is home. Has been for at least 7 yrs. My love Chris is a drug addict from age 14. Is now 45. He was given this addiction from family, former friends ect. He is completely rehabilitated, being sober for 10 yrs. How do I go about getting his case opened back up? He’s been my heart for almost 18 yrs. He is a very sweet and lovable individual. Smart just wrong choices. A rapist or killer get to get back in the free world while good people remain in DOC . PLEASE help me with this.

  42. annie harris

    February 28, 2015 - 9:46 am

    My son moved to Mississippi from nj with his girlfriend while in mis he and his then girlfriend had baby(whom I don’t see since my son’s incarceration) he also was employed since moving there he has always worked been a outstanding student and good worker provider for his family his job played him off and he could not find work i dont know what he was going thru always being the provider oldest of ten children always helping out mentor to his younger brothers(6)and 3 sisters he robbef a credit union bank at gunpoint with a fake gun he got away with it but after he did it he regreted it so he say in front of his house and waitef for thr police to come they recovered all the money but because alot of elected officials were membets of this bank they sentenced him 25yrs we got a lawyer from ms who did not even show up in court the day of sentencing the judge said dont worry young man i have already decided what your sentence is with or without the lawyer “the sentence i am giving you you will still be able to go on with your life my son being comfortable with that decided to go on with the trail even looking at the fact that my son had no priors and numberous character letters he still handed down a sentence of 25yrs my son was 25 at the time and have been in prison for5yrs I really need help he has not had any visits all of his family is in new jersey we have tried to visit but hes always in lockdow . (Probably for protection)this has really mentally destroyed our family we are suffering also can someone please help me to get my son released to me in nj and he would never set foot back in Mississippi from a very disstressed mom

  43. nicole stewart-clark

    February 28, 2015 - 2:48 am

    Wow. Hello everyone. Typically I refrain from participting in public forums like this. However, reading the comments of others I am I spired to speak out.
    I too have experienced a life spent living behind bars, visiting my younger brotheroutside of the glass barriers that prevented him at 18 from receiving even his hand being held by a family in utter grief S helplessly we watched hom endure the harsh reality that is incarceration I. The U.S.A..I love my country, am proud of it,and am angry with it for having the ability and knowledge to do better, but this issue is a no-win politically And therefore TPTB choose to pretend that our criminal justice aystem is in crisis. To ne it seems to be crumbling on all levels:From the law makers themselves,lW enforcement, entrusting the lives of its citizens in the hands of people trying to spend the least amount possible on hoysing. Education, rehabilitTion, and the staff hired to perform as adult babysitters with tasers to be the models and captors oc the incarcerated. Ask yourself: What might their agenda be? Certainly reducing re cidivism rates would not be in their best interest. They ccomain and treat these caPtives withess compassion than their ffamily oet. Yet, without multitudes of humN beings to lock away and hold, their would be no profit to be mmm made, keeping them coming back for return business is nothing more than simple business acumen. Without having the flawed logic of fellow humans making, enforcing,

  44. DONNA KRUPA

    February 27, 2015 - 5:11 pm

    I agree you.

  45. Peaceful Warrior

    February 21, 2015 - 5:26 am

    Until the day Prisons and Jails really become a place of “Rehabilitation” these places merely cater to the enhancement of crime. A crime against humanity itself. Where the so called Justice System feels that “locking a humanbeing behind bars” will solve the problem it actually breeds psychological issues which sometimes range deeper than 1-3 Generations thereafter. Not to mention Generations before it. Parents and other Familymembers of the jailed are punished also, even thought they committed no crimes. On the “outside” when a Person attempts to commit suicide he or she is immediately classified as “ill” and generally receives “Rehab” so to identify and heal the “issue”, is not a person who attempts to harm another person “just as ill” as the person who tries to harm himself?

  46. Teresa Sams

    February 19, 2015 - 5:22 pm

    My son, Steven Hollaway, was brutally stabbed to death in his own home on February 23, 2013 under very suspicious circumstances. Without any acknowledgement of our family’s suffering from the District Attorney’s office or further investigation into the involvement of Tasha (Steven’s girlfriend/common law wife), Bowie County Texas convicted my youngest son, Larry Hollaway, and sentenced him to life in prison (without any criminal history of violence) after a three day trial in November 2013. Now we have to drive five hours away to visit Larry every two months.

    Larry can’t remember everything that happened and pled not guilty by involuntary intoxication. He was very upset when he heard Steven had died. Tasha hated the close relationship between Steven and Larry. I firmly believe she tried to kill Larry with an overdose of her seizure medication but it backfired. Due to a recent concussion and other medical history, her medication could have caused Larry to experience homicidal somnambulism similar to the Kenneth Parks case.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201212/sleep-driving-and-sleep-killing

    In addition, Tasha gave my granddaughters to her drug-addicted mother two months after Steven’s death and started sleeping around with several high school boys. I haven’t been allowed to see my granddaughters since April 2013. I believe Tasha has Munchausen’s by proxy because the children always had mysterious illnesses and Tasha’s brother died under mysterious circumstances as well. I have been trying to find legal help to obtain regular visitation or even custody because I am concerned about my granddaughters’ safety.

  47. Joyce

    February 18, 2015 - 3:39 pm

    I so agree with Nikki. Some people need to be in prison, but not most people. It’s a ripple effect on the whole family and I wouldn’t consider just sitting around with nothing to do as rehabilitation. Most prisons don’t offer much. These inmates are so bored they get in trouble. Judges should consider people’s character, the crime done and whether it was a first offense. These offenders are losing everything for judges who just want to throw people in jail. I could say more. Thanks

  48. Nicki

    February 17, 2015 - 8:08 pm

    I am buying this book tonight. I was in prison for 16 months and I probably met a total of 15 women who probably really should have been there. Judges don’t have a clue what prison does to a person. I feel that before a judge can take the bench, they should have to spend a week in prison as an inmate. Then, maybe they would think twice about ripping a mother away from her children; a wife from her husband, a father, a brother, etc. It’s absolutely tragic and only extreme cases deserve such an ending. There are other alternatives that keep people employed and part of the community. Society in general is ignorant to what prison does to a person. Beyond the 16 months of my life I lost, and everyone who loves me lost, I now have trauma, pain, wounds and scars that I neither deserved nor should have had to end up with. Incarceration should be a last resort. As a prison staff member told me the day I arrived: “until this country looks for the truth instead of a guilty person; innocent people will continue to be convicted.” Something has to change.

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