Posts Tagged ‘community’

Prison officials are experts at euphemism. Just a reminder as to what euphemism is:

The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit, as in

Pre-owned for used or second-hand

Enhanced interrogation for torture

Wind for belch or fart

Convenience fee for surcharge

“Neutralize” for “kill”

 

Correctional Centers for prisons. Very few get ‘corrected.’

Convicted offenders are called ‘inmates,’ labeling them as institutionalized and powerless, instead of calling them ‘prisoners.’

‘Feeding Time” is for prisoners. ‘Meal Time’ is for staff.

Guards are just that, they keep prisoners from escaping.

They are not ‘correctional officers,’ living unit officers, classification officers etc.

For more on this, see the latest edition of Out of Bounds, from the prisoners at William Head Prison, page 23

I, for one, fail many times to avoid the euphemisms associated with prison. It’s something to work on.

Dennis Haines has written articles for us in the past.

I’m back with my continuing adventures in the real world. The irony is that I have noticed that “real world squares” are not that much different from cons in the joint in some ways. In the month and a half that I have been out I have been observing people and how much the same we are. And to think that I used to feel like I didn’t fit in with normal people and now I find out that we aren’t that different after all.

Case in point, I take the same bus to work every day Monday to Friday at roughly 6:30 am and there are a group of regulars who are taking the same bus. I find that I always sit in the same spot and that everyone else tries to as well. The funny part is that if someone is sitting in someone else’s regular spot, you can actually see the annoyance on their faces at the interruption in their routine. It brings me to mind of people’s spots in the dining room in the institution, except it doesn’t end in violence.

That’s not the only place I notice the same type of behavior. In the lunch room where I work everyone has staked a claim to their chairs and although I don’t believe they would get violent over it, they will tell you if you are sitting in their spot.

So what I’m getting at is that I find it strangely comforting that regular people exhibit the same behaviors that I’m used to from the institutions. I was concerned with my level of institutionalization, but I’m finding that observing the world and putting it in perspective is really helping me along. As people we are all the same, and we all have our little comfort zones. Sometimes these zones are challenged, but it’s our reactions that set us apart.

I write these types of thoughts as a little bit of therapy for myself but also in the hope that maybe someone else who is just getting out will read them as well and maybe be comforted. I hope that I can send a message of hope to someone else who just got out and may or may not be struggling. I hope to let them know that every day out in the community is an adventure just waiting to be undertaken. For me it’s my time to take life by the horns and live it in the best way I can and, if I’m lucky, I can help someone else out along the way.

Dennis Haines has told me specifically that he wants his name and email revealed. He would appreciate any comments you have. You can send them directly to him if you want. dhaines429@gmail.com

Some good news from a man who’s written for this blog several times.

It wasn’t so very long ago that I found myself sitting outside of the federal institution that I had just spent some quality time in.

Sitting out there waiting for my ride to come and drive me to the halfway house I had some time to reflect on the journey that had brought me to the bench just outside the prison on a sunny Monday morning in June. The bench was reminiscent of a bus stop and I was sitting there waiting for a ride because I didn’t want an escort from my former keepers and instead asked a community volunteer to give me a ride.

The view from outside was actually kind of weird, probably due to the nine years that I had spent inside of various provincial and federal institutions as part of my journey to that bench. I had the vague sense of foreboding, like the rover truck would come speeding up and stormtroopers from inside would come streaming out of the gate saying that the parole board had made a mistake and that I would be returning to my cell.

Since I had received the decision on Thursday of the week before I still didn’t really believe that it was going to happen. Seriously, why would they let me walk out the door.

What got me to that place in the sun was a lot of hard work and a final willingness to accept that I needed to do something different. I had spent years railing against the system to no avail and, in the end, it was my reaching out to community volunteers and asking for help that paved the road to happy destiny for me.

For me it was interacting with many volunteers that made me feel like I could be part of the community and for that I will be eternally grateful. It was also the hard work of an IPO (institutional parole officer) that made it all possible for me to be liberated from the confines of my surroundings.

I’m not saying that the system is perfect, it most definitely is not (especially under the conservative government), but I now understand that rehabilitation is an individual thing and that prisoners need to take responsibility for their past and for their future.

It would, of course, be easier if there were opportunities for vocational programming and if the CSC(the prison administration) or community parole took some initiative and worked with employers in the community to find employment opportunities for those who were honestly doing the work to better themselves.

The CSC has become more punitive in nature in recent years and as a result there is more resentment building up inside the institutions. I’m not looking for some utopian vision of the prison system, just something that would be more progressive for those who are looking to make a change and, perhaps, don’t know where to start or who to turn to.

All I can say is that I finally figured it out and if I can figure it out and get parole with my record maybe there is hope for our flawed system after all.

While the Canadian and American prison systems say the community is an important part of corrections, they have pulled the welcome mat in.

A friend of mine wrote his experiences in prison. He spent two years in a Mexican prison and eight years in a Canadian prison. Which did he like better?

In Mexico:

  • The guys did not hate the guards. The attitude was that the guards had a job to do.
  • When families came to visit, the whole family came. They brought big meals and went right up to the cell, where they spread out a feast for the inmate and his cellmates. Children from different families played together in the hall.
  • Local sports teams came into the prison to play football (soccer). My friend boxed his way to a regional title in that area of Mexico.
  • Yes, my friend admitted that Mexican prisons were poor, but they were humane. Canadian prisons had better facilities, but a poor attitude.

A community writer in my creative writing class attended a class in prison right before Christmas. The year before, this volunteer had financed a collection of the inmates’ writing and had it printed at a cost of $3200. When she got home from this Christmas class, she wrote a card to two of the guys. She liked their work and encouraged them to continue. A week later she was dismissed as a volunteer, no warning, no discussion. She was told that she shouldn’t have written to these two guys.

I suggested she appeal, but she was a shy, gentle person who did not like conflict.

A year and a half later I added my name to the list of kicked-out volunteers, as I have written about.

This is not the way to treat volunteers.

Study European prisons – they know that inmates are eventually headed back to the community, so they invite the community in. Inmates need to see that there are other kinds of life, other kinds of people, than those they have met in the crime world.

visit1What can you do? First establish a correspondence with an inmate. Then apply to visit the person. First the inmate has to say that he or she wants to have you as a visitor. Next the prison system approves you as a visitor (in most cases), after they have informed you of all the rules, It’s difficult to do, but it can mean the world to an inmate.

By: A Guest Blogger, a thoughtful inmate in a Fraser Valley institution.

CommunityCrime is a community problem that requires solutions that involve the community. As it stands right now, the community has very little involvement in the rehabilitation of offenders but instead entrusts this duty to the Correctional Service of Canada and blindly hopes they are doing the job of rehabilitating offenders and preparing them for re-entry into society.

The problem with corrections is that the Correctional Service of Canada is expected to rehabilitate people in the absence of meaningful community involvement. In our institutions, inmates are locked away and offered programming that is only marginally effective in the hope that when they are released to the community,

Village

It takes a Village

they will be better citizens.

Many inmates do not feel themselves connected to the community, at least to the regular community at large, and it is this disconnection that makes it easier to commit crime. In fact many inmates, and criminals in general, feel themselves part of a different community, a criminal community or a jail community.

There is some community contact in prisons but not nearly enough. There are volunteers that come in for various activities and programs within the institution but for the most part inmates are locked away with only other inmates for company.

I like to think that if communities were more involved in the rehabilitation of offenders rather than leaving the entire job to the Correctional Service, there might be more successes. Eventually most offenders are released from prison and they are going to communities. Those communities should want to be involved in the rehabilitation of offenders for their own peace of mind.

Prisons could use restorative justice programs that connect offenders with victims or with representatives from the community so that there may be a dialogue that could lead to a sense of connection. Building a connection to the community, in this writer’s opinion, might be one of the most important steps in the rehabilitation of criminals.Community

Images courtesy of:

  • raisingthevillage.blogspot.com
  • madisonfloridavoice.net
  • mksdachurch.net