Archive for the ‘prison’ Category

  1. The challenge you/we have is earlier. Our kids’ initial contact with the system is around 13 – 14.  Since that is the “initial contact” point – then the “warm-up” or preparation is much earlier (possible 5 – 6 yrs old).  So these “initial patterns” are seeding much earlier.  Part of this has to do with deficit self- and cultural-identity models.  These are developed very early in life – but that is another conversation.
  2. Education has to be relevant to (a) life experiences, and (b) the projection of life experiences.  The lack of relevance in our current education system to these children’s lives (who they are, where they are, where they see themselves going) serves to keep #1 (above) as “normal.”
  3. Because our penal system is based on a “business model,” there is no incentive to decrease the prison population.  It pays us to jail them.
  4. Because there is financial reward, vis-a-vis census, in building prisons in rural areas (we get the numbers while retaining the politics of “safety”), there is no incentive/reason/cost to stop.
  5. See “The Delinquents” – a program done by 60 Minutes on the consequences following the removal of elephant bulls from the pack.  Briefly:  Without checks & balances, young children become “adultified” – increases in testosterone, estrogen, et cetera.  They become sexual very early.  They become aggressive.  Removing adults from the environment leaves a void that will be filled.  Voids are “always” filled!  You may not like what it’s filled with, but it will be filled.  See Chicago: With the increased incarceration of the gang leaders, our kids are blindly killing themselves and each other.  VOIDS WILL BE FILLED.
  6. Now we come to post-incarceration job opportunities.  Color is a factor.  Everything being equal, there is a different internal (guttural) impact that Barry Bonds has on the “hiring” population than Roger Clements has on that same population.  This is natural.  We may not like it – but there are many things we do not like that are what they are.  Do not harp on it.  Do not make it the central course.  Simply recognize that race is a factor.  Access is a factor.  Education is a factor.  Financial solvency is a factor.  This is as true for 2013, as it was for 1850.

So you will have to (a) identify, through research, those areas, jobs, business people who would be most present to offering jobs – not a second chance…a job.  What are the personality characteristics that would lend someone to be willing to engage in this process…to be willing to offer an ex-convict a job?

  1. You will have to increase the percentage of first-generation ethnic minorities (Blacks, Latinos) who have businesses, and whom you can leverage to offer job opportunities.  (SECRET) You will find a greater level of “willingness to engage” amongst first-generation ethnic minorities than any other.  Promoting and marketing toward ethnic minority athletes and entertainers who are already doing this would be useful.
  2. Practical preparation:  Jail is not a cognitive environment, despite all the rhetoric.  Jail is authoritarian-behavioral.  It is, at best, behavioral-cognitive.  (You do as I say, or else!!!) The only other environment that has “demonstrable” success in behavioral-cognitive leading to insight, is the Army.  The challenge, therefore, is: recognizing and acknowledging the truth of the jail system (authoritarian), given the success of the Army system (authoritarian) – how do we train these young men for jobs post-sentence. There is a potential marriage somewhere here.  Good luck with that one.  (I did not articulate this as clearly as I would want, but I hope you get the idea.) There is a successful model out there.  Use it. Engage with it.
  1. Finally (and closing the circle):  Recognize that we, all of us, become less and less malleable as we get older.  You are trying to impact change, you are trying to mold as early as possible.  It becomes more and more difficult to mold a plant (a person) the more it (he, she) matures.  This is not simply a behavioral concept or an observation.  This is both biological and necessary.  This is how the mind (necessarily) lays down memories, which become patterns, which become automatic, which become “normal.”  When “normal” becomes shared, it becomes “cultural to the environment.”  Not “cultural” – – – “cultural to the environment.”  Those are two different things.  You are actually, therefore, trying to shift “normal,” not through pathologizing, but through advancing a new theoretical concept of “normal.”  This takes time, and the development of a critical mass – that offers a shared alternative, perspective.  It’s like a teeter-totter.  You’re trying to balance it.  If you try to takeaway “normal” you will be rejected.  Establish an achievable alternative, which opens up new avenues, which establishes and new “normal.” Image

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This blog challenges you guys to really think about all that we’ve done and worked on to this moment – issues of diversity, race, the effect of media on self-identity, the disparity in incarceration rates, readings from The House on Mongo Street, and difficulties that the mentally and physically challenged face on a daily basis – and mix it into what’s going on at this very moment at our State Capitol…then place it in the context of Locus of Control. 

Take what you’ve learned, take what you’ve read, throw in what’s going on right now at the Capitol – – – and frame it within the context of Locus of Control.

Now, I’ll explain the concept “Locus of Control.”

Locus of Control is a psychological concept that “refers to an individual’s (or group’s) generalized expectation concerning where control over subsequent (life) events reside. In other words, who or what is responsible for what happens (to me).”   

Do I believe that I ultimately have control over my life – or – can a cop, judge, district attorney, professor, politician, priest decide my future?  That future may be arguing a grade (fairness), going to jail (freedom), getting in to a building (Delta just got fined 2.4 million), shooting me without regard or consequence (life), taking away my job and/or health care and/or benefits (future), or deciding who is more worthy than whom. 

Locus of Control may be internal (I have control over my own future) or external (I can yell as loudly as I want – they will do with me as they wish).

Let’s see some deep thoughtful discussion about this.  Please respond to and add to each other’s comments.

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Okay ~ so have you heard this one?  It just cracks me up.

A District Attorney (DA), a lawyer and a Social Scientist (SS) walk into a bar.  They pull up to the bar and each sits on a stool.  The DA sits on a stool in the middle of the two ladies. The SS is to his right.  The DA leans forward and orders a beer.  The SS calls for a whiskey on the rocks.  The lawyer’s wants a rum and coke.

Anyway, so the DA looks at the SS through the mirror at the back of the bar and says, “So what do you want me to do?  They commit the crime, they do the time! My DAs don’t come in to work every day saying – I wonder how many Black people I’m going to lock up today!  That’s not how it works people!  My job is to keep the public safe of these criminals.  I don’t want to be locking up people.  This is not something I like, but I have a job to do.  You lock them up and keep the public safe.  What they need is education. You can’t expect to get a job or hold a job with a sixth-grade education.  Fix the damn education system.  That’ll keep half of them out the system.”

Well, by this time the drinks arrive.  The DA takes a gulp of his beer.  He’s got foam all around his moustache.  He is pissed.  He swallows hard.  The SS dips her finger into her whiskey drowning one of the blocks of ice.  She is contemplative.  The lawyer draws hard on her straw.

One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand… You could feel the dead, tense air drawn into your nostril. 

The lawyer pulls the straw from her pursed lips, looks aimlessly straight ahead and says, “All I know is that we should be ashamed.  We look at this disparity in our jails, and we should be ashamed.  I am fed up with placing it on someone else.  It’s the parents.  It’s the children.  Where is your culpability?  How can you just sit there and defend this crap?  How can you do nothing?  This is painfully embarrassing.  We must be embarrassed! Every one of us should be embarrassed into action!”

The DA does not shift.  He looks into his drink and takes another gulp.  He looks down the counter at the bartender and knocks his half-emptied glass calling for a refill.  “I’ve got a job to do” he says under his breath.  “Give me an option.  I let them out, they hurt somebody…then what?”

Silence.   Deathly silence.

The SS holds her drink with both hands on the counter, turns toward the DA and says with the sweetest of tones.  She clearly wants to acknowledge his pain…if only having to sit between these two. She leans in, arms touching lightly and says; “You know, that’s actually not what the data says.  Honestly, if you control for education level…if you take education completely out of the mix, there is still a disproportional number of Blacks in jail.  It comes down only slightly, but it is a significant difference.  So there is something else happening here.”

The DA empties his glass and hands it over to be refilled.  The SS touches his arm ever so lightly.  He shudders. He doesn’t want to be touched – not now…not by her – not by either of them.

She continues; “And the way we’re doing it right now is not making the public safer either!  Which is weird.  You think you lock ‘em up and it’s all good, but it’s quite the reverse.  You lock ‘em up, there are three kids with no adult running around potentially getting in trouble.  All it does is ensure that the cycle is maintained.  It is actually the inverse. So public safety is not served at all.”

She pauses and continues:”Now – Building jails is good business.  You build jails and you fill them, you keep a lot of people employed and a lot of people disenfranchised. The jail system is a really good stock to invest in.”

Not another word is spoken.  The women finish their drinks, step down from their stools and exit the bar leaving the DA to warm his beer and cold his palms – angry.  Pissed off!  Determined! 



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