Some thoughts on Prison.

November 14, 2008

Michael Santos has an incredible story.  In the Forbes special edition on power he tells his story of power in prison.  He talks about developing a long term vision for reintegration into society (he was senteced to 46 years in 1987, he has earned an “early” release in 2013 through good behavior, read his story and you’ll see just how good).

He also talks about the failures of the prison system in the U.S.  While we in Canada are slightly better the idea of prison is the same no matter what country you are in.

In prison, preservation of the institution trumps the needs of the individual. Unlike any other place in America I know, prison administrators rely on the threat of punishment and coercion rather than the promise of incentives to manage inmates. People who seek power inside prison walls learn to manipulate this environment. Yet as recidivism rates show, those who learn to live in prison simultaneously learn to fail in society.

I’ve often wondered about this.  Prison is punishment, not rehabilitation.  Psychopaths,those who even now psychologists have no idea how to rehabilitate, should be imprisoned, not for punishment (which doesn’t work with them) but for the safety of the wider society.  However, what about those who can be rehabilitated?  I’ll be looking further into Michael Santos’ story.  It seems a shame though that he had to work against the system to rehabilitate himself.  Could his story be used as a model to help prisoner’s reintegrate?  I’ll have more on this in the coming months.

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