14 Jan 06

C03 Birch’s Perspective on the Prison System

I recently asked Ms. Birch about the prison system.

“Is the emphasis on punishment and retribution, instead of rehabilitation, working?” I asked her.
“I don’t think so. We don’t do anything to make people ready for when they get out of prison. Inmates need coping skills if they are to become productive citizens.
It’s enough punishment just being in here. Prisoners should not have to punished every day,” C03 Birch said.
“Why is there little rehabilitation?”
“It seems that GQ Public wants prisoners locked away. It’s changing though, thanks to people such as Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey this stuff is being brought to light. It used to be taboo, hush-hush, but people are slowly finding out.”
“What role are you playing?”
“I feel like we are mentors. We’re setting examples to people who have never worked, by coming to work, rain or shine, and dealing with the stresses of life. A lot of prisoners took the easy way out instead of working hard. I enjoy my job, I’m able to make a difference in inmates lives. There are a few success stories out there, but there’s also the career criminals who think this stuff is just great.”
“What about the prison staff? Do they share your hopeful attitude?”
“There’s some good staff out there. There’s good and bad of everything – inmates and staff. The Robocop types, and the lazy-ass officers are the ones who have nothing coming from the inmates. I’m for the truth, but a lot of staff say ‘ We’ve got to stick together.’ I believe you have to do what is right – including when an officer is wrong and an inmate is right.”
“What percentage of guards are the stick-together variety?”
“It’s about fifty-fifty. Rather than having holier-than-thou attitudes they should realise that everyone makes mistakes, and even officers could end up in prison. All it takes is drinking and driving, fighting with their spouse, or a violent reaction to a loved one getting raped or assaulted.”
“Do you know of any guards who’ve worked for Joe Arpaio?”
“I met a lot of them at a convention. Most of them don’t like Arpaio. They didn’t get into details though, so I’m unsure if he treats his staff as bad as he treats the inmates.”
“Why is the incarceration rate so high in the US versus the rest of the world?”
“Maybe it’s because of the family structure, everybody’s working, and the kids get neglected.”
“Do you think that stiff prison sentences are the solution to reducing crime?”
“No. A lot of prisoners need treatment. We have whole prisons full of sex offenders now. Ninety-nine percent of them were abused as children. It’s a perpetuating cycle. People say, castrate them or put them in prison forever. They need treatment. The cycle must be broken.”
“I’ve spoken to prisoners who have been molested by priests, yet the churches just move them around. That can’t be right.”
“There’s a high-ranking officer who was molested by a priest in Tucson.”
“Sexually molesting children is an abhorrent crime, but what about the nineteen or twenty year old juvenile who has consensual sex with his sixteen or seventeen year old girlfriend and her family turn him in. Should he end up in prison?”
“No. Not if the girl is in her mid to late teens. But it happens often. In one case the boyfriend was sent to prison leaving his underage girlfriend pregnant, and when she turned eighteen she came and visited him against her family's wishes.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting, and a lot of matters of concern have been raised here. I like the honesty of the female prison officer. There is light somewhere at the end of the tunnel.

Terry B