As I read through this article, it struck be as the best overview I have ever seen on the subject of prisons. The writer captures feelings and emotions as well as statistics that everyone can relate to. Lengthy but will done. There are three points I would like to highlight if nothing more than to get you into the article.
Always bear in mind that if Florida is any indication some 25 percent of the inmates on their first term are 24 or younger. They enter into a system that has a 68 percent recidivism rate. They go in with an average of a six grade education and some 60 or so percent will be diagnosed with an addiction problem. Hardly any will have these basic issues addressed. Of those that get into the door for an education about 90 percent will not finish according to an investigation by Florida Tax Watch.
The first and most essential point is ‘…….The basic reality of American prisons is not that of the lock and key but that of the lock and clock…..”……That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A note of attenuated panic, of watchful paranoia—anxiety and boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog, covering the guards as much as the guarded….”
Second point is: For American prisoners, huge numbers of whom are serving sentences much longer than those given for similar crimes anywhere else in the civilized world—Texas alone has sentenced more than four hundred teen-agers to life imprisonment—time becomes in every sense this thing you serve…..”
Lastly: “…The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.) Prison rape is so endemic—more than seventy thousand prisoners are raped each year—that it is routinely held out as a threat, part of the punishment to be expected….”
This is the reality of the land of the free and home of the brave. Some 94 or so percent of these men and women will be released.