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Re: [BKARTS] Prison erases writing workshop files after inmate wins $25,000 PEN award



Thanks Jim,

Now my "mind's right" -to paraphrase the warden.


----- Original Message -----
From: James Welker <jwelker@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date:         Fri, 16 Apr 2004 10:54:44 -0500
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Prison erases writing workshop files after inmate wins $25,000 PEN award

> I think the folks responding to this posting need to remember that this
> is a book arts listserv before getting hysterical about this topic.  My
> day job is in an area where I have considerable daily contact with
> individuals in the prison system.  I have two observations about this
> thread.
>
> First, it might be a good idea to withhold judgment without knowing
> what the other side of the story might be.  The American criminal
> justice system, with its flaws, is far superior to what goes on in the
> world generally.  If there is some kind of action taken regarding this
> writing project, its probably a good idea to assume that there must
> have been a good reason.  If there is no good reason, our system has
> more than ample remedies.
>
> Second, these kinds of programs often allow inmates to focus on how
> badly they have been treated by society rather than focusing on how
> they can take responsibility for their actions.  I know nothing about
> this particular program.  However, other "rehabilitative" programs in
> prisons often allow prisoners to wallow in self-pity, blaming the
> warden, the judge, the prosecutor, the victim and anyone else for their
> situation.
>
> There have even been prison programs designed to increase the "self
> esteem" of prisoners.  Of course, the primary problem most serious
> criminal offenders have is too heavy a dose of self esteem.  They tend
> to feel that they are so important that they do not have to obey the
> rules applicable to the rest of society.  The most difficult problem in
> the criminal justice system is to get the message across to inmates
> that they are not in prison because they are victims; they are there
> because they are criminals.
>
> Repeating once again that I know nothing about this particular writing
> project, I can certainly envision similar projects where prisoners are
> allowed to engage in group efforts which feed their need to believe
> they are the real victims.  Such a project would be a major roadblock
> to a prison program which has as its goal the rehabilitation of
> prisoners by making them face up to their own criminal thinking which
> landed them in prison.
>
> Having said all that, I think it is a good idea not to get too
> judgmental about a prison official who made a decision about this
> program unless one had a lot more information.
>
> Jim Welker
>
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             ***********************************************
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     *Postings may not be re-printed in any form without the express
     consent of the author - Please respect their contributions & ©*

        Archive maintained and suppported by Conservation OnLine
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