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Oct-23-2010 13:18printcomments

Is Inmate Rehabilitation Succeeding?

Dichotomous systems like these have been shown to fail throughout history; prison rehabilitation schemes are no exception.

Prisoner
Salem-News.com

(CHICAGO) - Is Inmate Rehabilitation Succeeding?

No, and the dirty little secret is that it's not designed to succeed. In fact a recent study of prison population growth since 1960 revealed that if the growth rate curve continues on its current trajectory that the prison population will double by 2025 and triple by 2050. Of course that's assuming that government stops writing laws and regulations that continue to expand the definition of what constitutes crimes. If the trend doesn't slow or stop then no one can predict what the actual prison population numbers will be a few decades from now. Perhaps ten times the projected numbers.

This article will be a little different than most articles addressing this topic. I have no ax to grind with authors of articles regurgitating the same time-worn bromides and "solutions" that have been attempted over and over again for many decades with absolute utter failure as the end result. As has been pointed out, though, to take the same action over and over expecting a different result is a definition of insanity.

Some of these attempted "solutions" include:

1. Throwing more money after bad.

2. Creating an ever-expanding, overbearing bureaucracy.

3. Employing additional "experts" who are experts at little more than stuffing their own pocketbooks with grant money.

4. Experimenting with the latest spin on sociological theory which is doomed to abject failure because the approach has already been tried in the past with pitifully poor progress.

5. Applying more crackpot, self-aggrandizing follow-up programs - such as half-way houses and group therapy sessions - as a balm smoothing over the transition from prison to society. If you analyze the numbers those methods haven't worked either.

Here's the bottom line: If you have a vehicle with a bad engine, shredded tires, a leaky exhaust system and broken headlights, giving it a new paint job will not make the thing more roadworthy. That is our criminal justice system today, a creaking old jalopy - only the cost of the paint and the number of people required to apply it continues to grow exponentially.

Privatizing failure

Another factor to consider is the corruption that permeates the judicial system at virtually every level. The corruption in prisons is well known and has been documented by media exposés for many decades. Some (certainly not all) of the prison staff - including guards - are as corrupt as the inmates they are supposedly rehabilitating.

The watchword with today's modern prisons is privatization, a trend that began in the 1980s that's continued to accelerate ever since. The corporations that contract out services to manage Correctional facilities are mostly public and trade on the exchange. Several reports by Wall Street industry analysts during the past several years have pegged prison management as a strong growth industry{1}.

The American political structure has run amok at all levels of government. Many of the city, county and state governments have gone rogue. Most frightening, politicians, ignorant on the issues and lacking real insightful knowledge of the issues they're addressing, sit on councils, boards and other legislative bodies churning out law after law designed to restrict former liberties and criminalize more activities; activities that were one legal.

Thus you have the situation today where up to 60% of the inmates at some state and county run facilities would have been considered good citizens one hundred years ago. If you doubt that statement consider this: under the current federal laws every founder of this country - Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin all of them - would be considered criminals today.

They would reject the confiscatory income tax laws, the burgeoning and repressive regulatory structure, state property taxes, and most sales taxes. They would challenge the vast majority of laws diminishing individual rights and resist the massive agencies that have been created by government fiat. All would face trials on multiple counts and most, if not all, would be incarcerated.

A point of discussion within the past several weeks on CNN, Fox and other media dealt with the fact that there are so many laws on the books at the state and federal levels that any American citizen can be detained and arrested at any time. Granted that the charges may not stick and will never make it to court, but just the fact that such an infrastructure now exists should make all of us take pause.

Abraham Lincoln would not have escaped the wrath of the federal justice system either. Under today's standards he grossly abused the power of his office by issuing an executive order placing newspaper editors across the country who disagreed with his political stances under arrest. Today he would be vilified, impeached and perhaps whisked away to federal prison for his crimes.

Gang bangers and corruption

Another factor to consider is the corruption that permeates the judicial system at virtually every level. The corruption in prisons is well known and has been documented by media exposés for many decades. Some (certainly not all) of the prison staff - including guards - are as corrupt as the inmates they are supposedly rehabilitating.

An inside joke among career criminals is the fact that prison affords them the opportunity to network with other criminal organizations. The Crips and Bloods street gangs have recruited their members from corrections facilities for a very long time. Their methods are highly successful. Like strands of a spider web, gang leaders have actually converted police officers, government officials and elected representatives to their cause.

According to a gang threat assessment compiled by federal officials, gangs in America have swelled to an estimated one million members and are responsible for up to 80 percent of crimes in communities across the nation{2}.

The problem has reached such dire levels last year that the United States Army issued orders that all "tribal" or gang-oriented tattoos on enlisted men's bodies had to be expunged. It's estimated that at least several thousand gang members have infiltrated the Armed Forces.

The extremist element

The newest wrinkle is the growing trend or Islamic extremists to recruit from the prison ranks. There's a lot of recruitment going on, and a lot of competition to win the hearts and minds behind those prison walls. The hearts and minds are being won not by the wardens and other prison authorities, but by criminals and criminal organization themselves! Skinhead fascists, Black Nationalists, Hispanic gangs like Ms-13 out of El Salvador, Eastern European gangs, South American gangs, and a myriad of other organizations representing smaller numbers - such as the Chinese Tong societies and the Japanese Yakuza - also compete to swell the ranks of their memberships. All under the blind eyes of the men and women tasked to manage inmate's activities and steer them towards the pathway of productive citizenship.

The recruitment is at such a high level, so productive and so intensive it puts old criminal organizations like the Mafia to shame.

Why inmate rehabilitation is not succeeding

What are anti-social values and sociopathic tendencies if judged against an underlying society that operates on the mutable grounds of moral relativism? Think about it rationally for more than thirty seconds and you'll come to the inescapable conclusion that it makes no sense, is paradoxical and hypocritical.

Political correctness is another hideous tool that subverts the moral structure of a free society and undermines the value system of the self-appointed professionals counseling the incarcerated.

Another outrage is the percentage of non-citizens incarcerated at taxpayer expense. In some cases the annual cost to maintain, supervise, rehabilitate, clothe, feed and attend to health issues costs taxpayers upwards of $70,000 per inmate per year{3}.

This brings us full circle. As more laws create more criminals the prison population swells and the profits escalate. It's no wonder that analysts have identified prison management companies as a robust growth sector in the economy.

There is every reason to continue growing the inmate population and very little economic pressure to actually address the problem.


It matters not that legions of psychotherapists spout psychobabble (gleaned at the feet of pontificating professors whose convoluted hypotheses have been proved time and again to fail in the real world).

It matters not that billions have been sucked down the black hole of wasteful endeavors.

Nor does it matter that teams of sniffing sociologists, sporting their latest untested theories and armed with unlimited grant monies, descend like waves of locusts upon the fields of federal funding leaving little, if anything, in their wake - including tangible results.

Like the perennial percentage of poor in every society, there will always be a base percentage of criminals. In a normal society founded on objective laws that codify the values and ethics of that culture based upon immutable moral principles and recognizable rights and responsibilities, the percentage of career and repeat criminals is small.

Unfortunately, America today is not a normal society. At best it is irrational and at worst collectively insane.

You cannot expect long term criminal rehabilitation to work in such an environment except for a tiny fraction of those that are exposed to the layers of classes, counseling, education and training regimens employed by the state and federal systems. When a strong economic incentive is added to the mix there becomes every reason to criminalize more people and keep them locked up, and less reason to make "good citizens" out of them.

Dichotomous systems like these have been shown to fail throughout history; prison rehabilitation schemes are no exception. Money by itself will not solve the problem. Reigning in the irrational and heavy hand of self-serving politicians and bureaucrats is the ultimate answer.

  1. Brush, Michael. "3 prison stocks poised to break out."
  2. Stabinsky, Kevin. WWW.ARMY.MIL, "Home-grown gangs provide dangerous threat to local communities, service members
  3. Approximately 33 percent of all federal prisoners are non-citizens. "We estimate the federal cost of incarcerating criminal aliens . . . totaled approximately $5.8 billion for calendar years 2001 through 2004. BOP's cost to incarcerate criminal aliens rose from about $950 million in 2001 to about $1.2 billion in 2004 - a 14 percent increase." Government Accounting Office report.

Special thanks to Helium.com

This article was originally published by: helium.com

Terrence Aym is a Salem-News.com Contributor based in Chicago, who is well known nationally for his stirring reports on the top ranked site, helium.com. Born in Minnesota, Terrence Aym grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs. Having traveled to 40 of the 50 states and lived in 7 of them, Aym is no stranger to travel. He's also spent time in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Western Africa. An executive for many years with Wall Street broker-dealer firms, Aym has also had a life-long interest in science, technology, the arts, philosophy and history. If it's still possible to be a 'Renaissance man' in the 21st Century, Aym is working hard to be one.

Aym has several book projects in the works. Media sites that have recently featured Aym, and/or discussed his articles, include ABC News, TIME Magazine, Business Insider, Crunchgear.com, Discover, Dvice, Benzinga and more recently, his work has been showing up in South Africa and Russia.




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