ethel’s words

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EXPERIENCE LEARNING or LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Prisons

One would think old men don’t commit crimes. Prison populations consist of very young men (I haven’t studied women) and a few older men who entered prison when young. They may be there “still”, or it may be the ever-plaguing recidivism.

Of all facts about prisons and criminal justice practices in general, is the glaring fact that Yankee Americans care little about prisons or the courts or the circumstances that trap young men (boys) who are neither cunning nor sophisticated nor educated nor wise--nor street smart.

Prisons are usually controlled by a combination of prisoner organization (too sophisticated to be called “gangs”) and the threat of death-dealing oversight by the State administration.

There is no actual evidence that imprisonment of persons stops crimes. This is astounding. Why is the threat of “getting caught” not enough? Why does each generation contribute its share of scapegoats, whipping boys, confused delinquents and hostile criminals? What promotes criminal activities? The same can be asked about political corruption crimes (often called “scandals”)?

For some thousands of years of somewhat-recorded history, we have been punishing and it seems never to prevent, and rarely, by itself, achieve, that elusive result called “reform”. We have become a “nation of prisons”.

Come to think of it, the Criminal Justice System(s) is like the offender: It just doesn’t learn.

Ethel C. Hale