Wednesday, November 12, 2014
If you could change one thing in prison and out of prison to enable and ease the transition from prison to the outside world, what would it be?
(Before answering the above question that I received from a student, I want to wish my mom a happy birthday. She may be the only reader of this blog, and I love her. Now I’ll answer the question.)
Prisons have a design flaw. I attribute high recidivism rates to that design flaw. The primary flaw of prison designs, from my perspective, is that they extinguish hope. Rather than incentivizing people in prison to pursue a path to excellence, prisons send a different message. Rules inside, both tacit and expressed, tell an individual that “you’ve got nothing coming.” That means regardless of what good deeds you embark upon, or what efforts you make to redeem yourself, mechanism do not exist for you to undo the crimes you’ve committed. Only the passing of time and the avoidance of disciplinary infractions have relevance in prisons where I served time.
That design flaw differs in fundamental ways from society. In society, we incentivize a pursuit of excellence. Those incentives keep people striving to achieve their highest potential. Yet since administrators govern prisons through the threat of punishment rather than through the promise of incentives, few people work toward preparing for success. And most people leave prison less capable of functioning as law-abiding citizens in society than when they began their sentences. If we changed the design of prisons, we would change the outcome.
Days since my release from prison: 457
Miles that I ran today: 0
Miles that I ran so far this week: 26.48
Miles that I’ve run during the month of November: 77.28
Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,127.42
Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 272.58
Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 44.73
My weight for today: 168