Thursday, November 20, 2014
A reader asked me about the types of rehabilitation programs that the prison system offered. It’s important to note that I served time in the federal prison system. Our nation operates 53 different prison systems. Each state has its own prison system. The District of Columbia has a prison system. The military has a prison system. And the federal government has a prison system. My experience is limited to the federal prison system.
When a reader asks about the types of rehabilitation programs that were available to me as a long-term federal prisoner, the short—though incomplete answer—is many. It’s a short answer because prison administrators define just about everything as a “rehabilitation” program. Officers told me that creating obstacles is a “rehabilitation” program because making prison difficult is part of a strategy to make the system so uncomfortable that prisoners won’t want to return. They also classify work programs that require inmates to perform menial labor and makeshift work as being “rehabilitation” programs. They classify the telephone, mail, and even disciplinary programs as being part of “rehabilitation.” Essentially, when considering the perspective of staff members, everything in prison is part of a rehabilitation program.
As a man who experienced 26 years of prison, however, I see it differently. A rehabilitation program should focus on preparing individuals for law-abiding, contributing lives upon release. We could measure a rehabilitation program’s effectiveness by how well it succeeded in reaching the objective of producing law-abiding citizens. From that perspective, I conclude that prisons need to improve the rehabilitation programs.
I am fortunate to have emerged from prison successfully, with opportunities to build a career. Yet prisons produce few success stories and many intergenerational cycles of failure. For that reason, among others, I say that prisons fail as a force for rehabilitation.
Days since my release from prison: 465
Miles that I ran today: 0
Miles that I ran so far this week: 37.55
Miles that I’ve run during the month of November: 127.13
Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,177.27
Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 222.73
Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 42.02
My weight for today: 168