#100 Prison call to arms…yours (retro)

March 19, 2010 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

Prison Call To Arms…(YOUR arms)

Somebody’s gonna read the title and think I am talking about some form of anarchy…not quite.

I’ll get to that in a sec, but I wanted to again urge you to support my writings, it helps me a lot in continuing my efforts and affords me the time to spend here writing and helping others. You can always email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask how you can support my writings, or you can email me about my “Grades of Honor” books and other projects, which will include my first prison blog book very soon.

Now, let us talk about this call to arms.

When someone calls for this action, many times we think it means some aggressive point of action, such as war or revolution. And while that is true on many counts, this is not quite what I have in mind.

This blog is about your call of YOUR arms…or rather your hands. Because you’re going to need it to help a loved one in prison. You see, when your loved one goes to prison, you have to remember that the world he lives in isn’t as fair as you think… now the counter of that is that the novice reader thinks that whatever happens in prison to that person is justifiable…wrong.

The moment prison treats men and women like dogs is the moment our society degrades itself. Prison IS the punishment, not the abuse that happens in it. And this includes prison punishment that many prisons impose on inmates that can be seen as excessive punishment.

I say all this to take you back to an issue we discussed yesterday on Rehabilitation or Punishment. If you are new here, you’ll wanna jump back a couple of blogs to catch the issue.

I am picking up on that today to add on some things I might do if the situation happened to someone I cared about. Today I got an email from the reader that told me about this situation. Just to get you to pace, her loved one got a charge involving drugs (alcohol) and was put in seg, then sent to a rehab with 90 days no visits and no phone calls, amongst other things.

So the question I raised was whether this was punishment or rehabilitation. To me, with the info given, I just could not see where this was any form of rehabilitation at all. Today I was given more info from the reader, and she told me about her conversation with one of the case managers on the unit.

Some of the details include that he could NOT have those privileges, and the reason for it was to teach him a lesson in the consequences of drugs. The denial of contact is to keep him from being “distracted” during his rehab.

Ok folks, let’s call it what it really is…excessive punishment. So what do you do?

The first thing I would do is document all conversations. I would make sure I have the name of the case manager of that unit, and to make sure you remember exactly what she says when you asked her about this situation.

For example, let’s just say that the case manager’s name was Jane Smith. If I talked to Mrs Jane Smith and she told me that the inmate can’t have visitors during the 90 days, and justifies it to “distraction” I would hold her accountable (as a representative of that prison) to the prison being counterproductive to prison rehabilitation by denying the inmate of the STRONGEST source of rehabilitation, which is contact with loved ones.

The point I finish talking to Mrs. Jane Smith, SHE becomes the focus of the argument, because she is speaking for the prison. Any problems you have with this situation are based on what she said. Even if she is not wholly responsible, she said it, so she is in part representing what the prison does. Someone has to be accountable for what you believe is excessive punishment.

This is where many miss it, because people don’t want to point out anyone… some call it “snitching” but don’t get me started on that. If your loved one has been put in a difficult situation where it seems like excessive punishment, then SOMEONE has to be held accountable. If you give vague answers like “a certain officer” or “a warden which I will not name”, you are not being specific to the issue. If you are going to defend someone you love, don’t give place to someone you don’t know.

Ok, let’s say I talk to Mrs. Jane Smith and the answers she give me aren’t satisfactory enough. I want answers, because I think Mrs. Jane just told me what she wanted me to think, thinking I will just accept it. My loved one is in this rehab stressing out and the prison thinks this is a good idea. I don’t. Even if he had to do some punishment for his charge, there is such a thing as excessive punishment.

So with the info I have, I need to start putting my hands to work. It’s time for somebody to listen to me. It’s time to start writing letters for someone to understand that even though my loved one is an inmate, and he did break a rule, that excessive punishment is not (and will never be) the answer to rehabilitation. There has to be a more humane way of doing this.

So, who do you write to? And why bother writing to the prison, they don’t care anyway?

Maybe, but prisons are accountable to people too, once you identify them, and if you have a valid argument, prisons CAN be held accountable. This is something I learned while I was in several camps. I did a lot of writing while I was in prison, and one thing I learned is that one of the greatest fears of prison is the problems escaping their control.

You see, as long as a prison can contain the problem under their roof, they don’t have to honor you or the inmate, because “their word is law”. An inmate could be 100% right, but if the problem is addressed under the DOC roof, the inmate can’t win because the prison will always try to save face. And if they can’t, they ship the inmate to another camp to get rid of him…trust me, I have been kicked out of several prisons because of that.

But if that same problem reaches the ears and eyes of anyone OUTSIDE DOC, then things change because the prison knows they are now being watched and the things they could normally get away with is not possible, because they are accountable to people outside the prison. Prisons believe that they are not accountable to any inmate, which is why many of them ignore inmate problems.

But we hope to change that.

In this situation, I have the conversation I had with Mrs. Jane Smith, the case manager in the unit of the prison. I believe that his punishment was far too excessive and poses no real hope in rehabilitation, only punishment. So I want to bend the ear of some people to see what can be done.

First, document the events, you must be accurate in what you are arguing. This is extremely important.

Second, if you can make contact with your loved one, encourage him to write a grievance. This is critical because there has to be some documentation of the inmate in this situation. Why? Because if you argue this, without the inmate agreeing, the prison can easily counter by saying something like:

“DOC policy does not believe in excessive punishment on any inmate, and allows any inmate to address his or her problems through the grievance resolutions procedure. If the inmate has not written a grievance, we cannot proceed with any investigation until the inmate in question has submitted said grievance”

In other words, if your loved one hasn’t written a grievance, then there IS no problem for you to be worked up about.

Trust me folks, if you don’t get past this, your efforts will fail.

There has to be documentation from the inmate that proves that he has a problem with the situation as well. He needs to write a grievance, and if he “can’t” then that must be documented by you as well. Every inmate in any prison has the right to grieve a situation.

Once you get that, you need to put your computer to work. If it was ME, and you KNOW I love writing, the first target would be the prison itself. There is a reason for this, but let me get a little more specific.

Let’s say we’re talking about the state of Ohio. Now you know I did my time in NC, but let’s just say my loved one is in Ohio. The first thing I would do is go online and look up info on Ohio prisons. Let’s see what I find:

First off I find the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Excellent, they have a land address I can write to. My idea is to challenge the ODRC in the true and sincere definition of “Rehabilitation” as opposed to excessive punishment. I want to send a letter to them to consider whether my loved one is being punished or being rehabilitated. There is a difference.

Now note, I am not writing to argue AT them, I am trying to REASON. The way you talk to someone makes a lot of difference in how they respond. You can be right in your argument, but if you sound like a mad jerk, no one is going to listen. So what I write is very important, and must be sensible and reasonable. If the Ohio DRC has reasonable human beings, then they will read it with sincerity.

I also notice other members in this organization, such as the Director…I want to send him a separate letter as well. So one to the Organization as a whole, and one to the Director…for starters.

Now I see a list of prisons, let’s just say my loved one is at Madison Correctional. On the site there lists a Warden, 2 Deputy Wardens and the land address. I am sending a letter to each one. That is 4 more letters; one to the prison as a whole, one to the warden and to his two deputy wardens.

That’s 6 so far. And I see there is an Office of the Chief Inspector, who is supposed to be responsible for grievances…he’s gonna get a letter too. So that is at least 7 letter I am sending.

“That’s too many, what do you hope to accomplish?”

I hope to accomplish that first off, that person in prison is someone I CARE ABOUT. They might not be a saint, and if he did wrong then he or she has to do the punishment, but IF IT IS EXCESSIVE, I am going to defend him or her on the grounds that every prison should treat inmates like human beings, and not create excessive punishment for the sake of punishing.

My intent is to make sure that my voice is heard by key parts of the prison. If I just talked to the case manager, they can lie and tell me whatever they want, thinking it does not matter. But if several people in the prison system hear about my plea, someone is going to consider it look into it.

What this also does is allows the act of delegation take place. The case manager at the prison may not care about me, but I BET if she got a call from her superiors about that same letter, they will pay more attention. Once they know this, they will realize that the inmate’s condition is no longer under the thumb of the prison, and as such, will realize that if they are wrong in their actions, they must change it.

But what if everyone in the prison ignores it? Then you go to step two.

Find and write to elected officials.

Wait a sec, check this out! This is the mission statement of the Ohio DRC:

Mission Statement
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction protects and supports Ohioans by ensuring that adult felony offenders are effectively supervised in environments that are safe, humane, and appropriately secure. In partnership with communities, we will promote citizen safety and victim reparation. Through rehabilitative and restorative programming, we seek to instill in offenders an improved sense of responsibility and the capacity to become law-abiding members of society.

Can you see how you can use this statement to reason with the ODRC, in that they talk about “humane” and “sense of responsibility”. If this is what they believe in, then challenge them to help you understand why an inmate is doing 90 days in a rehab with no visits, no phonecalls, and other punishments. Where is the rehabilitation in that?

The same letter you send to the prisons, you can send to your Governor, your state senator, state representatives and other members of government. Now, some of you are thinking that they don’t care and won’t answer…not always true.

Even if the senator or representative does not answer you directly, most will answer by an assistant or by delegation. If I write to 10 different elected officials about this situation, most of them are likely going to delegate this back to the ODRC…which is fine, because this then creates a level of accountability to the prison system. Just as that case manager has to answer to her superiors, so must the system as a whole.

The key here is finding the spots of accountability, if you do, you stand an excellent chance of getting some action. As long as prisons don’t feel a measure of that, they will feel that their actions are always right…even when they could be wrong.

If done right, if that letter you write is sensible, reasonable and documented with facts, it can make an impact and get someone to listen to you, and ultimately to do something about the situation. I’d write a sample letter, but if I did, this blog would stretch out to like 7 pages. But you get the idea.

Anyway, that is something I would do. I gotta go, feel free to email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com and ask how you can support my writing or about my books and stuff. If you have not requested one, I will be sending out some more books in about 2 weeks. If you just want to support my writing, I will be most appreciative of that as well. The support I get helps me kinda pay my time here, than be somewhere else, and it helps me buy the supplies I need like paper, ink, card stock paper and other printing materials when I do my projects. It will eventually have to pay for a new computer too, but that is down the road.

But it also allows me to kinda help myself in a selfish way too, whether that means buying something at McDonalds or some new basketball shoes or things like that. You know I am not a church or charitable organization, but the idea of being able to do more things gives me a greater sense of encouragement and commitment to writing. If this becomes my “job” then I have to be as best as I can be. So any support is always appreciated.

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Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#99 Guilty by association or ignorance #101 Prison 101 Communications, pt4 (retro)

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