I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I have a friend (ex-convict) who is struggling down in L.A. and is coming to Portland for a visit. He may decide to remain up here.
Does anyone know of support organizations for ex-cons in the Portland area? Housing, jobs, etc?
Two questions for your guests:
In retrospect, what things could you have done differently to keep from having committed your original crime(s)?
What can we do to help you not choose to commit another crime(s)? Please be honest and let us evaluate the "if we can" part.
Now let me explain them. The first is meant to determine if the person really accepts their own role in what they chose to do. I would suggest that recognizing responsibility is crucial to change; with it, the second question has value while without it, there is no reason for us to anticipate success if we take the risk needed to help.
Ok, thought of a third question (considering that after a few days of this topic being up, I?m the only poster so far, maybe an extra is appropriate):
How are you handling any mental or emotional struggles that might lead you to reoffend (I might call them ?temptations? in normal conversation, but I know some of our other posters will likely go off on unrelated tangents over the word... something I think would degrade the intent)?
Temptations is fine with me, if I'm one of the ones you're referring to. But of course you don't need my permission to speak or write whats on your mind.
We butt heads about religion, but everything else you've posted, I've pretty much agreed with. And one disagreement out of so many possibilities, well, that ain't bad.
I have to admit, Tom, that you are one of the few I was thinking of.
By the way, I am a bit puzzeled that you (or anyone else, for that matter) haven't joined me in contributing on the political brainstorming thread they have up ( http://action.publicbroadcasting.net/opb/posts/list/1294209.page ) to give them some ideas for coverage in the upcoming election season.
Thanks for that acknowledgment. I'll disagree with you but I hope I'll do it straight up and in public. And I'm willing to be proved wrong.
I looked at that election season topic when it first came out and just kind of put it in my brain to cook about for a while.
Kucinich was my preference and I'll likely write him in just to let the parties count the numbers of his supporters and hopefully consider his ideas. A Kucinich/Nader ticket, now that would shake things up.
No offense, but I do wonder if you are thinking of the primary related thread. They have another one where they ask about our ideas for how they should cover the conventions (OPB is sending reporters to the GOP & Dem shindigs) and other issues and candidates on into the elections. If I understand their intent, they want input on what to consider... and so far, since it was originally posted on July 8, it's only me posting (imagine how skewed they would be if they just thought like me... nah, never happen ;) )
No, I looked at the thread you linked to.
Thing is, both parties work hard to keep out some ideas that I would like to see considered. I like some Green Party ideas, some Nader ideas, some Kucinich ideas, and those are all excluded from both parties. So the conventions don't interest me much, they're going to pretty much stick to the same old ways.
I was really offended that Obama wants to keep going with the Bush push towards a theocracy by funding religious "help" programs. That is the opposite direction of the Enlightenment and I am with ol' Thomas Jefferson about resisting that.
I look around the world at how other countries/nations/peoples do things and I think we ought to take/borrow the most effective ideas and try them out here in Oregon and the US. Norway has great sports and exercise programs, Finland has good school ideas, Cuba trains doctors and sends them around the world, Europe has cell phone systems that work a hell of a lot better than the US, Iceland is developing hydrogen energy systems, Canada and many others have more effective health-care systems, the Russians are doing space on a lower cost budget at the ISS, etc. We in the US tend to think we're the best and just dismiss out of hand any other ideas.
"(imagine how skewed they would be if they just thought like me... nah, never happen ;) )"
You work for a living, same as me, and the people who live off interest from bonds and capital gains and dividends from stocks aren't going to hear you even though they will allow you speak.
?No, I looked at the thread you linked to.?
Fair enough, please forgive my presumption.
The comment I had added at the end of the previous post, "imagine how skewed they would be if they just thought like me..." bit was actually referring to the reporters at OPB, not the politicians. I haven?t found a politician in a long time who expresses anything consistently close to what I think, it is usually a lesser of two... well, you know where that goes.
What I do see in that thread is a slim chance to influence the tone of coverage, at least with the TOL folks when they are working as reporters. Not to change their minds, but to help them ask the questions they would never even consider asking. Honestly, what liberal reporter would consider asking the questions I?ve posted?.
Imagine for just a moment that they might see something that they themselves are uncomfortable with but that isn?t being asked by anyone else... if we have offered it, they might see an opportunity to actually pursue it with an honest preface: ?could you address one of our listener?s questions about...?
Do you see the possibility that I see here? You and I won?t get to talk with any of these folks vying for our votes, but Emily, Dave, and others at OPB may. If they can be encouraged to ask the questions we folks across the spectrum in Oregon have, won?t we be a bit better informed about our issues than if they don?t?
Well, that was my thought, anyway. Thanks for bearing with my subversion of this subthread.
Yeah, you do have a good point about getting different questions asked.
Now I'm thinking about the potential of a website that just took questions, where anybody could post his/her question even if they don't expect an answer from the politician asked. The a research group could tote them all up and list the percentages and all. People could ask what ever is on their mind and so politicians could get information from outside their normal circle of yes men.
"Thanks for bearing with my subversion of this subthread."
Just keeping up a good old tradition. When Talk of the Nation, TOTN, had discussion topics they would always start out on topic and then evolve into something else. And TOTN had a "Community" thread where folks got more folksy and into how each other was doing, more of a friendly thing.
TOTN ran Web Crossing, WebX software, which is far better for referring, quoting, and linking to each others posts, you could link a post number and it became clickable so you could instantly jump to what was linked, even across threads, and refresh yourself about that post. These new
"blogs" seem very awkward and primitive to me, very very user-unfriendly. And "blog" is such an ugly ungainly word, like ugh, it just seems like a clogged up toilet, as in my toilet is blogged again, I have to get out the plunger.
Anyway, maybe we'll end up hijacking a thread and build some kind of community, to discuss whatever we're currently thinking about that doesn't fit into the scheduled topics.
Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.
It seems that almost all convicts will be released within five or so years with the exception of those who have committed capital or extremely violent crimes. Those who have served any time need the support of family and/or community to reintegrate back into society.
What kind of support do you think you need to really get back on your feet and to make sure that you don't reoffend?
The biggest thing is to find a "community" to become a part of, as most of a prisoner's previous community is either gone (after so much time) or not interested (burned bridges). It's important that the new community have several, if not mostly, people who were not involved in criminal behavior. Ex-cons feel ostracized and successful reintegration into society requires getting out of that mode. Being accepted by people who were not incarcerated helps an ex-con feel part of the legitimate world. This helps him or her have the courage to go through repeated rejections by perspective employers (which will happen) without giving up looking for work.
Since some ex-cons have almost no healthy friends left once they get out, it can be very hard to find groups to accept them. This is a very big challenge.
One thing I get out of stories like these is this:
The next time you get stuck in traffic, or your hamburger sucks, grin and bear it. The everyday trials and tribulations that we face are nothing next to what people like the guest "John" has had to deal with and still does.
I have done volunteer work in various jails and prisons for ten years. One thing I always left with at the end of a day as a volunteer was an enormous sense of gratitude for the simple things we all take for granted. A pizza, driving a car, freedom. No matter how down I might have been feeling going into a jail on any given day, I always walked out, took a breath, and felt glad to be a free man.
The next time anyone gets stuck in traffic or is unhappy with their food, they should think about the trials and tribulations of "John's" victim(s). They are the real ones who suffer. John did the unthinkable, and what he deals with until the end of his days is what he deserves.
One of the early comments by your guest shows the extreme lack of basic care for prisoners and also for the accused innocent, in that people who are mentally or physically ill are refused the medicine (eveen meds that they may have in their possession) for several days or longer. There is no reason for this other than intentional contempt for the incarcerated. We can verify information for those hospitalized and give them their appropriate medicine in a matter of minutes. A second horrendous brutality is the newer practice of tying people in chairs for hours at a time if it is thought that the person is suicidal. There is no reason for this in such an extremely controlled environment. Institutions brag that suicide is reduced, but I doubt that the person who has undergone this can live a normal life upon release. Alienation is caused, depression, post traumatic stress, and perhaps suicide can happen upon release. It is a barbaric practice and there are numerous alternatives that have already been identified by expensive studies, studies which have been ignored.
Please describe your experiences looking for employment after release. Has your background presented a significant barrier to opportunities in the community? How are you coping? What assistance, if any, have you received? How do you feel having to compete for employment with undocumented workers whose backgrounds are traceless?
Would you accept employment in a state sponsored sheltered workshop designed to support people during the re-entry process, should one exist?
How does the pannel feel about thier future prospects? Especially the men.
I have long wondered what religion they were associated with growing up. The fear religions generate dysfunctional behaviors in their followers as they try to relieve that condition of fear. Giving up, depression, rebelliousness, sneakiness, self and/or family sabotage, alcoholism and/or drugs, excessive perfectionism, etc.
I don't know if it would be politically correct to ask your guests about what religion they were in or around but I'd appreciate if you'd consider it.
There was an article in the Salem Statesman Journal a year ago about the astronomical cost of sanitary pads in the local jail. The article didn't say this, but these are used by women to put in the soles of the flat prison shoes as they walk on the hard cement floors. This is one tiny yet exorbitant example of the waste and abuse that occurs due to the obstinate and irresponsible attitude of administrators, who don't care about cost savings. In fact waste is encouraged because contractors for prison supplies give kickbacks from relatives or friends of administrators who make money from what is sold to the correction system. If people are allowed to wear their own shoes, the taxpayer saves millions. Shoes with no laces, which Goodwill throws away daily, can be given, which actually are cushioned enough to obviate the need to pad them. People who are scheduled to be sent to a correction facility can be allowed to bring their own shoes with no laces. Incidentally, when a prisoner is caught using a pad in this way, she is put into isolation for days at a time. This does absolutely nothing to curb the practice.
I really felt for the inmate's mother who called in. I can understand her feeling like a criminal herself when visiting her son. That is because they search visitors and herd them like so many cattle. The reasons for this are that some family members do attempt to smuggle in illegal items to their inmate family members. And so all visitors are treated as potential problems. Perhaps it would help her to know that even I was treated that way as a volunteer. It was a little humiliating, but I understood the reasons. We were given all kinds of warnings about what things were forbidden. Inmates are McGuyver-like in their ability to take a common household item and convert it into a weapon or other contraband.
The guards keys have to be covered at all times. That is why they have a metal hinged sheath over them. Some inmates are capable of simply looking at a key and being able to make a duplicate from visual memory. At one prison at which I volunteered, one inmate had taken a car alarm remote and turned it into a device which could defeat the motion sensors at the prison. Another converted a disposable lighter into a bomb.
As for the guests, there's a certain rhyme and reason to prison life, it just isn't the same rhyme or reason you find on the outside. Everyone understands "the rules" are different and adjusts accordingly.
I can imagine how hard it is upon release to adjust to the fact that the rules they lived by on the inside just don't exist on the outside. That things are different out here.
I hope they enjoy their freedom and I wish them success at becoming productive law-abiding members of society.
It is not true that victims know when prisoners are paroled. As the Statesman Journal cited two days ago, a victim is not notified when a parole hearing is set unless the victim registers with the parole board to be notified. The catch is that victims are not told there is a registration system in place. This information came from a police detective who works in the system, who did not know about the registration system. This again shows the lack of responsibility of corrections administrators.
Why are so many non-violent offenders incarcerated when they could be imprisoned in their own apartments through the electronic bracelet system? The answer is greed. People are making too much money from selling goods to the correction system, and prison is a source of employment. People can be easily monitored at home. Anyone would choose to have a rice chip implanted under the skin so that their location can be pinpointed by satellite, rather than be incarcerated. Drug tests could be done as needed. This solution is so obvious it is disgusting. The cost savings would be astounding, and the prisoner would actually learn healthy living habits.
The answer is not greed. The answer is that society wants criminals to be punished, and an electronic bracelet doesn't always feel like just punishment.
Would you consider a child molestor "non-violent"? I wouldn't. It's rape, and living at home would not keep them from preying on children.
Living at home would most certainly prevent him from preying on children. There would be signs on all his doors saying his crime, cameras in his bedroom ( to which he would readily agree if it meant avoiding prison) and there would be an alert if anyone entered his apartment. No internet would be allowed. We are entirely capable of controlling people electronically to an extreme extent. However, molestation and rape are violent assaults upon persons, so I would be in favor of prison for this offense, followed by a lifetime of electronic monitoring, because pedophilia is known to be most resistant to change.
my oldest brother, who is 13 years old than me, started his "prison career" by the time he was 12 for drug abuse and stealing. i call it a career because he's been in and out of the system ever since. he's 41 now and is due to be released in August from his latest 5 year sentence.
i have never known my brother because the short times that he was out he would get high, steal, and get arrested again. my memories of him from growing up involve fights with the family and my mom crying.
what i find heartbreaking (besides the fact that i don't know him) is that the time that he spends in prison is the only time that he is clean from drugs. i am constantly asking myself... is it better for him to be in prison and be clean or out on the street smoking meth & crack, asking people of spare change, and stealing from the neighbors?
thank you for the show! you guys do great work!
My personal feeling is that drug and alcohol addiction is responsible for the great majority of crime, and most particularly for recidivism.
I tend to agree for small-time crimes, but the greatest crimes are done legislatively, like deregulating Enron, like giving Bush permission to declare war against Iraq, etc.
Barely near topic; I was encouraged that the ICC, International Criminal Court, indicted the leader of Sudan even though Sudan is not a signatory of the ICC. That means the possibility of them indicting Bush/Cheney/Rice/PNAC, even though Bush/Cheney unsigned the US from the ICC. And that would be a good thing.
Another reason electronic bracelet system is not widely used is that the general public is full of vengeance, and politicians do not want to appear weak. The public themselves need to get real and realize prison does not make us safer, since most prisoners are released without any rehabilitation.
A question for John or anyone else who is knowledgeable about this subject:
How is it that you were able to get treatment for your sexual perversion (for lack of a better term) without having to turn yourself in, since you had to admit to a professional that you had perpetrated a crime against a minor? I admire your wife for giving you an ultimatum that led to seeking treatment, but why didn't that process lead to your prosecution due to the counselor's obligation to mandatory reporting?
A Therapist (PhD) can decide not to report a client who has admitted a crime if he or she believes that the client is not currently a danger to society. It is a little risky for them to do so, and many will not. However, in my case, my first therapist (before prison) consulted with several colleagues after interviewing me and decided to take the risk. In my case, it paid off. I did not reoffend in the six years I was in treatment before my crime came to light and I dealt with 90% of my issues before the "system" got involved.
In addition, if a person commits a sex crime and goes to an attorney, that attorney can extend his or her protective attorney client privilege over a therapist who can then treat the person who committed the crime. I haven't heard of this happening much, but it is part of our legal system. That does not mean the criminal won't go to prison, it just allows him or her to get some quality help, since most of the states therapists (who sex offenders are required to see after prison) are not really very good.
One thing that I wish could be talked about more is that a man who sees himself heading down the path towards sex offense CAN find help these days. There are many more therapists who specialize in the area, as well as support groups that deal with sexual addictions quite well. There was a time, before my crime, when I wanted help but could not find it.
I should probably start a new thread, but...
I have observed personally that sex offenses seem to be a classless crime. In other words, it's a crime that spans class boundaries quite easily. I've also observed that it seems that upon release, "higher functioning" SOs have a pretty decent network of support from other SOs upon release. Those who are high-middle class to upper-middle class tend to help one another find housing, jobs, etc.
I'm curious about whether continuing to associate with SO peers in prison post release is a possible indicator that someone might re-offend? Do you have meaningful, sustained, continuing, intimate relationships with other SOs from prison that you might have met in groups, etc.?
The reason I'm asking is that you indirectly alluded to these relationships with the comments that people on the outside don't understand the experience of prison like people on the inside. It sounded like it isn't the norm (with the comments about "We're not here to be friends, but we're stuck with each other...", but I'd like to verify).
Also, I wanted to thank you for appearing on the radio. Even if John isn't your real name, you have a distinctive voice and story, so I'm sure that you could be identified by people close to you that don't know. Taking risks and being honest is a sign of accountability that's tangible.
I have only one friendship that I have maintained with another SO. While I run into others in treatment, I do not normally contact them at other times. In my case, I worked hard at developing new friendships in more healthy environments. It is true that people who have not been to prison don't relate as well to what I've been through, but now I am at a place where I am building a new life not looking for understanding from others about my old life.
I agree that SO's come from a much broader range of classes than most other crimes, and you are right that those from more educated pasts tend to do better after release. But I think this is due more to better developed social skills rather than job skills. It is not that higher educated SO's help each other, but more that they know how to find help and make new friends outside of the ex-con world. Building a network of supportive friends has been the most critical aspect of my successful re-entry into society.
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