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Theory Post – Prison conditions

Dear readers,

In past posts I have focused primarily on the negative aspects of prison conditions, highlighting particularly one side in regards to these conditions. There are two sides to every story and this one is quite simple: one being in support of prison reform and the other not. Those not in support of prison reform is not necessarily outwardly spoken, but rather can be seen through lack of action, lack of funding, and continuing to ignore the issue at hand. As I sit here writing this post I am trying to find a way for each side to compromise, but there is just no such thing as compromise when looking at this topic. And my only conclusion is: prison reform is necessary.

By no means should prisons be luxurious, but they should at least be humane and livable. In order to achieve prison reform several steps will need to be taken. The first step that should be taken is education. By educating society and both parties of what is really happening within prison walls a general understanding of why reform is necessary can be achieved. The steps following should include, more funding for prison staff, mental health services, and other specialized units. Especially considering that 12% of the total prison population requires mental health services. Lastly, prisons should be required to follow and abide by current prison laws such as PREA. I believe if we are able to implement the above reform can be achieved.

Self Analysis

Dear Readers,

Thanks for checking back one last time. For this post, I want to take a minute to reflect on my growth as a writer and a learner during my time researching this topic.   When my group agreed to focus on prison systems weeks ago, I didn’t know much of anything regarding prison systems. The extent of my knowledge was gained only from what I had seen on Orange is the New Black and brief conversations in other classes.   I will admit though, I came into this project fairly biased that the conditions within the prisons were nothing to praise, but this did not stop me from trying to keep an open mind during my research.

As I embarked on the journey of investigating the conditions within prisons and the treatment of prisoners, I soon realized my biased opinion was easily confirmable. This only made things easier for me as I found myself becoming more and more passionate about the wellbeing of inmates. It’s funny, I never thought that would be something I would consider a passion.

I feel that my greatest strength during this project was not only my ability to support my claim with factual and emotional evidence, but also being able to openly question the current practices. I found this to be the best way to connect with my readers and to keep them engaged.   With that being said, I can honestly say I have several weaknesses in regards to this project. I feel that two most prominent are: first, my inability to try to understand the opposing side’s point of view. As I said before, I did try to keep an open mind while researching, but I found that to be extremely challenging once my opinion was confirmed. And second, timeliness. At one point during the project I found myself becoming so preoccupied with other issues in my personal life that the importance of this project slipped away from me. This made it extremely difficult for me to regain the passion and motivation I once had.

Looking back at all the research and time I put into this subject, I feel like I can confidently say I am well informed on the topic. By spending time doing weekly postings, analyzing the topic, offering solutions, etc., I found that the skills I have gained go beyond the basics. I feel that I have grown as a person while trying to master this topic, especially considering the obstacles I faced. This project has made me realize how essential it is to educate our society on pressing such as these.

In conclusion, the conditions of prisons and the treatment of prisoners are corrupt, inhumane, and foul. And I will continue to advocate for prison reform outside this blog, as it has become an issue important to me.

As I finish this post, I just want to say that I hope you enjoyed following my blog as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Implications of prison conditions

Dear Readers,

As I finish up my final posts, I want to take a minute and consider the implications the current conditions within prison systems has in our country, and what could result if they continue. From my research and weekly postings, it is apparent that the conditions within prisons are nothing to praise and will only continue to produce negative results.  I believe the biggest implication in regards to prison conditions results from the lives lost due to these conditions. We are imprisoning people for killing others, but what does it say about our justice system when we are in turn killing them? Conditions have gotten so bad, that people are actually dying. Prison is a place of reform and rehabilitation, not inhumane practices. By continuing to support the current prison condition through underfunding and lack of acknowledgement to the current laws (ex. Prison Rape Elimination Act, Eighth Amendment) pertaining to prison/ prisoner treatment, we are in turn supporting a country with corrupt morals.

Self-Analysis Post

When I first started this blog project, I did not know much about the prison system. My only knowledge of prisons came from movies such as The Shawshank Redemption. Because I knew so little about the prison system and how criminal justice worked, I did not have an actual opinion on the legal rights of the accused. Before I began researching the issue of defendants’ rights, I was aware that the US Constitution and several Supreme Court cases provided accused people rights to an attorney and protection against excessive court fees punishable by prison.

However, I did not know that even today many defendants who cannot afford their own legal services are denied complete protection by laws guaranteeing the right to a lawyer and preventing excessive bail and debtors’ prisons. I also found the other side of the issue in which courts do not receive enough funding from the states, thus forcing them to charge defendants large fees.

My research progressed my understanding of the issue in which underfunded courts have limited resources to provide defendants who cannot afford to pay for their own legal services. I used a variety of sources when researching including blogs, news articles, journal articles, and statistical data. This variety of sources helped me grow as a thinker and allowed me to understand the complexities of the issue of defendants’ rights. Reading different people’s perspectives on the same issue allowed me to formulate my own opinion in which courts should be funded in order to give poor defendants equal rights as defendants who can afford their own legal services. Another source that contributed to my understanding of my issue was the comments on my weekly blog posts. These comments brought up discussions on defendants’ rights and the extent to which they are actually provided in courts.

Through this blog project, I understand the complexity defendants’ rights within the court system. Writing the weekly, analysis, and theory posts improved my writing and researching skills. These posts also taught me how to see multiple points of view in any issue.

The acceptance of prison rape

Dear Readers,

If you missed my last blog post you can check it out here. For my last weekly post I want to discuss the rape culture in prisons and the actions or as some would say, lack of actions that have taken thus far.

In 1996 two prison-related phenomena was brought to light. The first was the acceptance of laws allowing juveniles to be sent to adult prisons for non-violent crimes. The second was prison rape. This started circulating after 17-year-old Rodney Hulin Jr. used his bed sheets as noose to hang himself after being raped, beaten, and forced to perform oral sex within three days of his sentence.   Studies show that prisoners under 18 in adult prisons report being sexually attacked five times more than those detained in juvenile institutions.

Something to consider: North Carolina automatically tries 16-year-olds and up as adults.

In 2003 congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), to protect inmates from sexual assault.  PREA cannot be considered a complete failure, but close to it.  Since the implementation of PREA, cases of in-prison rape have continued. In 2011 it was estimated by the federal government that nearly 200,000 people were sexually abused in American detention facilities.   Eight years after implementing the zero-tolerance law and yet rape elimination in prisons is nowhere near being achieved…

All states were required to have either complied or promise to comply with PREA by May of 2014 or else they would be penalized with a loss of 5% of their federal finding for the prison. It has come to my attention that more states have agreed to comply not to protect the wellbeing of their inmates but rather to save their funding.

A particular case of prison rape that caught my eye was one reported by The Marshall Project, which delves into one inmates experience and the evolution of PREA. At the time, 17-year-old John Doe (who chose to stay anonymous to protect his identity) was sentenced to an adult prison where he was raped countless times and received no intervention by prison guards regardless of the fact that their station was located at the end of his hall. The article states:

“He assumed the staff knew what was happening. From their station at the end of the hall, the officers would see men going in and out of his cell and they would not intervene. The rapists would put a towel over the cell door’s window, which was not allowed but must have been noticed by officers making their rounds. John says some of the officers would even make jokes, calling him a ‘fag,’ a ‘girl,’ and a ‘bust-down.’”

In wasn’t until John couldn’t take it anymore and asked to be relocated, that the guards assigned him to a room closer to the guard stand.

What does that say about our prison systems?

Self Analysis

When my group picked the prison system as out topic for our blog, I didn’t even know that private prisons existed.  I just assumed all prisons were the same.  I found out very quickly that this is not the case.  This entire project has been a huge learning experience for me.  Although, here at the end, I can honestly say that I’ve learned so much about this topic.

Due to my lack of knowledge about private prisons at the beginning, I did not have an opinion on them.  However, as I learned more about them, I was able to make an opinion.  This helped me write about my topic because I had a truly unbiased opinion on it.  Also, it made it clear that my opinion was forming as the project progressed from week to week.

The easiest part of this project for me was the weekly postings.  It was so easy for me to go online and find yet another problem with the private prison industry and write about it.  On the other hand, the hardest part of the project was the analysis post.  This is because there simply was not enough to talk about from the other side of the argument.  The only supporters of private prisons are the corporations themselves and the government that is trying to rid itself of immigrants.  Also, any evidence of support provided is highly questioned.  This made the analysis post difficult because there is a lack of information to support private prisons.

Overall, this was a very interesting topic that gave me a new perspective on the prison system.  Doing research allowed me to develop those skills and writing a weekly post and other posts allowed me to develop my thinking and thought forming skills.  As a conclusion to my topic and a summary of my research, the private prison system is corrupt, detrimental, and still on the decline.  Without major reformations, the entire system needs to be taken over by state governments.

Thanks for reading!

 

Other Blogs to Check Out- Class Links

There were three other blogs in our class that discussed issues in the social sciences.

The mixedsalad blog is a great blog to check out if you’re interested in racial issues in America. It discusses how racial relations affect education, police brutality, employment discrimination, and segregation. We find this to be a very thought-provoking topic because even after the civil rights movement there is still racial discrimination present in society.

The 5girls4education blog is another blog you should read if you want to learn about the issues in the American educational system. It analyzes low teacher salaries, rising college tuition, charter schools becoming more recognized, after-school programs, and the inequality between public and private schools. This blog was relatable to our group because we attend a public university and are interested in the issue of increasing tuition.

You should visit the blog about gun violence if you want to learn about the portrayal of gun violence in the media, its relationship to mental health, and the political conflict between gun rights and gun control. Gun violence is becoming an increasingly pressing issue because reports on shootings are occurring more frequently in the media.