Inside the corrections systemSubmitted by Fantasia Razorhiney on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 21:03
I posted this earlier http://www.dailypaul.com/270893/next-friday-and-a-new-start and to follow up….
These are my personal views based on my experiences. This is not as a representative of the Department of Corrections. Also please keep in mind things can be very different not only State to State but also by county, I can only tell you what is going on in Missouri.
Missouri is actually doing some great things for offenders. The idea that prison is the answer is falling to the wayside quickly. The focus is no longer on incarceration. Did you know if you go to prison your child is 7 times more likely to go to prison? Did you know it costs Missouri a little over $60 a day to incarcerate someone depending on the security level? Or did you know there are over 100,000 Missouri residents under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections with 31,000 of those in the institutions. And lastly did you know short term prison sentences really don’t work and rarely result in a productive member of the community and our system is completely overburdened? (Of course you did you’re on the Daily Paul) But what I wanted to point out is so does the corrections system. The focus has now moved from punitive to addressing the root issue of criminal offenses. What caused this person to burglarize your home or steal your car? What is the bigger picture with this person and what effect will incarceration have on that person, their family and the community in the long run? (common sense right) I will point out I do believe prison is necessary; there are people that need to be there and stay there!!
These are just a couple of the ways these issues are being address in the community.
Restorative Justice – Repair the harm that was created through the commission of a crime. The program is for first time felons generally ages 17 to 25 with non-violent property offenses (burglary, theft, etc.) The focus is on education, graduates have at least a GED and many continue their education. They also literally answer to the community, they meet with a board of volunteers, anyone from accountants, ministers, teachers to ex offenders. This board determines what happens with the offenders supervision month to month, they set goals, hold them accountable but also mentor and help them through the process. There are of course other requirements but that’s the general idea. Once they have successfully completed they will not have a felony on their record.
Specialized courts such as drug, mental health or DWI courts – These Courts are collaborative efforts of the Judge, prosecutor, probation and parole, and treatment providers. The focus is on treatment and stability with the goal of all of these Courts to have graduates who are happy, healthy, productive members of the community. These Courts as well take away any felony conviction.
Also Missouri has what is called the Missouri Reentry Process. Instead of kicking inmates out of prison with a bus ticket and a smile, basically setting them up for failure, their needs are being address before their release. They make sure they have stable housing, help with getting birth certificates, ID’s, basic necessities, have physicians appointments scheduled, treatment follow up...etc..etc… Outside of the prisons amazingly, hold onto your seats your aren’t going to believe this one….but…. all the different state and local agencies, providers, church’s, non profits and private providers work together…!! They meet regularly locally to discuss issues interfering with offender success. They make sure money is put to good use, there is not double spending, they have created a website where nonprofits can see each others available resources for….wait for this…SHARING. I can't say enough about this amazing program, it is worth looking into.
Who are the offenders?
Anyone…. That is what is so striking to me when I work with my clients…how easy it could be me, just one small change in life. Felons come from all walks of life. I am just generalizing here there are of course many exceptions but most of them are victims themselves; you will not believe what people do to their children. Most have never been given hope, been challenged or felt the sense of accomplishment. They can be very selfish, entitled, lazy and lie about a blue sky. And I have seen them do amazing things, turning their lives around. I have also seen them fail miserably. Some pass through easily and never return, others are around for life. A couple of my favorite quotes…”I’ve never felt proud of myself before, this feels great”…..”Your right I’m not stupid I have a future”…
Now the ugly side
Our Court system is a nightmare. It is way overburdened. Attorney’s literally line up like cattle to see a Judge. They shove people through the system as quick as possible. However, I do know an attorney that will drag out your felony charge for 3 years or until your victim gives up and calls it quits for about $5000. I have no idea how public defenders do their job, I believe with plea agreements and only by the seat of the pants. Want a trial? Good luck with that see you in a couple years hope you’re not sitting in county jail waiting. All of this is if your poor. If you have money don't worry it will be a quick and smooth process, you'll get a great plea deal or get off completely.
Convicted felons have more rights than their victims. I have never felt such desperation as when I knew someone was in danger and not being “allowed” to tell that person. This is a huge problem that I have made a personal vendetta against. Forget victims’ rights they just do not exist.
Bureaucracy and paperwork…you wouldn’t believe…..you have nooooooo idea!!! It is indescribable but I’ll give it a shot. Just for P&P… 4 different computer operating systems, and one of those is a DOS type program. Out of 5 days a week officers only get to see clients one of those days because the rest is spent doing paperwork. Reports about reports and plans with plans and scores for levels but those scores don’t actually determine the level but must be entered before the next scores can be entered for an appropriate level, oh but don’t forget to enter the other scores or it will kick it back and make you start from the beginning. Confused…? Me too…
If your curious…
Drug wars and marijuana…. Marijuana needs to be legal. From my experience you would be hard pressed to find law enforcement or corrections who say otherwise. It is a horrible waste of resources and time. Marijuana cases are rarely seen now and only for distribution in large amounts. (think hay bale) Even then those cases are deferred or placed in specialized programming to keep them out of the system. When people in the felon world talk about drugs Marijuana is not what we are talking about. In this area it’s Methamphetamine. This is a touchy subject on a fine line. I have a lot of internal conflict on this subject, I can’t jump in on its legalization and probably never will. There is a study currently being conducted by one of our treatment providers that I’m going to help with. We are trying to find alternative ways to address this issue. So stay tuned I hope I have good news in the future.
State employees payroll information is public record but I thought I would share. I make around $34,000 a year (lowest paid P&P in the nation) We get 10 sick leave hours and 10 vacation leave hours every month. There are 12 holidays. Medical is basic Delta Dental, VSP vision, $500 deductible with copays. Pension vested after 5 years but you only get a full pension after what’s called 80 and out, your age plus your years of service have to equal 80 years. 401k, deferred comp. and cafeteria plan.
If you’re interested in getting involved it is very easy to do, at least in our area. Volunteers are always needed and welcomed. And you absolutely can make a difference!!