Based on the system’s focus primarily on punishment, do you think that there are young offenders who arrive in prison with some potential for change and growth, but due to circumstances within the system actually become more dangerous and violent over time?
Because the system is so adversarial, rehabilitation is retarded. With the staunch “us” versus “them” mentality created by an overly punitive environment, the kids who enter the system with potential, end up being driven into the arms of the Convict Culture. Why would a kid want to shape up when that is what the system wants them to do, the system which creates so many barriers that all their personal relationships crumble, the system which imposes inane and frivolous restrictions, which seem to be designed only to make life miserable?
I’ve seen kids ruined by the system. When I was in county jail I met a 17 year old kid named, Mike who looked like he was 13. He was a good kid, scared to death and hyperactive, but not violent and was charged as an adult for property crimes. To me, that’s an outrage. Adult prison is no place for a kid who likes to steal.
Well, adult prison turned that small, frail, scared kid into a hardened criminal. He has since been in and out of prison and become part of the upper ladder of Convict society. I’ve heard stories about him over the years, about what a knucklehead he is, and it sucks. I know damned well that if treated and given an environment which isn’t hostile to change, he would’ve become somebody. I remember the kid in county jail who was scared to fight, but loved to have silly fun like playing tag with a cup on his head (the object being to not have the cup fall off). That kid is dead. DOC killed him.