THE CURRENT CORRECTIONAL MODEL

To understand where we are now, we must know from where we came.  The earliest written records of criminal justice come from around 4500 BC in the society of Sumer , Mesopotamia , taken from wedge-shaped characters used to write on clay tablets.  Throughout the BC and for most of the AD period, criminal justice punishment has consisted of fines, corporal punishment, imprisonment, branding, mutilation, torture, exile, and death by many means.  Corrections in America have made many strides since the first prison was created in 1679 at Nantucket , Massachusetts Nantucket prisoners received punishment that ranged from fines to death by hanging.  Restraints included both stocks and cages with liberal use made of whipping and beatings.  Appalled by the inhumane conditions within prisons, American prison reform was first addressed in 1787 by The Society for Alleviating the Misery of Public Prisons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Throughout the 1850s many of Europe ’s countries experimented with parole and sentencing reforms.  In 1876 New York State experimented with parole and indeterminate sentencing, and by 1900 the United States began to depend heavily on indeterminate sentencing.

Whipping was acceptable prison punishment and was openly conducted by many prisons until 1954 and was not formally abolished until 1972.  Prisons quietly continued limited use of whippings and beatings with non-marking flat laminated leather straps often called bats until the middle 1980s but publicly denied this activity.  Finally prison lawsuits resulted in intense prison monitoring and accountability stopping the staff-conducted whippings and beatings.  Major improvements were made to the living conditions and treatment of prisoners.

Beginning in the early 1980s institutional divisions across America began to seriously look at rehabilitation.  These efforts were aimed at academic-trade education, substance abuse, sex offender treatment, and integration back into the work force.  After studying over a hundred programs from a variety of states over the past twenty years I have to say the concept of rehabilitation is still in its infancy.  Rehabilitation models and programs remain primitive, incomplete, and ineffective with little progress past problem identification made thus far.

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Program directors are fiercely protective and defensive of their turf. Program reporting of effectiveness lacks accountability and appears corruptible by statistical manipulation to cover failures and present desired positive outcomes.  This should come as no surprise since the program director’s occupation and professional reputation is at stake both for their employment and publication credits.  Power corrupts, and how many would admit failure when a little data or statistical manipulation could save them from appearing as a failure?

Unbiased, accountable, outside efficiency studies will need to be conducted if we want the real truth of program effectiveness.  All of those that could benefit in anyway from program success must be excluded from studies of the program’s effectiveness or manipulation is likely to occur.  Such is human nature.

THE CURRENT INSTITUTIONAL MODEL IS TIME ORIENTED

HOW THE PRESENT MODEL WORKS

After being arrested, the individual is kept in a two-man cell measuring approximately 6 X 9 feet or a dormitory environment located in a holding facility or jail.  The use of cell or dormitory frequently depends on the severity of the charge, mental stability, and threat potential of the prisoner.  Within a reasonable time, the prisoner will be brought before a court to answer the charge, be indicted, set a court date, and make counsel and bail decisions.  The wrangling of the adversarial court system will take a few months to a few years to complete.  Those with economic resources will spend this time on bail going on with their daily lives while the less fortunate will languish sometimes for years in jail.

The confined will spend their boredom-filled days talking to fellow inmates, being entertained by mindless television, reading fictional books, and sleeping.  Those unable to tolerate and adjust to the jail experience will be treated by psychiatrists with large doses of sedating anti-depressant and/or anti-psychotic medications that allow the prisoner to sleep most of the time.  By the time these prisoners reach the institutional division many will have become mentally and/or physically addicted or substituted these mental health medications for the alcohol and/or illegal substances they used in the outside world.

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Most will continue this addiction or substitution into prison and upon release continue to use psychiatric medications to supplement their outside world drug use.

Prisoners housed in jail confinement receive virtually no rehabilitation or social education.  This opportunity is currently wasted.

Once convicted and sentenced, the prisoners are transported to the institutional division to serve their sentences.  Upon arrival at the intake facilities the prisoners are processed, evaluated, and classified.  All states describe their classification purpose as a method to provide the prisoner with incentives for rehabilitation and personal improvement. Medical and institutional files are generated and maintained throughout the prisoner’s incarceration.  The time needed to complete this procedure varies from state to state and typically ranges from 30 to 180 days.  Prisoners are locked up in cells approximately 22 hours per day.  Once the prisoners are classified, they are transported to their prisons of assignment.  Upon arrival, the majority of new prisoners are processed and assigned job and living quarters among the general prison population within a few hours.  Two relational worlds quickly form for the new prisoner within a penal institution.  The first revolves around the correctional and support staff to prisoner relationship.  This world operates in socially-sanctioned and predictable goal-oriented ways.  Prisoners are typically given an institutional rulebook to guide their prison behavior.  Rules are enforced and overt-rule violating behavior sanctioned with loss of privileges or restriction of freedom within the institution.  Prison guard and staff physical brutality, as a way of doing business is gone.  The other relational world immerses the new prisoner into the functional prison existence.  This covert world is governed by the rule of the jungle and populated with predators who quickly assess the new prisoners for weaknesses that would allow them to prey upon them for sexual gratification or material profit.  The physically and mentally weak are quickly picked off and will remain the object of sexual and physical abuse until they leave the prison environment.  Many of the physically strong will join with the predators becoming participating members of their wolf packs.  New prisoners under 50years of age no matter how strong or physically fit will not be allowed to exist as loners.  The individual is no match for the wolf pack.            

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Those with intellectual abilities are valued by the wolf packs and strong predators for what they can do to benefit these individuals.  As long as the intellectuals provide a needed or valuable service to the wolf packs and predators they will allow them to exist in relative peace.  Predacious behavior, bickering, and fighting are also found within the herd of prey prisoners particularly those that form romantic relationships for comfort within such a dangerous environment.  This covert world for the most part goes unseen by security officers and other staff.  What I have described is the universal nature and behavior of humankind when confined within a very restrictive environment under perceived social sanctions of time-oriented punishment.  I found no difference from the study of prison to prison, state to state, and country to country.

CAN WE REALLY EXPECT PRISONERS TO CONCENTRATE ON REHABILITATION WITH THEIR VERY SURVIVAL AT STAKE?

A prison administrator acknowledged this but stated, "it is all that can be done because prisoners go crazy when confined alone."

  He further added that, "prisoners have their own social order, rules and code of conduct within the one set by civilized society.  Hell, I consider myself lucky if I can just keep them within the fences and walls.”

HOW THE AVERAGE PRISONER’S TIME IS SPENT

The new day begins in prison around 03:30 when the breakfast feeding begins.  Feeding the average size prison takes approximately 2 1/2 -3 hours for each of the three meals.  The majority of prisoners begin to report to their work assignments starting at around seven o’clock.  The prisoner’s job ranges from prison support tasks to industrial manufacturing and repair.  If the prisoner is lacking in basic education he will usually attend half-day school in the morning and work in the evening until minimum skills are obtained. The same applies to those learning a trade.  The prisoner’s working day will end around 3 o’clock and he will be sent to the showers.  The showers remind me of an African wildlife documentary when both predator and prey animals go down to the watering hole for a drink.  This is a dangerous place for the weaker inmate.  Sexual predators can barely control their aggressive impulses and without supervision they will assault the weaker inmates.

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The prison administration is aware of this and usually places correctional officers in locations to prevent sexual assaults.

Having survived the shower the rest of the day belongs for the most part to the prisoners.  Many will sit in dayrooms until bedtime mindlessly watching meaningless television programs or playing table games of dominos or checkers.  They will chatter endlessly to anyone willing to listen about their action packed adventurer’s lives left behind in the outside world.  Grandiose themes of money, sex, bravado, respect, and prestige permeate their stories.  Other prisoners vegetate in their cells or dormitories reading well-worn fictional paperback novels. Many super and lesser predators spend hour after hour working on their physical strength and endurance in the gym and recreation yard.  Physical strength and endurance equals real power in a prison.  The predator’s communication centers mostly on hedonistic satisfaction, intimidation and tactical takedown of prey inmates.  Intermixed with the overt prisoner behavior is the business of covert prison crime.  Criminal activity in prisons encompasses all of the major crimes found in the outside world such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, theft, etc.  Economic crimes common to prisons include illegal token and real economies based on trafficking, trading, prescription and illegal drug sales, alcohol manufacture and sale, contraband distribution, protection, pimping, and gambling.  Economic crimes appear to be universally committed daily in all general population prisons in all countries.  Many of these crimes are freely committed in the open undetected by correctional staff.  Some prisoners are masters of the con and accomplished at sleight of hand manipulation under all but the most intent observation.  Prisons truly are places to learn additional criminal skills and reinforce negative social ethics and values.  When I look at our present prison environment I cannot help but think of these words.

“MEN ARE SENT TO PRISON AS A PUNISHMENT, NOT FOR PUNISHMENT.”

(Alexander Patterson)      

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WHAT KIND OF TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION IS REALLY OFFERED IN OUR AMERICAN PRISONS?

BASIC ACADEMIC EDUCATION LEADING TO A HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA AND A FEW COLLEGE-LEVEL COURSES ON MOST PRISONS AND FULL COLLEGE DEGREES ON A FEW PRISONS.

Based on the idea that a better-educated prisoner will be less likely to commit additional crimes after release from prison.

Reading, writing and arithmetic do not a good citizen make.

A prisoner with improved academic skills but possessing the same level of social education deficiency upon release from prison is likely to be somewhat more successful at crime if he pursues criminal activity.

"An un-educated criminal steals from a truck and an educated criminal steals the whole truck."

(Edward Cummings)

RELIGIOUS SERVICES AND COUNSELING WITH CHAPLAINS

Over the years I have seen many prisoners practice jailhouse religion only to cast their beliefs into the trash upon leaving prison.  Prisoners tend to favor saved by the word rather than saved by the deed religious interpretations thus avoiding the need for social and personal responsibility.

 

TRADE DEVELOPMENT AND JOB COUNSELING

Prisons are effective at teaching trades and employment skills.

However, prisoners with trades and employment skills possessing the same pre-incarceration levels of social education deficiency, upon release from prison continue to commit new crimes.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELING

Substance abuse treatment over the past twenty years has come a long way from the days when only ex-alcoholics were hired as substance abuse counselors in many prison systems.

MANY OF THE TREATMENT PROGRAMS ARE BASED ON AA AND THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY MODELS.  WHILE THEY MAY APPEAR THEORETICALLY SOUND, THEY ARE FAILURES.

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SEX OFFENDER TREATMENT PROGRAMS

When you cut through the biased patient selection methods and manipulated statistical reporting, all sex offender treatment programs tried thus far in America and other countries have produced only abject failure.  Politicians, special interest groups, correctional divisions, program directors, and upper staff are fiercely protective of these programs and become very hostile when criticized or questioned about program effectiveness.  These programs lack any accountability and appear heavily corrupted with goal-oriented patient selection biases and statistical manipulation to cover deficiencies and failures to present high success rates and positive outcomes.  Multiple independent and unbiased efficiency studies outside the control of the sex offender treatment community are needed if we want to see the real truth of sex offender program effectiveness.  Remember, a lot is riding on producing an overtly successful sex offender treatment program including political, agency and individual fame, fortune, reputation and publication credit.  The first to succeed will achieve fame and prestige.

MAJOR OBSTACLES TO SEX OFFENDER TREATMENT PROGRAMS

Sexual Behavior

I have often heard that one out of every four girls and one out of every ten boys will be sexually assaulted before their eighteenth birthday.  The victim’s fathers and brothers carry out most of these sexual assaults.  That calculates out to 50,000,000 victims in the United States .  If this is true and we compare this figure to the arrest and incarceration records, then only one out of every 500 sex offenders is arrested and/or incarcerated.  Approximately 98% of sex offenders are male.  Most sex offenses happen within the family and are not reported.  Until only a few years ago, women and children were treated as property.  Many sex offenders I have counseled with still view women and children as their personal property.  Some even reported a firm belief that first sexual rights with a girl belong to the father.  In the past, crimes of rape were often charged as crimes against the husband or father and treated much like a property crime with the same seriousness as stealing a horse.

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Slaves got the right to vote in 1866.  Women would not receive the same right until 1920.  Humankind has a long way to go before they can truly be called civilized: man’s inhumanity to women and children currently knows no bounds.  Social education is severely lacking when it comes to human rights and sexual behavior.

Sexual Orientation

The argument of whether a person’s sexual orientation is fixed once learned or that it can be changed has never been decided, and the debate continues to this day.  I once heard a political debate many years ago with one opponent wanting more money spent on sex offender treatment and the other wanting stronger prison sentences for child molesters.  Finally, one turned to the audience and stated, “Let me assume you are all heterosexuals and I want to convert your sexual orientation from heterosexual to homosexual.  How much counseling and therapy will I have to put each of you through to change your sexual orientation?  How many of you don’t think you could ever be converted?”  All of the audience raised their hands.

 

Having interviewed hundreds of pedophiles over the years, I believe once the stimulus of sexual desire is learned and reinforced many times with fantasy, masturbation, and real engagement behavior, the sexual orientation towards children becomes fixed and unchangeable.

Violent rapists that fantasize, masturbate to, and engage in, violent sexual assault are similarly fixated.

 

Many sex offenders report masturbating excessively, sometimes as much as thirty times a day to pornographic mental images, pictures and videos.  Each completed act of masturbation is a behavioral reinforcement of their sexual orientation.

Current sex offender programs lack sufficient intensity to deal with this repetitive reinforcement behavior much less the complexity of the whole philosophy and existence of the sex offender.

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Offender Selection Bias

Knowing that successful and positive outcomes with violent rapists and pedophiles, that offend against non-family members are poor, many sex offender programs exclude most while including large numbers of single-incident, less or non-violent rapists, and incest offenders that sexually assault only within the family.  This selection bias dilutes the serious pedophiles and violent rapist representation within the group.  Since the latter group is much less likely to re-offend, the outcome statistics will look significantly better.  Separate out the pedophiles that offend against non-family members and violent rapists, and analyze the effect of sex offender treatment programs.  Compare this to a similar group of the same type of sex offenders that received no sex offender treatment.  You will find little difference.  Now compare two groups of single-incident, less or non-violent rapists and incest offenders that sexually assault only within the family.  Divide the offenders into the sex offender treatment group and the no sex offender treatment group.  You will find some difference between these two groups, but this difference appears more related to improved social skills, problem solving, stress management and philosophy of life education.  This counseling can be obtained without being in sex offender treatment.    

Additionally, once an individual is identified as a pedophile within a family the chance to re-offend is severely restricted by the family members denying access to potential victims.

There are no uniform definitions of sexual consent.

They vary from state to state.

Therapy methods

Most group therapy models with little individual counseling combine all sex offenders from violent rapists to flashers into the same group.

Some programs contain a lot of valuable educational information but fail due to a lack of intensity and ineffective delivery methods.

I could find no model of sex offender treatment that embraced the elements of social re-education.

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Mental Health Services

Convicted felons are sent to prison as punishment, currently envisioned to consist of restricted movement and isolation from their social environment with the associated mental perception generating anxiety from the loss of freedom.

Statistics show that most people live 95% of their lives within a 25-mile radius of their physical dwelling.  Many incarcerated poor minorities and lower social class whites report this radius as only 1-3 miles.  Their conceptual illusion of freedom is significantly smaller.

For many of these prisoners, outside world daily activities typically consist of sleeping 10 or more hours, watching television six or more hours and associating with their friends usually within a mile of their physical dwellings.

Punishment by prison, though initially aversive, is quickly habituated to and does not significantly change their behavioral activity.

They still sleep 10 or more hours and spend their free time watching television or associating with friends.  Their life now includes workdays and a structured environment.

For many, the abstract illusion of freedom is initially perceived as lost, resulting in feelings of restriction, agitation, and despair, but these emotions are habituated to and the prisoner adjusts to the prison life.

The abstract illusion of freedom is not consistent or of the same intensity from individual to individual, but only a few prisoners have difficulty adjusting to the prison environment.

Many come to the prison system with histories of extensive behavioral and substance abuse problems.  Still others suffer from lifelong mood and psychotic disorders.

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Prison systems in America began to make significant use of mental health treatment beginning in the early 1970s.  

  

Current individual outpatient prison mental health departments are staffed by a psychiatrist, Ph.D.-level psychologist, master's level psychologists, social worker, psychiatric nurse, and clerical support.

Mental health departments provide a variety of services including suicide prevention, crisis management, medication maintenance, and both individual and group counseling.  The prison population receiving mental health treatment varies from state to state but ranges between six and twelve percent.

Current problems with mental health services

Psychiatrists and Ph.D.-level psychologists clash over their philosophies of patient treatment and grudgingly tolerate each other.  This battle is waged in prisons, as well as, throughout the outside world of most mental health services.

The quality of psychiatrists varies greatly within penal institutions, ranging from those that are banned from female patient contact due to past sexual improprieties within hospitals and private practices to ethical and professional examples of the profession.

 

Psychiatrists tend to treat most prisoner contacts with medication as the first resort except when confronted with overwhelming contradictory evidence.  The reason for this as told to me by one psychiatrist is because in the outside world you are forced to become a whore, many patients believe only a medication can cure their mental distress.

“They want drugs, not lectures or counseling for personal responsibility. If I don’t give them a drug they will go to another doctor that will.  If I want to keep my nice car, my nice house and my nice lifestyle I have to bend my ethics a little.”

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“In prison it’s the same way.  The prisoner is mentally addicted to using drugs such as Elavil, Trazadone and even the anti-psychotics for their sedating effects.  I didn’t start this addiction.  It started with lazy teachers, lazy school counselors, and lazy parents that encouraged family doctors to put their misbehaving kids on Ritalin instead of correcting the kids' bad behavior.  Parents didn’t want to be bothered- they just wanted to sedate the little bastards. Then as the kids grew older and conflicted with the law they received probation and treatment from the local county mental health system.  This usually involved a medication cocktail of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics.  Finally, having used up all options, the court sentences the 18-year old social problem to prison.  While waiting in jail for trial, if the young adult threatens to hurt himself or raises hell, disrupting the peace he is given medication just to shut him up and sedate him so he won’t cause further trouble for jail staff.  By the time the young adult reaches prison, he feels that he is entitled to medication for life.  I know they don’t need many of the medications, but it makes my life and everyone else’s easier to just give them the drugs.”

Other psychiatrists give anti-depressants to anyone that asks for them believing that by nature of being in prison the individual is depressed.

Most psychiatrists diagnose prisoners from only a 15-20 minute interview and cursory scan of the patient’s records while usually ignoring mental health testing and the psychologist’s notes.  Prisoners are then seen once every three months for medication renewals.

Many psychologists state that psychiatrists should be used only as a last resort when all non-medication methods have failed.  Even when medications are used they believe that adding counseling therapies will improve the patient’s functioning.

In reality many psychologist refer most patients they see to psychiatrists.

“They’re not interested in anything other than the drugs, anyway.”

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Like psychiatrists, the quality level of both Ph.D. and Master's-level psychologists varies greatly in quality.  Some start out as lazy and ineffective while others begin their careers as dynamic and motivated only to burn out within a year or two.  The problem is that conducting effective verbal therapies is mentally and physically draining.  No one can stand up to the energy demands for long.  The literature is full of proven and effective therapies shown to produce positive change in the individual’s social and personal life.  The problem is with the physical environment and methods used to deliver these therapies.

Present verbal therapies lack sufficient intensity and are delivered using ineffective methods.

                                                                                                                                                                                        

The Juvenile Correctional Model

After one or more probation sentences, the juvenile offender will be sent to a juvenile correctional institution.

The incarcerated juvenile’s time will be squandered and wasted on mostly time-filling meaningless activities, mindless boredom in front of group-watched TVs, or surviving in the secondary relational world of the juvenile jungle.

Hormone-charged sexual predation and gang rape is rampant throughout most juvenile institutional settings and goes mostly unreported by the juvenile victims and undetected or ignored by the juvenile facilities' institutional staff.

If the juvenile offenders are lucky, they will leave the juvenile institutional system physically un-maimed, mentally sound, and with a grade-inflated high school diploma.

The juvenile will have gained virtually nothing in the way of a positive social education, but much in the development and reinforcement of a negative social behavioral orientation.

These are what John Irwin referred to as jail-raised youth.

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The juvenile’s correctional experience and education has prepared them effectively for only one future.  That of becoming the future adult prisoners of tomorrow.

A second group will leave the juvenile correctional system addicted to psychiatric drugs and without social or personal responsibility, prepared only to become the future burdens on the community or institutional mental health system.

It is currently in vogue to treat ineffective social functioning, learned bad behavior and illegal drug/alcohol use with psychiatric medications, while releasing the individual, family, and everyone else from any personal or social responsibility.

THIS IS INSANE, ILLOGICAL, AND SOCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE.

This method and philosophy of treatment is destroying thousands of lives and wasting millions of dollars in treatment every year while contributing to the loss of individual and social productivity.

But, it’s a lot more palatable than accepting the bitter-tasting truth of personal and social responsibility along with the obligation and difficulties of correcting the individual’s errors in past social education and effecting changes to encourage and produce a functional individual and socially-contributing member of society.

This model permeates not only the juvenile and adult correctional systems but is also the norm for private mental health practices.

The juvenile/adult correctional inmate and private patients all like this treatment method because it does away with any obligation to be personally or socially responsible for their hedonistic or asocial behavior.

The parents like this treatment method because it does away with the responsibility of being good parents or accepting the blame and guilt for being bad or ineffective parents.

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Teachers and school counselors like this treatment method because it does away with their responsibility to guide the child in the right direction and effectively produce the needed effort to make meaningful changes in the child’s social education to produce a socially functional individual.

Psychiatrists and family physicians like this treatment method because it validates their philosophy of treatment and is often the only treatment method that many are capable of using.  Many of these physicians will rarely ever see patients for any reason without giving them a prescription drug.

The laying of hands upon the patient or writing a prescription is a validation of the physician’s occupation and social position.

Many psychologists and other mental health providers like it because it covers up many personal and occupational failings and limitations in the effective delivery of current verbal therapies.

Drug companies really -- and I mean really -- like this treatment method because it produces billions of dollars and huge profits for their businesses.  It allows them to substitute their drugs for the illegal drugs and build a clientele of life long consumer/addicts for legal pharmaceuticals used to moderate deficiencies in social education and personal responsibility.

 

Treatment and educational methods that produce effective individuals, appropriate social functioning and inoculation from illegal drug use, appear to be in direct conflict with companies that stand to gain huge financial profits from keeping the individual addicted to psychiatric medications for long periods or even for their life time.  Given the fact that the average contract murder in the United States costs 3-5,000 dollars what would people be willing to do when billions of dollars are involved?  Could anyone remain uncorrupted when exposed to so much money and power?

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Jails, juvenile institutions, and adult prison systems like this treatment method because it releases them from much of the obligation to produce meaningful and effective rehabilitation programs that result in real social corrective education.

Many psychiatrists, to control the behavior of disruptive inmates in many jail and institutional settings, use the sedating qualities of psychiatric medications. 

Summary review of the present correctional model

Sentencing the individual to prison as punishment is not effective and violates the accepted models of reinforcement and punishment.

The prison experience is time oriented with most of the time wasted.

The current model throws the prisoner back in time from civilized society to a more socially primitive concrete environment guarded on the perimeter by modern social order but ruled at the core by the law of the jungle and populated by sexual and material predators.  Upon release, the ex-prisoner uses defense mechanisms to repress the aversive prison experience, and, as such, the deterrent effect is lost against future criminal activity.

Survival, existence, and peer influences are more powerful than any present rehabilitation efforts.

Substance-abuse and sex-offender treatment programs appear susceptible to selection biases and statistical manipulation.  No independent unbiased measures of effectiveness are used to evaluate these programs.

Delivery methods for all verbal therapies are antiquated, non-intensive, and ineffective.

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Most prisoners are socially illiterate, and organized social education that is reflective of social parameters is primitive or non-existent in all of America ’s correctional systems.

 

The present correctional model labels many prisoners as anti-social personalities and states that therapy and rehabilitation have little chance of success. Thus, little effort is attempted and little improvement is expected. They are often listed as not amenable to therapy or rehabilitation.

The present model of corrections is in direct opposition with our knowledge of philosophy, history, and current models of learning theory.

We breed our replacement criminals and perpetuate the ills of society by failing to give our children an inoculative social education.

This failure forces the children to repeat the errors and trials from generation to generation.

Knowledge that would prevent the need to repeat the tragedies of trial and error is not passed on.

The politician’s best effort thus far has been to call for more teachers in the classroom -- an example of learned helplessness and stagnation.

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