I remember the bad man well. He was short, stocky, balding on top, and had the most calming smile. He was the type that would smile more the angrier he became, and foam would build at the corners of his lips. He turned red when he was at his worst, and he made life miserable for anybody with whom he came in contact. His name was Bob, and he was the single worst human I came into contact with in the prison system.
I had been lying there in my uncle’s motor home for three days in a puddle of putrid post heroin sweat. Not quite sleeping and not quite awake, but always aware of the demon crawling up and down my spinal cord. The sickness was just starting to settle in and I knew I had to do something soon. I could hear my relatives outside working and going on about their busy days. They were unaware of my presence.
The picture I chose for this post is only there because the guidelines for posting a picture are quite specific and I only have photos that are too poor or too rich in quality to post, so I found an image of a fish pooping. I am also required to add a photo or video to each post, so this could be a fun little adventure for all of us.
In the first part of this article previously published, I explained the beginning of the prison service and the intentions of its use. I also raised the social harm perspective as an alternative to the retribution currently in use.
According to Justice and Prisons (2011a), prisons are fundamental in the criminal justice system as they ensure that offenders face justice and are sanctioned for unlawful activity. The primary aim of prisons is providing prisoners with assistance and rehabilitation opportunities in a humane way. There are International standards which state that reformation and social rehabilitation should take place humanely and without torture to prevent social harm occurring within the system. Justice and Prisons (2011b), identifies the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a few of many standards which prisons must adhere to. They also express that women, children and those with mental health needs require a more personal approach than the one size fits all belief (Justice and Prisons, 2011b).
For the first time in the history of Italy, yesterday the judiciary seized an entire police station (the "Levante" of Piacenza) because every type of crime was committed inside it - to the point that investigators spoke of circumstances and "Gomorrah" attitudes.
Overcrowding has been one of the main issues in United States’s prison systems within both prisons and inmates alike. According to statistics gathered from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the US actually comes in at number 13th as the world’s most overcrowded prisons (McCarthy, para. 1). The exceeding population in US prisons has threatened the deterioration of inmate’s and staff’s mental and physical well-being, as well as safety. The leading cause behind overcrowding in US prisons is due to the high rate of recidivism following criminals’ release. In order to prevent recidivism it is imperative that the US promotes prison reform, in which the prison system provides more resources and programs to better equip inmates with the skills to successfully integrate into American society.
It had been 20 years since they’d seen each other, and neither knew what to say. David and David Junior, or DJ as his family affectionately called him sat and stared at each other. Each intensely studying the features that they had only seen in the mirror up until this point. They both seemed to be astonished by how much they resemble the other. The younger man had been trying kid this his whole life, but did his best to dismiss it. Even when presented with pictures to prove it, he still shrugged off the comparisons like a running back breaking a tackle. But now, face to face, he couldn’t deny the fact that he was basically staring into a mirror. The older man had spent the last 2 decades in Jefferson City Correctional Facility for manslaughter. And while the crime was committed in self defense, his public defender still pushed him to take a plea deal. “It’s better than the life sentence I would’ve caught for the weight in my trunk.” That’s the way he justified it at the time, and that same thought had brought him a sense of peace over the past 7,254 days. But here he was, just a few months shy of parole, staring at his doppelganger across a steel table.
Four years ago, I could not have told you what was compassionate release. It was a few months after my husband reported to federal prison on July 5, 2016, that I learned of compassionate release by watching a video that FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) had posted. The video is called 5 to life: Compassionate Release. After watching the video, I had not only tears streaming down my face, but I had a deep ache in my heart, almost like I had lost a loved one. The video portrays a man incarcerated for wire fraud. While incarcerated, he is diagnosed with cancer. We watch the family fight and struggle with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to bring this husband and father home to die with dignity and amongst family. Until the First Step Act Passed on December 21, 2018, the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) was the gatekeeper of compassionate release. Filing for compassionate release was a long and arduous process that, if denied by the BOP, there was no recourse. Between 2013 and 2017, the BOP approved only 6% of the 5400 applications received for compassionate release. Most died alone in prison, just as the gentleman in the video.
25 years ago, Katherine Vockins and her husband Hans Hallundbaek had successful business careers. But when Hans had what she called, “a midlife correction,” everything changed. He began seminary studies, and the curriculum brought him inside Sing Sing. The future Director of the Interfaith Prison Partnership became a prison reform activist, and his interest soon had her following. However, Vockins didn’t do so to found the Rehabilitation Through Arts Program, which has her participants shattering the nation’s 50% recidivism rate. Instead, Vockins' entrance into this amazing life of service hit much closer to home.
I realize without the swift actions of police officers, some extremely dangerous people would commit heinous acts of violence. I recognize there are a great number of children rescued from unspeakable acts of abuse and that police officers are often literal angels in their lives. I acknowledge the incredible toll it takes on a person to witness the dark side of humanity every day. I am grateful for courageous acts of well-meaning officers just trying to make a difference in the world and understand the intent behind their career choice. That being said: I‘d be lying if I claimed to be an avid supporter of the police.
On behalf of the 2250 people, and counting, who have already signed this petition since Tuesday; we would be so so appreciative if you could help us get some exposure to get visits reinstated for loved ones in prisons in NSW.