Monday, October 9, 2017

My Experience As A Mom with an Incarcerated Daughter

I thought that as time went on things would get easier but it never does.  To know that your daughter is in an environment where she is just "inmate" and there is such disregard for her as a human being wears on you even when you think it's not, or try to be positive.

I am also astonished and disheartened at the general public's response to the incarcerated-"they deserve bad food and to be treated badly", "they should not have gotten themselves in there", "they should have made better choices" and on and on.  God forbid that anyone of them ever made a mistake or a bad choice.  Believe me everyone is a bad choice away from being incarcerated with all the laws we have today.  Most are in for drug issues, mental health issues.  And the way the rules are you can be charged with a violent crime even though there was no violence.  I know many women, esp young women, in my daughter's prison who are "guilty by association".  They either did not know a crime was being committed or they knew and were afraid to tell but did not participate in the crime.  They are serving life sentences.  My daughter said that these are the women they need to let out.  So, that's how easy it is to get into the criminal justice system.  And if anyone thinks it cannot happen to them or someone they love, think again.  There are many many people who are incarcerated who are innocent because of prosecutorial misconduct, an uninformed jury and basically a broken criminal justice system. 

And then your sentence depends on the mood of the judge.  He or she could be having a bad day and you will receive a harsher sentence.  And then there are mandatory minimums for drug offenses that can be 10 years for a first time offense.

If my daughter was in an environment that was positive and focused on rehabilitation and helping these broken women make better choices and if they had programs that build self-esteem and self-worth and that continued upon their release I would be so much less worried.  Instead they are talked to with great disrespect, humiliated, degraded and then expected to be your wonderful, well-adjusted neighbor.

I could go on and on but I won't because I'm tired and at this point feeling pretty hopeless that anything will really change.  The women go in damaged and they come out more damaged and why we are not all outraged is beyond me. 

They shackle women during childbirth.  There is no compassion or empathy for women who are ill.  The medical in prison does as much as they can possibly get away with to not treat the women-"do no harm" does not apply to inmates that is for sure. 

That's all for now.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Response to My Email

Ms. Carlin,

Thank you very much for your email and for the opportunity to respond.  Your recommendations are not taken lightly.  We frequently discuss similar topics and how staff/inmate interaction significantly impacts behavior.  We have several pilots lined up to evaluate this further and to place inmates willing to change, in environments designed to maximize their potential, both while incarcerated, and upon their release.    

Thank you again for your email.

We Have Been Busy and My Email

We are still trying to get into the blogger rhythm again.  Sadie is starting to write again to send it to me.  I have joined Fl-Cure, a prison reform organization.  Here is a copy of an email I sent yesterday to the warden and the higher-ups in Tallahassee.  I have sent about 300 emails since my daughter has been incarcerated (finally counted them).  Nothing has changed that much because, in reality, the guards are the problem and the lack of relevant rehabilitation programs..  There are a few nice ones, but most are not.  Below is the email and the link is at the bottom.

I am assuming DOC wants to reduce the high recidivism rates and to give inmates the opportunity to do well once they are released.

The article below lists all the reasons why former inmates do not tend to do well on the outside especially without a good support system.

My first question is why do the officers address the inmates as inmate instead of by their last name or at least ma'am and sir.  What is the rationale behind that.  That practice alone is demoralizing, psychologically damaging and in truth psychological abuse.  It gives the message that you are worthless and that you don't matter which gives the officers permission to treat inmates accordingly with verbal abuse and a lack of civility, empathy and compassion.  How is that conducive to rehabilitation and the reduction of recidivism? This may seem like a minor issue, but it is, in actuality, a huge issue.  Have someone call us by a derogatory term day in and day out and see how that effects us. 

I know I have sent articles about the prison system in Germany where they have a humane and rehabilitative approach to incarceration where the officers are well-trained, are mentors who mingle with the inmates and dine with them.  They have officers who are trained in how to calm situations down without violence or aggression.  So, it can be done.  And if Germany is able to do it, there is no reason on earth that we cannot begin to follow suite.

The only reason we are here on this planet is because of Love-to learn to love ourselves and each other.  We all make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them.  Inmates are redeemable and most of them are good human beings who made bad decisions mostly due to addiction issues or mental health issues. Their situation gives us the opportunity to practice empathy, compassion and forgiveness-attributes the prison system is lacking and that has to change if we truly want the recidivism rate to go down.  My personal feeling is after talking with other families and former inmates is that until the guards are trained better, are held accountable for their behavior and the inmates are not afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation or being placed in confinement, nothing is going to change.  

I know I must sound airy-fairy but I am speaking to the heart of each of you.  How would you want your loved one to be treated under these circumstances?  These are our brothers and sisters and we are all on a journey towards our Creator.  Life is short and our job is to make life better for each other which includes the inmates.  I have met a lot of former inmates and I am impressed by what good-hearted and decent human beings they truly are.  There are always those who will never learn or change but they still deserve out love and support.

And we need funding to actually create the relevant programs that will build their self-worth and self-esteem so they are confident in their abilities when they transition out.  We also need better pay and a higher standard for officers.


Kathy Carlin