American Justice System and Barriers to Re-Entry into Society

Hi good afternoon,
my name is Kevin Havert, I’m the Dean of the School of
Conflict Analysis and Resolution and I want to welcome all of you here
today to support the conversation. I want to thank my colleague Otto Romano,
for organizing a talk in what we in
the trade call a scholar-practitioner. That is someone who both researches and writes and teaches and then,
importantly, practices. Goes out and engages, and
engages deeply with the community. Our school of conflict now is
resolution is unique in many ways. But one of the ways it is unique is that
we are not an ivory tower institution, we’re an institution that is
devoted to trying to understand the roots of detractive and
destructive social conflicts and ways to talk about them or
to address them. Usually when the dean of a school
of a public university stands up, he or she almost by default must state
a public support for public education and I have a very wonderful and
slightly depressive talk about that. But it’s particularly
interesting to think about the drastically reduced support for public
education and the context of prisons. So, I don’t know how many of you
saw The Washington Post today, but The Washington Post today,
reporting on a multi-year study done by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
reports that 11 states pour more money into their prison systems than
into their public universities. And I want to take a moment to publicly
acclaim this room full of shame. Michigan, Oregon. Arizona, Vermont, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. There are 11 states that give
less money to college and universities than to prisons and that doesn’t even count the ones that are
maybe even and maybe a little bit more. The report goes on to say that funding for prisons has grown 141% between 1986 and
2013. While funding has only crept up
5.6% of the public colleges and universities and actually I can
tell since the time frame is 86 to 2013 whatever up there was probably
occurred in the 80s because we had particularly served a diverse
community of college students, many had the first of their
families to attend college. We have seen public funding of our own
university fall from about 62% four or five years ago to about 16 or 17% today. So when as Dean of a public institution, I think about the drastically
decreased support for education. It’s particularly depressing
to think about how that is balanced the increasingly
increased support for building prisons and for
incarcerating our citizens. And I think it says
a lot about our society. That has that set of priorities and
I’ll stop here. So thank you all,
thank you for attending and I look forward to the presentation.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Good afternoon and welcome everyone. Today we have, I think,
a very timely conversation and two outstanding guest speakers here. Dr. Danielle Brud and Fred Owings,
who are to offer differing views and perspectives on experience of
incarceration, some of the structural issues that surround it, I want to
introduce them in a moment here and start just with some opening framing comments
that will build on what Dean Avrick said. We have this conversation at interesting
political moment, I think, where there’s kind of a militancy in the streets in
the United States that we actually haven’t seen in several decades,
specifically highlighting these issues particularly in
Black Lives Matters movement that’s creating kinds of conversations that
a year ago seem politically Infeasible. The Koch brothers and
the ACLU co-sponsoring a bill and shaping a bill to try to change
the sentencing laws, right? Reignited interest to some degree and
prevention and community investment alone are quite
marginalized in that interest in looking into prison industrial complex and
trying to shrink it. Now, how long that political
moment will last and how much interest will be sustained,
I think remains to be seen. Not as a product of some inevitable grinding of the machinery of history or
something but based in part on how much people continued to remain there
pushing the political conversations. I think this analysis
is really important and timely also because of all the things
that can can be forgotten in this push. Two areas that I see most often
left out of the conversation, especially where it’s moving now is
support of folks who are currently incarcerated and that was mentioned
in terms of education and support. And then what happens to folks
when they’re released, right? Now this has come up here locally most
recently in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s conversations, this question of re-entry
as it’s been noted that a percentage, roughly 10% of the recent violent crimes this summer with over 30% spike in
violent crime in DC have been committed by folks who have been released
from prison in the last six months. And so there’s been a variety
of different responses. Some of which include a higher
degree of surveillance, the possibility of more searches
that they have put forward. Folks who are on probation, and I think disappointingly,
relatively little conversation about the support of people when
they’re released and the support of the people who are supporting
folks who have been incarcerated. And just in closing with that piece I
think it ties to a wider set of issues. If you’re released in Washington DC,
for example, with this question gentrification,
high expensive housing costs. The same would be true for
northern Virginia and southern Maryland. And what are your choices,
what are your choices on release? I’m really interested and honored that Fred Owens Is going
to share some of his experiences. I’ll introduce Fred and
then I’ll introduce Dr Ruth. And then Fred will lead off in
talking about his experiences, and Dr Ruth follow with that ability
to kind of zoom out also and look at this across multiple levels,
which I think will be helpful. So Fred Owens is a long time
resident of Washington DC, originally born in In California. Came to DC in the 1970s to
live with his grandmother so they’re not from DC originally,
deep family roots here. Fred has a daughter Was
in the area in DC now and he is currently in transition for
the last year. He was incarcerated transition
from incarceration and homeless. He recently got work and in that actively
in that process you described to me of kinda negotiating this time outside of and
in the transition from incarceration. So Fred’s gonna talk to us about
that experience here in a second. Dr. Roots is an Associate Professor
of Criminology, Law, and Society. And also the Deputy Director of the Center
for Advancing Correctional Excellence, ACE at George Mason. Like the acronym. Never forget that. We need to ace this.>>[LAUGH]
>>She received her PhD from the University
of California Irvine. She’s an expert in qualitative research. And her methods include ethnographic
observation, interviews, focus groups, and she has over 15 years of experience
working with corrections agencies. And I think it’s quite impressive the
wider range of agencies she’s worked with. Both at the federal state and local
county levels, including work in prisons, in jails with probation and parole
agencies, and problem solving courts. And she’s recognized for
her work examining in particular, how social control organizations and
their middle management and street level workers understand, negotiate
and at times resist and influence change. So, thank you both for being here and
I’ll serve as the time keeper, you’ve got about 15 minutes and I’ll give
you a 5 minute warning if that’s helpful.>>[INAUDIBLE]
>>[LAUGH]>>Good afternoon, GM youth, faculty and students, ladies and gentlemen. First, I’d like to give thanks to God for
letting me have this opportunity once again to be able to attend
this event on this campus. I was here a year ago talking to some
students over in the main building, I believe. I’d also like to thank Claudine for help putting together an event and
inviting me to this event. It’s been said that everyone has a story. I guess, I have one to tell you. I got locked up in 2010 for uttering,
which is forgery, writing bad checks. I got a year and ten months in Fairfax, and I got a year in Alexandria. All together, I winded up doing
two years and ten months. I came home last year, 2014 in June. When I came home, I was homeless. So, they set me up in Carpenter’s shelter. I stayed in Carpenter’s for
like three months, but during that three month period at
Carpenter’s, I was looking for work. Carpenter has a program where you
have to do eight applications a day, five days a week. That’s kinda hard to do, eight
applications a day, five days a week. I didn’t know that much
about the computer. Now, I was catching heck for about a month until I really
learned how to cut and paste.>>[LAUGH]
>>And do all the other things that
the computer can do magically. So, I cut it down to at least, about four hours to do
eight applications a day. It took me exactly two
months to find a job and the people that hired me was Target. I’ve been at Target,
it’ll be a year in a month. My probation officer said that I did
a pretty good job in two months time because she said she had people on her
case load that’s been on her case load for a year,
two years that hasn’t even got a job yet. But during that time I was frustrated,
going through different changes, looking for work, which is hard. The society, when you got a record,
don’t nobody want to hire you. They put stipulations on you,
especially Virginia. You can’t get your license
unless you pay your fines. Now, people need transportation
to go back and forth to work. So, that’s one thing that I really
can’t understand why Virginia, I don’t know who else does it or
what other state that does it, but that’s one law that I feel
that needs to be changed. For all the, for an ex-offender,
which is an ex-convict like myself. They need to change that law. Going through my transition,
I left Carpenter’s cuz I had a little bit of problem, so
I went to stay with my daughter. Then when I stayed with my daughter, my
probation officer told me at the time that I would have to come back to Virginia. I couldn’t be in DC. So, she told me to go to the social
services in Alexander and talk to this lady. And this lady put me in New Hope Housing. New Hope Housing helped me a whole lot. Like I said, I was homeless. New Hope Housing helped me get a place. I’ve been in a place for just going on
a month in a couple of days, in a week. [LAUGH] So I have my own place,
I have a job and I’m doing great, I’m doing great. The thing that I would like to touch on,
is that, I would like to speak for
people that’s coming back on the street. It’s very hard. If you don’t have the help and
if you don’t have the programs to help you like OAR, it’s hard for an ex-convict
to go out there and get work. OAR helped me to fill out, well, helped me to make a,
what did they call with that? Yeah, your resume. [LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH]>>Your resume. I filled out my own resume which looked
good, but after I brought my resume to people at OAR, they fixed my resume,
looked like I was a billionaire.>>[LAUGH]
>>And I feel that,
that helped me to get one of my jobs. That helped me get my job at Target. They also, OAR, also helped me go, when
I was feeling down, we also had groups. And the groups helped me to
go through this transition. It helped me to keep my head up. It helped me to knock down barriers. Everything has a barrier
when you’re an ex-convict. You think the people are against you. You think the whole
society is against you. But OAR told me to keep my head up, my probation officer told
me to keep my head up. The people, Right here, these two right here told me to keep my head up in
certain ways, and I’ve been good. I’ve been good and I enjoy myself. I once feel like I am a citizen, and
I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing. So, for me to end this, Miss Jackson
when I moved in to my new place, Miss Jackson gave me a picture. And this picture had this saying on it,
nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can
start today and make a new ending, and that’s what I’m doing,
making a new ending. Thank you.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Well, you did it. I know that folks You’re gonna have I was looking at the face is a lot of questions.>>[LAUGH]. [INAUDIBLE]
>>Okay so I think the primary emphasis for
me today is on programs and because my work spans working inside Prisons and
jails, and then also working outside. And I think it’ll go back and forth between sort of pre-release and
post-release in my remarks. I’m gonna try to keep them, I’m a talker,
so you’re gonna have to cut me off. But I’ll try to keep it short, cuz I really would actually rather talk
to you all than hear myself some more. So, the reason I, let me just give you a
quick overview of what happened to me and why I’m interested. I grew up in upstate New York, and
as a kid, a little small child from as long back as I can remember, I used
to ask my mother to stop at the jail because I wanted to talk to the people
inside because I thought they were lonely. My mother would give me the ‘we are not
stopping there’ speech every time we’d go by the local jail. It wasn’t long after that when I went
into middle school and high school that my town started growing prisons
as just like we had grown pumpkins and zucchinis and corn prior. Downstate New York started to fill up,
their prisons and jails started to overflow, in fact, and
they had no where to put their people. And so they came to upstate New York
where family farms or family bought large plots of land to put maximum and medium
security prisons all over the place. So those prisons became
literally in my backyard, the places that I thought
were the most intriguing. And so that’s kinda where my story begins. Every one of the gentlemen that I
went to high school with and many of the females I went to high school with
now work in a correctional institution. And so my perspective on who they were and
and now, who they are has changed
pretty dramatically. That is an interesting part of
the story that I’m happy to talk about. I’m not gonna remark about it a lot today. But being institutionalized doesn’t
just happen to the inmates. It also happens to
the correctional officers and the people who work
inside the institution. And many of the policies and
programs, or lack thereof, span sort of spawned from that involvement
in the correctional institution. So that’s something that I think we
can maybe talk about in questions. In terms of programming,
my view is a little different I think and I don’t want it to come off the wrong way. I love Lift programs. I worked in the Mission District
in San Francisco for a number of years before
going to graduate school. I worked for an organization you all
know well, Goodwill Industries And my primary job there was
vocational training. I taught mostly ex-offenders and
people who were going through TANF reform at the time, moms who were being kicked
off TANF and were being sent back to work. And then drug and alcohol addicts. And my favorite students, and
I hate to have favorites, but my favorite students were
the ones who had been to prison. They had the most interesting stories,
they needed the most from me, and yet they were probably the least
willing to ask for my help. And so that also clouds sort of
my own judgment about programs. Programs are really important. In prison and
external prison as you reenter. But the data that we have and
the scholar in me wants to tell you that the data we have on
programs is It’s just terrible. One, we seem to only want
to measure recidivism, which is just not really
the outcome that is important. Whether somebody recommits a crime and
goes back to prison is a lot less important to me as to whether
their self-esteem improves, as to whether their able to find
a home those things matter to me more, those things we often don’t mention. The second thing and I think is really bad about the
programming is not the program himself. But it is the fact that we have very
little evidence to support the methods or the techniques that we
are using inside the programs. So we have a lot of really
good few good programs. Program that we believe make difference
because someone tell us they make a difference but we don’t know over
the general population if that program actually has an effect of any kind,
no matter what the outcome measure is, because we as scholars have not
been good about studying them. So I sit on a consultant group for which is a Obama-funded initiative to try to get
people to understand what works and we get every few months I get a program delivered to me in my email box that
says hey will you review this program. We went through an intensive training
to learn how to review them. It’s a score sheet that we fill out
based on the,based on the program. And almost every time in the adult and
the juvenile side, in prison and post release in probation and
parole, I score the programs. As promising or not working. And the reason I do that is not
because the program may not be great, it’s because the data that we have
collected on the program is terrible. So the scholar, the researcher will
go in and interview two people. Or the scholar will only
have one outcome measure. Or they’ll only have a post-test but
no pre-test. Or they won’t randomized the groups so
that you don’t know if the effect came from the program or if it just came from
the fact that they just had a really great counselor or
a really great person working with them. So it’s very difficult to
tell if those programs work. The problem and the thing that the Obama
administration was trying to get at with and the problem
with programming in prison or jail. And post release is that many of
those programs are money well spent, and we don’t know it. And many of them, we are throwing
very precious resources that we have into a pool that may be helping one
of the twenty people we’re serving. Because they’re not specified
according to who we should be providing those programs to. What the dosage should
be of those programs. How long someone should spend engaging
in a particular activity within and those programs. Those are things that we
just don’t know very well. So, if you’re interested, You don’t know it already,
is a great resource to just go. It’s basically like a file cabinet. You’re looking for a program on X, you
open the drawer, you see what’s in there. It tells you whether something is
supported by the research literature. But my caveat is that We
just don’t know what works. And so some of those things in the not
promising or don’t work drill for these that need to be working,
we just haven’t studied them properly. In terms of understanding
prisoner reentry, this is a story that you know already. But the story for me, starts long
before their release from custody, it starts the day of the first sentence. And that is not when our prisoner
reentry program will begin for most of institutional environments. They start somewhere around six weeks,
maybe six months, depending on what institution you’re in. Depending on what institution you’re in. So the work that I’m currently doing
with my grad student, Shannon Madison, who’s in my program in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections has asked us to do a study. They’ve given us access to all
twenty five prisons in the state. They’ve told us to do
census of pilot sights, so they’ve given us a wide variety,
some medium, some maximum, some relatively low-level security facilities,
both male and female institutions. And we’re interviewing and surveying staff
I should say, and inmates, at every level. So we interview and survey staff
members who work in the kitchen all the way up to the warden or secretary
or superintendent of an institution. On the inmate side we’re using statistical
sampling HLM, the hierarchical linear modeling, as our sampling guide, and
so we choose inmates in a strange way. In their housing units so that we get
representation from pretty much everybody. We even go to the secured housing
units when we can get access to them. They’re on our way to the sample lists and
we interview them behind the cage or if we can get them to come out,
we interview them there. The idea is to try to understand what
it’s like to live and work in a facility. And the stories that we hear from them
are remarkable in terms of what they’re not getting, in terms of programming. And then what they are getting. The stories of hope, the stories of
survival are really powerful for us, I think. Shannon and I often have to debrief
in the care on the way home, sometimes I’m a little teary. Shannon’s much tougher than I am, but
about the things that we’re hearing, tough, tough life. But the thing I thought most related to
our topic today was about the lifers, which is a conversation that you
don’t often have about programs. And I thought maybe I just bring
it up because it’s my own personal mission in life. So we have a strange samp- Because
we’re interested in culture and climate inside prison, we have sampled
people who have been in the particular facility where we’re visiting for
at least a year. Cuz we really don’t think they
should comment on the culture and climate until they’ve been in there long
enough to really have experienced it. And we asked for people in our sample who
are five years away from their minimum. Which means they’re five years
away from being released or being available to be released. The reason we do that is because
we have a longitudinal study and we’re gonna study them three
times over the next few years. And we wanna make sure they haven’t
been released in the three years if we can help it. What happened inadvertently was we ended
up with a large population of lifers in our sample. In the United States,
the average sentence length for inmates across
the United States is 28 months. So our end of people who’ve been
in a lot longer than 28 months is much higher than usual. Our sampling strategy
produces an unusual mix. We ended up with a ton of lifers and
sad to Shannon and I, we ended up with a ton of juvenile lifers. Which were cases that we were not prepared
mentally to handle in talking to them. It’s been very difficult, both on
the women’s side and the men’s side. Although I think there’s probably
more on the men’s facilities, there’s just more men. But it seems like that there’s some
female juvenile lifers as well. The story that they tell and the story
that program that I think is relevant to our discussion is a story that
resonates throughout all inmates or all prisoners in jail facilities or
prison facilities. But the story they tell,
at least in Pennsylvania, is a story of having nothing to do. They are not allowed to do very many
programs at all, and for good reason. So I want to give you both
sides of the story here. The story about re-entry is that
programs should benefit you, when you’re getting ready to leave. You’re about to go home, so we should give you something
to help you prepare to go home. So those programs are reserved for
inmates that are short-termers. Inmates who will actually use those
skills or services when they’re released. A lifer has no chance, most of these are
life without the possibility of parole. So they’re not getting out, and if they
do, they’ll be very old when they get out. So is it important that they get at age
25, they’ve been in for seven years, and they’re not given out until
they’re well into their 70s. Is it important that they get drug and
alcohol counseling? Is it important that they get to
go to a therapeutic community? It’s important that they get to work,
which is something that I didn’t expect. I have this sort of Shawshank Redemption
view of what lifers do in prison. And they worked, right? They did stuff on a tin roof. They were working. I thought that was what was gonna happen. And what we find in the Pennsylvania
system is that the lifers get very little opportunity to work because they
won’t need or use those skills. So when they say those things to me,
won’t use or need those skills, to me, life doesn’t mean just life,
it means lost life. The entire life is thrown away
because they’ve been sent behind bars. They’re literally,
their experience is meaningless. They don’t do anything. They spend 24 hours a day sitting in their
cells watching television if they’re able to purchase cable or
have a TV that they buy themselves. They don’t have any
access to anything else. They have limited access to books. One of the prisons we go to
has banned all fiction books. So they only have access
to nonfiction books. I mean the things that you imagine
that they’re able to do in terms of programming, even the most minimal
things are not available to them. So if we’re talking about programming, I want to bring them up as
an extreme example, but an extreme example that has a ripple
effect sort of on the institutional life. The flip side of that are prisons that
I think in my mind’s eye are heinous. Places that I know to be very notoriously
bad, like Angola prison in Louisiana. And, I spent some time in Angola and
it is heinous on a lot of levels, but they also have some pretty
ingenious programs. Angola historically has
been an all lifer prison. Every inmate there has been
serving life until just recently, post-Katrina, some of their prisons
were not able to be reopened. Some of them had severe damage and so they had to move some of their short
termers into one of the camps. They call them camps instead
of blocks at Angola. But the rest of it I’d say 95%
of Angola is a lifer prison. The warden there has developed
some really interesting programs, one of which is the hospice program. All lifer inmates are taught
to be hospice workers. They have a hospice facility on site and
they take care of all of their inmates. These people go through a multi-year
program to learn to basically be home health aids, like what we would do
in the community as home health aids. They work with the elderly or
the the infirm, they work with the mentally disabled, they
work with anyone who needs a helping hand. They are often nurse they are the person
who pushes their wheelchair. They may bathe them. They may feed them. They may medicate them. They do everything that they can do to
help them along, and when they reach end of life, they often move with
them into the hospice facility and guide them through their final days or
weeks or months. And the inmates who participate in that
experience describe it as heart-wrenching, as you can probably imagine. I’m trying to do it without crying. But it’s a super experience for
them because they feel like they finally are giving back in a way that they
probably have never done before. And in fact,
many of them have taken lives. And now they’re giving back
someone’s final days of their lives. They also have a great theology program
where the inmates work for years and years on their own theology classes and
learning to become, almost like mini preachers,
but without the pulpit. They don’t stand up and give the sermon
but they walk that walk, day to day. And they’re given a series of mentees and
they basically run the camps for the correctional officers. Their incidences of violence at
Angola is now less than one per year. Assault on inmate to inmate, or
assault on inmate to staff, and it’s in part due to the fact that
lifers have something to do. They’re given a purpose and they feel like
there is a reason for them to be there. And the message about programming
that I think you can from Angola, and don’t get me wrong,
there’s plenty wrong with Angola. And I can go there too. But there’s some really great stuff
going on there that’s a great model for understanding how inmates,
and not just lifers. I’m preaching the lifer story because I’m
a sociologist in training, and I always go for underdog and they feel like the
underest of dogs, and so I go for them. But your average, run-of-the-mill inmate
who spends a couple of years in jail, or a couple of years in prison
needs to feel purpose too. And there are so many ways to do
that without costing anything, which is something that came
up in Arthur’s precursor to our day about how much we spend,
and the deans as well, how much we spend on incarceration
as opposed to education. We can do more of that. It doesn’t have to cost us a lot. I think it costs us a lot
more by not doing it. That’s my 15 minutes.>>That is. Well done, thank you.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>I was gonna initially ask some questions right off the bat, but I
think we’ll take some from you all first. I’ll save them for a little bit later. And I think we’ll take two or
three questions at a time and then let folks respond up here. That’s really helpful, I think, to hear, to quite different perspectives
on a similar experience. Yes?>>Since we heard so much about programs,
I was hoping to hear from Fred what programs were available or whether or not
you participated in them while you were.>>Well,
being that I had such a short sentence and that my custody level was low. I was on the work camps. I was first,
I forgot the name of one of them but I was in one of the biggest prisons
in Virginia, Greenville work camp. So I used to go out to Greenville
to the farm, and work on the farm. And as far as programs,
there was no program. The only thing that they
had was re-entry program. And far as a re-entry program, I didn’t
even really do the re-entry program. What I did do was I took a aptitude
test which is required now for when that effect use a certificate for
when you’re looking for a job. You can hand it to your employer, and
that’s about it as far as program.>>We should note that, you read,
>>Statistics in different places, so it’s hard to know what
the exact number is.>>Yeah.
>>But, it’s definitely less than 10% of all inmates in the US get access to any
programs at all during the time that they’re incarcerated.>>Well, right now it’s required for
them to go in Virginia, it’s required for them to do-
>>To the reentry.>>Reentry program because
just before I left, update to the reentry
program just had kicked in. But, being that I was
a little bit too short, the only thing I had to do was,
through the well, I guess you would call it assessment or
something like that.>>Sorry just to follow up,
I guess I’m curious. If there are any careers you
wish were there while you were doing administrative work.>>I know years and
years ago they had programs in Virginia. We had the masonry program, we had
the welding program, they had barber, you could be a barber, get your
barber’s license and stuff like that. I believe they still have it, but I don’t
know because its in the major prisons, the majority is in the major prison. Now if you go to work camps,
you don’t have no programs. All you do is go to work come back home,
eat and go to sleep and go to work the next day. So, I mean that’s low custody
now like she said lifers or guys that’s got like 15, 16, 10, 5 years. They can get those type of programs. But if you’re short time, they’re gonna try and work with them.>>We have plenty of time here,
so we can take a couple more. Let’s take a few questions in a row.>>Hi, I have volunteered for
many years at the Arlington Jail, and I think a lot about what can be
done when they get released? Cuz it’s always housing, it’s always
work and there a lot of people come back because they just simply have
no roof over their head. So, I wouldn’t have to stand that,
especially when it gets cold, that more of us would like to hear from you what
we can do educating the public. If you just think of the latest
controversy in the paper, but I think was Whole Food, where they had
some cheese done somewhere in a prison, and they were underpaid. I don’t think it was the underpayment
because that can be fixed. It was more of a scare, my God! Prisoners touched my cheese.>>[LAUGH]
>>And yeah, I think we need to be re-educated
that they’re generally human beings. And not something that carry a horrible
disease and you can’t have anyone who have done something wrong once,
that they cannot be okay again. But, I don’t know how I can go about this.>>The good news, I think, and I don’t often say good news
when I’m talking about prison. The good news, I think, is that we are out
of a really interesting political moment where people are starting for
the first time in my life, my research life, to actually care
about what goes in behind the walls. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I would argue that we put
them back there for a reason. We didn’t wanna look behind that
curtain anymore and recently, we’ve started to ask questions
about what life is like back there. In part due to really prominent
things that have been going on with the Obama Administration,
also with the podcast serial, about the kid who’s been incarcerated, perhaps wrongly, people start to care and
wonder what prison life is like. There’s been a crazy influx
of documentaries and all kinds of HBO is taking on prison as
one of their primary issues, it seems. There’s constantly documentary
of something happening. It just brings prison in to
your home in a way that isn’t Shawshank Redemption, right? It’s not fictionalized, it’s an actual
peek at behind the bars, and we get to meet people. Also the Innocents Commission’s
work on exonerees and the way that works makes us start to ask questions about whether everyone
back there is really a bad person. Whether it’s we haven’t
gotten it wrong sometimes. And then in my world of research, there’s
a research, there’s a lot of researchers, but I would give credit
to Frank Cullen’s work, primarily about trying to help people
understand that what we’re getting for what we’re doing is
the opposite of what we want. So, our goal was to incapacitate them for thinking about traditional
theories behind punishment. One of our primary goals
is incapacitation, to physically remove
them from the community. And we do that with other goals in mind. If we want rehabilitation. Maybe we don’t want early, we want
deterrence and we want retribution, but we actually get though is a heightened
criminogenic population when we release them. Most to 95% of all offenders
will eventually leave prison and if we’re criminalizing them while they’re
in custody and we end up putting them back into communities far worse then
they were when they went in. And if our view of them when they went
in was all ready that they were terrible people which is in fact not true,
in most cases. But, if that was our view, and then we
introduced them to a world where the only people they network with for
10, 15 years are other felons. People who have done far
worse things than them and they have nothing else to talk about. I was just giving this speech
yesterday to my prison class, I have an undergraduate class. And I said, what do you get out of college, what are
the social benefits of coming to college? One of you in here will be an FBI agent. One of you here will be a page for the Senator, one of you here will be
the president of a major company. What would it be like if your network for
the next 10 or 4 years, let’s say was only felons? What are your network
connections in that case? What do you know how to do now? Hot wire a car? You know how to car chunk? You know how to live on the street
because that’s all you’ve ever known. Like the things that you
learn from people and the places that you can go
benefit from your networks. I think educating the public
is really important. And part of it is getting done by
the media for us, in a good way for the first time in a long time. We’re also starting to question
some of our other policies. So, we’re starting to question sentencing,
which is a huge problem and a big contributor to why we have mass
incarceration numbers that we do. And we’re starting to question police. Who and why are we arresting and under what circumstances does that
crime deserve that treatment? Not only from police, but
from courts and from prosecutors. When should cases go forward? When should they not? When should we divert cases out
of the criminal justice system? It’s the first time that I’ve been
teaching this class and this is my probably 10th year of teaching prisons
class that I’ve actually been hopeful. I talk to my students about the fact
that we have, there’s some, I believe we’re hopeful.>>Can I just add, there actually is one
more point that Obama mentioned that we can change by our vote because
the prosecution system is not right. How many Senators and
Congressmen have been prosecuted?>>Not a lot.>>And just to show off on
maybe they’re put away. That is something totally, totally wrong. And that we have private prisons. A prison should not be a business.>>You’re exactly right, it’s a business.>>It is a business.>>And to your question, too, about this
education, cuz I see both of you are doing education about that kinda illuminates
what it’s like in people’s lives. And one thing that really stuck out,
Fred, when you were speaking is, where you were talking you said everything
is against you when you come out, right. And you gave these great examples
including the fact that here you are on a vulnerable position needing housing,
and here your daughter is right in DC. But the laws dictate right that you
can’t cross the state lines, right? The problem that we’ve dealt with in
other areas, even transportation and stuff where we have to kind of sync our
governmental structure to make it work. And yet, we don’t make it work at
a moment when someone is so vulnerable. But that’s I think in part this education,
only part of the story and what I heard from you in the sense that,
you also are telling a story about dreaming and And surviving and
navigating at the same time.>>Right.
>>You know I heard both those things. And to me that seems important
in terms of educating folks. You know that it’s not,
you kind of are pointing out I think both. Right?
If there’s a reach-in like you’re trying to make moves in that context and
think about what’s next for you and you’re facing all this stuff. Do you find that when you have a chance
to talk to folks who don’t know people who’ve been incarcerated
in a situation like this, do you find that folks are surprised or
what kinds of reactions that you have when you talk about your own
experiences in relation to this.>>Well, sometimes I really
don’t like to talk about it. And the reason why I don’t like
to talk about it cuz like I said, people in society look at you
like he’s a grown up, you know. But then again,
sometime I will tell the bodyguard. It all depends on who the individual is. Some people can accept it and
some people can’t accept it.>>Yeah, because I think
often times people don’t get. We have a structural segregation in
this society even before prison. Right? Where it is possible to live in
communities where you’re not interacting much across lines of race or class. So, I don’t know how much folks who don’t
have a direct experience of having their family and friends incarcerated. Having a personal interaction. You’re volunteering at the jail. Right?
You’re coming here to speak to a group of people at a university. But where, we don’t have. I’m struck by the fact that
there aren’t that many, sociologically, there’s not
that many spaces to do that.>>Yeah well, I feel that
the people need to know for real. Because it’s a lot of people that I
have met while being institutionalized are very good people. I’ve met a lot of people with
a hell of a lot of talent. I mean from artistry, playing music, you’d be surprised. A lot of them want to do the right thing,
such as myself. And like I said, right now,
since I’ve been home, and I’ve been working, but I’ve been
doing more sleeping than anything. For real cuz I work at night.>>[LAUGH]
>>So the only time that I really
have time is on my days off. People right now,
what they don’t know won’t hurt them. That’s the way I look at it,
what they don’t know won’t hurt them. But if you ask again, I’ll tell you. You can accept it, if you don’t accept,
I don’t have a problem with it. Because right now I try to
stay around positive people. See?
That’s one thing that’s going to keep me positive, see? That’s what’s keeping
my head up above water.>>Yeah.
Let’s open it up for some more questions. Yeah.>>Thank you for sharing your story. Actually I used to work for a prison
in Afghanistan while doing service. I propose the question what
would you [INAUDIBLE]. You say that you were and
which tells me that you were in need of financial
>>Assistance. Right.>>If you were given the opportunity
in the present work, to do some sort of additional work,
and provide a business root. Somebody could work and
take what you produce in the prison and sell it to the market. When the money comes back to you, you
could keep it or give it to the family. When they come out, they have some sort of
money that will give them the opportunity to get a house, rent, or
buy some food to get them further?>>Yeah, I would. Let me put this to you,
when I came home working on the farm, we got nights and the day. I came home with exactly 300 and something dollars That’s what I had. And that 300 and some dollars like
last me like two and a half months. But I was in the shelter. So I really, they fed me every night. So that money went to bus fare, cause, matter of fact,
I got to give another for the job. [LAUGH] And what if the job break. I wouldn’t have a job, but
that gave me transportation back and forth, transportation
involving interviews. That’s where I used that one. But yeah, I would do it. I mean, yeah,
I agree with you all on that. Yeah, I would.>>Thank you. [INAUDIBLE] And
the second question is for [INAUDIBLE]. Most of the prison [INAUDIBLE]
be not willing to obtain. Is the government really doing,
willing to [INAUDIBLE]? I just [INAUDIBLE] or
any sort of possibility, like when we have [INAUDIBLE] against
the engagement [INAUDIBLE] so we can produce [INAUDIBLE]
well [INAUDIBLE]. Then we have specific people that
will pick that product and sell it, bring the money back,
we will then [INAUDIBLE] the family. Because some families, like,
if you’re the head of the family and you have little kids. If you’re not [INAUDIBLE] what
are they going to [INAUDIBLE] there’s a lot of really [INAUDIBLE] combined so
>>So I’ll again use the Pennsylvania example because it’s
a prison system that we’re currently in. I think they max out somewhere around
48 cents an hour, is that right?>>Depends. If they work in CI, they make more.>>Correctional Ed.>>The correctional industry,
where they make the clothes. Generally 49 cents is about as it can be.>>Right. It also costs money to be in prison. So that they’re charged to be there,
and local jails for example, it’s usually a dollar or
$2 a day.>>Yeah, dollar.>>It’s a dollar a day. They have a fee to be incarcerated. They also have fees for
other commissary and other items. They also may have other fees. And they have medical,
they pay $5 to see the doctor. They pay for their own prescriptions
when they are given medication. And those vary,
I mean it’s a sliding scale. It’s not like what we would pay,
40 bucks or something. But the story that most often resonates
with people, and again I’m so forgive me for the stories but they mean a lot to me
because that’s where I get my tales from. But the juvenile lifer,
my favorite juvenile lifer, his story is that he was arrested at
16 and he was given a life sentence. It’s a long story, I won’t go into, but
he’s in custody now and he’s a pianist, he had to take piano lessons. He grew up middle class, white, Jewish. The only Jewish lifer I’ve ever met,
really, thannk God. But he grew up taking piano lessons. He’d taken piano lessons from the time
he was three or four years old, and was, what was considered,
what he considers a concert level pianist. Like he had done lots of
different recitals and shows. It took him eight years to save enough
money to buy a keyboard in the prison and he was working full time. When he got the keyboard, the first
day he had the keyboard in the cell, his cell mate complained about the noise, took him five more years to
save enough for headphones. So that he could play it. So he played it without batteries and
sound for five years while he was saving. This is the type of work
question that you’re getting at. The work question is that yes
there’s work available, but the problem is that it’s for
very few inmates. And I would guess it’s about 10% of your current inmate population
are given the opportunity to work. They also have some strange prison
policies in place that seem strange to me because I’m liberal on these issues, but from a security and
safety stand point they make sense. So Pennsylvania for example prohibits lifers from working
more than two years or anyone actually, but lifers in particular more than
two years in any position, because they don’t want them to get to know
a certain area of the prison too well. So if you’re working on the loading docks,
or you’re working in the kitchen it
can become an escape hazard, or a safety or security hazard for you to
know too much about a particular area, so they move them from position to position
often with long intervals in between. So if you’re there,
lets say you have a ten year sentence you might not get work cuz you’re on
a wait list for two or three years. Cuz there are many people who want
to work and not a lot of positions. So it takes two or three years to get
a position, you work for two years and then when your skill level is good and your supervisors like the work
that you’re doing and you’ve increased your wages up to 49 cents
an hour you’re removed from that position because now you know too much about the
position and they don’t want you to stay. And then you’re put back on a wait list,
so you sit for another two or three years waiting for the next position
and when you get the new position your pay starts over at the 16, 18, 20 cents an
hour and you work your way back up again. So you get to that level and then you’re
released from that position becase you know, and after you’ve gone through
a number of positions as a lifer you won’t work again because you can’t
cycle back through those positions because you already know them to well. So they are training positions. You can work as a welder, you can work as
a plumber, you can work as a carpenter. Some of the inmates who are lower
level security can actually work outside the facility,
they can do jobs. Even in a maximum security or medium
security prison some of those inmates have the risk level that’s low
enough to allow them to be out, but the opportunities are incredibly
limited, and most of their pay, they have a pay structure that removes some of
the pay to save some of the pay to pay for things that they need, and
some of it goes into their commissary. So when they’re released
someone who works for ten to 15 years could easily come
out with just a few hundred dollars.>>So I’m gonna shift just a little bit
in direction and them I’m gonna come back to questions here and look a little bit
with you all on the prevention side. It’s an area that I try to do work on, and just in thinking about from your
perspective each of you what do you think are some of the most critical factors to
impacting folks not being incarcerated? Not being in that position? And what are some of
the sort of supports and conditions that make it more likely
that folks will not enter prison. If that’s all right I’d like to start
with you in terms of what do you think could have shifted the dynamic for you
where they may have not been incarcerated.>>Well work, jobs.>>I wasn’t working, but
I did have a part time job, but I mean, it wasn’t enough for
me to have a place they would call all that [INAUDIBLE]
that was the main thing. Jobs. I can’t say education because I’m
very educated, but that can’t be one thing because there are a lot of
people locked up that’s not educated. So education is a main thing. Cuz I’ve met a lot of people
that’s very illiterate in prison. Whenever somebody come and
ask you to write a letter to the wife, or something like that that’s real crazy. [LAUGH] Education, that’s the main thing.>>Yeah.
>>They need more programs. I mean, yeah they need more programs for
any institution and like she said everybody,
everybody if you knew like she said that boo you where it’s like Virginia
pick up your hand [INAUDIBLE] cuz I know some welders that they
don’t have a job for a minute, so.>>[LAUGH]
>>But as far as I mean, that education for
some of them that would keep them out.>>So that makes a lot of sense in terms
of like education opportunities also.>>Yeah.
>>Chronic unemployment and not having a enough employment
even if you are employed. Did you-
>>And then wages. That’s the main thing too. Wages, it’s like $8, $7 an hour. I mean, I got fortunate because when I started
at Target they was paying me $10.45. Now I make $11.25. I got hit on in a years time so. [LAUGH] So I got lucky.>>Yeah especially in this area, right?>>Yeah in Virginia right there
on Jefferson Davis Highway that’s where I be at.>>[LAUGH]
>>Now, did you see stuff with folks
in terms of health issues. Do you think health issues mental
health or physical health?>>Yeah, mental health. That’s mainly, yeah. You’re right about that. Mental health.>>Not having support on the outside or?>>Inside and outside cuz you got a lot of people that’s
locked up that have got mental problems. I seen a lot of that. Yeah, mental health is
definitely an issue. And a lot of them people I mean, a lot of people that’s locked up they
shouldn’t of been sent to prison. They should of been sent to
a mental health facility.>>Doctor Wu.>>I completely agree with Fred. He said everything I wanna say.>>[LAUGH]
>>I was just gonna add that I think that prevention is
hard because we have again, I’m a sociologist my colors are gonna
show here for a second, but we have a capitalist economic structure
which means that we are gonna have the proletariat or the lumpen
proletariat at the bottom, right? That’s how our system works. We don’t work any other way under
a capitalist system, and so we end up with people that work and people that own and
that’s how it kind of plays itself out. So solving the economic problem for
our lower socioeconomic status folks is probably not something
that I would see in my lifetime. The thing that I think is the most
important possible change for us moving forward is to go
back to the 1940s and 50s and 60s when we used a medical model to
try and understand our incarceration population or the people that we thought
should be incarcerated or criminalized. We had a strong mental health system once
in our country where those people were not placed in prison, they were
placed in therapy in group homes or before that we kept in their own home and
didn’t let anyone see them, right? That’s not where I’m
suggesting we go back to, but I’m saying that there’s a different
way of looking at that. The largest group of our population in
prison are people with drug and alcohol substance abuse, people with mental
illness, and people with severe trauma. Those are three of the sort of defining
factors of many of the people that are in our institutions, and some of it
comes from socioeconomic status. Some of it comes from other things. Just where they happen to live. It may not be related to income,
it may be related to something else, but if those are all issues. Issues that do not need to be dealt
with by the criminal justice system. They can easily be approached
from the medical system. The mental health system or physical
health system could easily deal with those issues and we could rely on prisons
to incarcerate our violent offenders, who often have those issues too, but it
would be easier to treat them in custody. If we thought about custody as
a place where we actually correct, if we went back to our idea of
corrections as a place of rehabilitation, if we thought about it as a house of
corrections as opposed to a penitentiary, a place where they do penance, I think
we would be in a much better place. And it doesn’t mean that we need
to close all of our prisons. There are some folks that won’t
benefit from that treatment and they are not safe to be let out either for
themselves or for others, but there are a good number of people in custody
that we could do a whole lot better by.>>Let’s open it up for
a couple more questions. All right Jay.>>[COUGH] So, I’d like to bring
the race factor into the conversation because I think it gets
pushed out really easily. I think Michelle Alexander in The New
Jim Crow made some pretty compelling arguments that if you look at
the way a lot of people of color in this country have been kept sort of in
perpetual poverty and social disadvantage. It’s not believable to think that it’s just all coincidence
that it worked that out that way. [LAUGH] So I think, and
I wanna say that I know that the entire population in
the US is not people of color. [LAUGH] But
the way the criminalization has emerged over the last 40 years has always been
framed in ways that are very racialized. It’s been about drugs,
it’s been about dangerous thugs, it’s been about the menacing other. And so, in some ways there’s a racialized
discourse, there’s a racialized way of talking about prison and the need to keep
society safe that has racial overtones. And the second part is,
I wanted to bring up, is to talk about the way we talk
about security and safety, and to challenge the way that there are ways
in which, particularly around policing and around corrections where the safety of
some people is elevated to such a degree that the safety of other people is
almost guaranteed to be ignored. And I’m not saying that police officers
and correctional officers should not be safe, they have to be safe, but those are
jobs that are not ever gonna be completely safe because those people take
those positions to do a service for society, to keep us safe. And to keep us from harm. So I’d like to hear a little bit more
about the way in which, in this particular case, the way in which correctional
institutions can balance safety and security or talk about safety and security
in a way that respects the safety and security of inmates as well as
people who are working there. Because when it becomes so unbalanced that you can’t ever
discuss the possibility of risk or the possibility of- one possibility in
taking a job like this is that you might get hurt and that’s just part of this job. Hopefully we compensate you adequately for
that. But when that becomes
the only measure by which we determine what programs are available. You know we have zero tolerance for
escape because one escape is worse than thousands of inmates getting
out, getting opportunites to work and feel productive and
have meaning in their lives. We don’t talk about it like that,
but that’s the outcome.>>Couple of
>>I think two different parts there and we’ll have lots more questions
following this too and just so that both of us can toss that part around. How does race play out
how we see criminality. Who gets punished. Even on the inside. How that plays out through that. And then the secondary place. And I couldn’t help but hearing in that
question about this recent meeting when the mayor was announcing
this really this ten point plan I think it was when she was
announcing the ten point plan and a chant that broke out,
who do you protect and who do you serve? and sort of a national moment where that
kind of question is being asked more and I hear echoes of that in your question. So I’ll turn it over.>>I’d like to dwell on two things. The race issue and the safety. I’ll speak on the race issue first. Back in the 80’s and the 90’s could
have been a race issue but from what I see now,It’s not a race issue because
everybody that’s getting locked up. I was sent over to the Hospital in Greenfield which is the biggest
penitentiary in Virginia. And it’s like Even Stephen. Blacks.
Whites. Hispanics. So I really can’t say it’s a race
issue in the prison system. Everybody’s getting locked up. Now as far a safety, it’s I don’t think, I mean officers and people that’s working in the prisons I
don’t think they’re ever being safe. Because I’m gonna tell you
they took took chicken off the menu because somebody
made shank out of a bone. So because somebody make shank out
of a bone they can make a shank out of anything, they, I mean I don’t
think prison will ever be just 100% safe. I don’t even see that happening. So it’s always going to be some type
of violence, you know, in jail.>>As the students in my
class haven’t started yet. But they will read Michelle Alexander’s
book this semester I’ve never assigned it to undergrads before. I usually assign it to my graduate
students if I teach a prison class or re-entry class, it’s a little intense for
them because it’s a lot, I don’t know if you’ve read the new
Jim Crow but its a lot for them. So I’ll have to get back to you
on what they think about that. In terms of race in prison,
I do also agree with Fred on this issue, our study is not specifically
about race so we. Aren’t asking questions
directly related to race. Disproportionately it is true that
there are more people, non-white folks, non-white, non-Asian folks in prison
than there are groups that are white. But in terms of race, it doesn’t often
come up in our conversations with inmates or with staff to be honest with you. There are a couple of inmates that I can
think about recently that talked about when they first got to prison. I think they maybe wrongly,
or not, had this belief that they needed to find some of their own
kind, so to speak, to be friends with. But your cell mate is often
whoever you get given. And over time that seems
to break barriers and that seemed to break down..So both
of the people I’m thinking of. And again I haven’t analyzed the data so
just off the top of my head. Mostly I guess I’m thinking
of work not there that long. Just a couple of years into
a longer term sentence so they were a little bit
Eccentric in that way. I’m not sure that race in California
where I did work prior to this when I was at the University of California Irvine,
race was a big issue because a lot of the gangs were racialized in
Southern and Northern California both. So in Southern California while
I was working at a prison, not the day that I was there,
but a different day, there was a stabbing and it related
to a gang An issue that was ongoing. California was in for divided
segregated housing based on race, and they lost that case. And then later decided to continue
segregation based on gang membership because you can’t put rival gang
members in the same housing unit and expect it’s gonna go well, right? If they’ve been rivaling outside,
they’re gonna rival inside, and it means everybody’s is less safe. So those issues did come up there. Maybe more frequently than
I’m seeing in Pennsylvania. I can say about safety and
security though that we find and I think, oddly I think Shannon and I both talked
about this, that the bulk of the people in the institutions where we’re doing
our work and these are not blank, Betty Crocker kind of institutions. They feel safe. The inmates and the staff overwhelmingly
say that they feel safe in their environment which is not
what we expected to hear. And it’s a testament to their sort
of policies and their procedures. You are right though that is,
and it’s not just the staff. It’s not at the expense of
the inmates that the staff feel safe. The inmates themselves, the prisoners themselves are saying
that they feel safe in the environment. The problem is, and it gets to your second
part of your question is that when you bean count,
in the way that we bean count risk and we are very risk averse as a society in
general, and particularly behind bars. When you bean count to that level,
you are limiting lots of opportunities. One, you eliminate chicken
which is a problem, right? In female institution,
the day before we were there, one of our visits they
had eliminated forks. They were using only plastic
silverware for a decade and they decided altogether that they
would get rid of forks and knives, so the women and to eat spaghetti with
spoons the day prior to our arrival. And that was a big topic of their
conversation because they were having a very difficult time eating
their food rightfully so, but many of them just used their fingers but
they felt like heathens and they felt at least a couple of them
felt degraded by that experience, I’m not even safe enough
to use a plastic fork. Like there’s a point to which
it’s embarrassing to me. I don’t know how to operate if I
can’t even have a plastic fork. And it seems totally mundane but our experience about legitimacy and
procedural justice whether or not they feel like the policies and
procedures make sense to them. And overwhelmingly they think yes,
if safety is the goal, the policies and
procedures make sense to us. But when I asked them if rehabilitation
is the goal, do the policies and procedures make sense,
it’s a resounding no. They do not make sense, because if you’re
trying to get me up to be a better person, if you’re trying to help me, these
policies and procedures are debilitating. But if you’re trying to keep me safe,
absolutely unsafe. I haven’t been assaulted,
I don’t fear for my life. Most of the time staff against staff is
the larger problem in these institutions.>>I’m just gonna take
these last three questions. I also just wanna briefly respond in
sort of kind of a different vein and slide off the moderator hat for a moment. Hitting on the issue of race
I think from my perspective the data is overwhelming
that we have a racial bias. Poverty in the United States and
racialize sense of threat, stemming back from the earliest days
of slavery right through to now. And I think what Michelle Alexander’s
book does for me is push a question, cuz I consider myself sort of
an anti-conspiracy theorist.>>[LAUGH]
>>That’s the influence of sociology for me. The question around how much
of a lack of concern and generating of particular policy has been with the black body in mind,
I think around safety and she’s looking particularly at
the start of the Reagan era. Right changes in the Reagan era but that went straight through to the Clinton
administration and all that time period. And I think that’s part of what Black
Lives Matter has highlighted if as one of the central pieces cuz around at
getting people to question how much we think of these children as our
children more on a national. Do we think of children
of color as our kids and do we take their safety as seriously? And who do we perceive it’s correct and
when? More widely, so
I think from my perspective a strongly racialized component that
is a few hundred years in the making and I think the class dynamics
also play out in addition to that. So we’ll let that sit,
probably more overlap than we realized and let that sit kind of unresolved cuz
that’s part of a larger conversation. So there’s three hands up,
the only way to do this with the time left is to do something I’ve been trying to
do the whole time, but unsuccessfully. So take all three questions-
>>[LAUGH]>>You won’t respond->>[LAUGH]>>but we’re gonna back off on the temptation. I’ll write the questions down in case you
all forget one of them or think I’m lying to you and then you can respond to
the three in the remaining time.>>Yes, please.>>My question is for Mr. Owens.>>Thank you for coming. You talked about using a lot
of services post release and my question thinking about this theme
of prevention is did you know about those services before
you were incarcerated?>>No.>>And so maybe the discussion here right
about educating the community is why does it take incarceration to educate
you that those services exist. What could you have done prior that you
didn’t do until you were incarcerated?>>Say that again, why?>>What could you have done before you
had gone to jail that you did later? You said you were only employed part time.>>Okay, yeah. What I could have done? Was give back.>>The services could have been. [CROSSTALK]
>>Right.>>Yeah, they could have been.
>>Prior to that.>>Prior to that, they could have been. Cuz I didn’t know nothing about no job
like, when really I was on my way to D C. DC does not have as far as I know,
they don’t have no programs like that. But Virginia has job you
can have the to know. It was from it was just like or something.>>[INAUDIBLE]
>>Yeah, [INAUDIBLE] that’s the one [INAUDIBLE].>>Was it?>>Yeah, on Virginia. So they don’t have the type of programs
in the DC Metropolitan Area in DC. So job plank, OAR, they did a lot for me and I got to applaud them. And [INAUDIBLE], I had to fly in too.>>Thank you, got two more,
two more questions. Over here, yes please.>>Hi, I don’t know,
you may be able to write them down. I have a few questions. One in particular was in response
to your questions because I wanted to kind of hear [INAUDIBLE] Mr.
[INAUDIBLE] and Dr. [INAUDIBLE]. It seems like there’s a lack of
cultural competence especially in regards to some of the responses
between correction officers, police officers, and some of the recent
incidences happened as of late. So is there any intensive diversity
training for correctional officers? Institutions, prisons and
jails, and disclose. So that was one question and
another was for supports. So I was wondering with Mr. Owens, what sort of support is
offered to your family during. And after incarceration. And then for you in particular,
what did you do to sustain mentally and emotionally before and
after incarceration?>>Hold on just a second. [LAUGH] I have those
questions written down. We’re going to come back to that. Did I see one more hand up?>>I’m gonna pass.>>My question is, what does it take
to get a new program in a prison?>>Okay, good. So, now I can turn it over to you and
you have just about five minutes.>>You go first. [LAUGH]
>>Now, the question you were asked. There’s four in the family? Wasn’t loud. With no support for the family. The only support they had was me. I supported the family,
which was my daughter. But my daughter’s kinda, well I can’t say she was well because she
was going through a phase, she was going through a type of phase,
but she stuck, you know how she’s strong. She stuck strong and
what was the other question?>>[COUGH]
>>About whether>>Mental and emotional sustainment. So what do you do to kinda keep positive while your environment
has made [INAUDIBLE].>>Well when I was incarcerated, the main thing to keep me was
positive was work It was work.>>Did it help to keep your mind? Yeah, help me keep my eye on things. Help him, and matter of fact,
I became, what’s my name in my office? I read books. That’s another thing. That kept my mind strong. Reading.>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome.>>[LAUGH]
>>Well, there’s a catch shifted, where you shift your focus off
the environment somewhere, right? Like work it through without change of, there’s a change of
environment to some extent.>>Well, you see. Well, actually,
while I was on this work camp the form, it was a 20 minute ride
outside the prison, so you know, I could sit outside,
do something with the cars. I could sit way back. I mean, all Virginia prisons, I don’t
know where they find these places to build these prisons but every time they
build these prisons, it’s a hole and they find a hole around trees, I mean
they built it in the middle of a forest. And they you got to come out, there it is,
yeah, and see the rest of the world. But of the prisons that I
have been to in Virginia, they’re back in a cut somewhere,
they’re back up in trees. But coming out, being able to see that,
I mean, sees society every day. I mean, that’s what kept me mentally
stable and rightful, I was.>>That’s gonna hit a couple that I
think I may have a good response for. When the lack of cultural
competence training I would argue the last
training in general. I mean we have correctional facilities,
correctional departments of correction in United States
who offer no training at all. You get the job, the next day you show
up at the prison and you start work. We have some that offer a week,
two weeks worth of training. Some that offer a month, two months,
three months worth of training. It varies from state to
state up to six months. Some of them had an apprenticeship year
where your year sort of on probation. While you’re training
have none of that at all. Very different and I’ve attended
a correctional training academy. I just picked and choosed classes that I thought were relevant to
the work I was currently doing. But one of them was the diversity training
and it was horrific, just horrific. And to say that, not only to say that. Is really like, I don’t think we do a great job in Mason
in our cultural competency training. But we do something. This was really just someone saying,
there’s different races and cultures and let’s just answer these six questions and
then we can all go home. It was kinda like, that was the training. That said though, it was one of maybe
100 hours of service training that they needed to do and
they needed to learn a lot of stuff and so they were prioritizing in a way that
they thought was most appropriate, they also took for granted some of their
assumptions about what people know or understand and were wrong frankly. And so that is a whole other issue. The other one about new
programs in prison. It will depend on your area, and part of
this stems from something else i was gonna say, but to get a new program you will
have to have a warden, or a secretary, or a superintendent who is
interested in that program. You probably in this day and age,
have to show some level of results. The results could be, the word I
was thinking of was crappily Sorry. Not great collected data, maybe. Not well analyzed data. You’d have to show that there is some
sort of effect in today’s day and age where the secretaries
would want to show the program is valuable in some way and they’d like
to highlight that in their annual report. There are prisons like in
San Quintin Prison in California, in the height of the Bay Area, is very
liberal social agenda with over a thousand volunteers at any given time volunteering
to different programs inside the prison. Those inmates are well-serviced
in terms of programs. In the prisons that we go to there’s
just a handful of programs and there are lots of problems
with programs too. If there’s a lockdown the program
doesn’t occur that day. If the instructor is sick they
miss that days worth of training, there are no make up days. So you might be taking a five week
class where your instructor’s sick for two days every week, and you don’t don’t
get those classes back, they’re just gone. Nobody subs. If inmates get into a fight and the The class the class can
be cancelled at any time. If account line is late getting done with
their lunch cycle or whatever it is and you don’t get to class until
15 minutes before class ends. You get 15 minutes of class that day,
so programming isn’t the only answer. There are a lot of other
institutional problems that prevent programming from being
appropriately distributed or available. The other thing I want to say and this
isn’t something I brought up today but something that I think you just want
to think about is that victims have a huge play in what’s available
inside of our prison environment and they often don’t want programs. We tie our policies and our laws often around our own standards of
morality what we think is right and wrong. And victims do not want in a lot of cases offenders to receive programs
because they’ve been hurt by them. It’s the like a retaliatory or
I’m hurt and I need justice response. And by no means do I mean it
isn’t a rightful response. It simply means that on many occasions
where we would offer more to our populations inside custody facilities, we often can’t because communities are
very vocal about what they want available. Just to give you a quick
example from Angola, Angola Prison is a fully 100% until
recently a 100% sustainable prison. They grow every food product that they
feed to their prisoners on 20,000 acres that the prison owns. The inmates work the land and they provide
all of the fruits, vegetables, meats, everything that they eat,
dairy products come from their own land. They’ve been doing this for
100 years, right? It’s just how they operate,
they don’t buy anything. They can, they preserve, they dry, they
do everything that you can think of and the inmates all participate
in that experience. Within the last ten years the community
realized that the grade of cattle that they were growing I want to say,
raising for meat purposes was better than the quality of meat available to most
of the residents of that community and the community had a huge media push
to get them to stop using that meat. But the inmates were eating steak,
so on the day that we visited for example it was okra season. They eat okra breakfast lunch and dinner during okra season because
that’s what they are harvesting, right? So it’s fried okra for breakfast, it’s
gumbo for lunch and it’s fried okra and season steamed okra for dinner,
that’s what they get, right? Well ,during the time when they produce
meat which is what the time when they’re, I don’t know, slaughtering their cattle,
the inmates do, too. They don’t hire that out. The inmates have learned
to slaughter cattle. They get steak. They get roast beef. They get pork if they’re
slaughtering their pigs. They get bacon. They get whatever’s available. They use the meat. Entirely everything is, they get jerky for
awhile, they get everything. Well the community found out and was outraged because
the inmates were eating steak. So now the prison is forced to sell
it’s steak to the community and they use that money to give
back to the prison programs. But the inmates are forced
to eat ground chuck. That’s all that’s available to them now. So their cows are raised to sell and they have to buy low grade quality meat,
like a surplus kind of meat. Which is what we mostly
get in Pennsylvania and Virginia prisons because
the community was outraged. It’s a good example that I think resonated
with me when I was visiting in about just how a prison can sort
of mind it’s own business. And do its work for hundred years. And then community members, victims or
otherwise can get ahold of something. In a rightful way, and I don’t mean this
in negative towards our victims groups cuz you can absolutely see where they’re
coming from, but at the same time, you can see where a prison has
the right to be sustainable. If the inmates are growing and raising
the cattle and slaughtering them, For themselves perhaps they
have the right to eat them.>>Yeah, from 2011 to 2013 the whole
menu in the Virginia system changed.>>Mm-hmm, big time.>>Big time.>>Yeah, big time. It’s pretty low graded out.>>I mean they’ve got this type
of meat look like a brake pad. And I mean it’s nasty.>>It’s mostly soy, yeah. It’s mostly soy.
>>Yeah, and it. If you don’t have cantine
you’re gonna stall.>>[LAUGH].>>You will stall.>>I think I’m gonna just
bring it to a close and offer just a quick reflection and
a thank you. Today I think we’ve heard so many the
dynamics involved in potentially shifting this process, and
it’s interesting that we have some attention span on the issue politically,
on the set of issues politically. And yet I’m almost struck, almost feel
like we have one of those timekeepers where you’re kinda flipping over watching
the sand, drop will attention span, how long will it last to be able to
make the kinds of complex changes at all these different levels that
are necessary and the justification for these changes is moral-ethical for
some and oftentimes budgetary for others. And part of downsizing a huge
system like this is supporting people in that transition, federal
government just announced yesterday, you saw that probably in the news. six thousand folks who are incarcerated
are gonna be released right? So with some of the desire for
immediate savings, is there gonna be the kind of support
necessary even supporting people. Transition, and supporting people who
are getting ready for the transition and it turns out that’s a complicated and
very necessary component I would say from my analysis of what I’ve heard and I’ve
thought that Fred offered us just a kind of a very important sort of
window into how delicate that. That’s as well. In the best case scenario, right,
where you’re able to get work, they were.>>I just want to focus on ways that
six thousand jobs are gonna be there.>>Yeah,six thousand jobs.>>That’s the main thing. The jobs, the work.>>Quite excited about 150,000
created across the entire nation. At this point right. So you know sort of a moment and
we will see what will happen right in terms of how long our national
expands to make changes. How hard the push is in terms of people
raising awareness for this issue and then vote to have a sense of ways that
they can change that are grounded in research and grounded in experience. I just want to thank you because I thought
you were Mr. and Dr. very knowledgeable and really, honest what you brought to
the table enriched the conversation and thank you, all of you, for bringing
all that you did to the table, and bringing your questions and insights, so
that’s all the time we have right now, I’m sure some of you folks
wanna talk to each of you, I have to run off to Fairfax Teach and
thank you all for coming. [APPLAUSE]

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