The reality of prisons. Please dont read if you dont want to know.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Jabberwockey, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    After reading several posts this morning about Difficult Child's going to prison, or hoping they would, I felt that it was necessary to explain how things work in prison. Some of this is going to seem pretty harsh and I apologize in advance, but am a firm believer in people knowing and understanding the truth of a matter. Please understand that I'm not talking badly about our prison system, simply offering someone the chance to understand the reality of it AS I KNOW IT! This is very important as not all states are run the same, not all prisons within the same state are the same. Over my almost 24 years working in Corrections I've worked at a Maximum Security and Minimum Security prison. They are two COMPLETELY different creatures even though I can currently look out my office window and see the Maximum Security prison. Each provides some advantages and disadvantages. I put this in the Emeritus forum because I felt that it was most appropriate but if a moderator feels it needs to go to the Watercooler or even removed, please feel free to do so.

    Prisons are not a magical place where your child receives anything and everything that they need. Prisons are Government run facilities where Safety and Security overrides EVERYTHING else. IF a facility has a program than an offender needs, they MIGHT be able to get into it and, depending on their level of commitment to change, may or may not get anything out of it. We used to offer in seat college courses but due to negative public opinion, it was stopped and now offenders can only get insanely expensive correspondence courses. Anger management is pretty much a guaranteed stipulation if you have a violent crime. Good luck getting it inside the institution and if you don't, hope you have between $600 to $800 to pay for it on the streets. And sometimes, even though you took it in the institution, the PO will still require you to take it on the streets. Most prisons have Mental Health professionals available. It is still up to the individual to take advantage of those professionals and not just either ignore their existence or show up for their weekly appointment and tune them out.

    Prisons provide a bed and three meals a day. They provide opportunities for recreational activities such as softball and basketball, weight lifting, and sometimes exercise classes. They are also a drug dealers paradise. Marijuana, which is relatively inexpensive on the streets, can be VERY expensive in prison due to the difficulty of getting large amounts inside and the need for large amounts to get high. Black tar Heroin is very sought after because a small amount is fairly easy to hide but can make a lot of doses. Family members are no longer allowed to send offenders stamps because people kept lacing the adhesive with Acid. We have offenders smoking synthetic Marijuana brought in by Work Release Offenders that is so unpredictable that we have had offenders so out of their minds that they were having sex with the shower floor or their bunkies leg. We had an offender recently who's heart stopped beating several times on the way to the hospital and another offender who took one hit from his pipe and hit the floor. They pay for these drugs by robbing and stealing from each other, by extorting weaker offenders out of money that their families have sent for them, and with "favors". The most prevalent "favor" is sexual. Prisons are full of predators and contrary to popular belief, there is NO honor amongst thieves. Oh, they have their code but that's more about dealing with us than anything else.

    That being said, prisons are not all bad either. We do offer programs for offenders to better themselves such as parenting classes, mental health classes, AA, NA, Toastmasters, Impact of Crime on Victims Class, Impact of Criminal Thinking, Employablility Skills, and Pathways to Change just to name most of them where I work. We have resources for them such as the Resource Room where they can research home plans, colleges, study to prepare for their drivers exam or CDL (no, they cant take it until they get out but one camp will soon be offering CDL testing as a Vocational course), even research starting their own company. We have a leisure and legal library. Granted, not a terribly impressive library but a library none the less. We have a Chapel where all faiths can worship. We offer educational opportunities in the form of GED and Vocational Courses. At this camp alone, we offer Automotive Repair, Culinary Arts, and Web Design and these courses are backed by the Department of Labor. We try our best to prepare offenders to become PRODUCTIVE members of society but in the end, its still up to them. You can lead a horse to water and all that.

    For those with experience in Corrections or Law Enforcement, please feel free to chime in. What I've put here isn't meant to be comprehensive even for the prison I currently work at, much less for the entire state or country. For those with questions, please ask. As I constantly remind offenders here, knowledge is power.

    Again, this wasn't intended to alarm those with children either in our about to be in prison. Its meant to be a source of information.
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  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Rehab, and in-patient mental health treatment, have the same sorts of challenges - unless the patient buys in to getting help, being there doesn't do much that is positive.
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  3. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jabber for sharing this, your honesty and caring enough to clarify are much appreciated....
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  4. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Thanks Leaf. Its just that sometimes I see people posting about their children about to go to prison like its a good thing. While it can be a good thing, its still bad that they've got to this point in their life. Then there is the undeniable fact that it could just be a place for them to hone their more "unconventional" skills before coming back to make our lives even more of a hell. Being completely serious, in prison is where I learned to get through locked doors without a key! Granted, this was as staff. Unfortunately, it was sometimes a necessary skill in the course of performing my duties.

    Just remember that prison is a bad place that can sometimes produce good results.
  5. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    I would never want my child in prison, but I have felt the county lock up would not hurt her. Ours is very small and very tightly controlled because of its small population. I am not foolish enough to believe that she would not encounter bad influences, swapping of "favors" and drugs, nor that she would receive treatment. I know better. But my daughter is often more of a harm to herself than others and in county, I would know she was eating, I would know she had a roof over her head, and I would know she at least had "some" supervision from hurting herself. Would she get anything out of it? No, because she is not ready to change. I am the one who would benefit from at least knowing where she is and that she was ok for another day, and if she wasn't, I would at least be called. That is truly sad but completely honest.
  6. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Jabber. My Difficult Child was in prison in a NE state where he was able to earn some college credit and felt relatively safe. We slept okay at night.

    It looks possible that he will be back in prison in the state in which his father and I reside. That is an incredibly scary thought.

    We try not to think much on it right now.

  7. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    I see what you are saying, and I am sure that none of us think of jail/prison as a country club, but I will tell you my own personal thoughts.

    She already uses drugs. She already trades sex for drugs. She already gets assaulted and abused. At least in jail/prison she has a roof over her head and 3 meals a day. Heat and indoor plumbing and access to health care if she needs it. Mostly I know where she is and if she is alive or dead.

    Mostly it is not waiting every day for that phone to ring from the ER or the county morgue. It is not waiting for the police to come to your door to tell you she is dead.

    I've long accepted that this is the life she chooses. Nothing I can do can change that, but, at least, I can have a few years of peace not wondering every day where she is.
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  8. savior no more

    savior no more Active Member

    Thank you for the insiders knowledge of prison. My son will be going I'm sure at some point when all is said and done. I in no way meant to imply that I was glad he was going. It is just a fact of what happens to people who cannot or will not abide by the rules of society. I would venture to say that 75% of the mental health care that is given in Texas is adjudicated in our prison system. I'm not certain that the roles change much whether incarcerated or on the streets. Predators will find victims in any social setting. I appreciate the information about the money and the drugs. I have read to be very careful about how much $$ one can have in prison (not that my son will have a lot) because they can use it to buy drugs. On the street he was pretty much getting beaten up once a week or kidnapped, so prison might just offer more of the same. I would like to know if any alternatives could exist in a society for people such as my son. The state Mental Health facilities where they are locked down have their own drawbacks and I for one don't have the money to hire an attorney to advocate for him to go there. So I guess acceptance of what is and a peace that I at least know where he is sleeping will have to suffice.
  9. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Excellent points SK. I wasn't trying to comment on any one persons situation so much as give some general information. In your daughters case, prison doesn't change her life much and gives you some peace of mind. In my son's case, he would end up in a lot of the situations your daughter is in even though he isn't right now. For some its the solution, for others it makes no significant different, and then for some its akin to trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

    You're welcome and please feel free to ask me questions. I will answer the best I can. I wasn't implying that you were glad he was going, and I do tend to forget that there are people out there dealing with children who makes mine look like an angel. I'm not terribly familiar with Texas doctor other than from the "incident" Missouri had with them about 20 or so years ago where Texas employees were mistreating Missouri offenders. While I'm not big on that type of behavior by staff, I'm a firm believer in Correctional employees setting proper examples for offenders, I'm also not a big fan of offenders being allowed to sue over everything either. Don't like the conditions in prison? In the immoral words of Jim Carey in "Liar Liar" "Stop breaking the law A-HOLE!" Prisons SHOULD be unpleasant, that way you don't want to go back. On the same note, we need more programs. We need more education, more mental health treatment, better medical treatment, more...and the list goes on. A lot of people are incarcerated because they have untreated mental health issues. I can't speak for the other states but Missouri seriously needs to up its game in treating mental health offenders. Granted, there are always those that refuse treatment, but that's on them.
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  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Jabber... I think that's pretty much universal, and not just in the US either. And not just for the incarcerated.
  11. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Jabber, thanks for this information and conversation.

    My Difficult Child was in the county jail or the workhouse every time, which I "heard" was worse than some state prisons. I have no idea. I could rest easier when he was there...but that was all about me. I'm sure it's not a good place to be and the first time he went, I thought I would literally die with the pain and fear and grief of it all.

    But as you point out, the resources are there. They can use them for good or they can resist them. Once again, it comes down to their so much of this does.

    One time I got all caught up in whether or not AA was offered in jail. Difficult Child said it wasn't. I read on their Website it was. I was convinced (way back when) that maybe he just missed the announcement (What? Every single time? Lol). So I called up there and was going to get to the bottom of whether or not they had AA or not...and how they communicated to the population...on and on. You get the picture. Of course they have it and they announce it multiple times via loudspeaker. When I told Difficult Child about this he said: Well, not in my pod, they don't? (What???? Sure, they just leave out your pod.) At that point, I realized I'd been had...once on me. It was a distraction, I guess, gave me the illusion I was actually...doing something...taking an impossible situation.

    It is what it is. It doesn't mean it isn't crazy and painful.

    Thanks, Jabber, for being a good voice and a good person working in this industry.
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  12. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    There is also another problem even if they take advantage of all the programs the prison has when they will be out their might be still unemployed unable to take care of themselves as employees will hire a person with less skill but no criminal background then one with more then with criminal background of course this is not as bad as people think as most of us get jobs trough networking or friends and family so its not that gloom.
    But there is also the stigma former inmates have so network as hell in my country most former inmates never get a job as the competition is huge even for entry level jobs.
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  13. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    This is true but we are trying to overcome this. That's what my Employability Skills class is about. We try to teach them some things to help get an employer past the convicted felon thing.
  14. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    In my country that is in UE there was a program that failed for reason I will mention forward that gave each employer 350 euro for each former inmate they hired so and since them minimum was 200 euro it was win win for them. The employment rate for former inmates increased a lot not like over 50% being employeed but a lot mentality is hard to change.
    So what happened well the program failed because well it was not good enough of a improvement. Also high opposition from certain organisation saying they gave them a unfair advantage.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My grandmother used to say, "where there is a will there is a way." However difficult it is to overcome stigma and compete, some do.

    Many people overcome burdens or deficits and make a life they are proud of. Whether illness or disability or a deprived early or family life.

    Some people no matter what advantage or disadvantage they may have, see their lives and the world as a glass half full. They seem to not have it in them to push through, to fight. For them, a bad break, a bad mood, a hard time will always be a reason to fold and to do whatever the thing is that will assuage their sense of themselves as unable, defeated, or take away their bad feelings. Like drugs. Or isolating.

    It is this attitude that we struggle with in our difficult children, the thing that seems to be at the basis what unifies them. Their willingness to take the easy way, to escape, to cop-out.

    I believe that this can be overcome. It must be. This attitude. Whether a symptom of depression or laziness or poor self-esteem, this attitude that other's have it easier or anger that they do not, is what it comes back to. And the self-indulgence that follows it.

    Whether there is one job or a thousand, it always comes back to what each of us does when we feel thwarted or defeated. Do we take the high or low road?

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  16. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Good stuff Jabber!!

    I agree with you 100%. For some jail is a good thing in that it can somewhat force sobriety but if they have their mind set on something they will figure out a way.
    My son shared stories with me about how they were making what he called "hooch" which was some type of alcohol. He also told me that if he really wanted to get drugs he could.
    He also shared how you either learn how to fight and take care of yourself or you will end up being someone's "girlfriend"
    My son is 6'4" and well built. His size used to scare me when he would go into his rages but I was also grateful for his size knowing that he could defend himself.

    When my son was in jail the various times I knew where he was and that brought me some comfort but I also knew that there were others that were teaching him how to be a better criminal. :cautious:
  17. PonyGirl65

    PonyGirl65 Active Member

    What a great thread for me, today. Thank you all for your contributions, and to you, Jabber, for creating this.

    My son will be sent to the intake facility within the next few weeks. From there, he will be placed in one of the two prisons in my state which offer AA/NA programming. All of this timing is unsure at this point. I am currently keeping hold of myself until he actually gets to where he will be, for the next four-to-five years.

    Do you know what I mean? I am keeping myself in check as far as what prison he'll be placed in. Like, I'm not going to freak out about it, or spend time researching or whatever, until he's actually placed.

    Once he's transferred to his 'permanent' 'home' (blech) then I will probably begin to process the whole ordeal. I mean, I have done some crying and some praying and some hoping since he's been sentenced. But, I feel like I will need to go through a period of time where I actually absorb the facts and figures.



    He called me last night and sounds like he's in acceptance of what's happening. Said he believes he got what he deserved, and he is going to try to take every advantage of whatever opportunities are offered. He apologized to me, that he put me through that day last Friday. As well as all the other days leading up to last Friday, over the years of half his lifetime so far.

    Not the first apology I've gotten from him, but it sure would be nice if it was the last......
  18. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Really not too terribly much to research. Word of advise? Talk to the classification staff and let them know what's going on. One of our biggest issues is lack of information. When offenders go through the initial process, we question them on a ton of things like substance abuse and such. I know EVERYONE here is going to be COMPLETELY surprised to know that they tend to lie or not share information at all?!?! Sorry, sarcastic rant done. Don't stalk them, but if there is something important going on like the death of a loved one that they were close to then let them know. It makes our jobs SO much easier when we have advanced warning of a possible melt down. We get to talk to them before they've worked themselves into a frenzy that way.

    They will also be a great source of information for you as, within reason and policy, they can not only let you know how he is doing but answer questions about how to visit, send money, send items, etc...
  19. PonyGirl65

    PonyGirl65 Active Member

    Thank you Jabber :) Classification staff? I've not heard that term before. (haha! yay, me) ;) This will be my first experience with the State System, all previous exp is with County Jail....
  20. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    "Classification Staff" are the case managers. Your son will have a case manager or case worker or something along those lines.