Friday, 29 April 2016

Do Prisons Really Make Offenders Worse?

A lot of people think that prison is a place where crimes sits and breeds, the idea is that if you put people in prison they will get worse. Is it really unavoidable? Will offenders really turn into even more of a corrupt and violent person when they leave prison?

The main conversation topics among prisoners is generally crime, drugs and gossip about who did what and to who. They often brag about what they have done and even team up with other criminals in jail and hatch new plans and schemes. Some carefully engineer crimes that are committed by other people outside prison. These inmates are often gang leaders who can influence people outside the prison walls.

A number of offenders were recently interviewed in numerous institutions about whether or not jail really makes someone worse than they were before.

Their answers may be surprising! Inmates emphasize that choices are continually made about how time is served. Some aspire to be prison kingpins.

Confinement is just one more arena in which to conduct criminal operations. Others, however, have an entirely different view and make choices in an entirely different decision. They adhere to the prison rules and policies while remaining out of the "action." Fed up with how they have lived, they desire to change or, at the very least, not risk incurring new charges which will extend their time in prison. They participate in programs and try to get along with other inmates and with institutional staff.

Inmates who abstain from criminal activities in prison remain cordial, to other inmates. Not wanting to be tagged as "snitches" or informants, they participate in a variety of activities that do not violate the rules. And they have no interest in committing new crimes. Some develop disgust (that they do not express publicly) with their fellow inmates who are perpetually devising new schemes, con games, and manipulative maneuvers. They report that others leave them alone and do not try to pressure them into involvement in more violations and crimes. They have found that, usually, the other inmates respect them.

In short, just as he did in the free world, an inmate chooses the people with whom he develops close associations. He makes decisions about the type of person he wants to be. He decides what temptations he will resist.

By no means is it inevitable that he will become a more hardened criminal or a more dangerous person because he is serving a sentence in a correctional institution. In fact, spending time in prison marks a turning point toward a positive direction.  A prison expression is to make time serve you not just you serving time.


NICRO is committed to turning lives around - We encourage all South Africans not to stand back, but become involved either by donatinga monthly amount, a once-off donation or look at the NICRO wish list for support in kind for around the country and see how you can assist.