Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Apology to BOP

In an earlier post, I stated that the mission of the BOP is merely to warehouse inmates; that it had no rehabilitative function . I got that information from the first chapter of Downtime: A Guide to Federal Incarceration.

I don't know where he got his information but it is wrong. The mission of the BOP is clearly stated as:

It is the mission of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to protect society by
confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and
community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and
appropriately secure, and that provide work and other self-improvement
opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.

At least at FPC Pensacola, that does not appear to be just rhetoric. There are significant programs to assist inmates returning to society, including a drug rehabilitation program. I hope to talk about these over the next couple of months.

Furthermore, my fears about dehumanizing treatment appear to be unfounded - so far. While I have heard contrary stories from other inmates, every officer I have had contact with was pleasant and professional, even funny.

In short, initial impressions indicate that the FPC is not the dehumanizing monster I feared. Time may change that opinion, but for now I have no complaints.


Anonymous said...
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Dom Cimafranca said...
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Anonymous said...

Your experience is completely atypical of most incarcerations. You should try doing your time in the Pinellas County, Florida Jail. It is everything your fears thought it might be.