Tech in prisons

I had no idea that so many cell phones were getting smuggled into jail. I thought that was only something that happened in the movies or just every once in a while. Especially since the guards are the ones who are bring the phones in most of the time. I wonder how the inmates get away with talking on the phone or taking videos without getting caught. Wouldn’t it be kind of obvious that someone is talking on the phone? And where do they get the money from? I don’t know many people who don’t have a job that just has thousands of dollars lying around. The people in prisons get very creative when it comes to breaking the rules.

One thing I do have to say that I do not agree with in the article is that keeping them in the “stone age” by restricting cell phone and internet use is denying the inmates basic human rights. The inmates are in prison so yes some rights are going to be taken away and that is just the way it has to be for the safety of every human being in the prison. But if all the rules are being followed that are set by the state in the prison I do not think any of the inmate’s basic rights are being taken away, with a cell phone or not. No one has the right to have a cell phone and plenty of people live perfectly fine lives without one. Our society today has just become so dependent of technology we think we need it. Also some of the people that are in prison may never get out. As sad as it may be they would be perfectly fine not knowing how to use a cell phone or the internet considering they will not need those skills to get a job.

When you get on the subject of other human interaction there are plenty of other ways that can happen without using a cell phone. There are phones in the prisons that the inmates can use to make all the calls they would be making on a cell phone. There are also visitation hours when their loved ones can come see them in person, which in my opinion is better then a phone call.

I do like the idea of teaching computer classes in the jail because some people may get out and need to learn those things to function in society. But the thing is you do not need the internet to teach those classes. Like the article mentioned the programs and all the things that needed to be done in the coding class was uploaded to the computer without the use of internet. Even without the internet a class was still able to be taught.

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The Jail

Working at the jail this semester has made me even more excited to graduate and start my career working in the Criminal Justice system. Going into this I thought many of the inmates were good people who just made bad choices and got caught. I am so glad that I have seen this in many of the men that are in the jail right now. Many of them write about bettering their lives and doing things differently if they could start over again. I also am very happy when I see how much the men appreciate us coming in there even if it is just to get them out of their pods. I get a comment from at least one guy every night when I am taking them back to their pods about how much they liked the workshop and they thank me for coming in that night. It is also so cool to see so many people lining up to go to the workshop. Many have said they have heard from someone that it is cool and they want to check it out. It seems to have a good reputation in the jail.

I am also glad I have had this experience to understand how to interact with the inmates better. Since I am going to be working with this population in my career I feel it is important to have this skill. I feel I am better at picking up deception and have learned to stand my ground. I will admit before I learned the rules of the jail I was a bit of a push over I would give them all the pens and paper they wanted. After I went to the training I learned they get only limited amounts of that. Saying no to them when they want another pen or other things even though it seems so simple is good practice for my job in the future. I am sure as a probation officer I will have many people trying to ask for favors or little things they know they are not allowed to do and I have had experience dealing with that now. Even though it may not be something as simple as a pen it is still the same concept.

I am excited to finish up the semester but also sad at the same time. I am going to miss coming into the jail every week because I really enjoy it. I enjoy interacting with the inmates and the staff and I like the atmosphere as well. You never know what is going to happen it is different every time, I find it kind of exciting.

Illiterate vs Literate

I agree that literacy is a continuous activity that is learned in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life. I feel the dichotomy or being literate or illiterate is harmful. A person who is automatically stuck with the label of being illiterate may loose hope in ever learning how to read or write. Not having that label would give them a starting point and possibly even the motivation to learn and improve on their literary skills. Before working in the jail I never realized how the label of being “illiterate” can really affect people.

Another reason why I think literacy is a continuous activity is because there are so many different ways to be literate. Just because you are literate in one language does not mean you would be literate in every part of the world. I only speak English, you send me to China and I would have no idea how to read or talk to anyone. It is a continuous activity because there are always new things to learn even in a language you are fluent in.

I feel the dichotomy is more represented in the jail. I hear many people saying “I cannot write” or they don’t want to read aloud because they are not a strong reader. I feel many of the inmates label themselves as literate when the true reality is they can read or write they just may not be very good at it. But since literacy is a continuum they always have chances to learn more and improve, it is never too late. I feel SpeakOut! brings the idea that literacy is a continuum to the jail. We give them the chance to improve and work on their reading and writing skills. I feel many of the people who are not strong readers or writers would not go out on their own and try to teach themselves.

“Street papers”

After reading Erin Anderson’s essay I have a whole new look on street papers an publishing work written by marginalized people. Working with SpeakOut! I have has experience with that but before this assignment I had never heard of “street papers” before. One of the advantages that Anderson mentioned I agree with. “Street papers” and even the Speak Out! Journal give people of marginalized populations a chance to get their opinion on feelings out to the public. I feel a lot of people belonging to marginalized populations either don’t feel they have the right to express their opinion or they do not have the means to. I have seen this a lot in workshop. The first time I ask some of the men their opinion on something they look shocked. In jail there is a set or rules they have to live by and there are no comments accepted about how the system is run.

A drawback that Anderson was trying to fix was the audience and how the papers are distributed. Almost everything seems to be online today and her idea of a blog for the homeless is an awesome idea. We kind of have something like that set up with our SpeakOut! 2.0 website. Even though the website is available I find more of the inmates I work with prefer to have something published in the book. That may be the same problem Anderson may run into. There is something different about having your name on a piece of paper handed out to the public then just seeing it on a computer screen.

SpeakOut! fits perfectly in the community publishing category, we just have a different way of going about things. Instead of the public getting paid to distribute the collection of writing we do it. I also feel “street papers” may get to a broader audience. Many more people walk by the news papers getting handed out then people walk by the books we put in a few locations around town.

What I think both SpeakOut! and street papers need are more publicity. The problem I feel with these is not a lot of people know about them. Like I said I had never heard of street papers before this assignment and before this internship I had never heard of or seen a SpeakOut! journal floating around town. I don’t think getting people interested in the topic is a problem it is just the fact of people knowing about it.

Research post #1

I am just starting the research process up again. Since I narrowed my topic down to drug/ alcohol rehabilitation and getting a job after getting out of jail I have found it a lot easier to find information, before it was information overload from every rehab center across the country. Right now I am looking on Larimer County websites to see what programs they have in place right now. I am going to start looking at the most successful programs around the country and compare them to the programs we have in place now. So far I have not had any trouble finding information on the subject. I found a really good website from the Colorado Department of Human Services that has a detailed description of every program they have for inmates. Having specific topics helps me navigate the website a lot easier.

One thing I am worried about in the future is getting into the community corrections building and talking to one of the individuals that are going through the rehab programs themselves. I feel their opinion would really help me devise a plan or suggestions for change in Larimer County. I have a professor that knows people in community corrections so hopefully he will know someone who is willing to let me in there. I have not talked to him yet though. Another thing I am worried about is when I start to look for scholarly journals. Before I narrowed down my topics it was difficult to find relevant information on the subject. All of the articles were quite old. Also when I tried to narrow down my topic I could not find anything. I had to be very general and broad in my searches to find a good amount of articles. This could be a problem since my topic is so specific now.

There has also been a change in the CURC poster contest I entered for. I got an e mail today from the individual that is in charge of the contest and she informed me that our poster would also fit into the service learning poster competition as well. She said this one is a lot smaller so there would be a better chance of us winning something. So we may be entering our poster in the service learning poster competition and the research poster competition, not sure about that yet though. Overall the research is going good so far but we will see what the future brings.

“But I’m not a Therapist”

Jenny Horsman brought up a lot of issues that I had never thought of when it comes to women who are abused. The first one is with education. I never thought of the fact that women may be scared to not able to go to school because of the abuse that is going on in her life. It does make sense make sense though. Like the reading said he men may feel like they are no longer in the position of power when the woman is attempting to go get an education. An education could allow her to get a job that would make enough money so she could support herself.

Another point that Horsman brought up was we make abuse look like an uncommon or abnormal thing. This could make the women uncomfortable talking about the abuse and they may think they need fixing, when in reality is it the abuser that needs the fixing. People tend to have a hard time opening up and admitting things that are wrong with them, so that could prevent them from opening up and telling the whole story.

I do see trauma coming through in the writing of the men in the workshop. The trauma that I usually see either involves violence or getting a child taken away from them. I am always surprised what prompts bring up a certain memory in a person’s life. I try to make the prompts as happy as possible, since workshop is supposed to be a safe place, but it does still happen. I agree with what Horsman said that we should let the writers work at their own pace. If we force a certain prompt that the individual does not want to participate in it could be extremely hard on them. Unless they tell us why they do not want to write about a certain thing we have no idea the reasons for their actions. They could just be being stubborn or it could be something much more complex and emotional.

Bringing up the past can be an extremely hard thing to do and I feel it is not as fulfilling to bring it up when you are forced to. I do believe that facing the past and trauma can be very eye opening and comforting, but only if you do it on your time not someone else’s, especially when it is with a stranger. We come into the jail as complete strangers to the men, we need to gain their trust before they can start completely opening up. This may never happen and that is okay because I feel even if they did not say things out loud they still could have thought about it.

About my Project

I have come up with my idea for the research project and it is all set. Meg and I will be working together on a poster that we will present at the Undergraduate Office of Research and Artistry contest in the spring. The topic of the poster will be reentry programs but a big emphasis on the educational programs that are in place right now for inmates that are getting out of prison. We will look at different programs that have worked in the past and that are working now. I plan to also look at the programs that are in place right now in Colorado. If there is any room for improvement then I will use the research I have gathered to make suggestions that may change the success rates of the program. I know there are many good programs set in place in Colorado right now but the rate of re offenders is still high all over the country.

I also plan on writing a small reflection piece on what I want to get out of my career and set my goals for my future. Going into the law enforcement field can be tough. You see and hear many disturbing things that many people are not exposed to on a regular basis. Setting my goals and reminding myself of my morals ahead of time will help me get a head start into getting what I want out of this profession. Seeing all of these things can make it easy to stray away from the things that I really want.

This project relates very well to the internship I have been participating in over the last semester. I am working with inmates who will eventually be released into the public. Jail is not as sever as a punishment as prison, they serve a much shorter sentence, but the reentry process can still be extremely hard. The inmates will sometimes have to change his entire life to stay away from the temptations and the trouble that he/she has gotten into in the past. This could mean moving, finding new friends and possibly even cutting off family members that are a bad influence. There is also the need for employment and housing and this can be hard to find if you cut yourself off from all of your connections in the community. The individuals I am working with could soon be part of the unfortunate statistic and end up back in jail or go to prison.