Letter: Slaves to the prison system
Most people are under the mistaken belief that slavery was outlawed in the 1860s, but the 13th Amendment specifically allows such involuntary servitude “as punishment for crime.”
Our ironically named “corrections” system embraces enslavement – certainly not to the extent of an antebellum plantation, but the slave-master mentality is alive and well.
Inmates are universally seen as something less than human and almost always treated as such – as proverbial field hands, too stupid to think for themselves and too ignorant to learn.
Assigned to menial, labor-intensive tasks, the proverbial crack of the whip in the form of additional punishments looms large over the inmate who dares to object to his mistreatment.
Long forgotten is the notion that convicts are sent to prison as punishment not for punishment. Next to no effort is made to prepare inmates for a successful life post-servitude. Undeniably ironic is the state constitutional imprimatur that the “ultimate goal” of incarceration is to rehabilitate.
In reality, the system serves to debilitate far more often than not. Indeed, how is rehabilitation furthered by corrections’ incessant campaign to eliminate any sense of self-esteem in its captives? Despite every effort to convince me otherwise, I recognize that I am not who they would have me be. Yet, my frustration is kept in check by the realization.
Unfortunately, not all of my peers have my constitution. That is dangerous for society and should be more than enough reason to change current corrections philosophy. I’m waiting.