Staying at the resort


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Recently I have had the ‘pleasure’ of teaching at our local juvenile detention center. Needless to say, this has been an eye-opening experience for me, having spent my life jail-free. It seems as if ideas to reform the current prison system are as numerous as belly buttons. Yet, over the last 50 years or so, from what I have learned, not much has changed in that system. In my brief time at the center, I have observed a few problems that could be easily, and I might add, inexpensively, remedied.
The most important, and the reason I call this ‘the resort,’ is the lack of responsibility expected of inmates. In many ways it reminds me of a five star hotel, where the visitor relaxes while the staff meets their every need and desire. For an inmate there is no concern about laundry, because it is done for them, or food preparation and clean up, which is done for them. Moreover money management, or any of the responsibilities that go with life in the real world are seen to by the guards? If you are an inmate, you need not concern yourself with medical or dental bills, because they are provided to them by the state. On the other hand, the employees who maintain the prison have the constant worry of paying medical bills and dealing with insurance companies. After spending one’s allotted time in the ‘big-house,’ one returns to the real world wondering why he/she has to do all these distasteful chores. As an inmate he has learned very few skills appropriate for surviving in the outside world. Paradoxically, prisons seem to do a good job at teaching folks all the things they should not do and then how to get away with it.
As a teacher in this facility, I find it difficult to get a grip on what is actually expected of me or my students. Most are attempting to obtain the General Education Degree (GED) by studying for and taking a series of tests in all the major areas of study. Some experts believe that obtaining the GED equates to a better education than many public school systems are providing. A smattering of students in the juvenile system are hoping to return to public school to complete their high school degree; in which case, we are attempting to teach them high school classes that they can earn credits in. The biggest problem we face in educating these students is the lack of motivation by students who had little motivation when they were not incarcerated and attending regular schools. The old adage that you can lead a horse to water but the horse decides when it will drink, is very appropriate in this situation. The difference between an adult and a juvenile facility is that attending school is a privilege for adult prisoners but not so for juvies who are forced to go to school. This is one of the problems with public schools today; classrooms are filled with students who are excited about learning, along with kids who would rather be any place in the world than in a classroom. Since we provide very few alternatives to our public school or juvenile delinquents, other than the traditional classroom, everybody is stuck in the classroom regardless of motivation.
I think that in addition to making juveniles more responsible for the everyday tasks associated with life, education should be a privilege and a place they go to because they choose to, not because they are forced to. The present generation has been labeled in several ways, two of which are: THE ENTITLED GENERATION and THE ME GENERATION. When we as a population think every thing centers on us, it results in a very self-absorbed people. Successful societies as well as the communities within, rely on people looking out for their fellow man. One of the things we tend not to teach our children very successfully is how to fail as well as to achieve. Telling little Johnny that he did a great job, knowing that he spent very little effort, is teaching him that achievement is something that comes easily! Achievement comes with a price and oftentimes it is a high price! Failing at something, without the social tools to deal with it may be one large reason so many people end up in jail.
Hillary Clinton, who has a good opportunity of being our first female president, said that it takes a community to raise a child. Truer words could not have been spoken. I was told by a friend last week that the American Indian never incarcerated their own people. As far as I know, this is true and if it is true, one wonders why we have almost 1% of our population behind bars. Our jails are filled because we as a community have failed! I think strong communities could reduce the load on our prison system!
Wikipedia provides these sobering statistics:
“The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world today. As of 2009, the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%).[2] In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world at 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000.[2]”
As I have said so many times before, I love this country as it has provided me a lifestyle and a standard of living as good as any place in the world, but our many problems run deep. We are a much troubled society spiraling downward, with consequences unknowable! Our government is floundering, our schools are failing its students, our prisons are over-loaded, our environment is in critical condition and many of us have no clue what is happening around us. The short solution to all these problems is a renewed since of community and a much-improved educational system and until we realize that, we are destined to become the next Rome before he fall.
Thank you for staying with us and be sure to come back and stay again.

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5 thoughts on “Staying at the resort

  1. “The short solution to all these problems is a renewed sense of community and a much-improved educational system and until we realize that, we are destined to become the next Rome before the fall.”

    Do you really believe we are not already there? On the brink of WAR last week, bad security at the Navy yard, companies dropping health care like flys, possible shutdown of Government in a couple of weeks while in a perpetual state of stimulation for five years. I do not call this the Me Generation but rather the ‘I’ Generation thanks to the Apple that fell off of the tree. Recall we were upstaged by Russia last week. Well it is time to visit Rome, see the Pope or just Pray?

  2. The Bible has the perfect solution. Deuteronomy Chap. 21 verses 20 & 21 ” And they shall say unto the elders of the city, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” ” And all the men in his city shall stone him with stone, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among us”. Now that was back in the day when real men came up with real solutions. How I pine for those good ole days.
    Jim

    1. Be careful Jim. You were pretty wild when you were young.
      I think there is also something in there about being the one to cast the first stone.

  3. Charlie that was a different guy, one less followed. The guys that lived 4,000 years ago had a real grip on reality. Wild, I was tame compared to the company I kept. I spent very little time in these kinds of resorts.
    Jim

  4. Oh yea, and by the way look what they did to that poor don’t throw stones guy. I guess he’ll keep his mouth shut the next time around, or he might get the same treatment.

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