Letter to the Editor

Rehabilitate inmates

San Luis ObispoNovember 15, 2013 

In the Perspective section of the Nov. 9 Tribune, the article states, “Under German law, the primary goal of prisons is ‘to enable prisoners to live a life of social responsibility free of crime upon release.’ ”

I have worked to make this happen with inmates in three different states. The model I use is to always treat the prisoner/inmate with respect and to always focus on the positive core, which is the heart area. I, and many others, believe that everyone has a positive core. I also use positive reinforcement to help build the inmate’s positive sense of self. In my experience, the No. 1 barrier to successful rehabilitation is how the criminal justice staff members treat inmates.

In one of the state prisons, I developed a discharge planning program. Various correctional officers would ask me why I was trying to help these people, because they are only going to return to prison anyway. I have consistently found this to be a criminal justice staff attitude. This attitude must change, or we will continue operating a dysfunctional system.

I believe the attitude should be that 100 percent of inmates can be successfully rehabilitated. If some choose not to, it isn’t because the system didn’t try.

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