December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Prison is also a spiritual condition. And, I am concerned that all the well-meaning movements to change legislation and expose conditions don’t emphasize this nearly enough.
It is easy to communicate what we can “see.” The walls, the bars, the frisk, the food, the bedding, the garb, the CO’s, the laws. It is not nearly as easy to translate the everlasting feelings one is left with after having their freedom and identity severed.
I’m thankful there are people who care and want to change the prison industrial complex. But, these things still focus so squarely on lengthy articles/essays and qualitative/quantitative research to inform. Not only does this continue the disspatialized understanding society already has on so may crucial subjects, but it disregards the individual spirit that has been incarcerated and left to wonder if they ever really existed.
I have to do a lot of reading in my research for this project, and the element I see most frequently in my readings are numbers and quotes supporting or countering one methodology, theory or whatnot. The individuals providing the information are lost in the data sets as are the readers. Those inside are quoted and their voices edited to fit the purpose of the essay, the book, or the point being made.
Prisoners are not data. The internal prison condition cannot be understood when edited or categorized.
What is lacking horribly, probably because it takes more time than most want to invest, is turning up the volume of that inner voice. We talk about education, re-entry, recidivism and living conditions, but we rarely acknowledge the one thing that affects all of these others. The spirit of the people they apply to.
With that said, my project has taken a formidable turn. The name will change and my goal will change. The blog will change. It’s all taking shape now, with help from some very experienced individuals.
I introduce the first of many first-hand voices of value:
- From Corrections to College: The Value of a Convict’s Voice by Leyva, Martin and Christopher Bickel (2010); Western Criminology Review 11(1):50-60.
Abstract: The rise in mass incarceration has been accompanied by an abandonment of first-hand, in-depth accounts of crime and incarceration. Too few criminologists have stepped foot inside a prison, let alone served time within its walls. Situated within a growing movement of convict criminology, this article provides a first-hand account of the abuse convicts often experience in the home, the streets, and later in prison. Breaking from the traditional scholarly format, this autobiographical article not only highlights the importance of a convict’s voice, but also calls on criminologists to move beyond official data sources and crime reports to a more in-depth exploration of complex lives of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.
December 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
You will find that the plight of many, such as me, are not looked upon with great empathy. You remeber me telling you about my brother-in-law—he is very connected in the Washington arena—and he has been very frank—“Joe six-pack” does not give a damn about us—and he will not give a damn until he realizes that this is costing him—out of pocket–long-term, as most leave prison broke and without any resources—one reason what I wrote you about is such an important deal–as it can be used to bring forth to the public—the needs and what can be accomplished.
I should be medically cleared to go back to a level 2 within a week or so—then I am hoping to get back to the camp soon. Let me know when you get the letter—please be
careful as to responses–as I do not want anyone to get the wrong idea.
Let me know–love, M
December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
The existence of InsideTime made me believe that this project could really happen and Mr. Roberts has been a great support. Honestly, I was surprised when he answered that first email to him – it was so long and disjointed. Excitement can do that to a message. But…he listened and pledged his support with guidance and information. I cannot ask for anything more!
They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary of providing invaluable information to the prison community and to others. I can’t wait for NPJP to be in the same position.
A foreshadow of what’s to come….
December 2, 2010 § Leave a comment
National Prison Journal Project (NPJP) was born December 1, 2010, in the pages of the yellow and black marbled composition book I now carry with me everywhere. That was the first day all of my mental traffic converged into a single, comprehensible, achievable idea.
On December 2, 2010, I entered the blogosphere without the hesitation I held for quite a while. Why? Because I had a reason, other than my own musings, to do it.
That same day I took action. Perhaps the hardest part of anything. Going from the walk of thought, to the jog of writing, to beginning the marathon of action and realizing a goal.
So here we are. NPJP and myself.
Currently, we are two separate entities.