Doing Time on the Outside by Donald Braman

December 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

For the Family section of the journal I have contacted Prof. Donald Braman of George Washington University Law School.  His book Doing Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Family Life in Urban America will hopefully be a starting point for the type of stories for the Family section.  (I’m trying to think of another name.)

As with Prof. Henry Jenkins, I have asked for permission to reprint/excerpt his book and other writings.  These requests surround the draft copy I am pulling together along with the first edition, after which a tremendous response is expected and an equally tremendous amount of material. I anticipate the “outside” audience to be a little slower in coming to the fold, which is why these ubiquitous accounts, already in print, are so valuable.

From Amazon.com: 

In the tradition of the best-selling ethnographies No Shame in My Game by Katherine Newman and Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier, Doing Time on the Outside tells the other side of the incarceration saga: the little-told story of the effects of imprisonment on the families of the prisoners.
Since 1970 the incarceration rate in the U.S. has more than tripled, and in many cities — urban centers such as Washington, D.C. — it has increased over five-fold. Today, one out of every ten adult black men in the District is in prison. This has caused a deep rupture in the lives of the prisoners and their families.
Author Donald Braman shows that doing time on the inside has a ripple effect on the outside — one that reaches far beyond the individual prisoner and deep into the family itself. Braman offers wrenching personal stories of the ordeals families face when one of their members is imprisoned. Citing major examples such as lost income and delayed parenting opportunities, he also uncovers seemingly innocuous details that nevertheless have a cumulatively adverse effect; for example, the onerously large phone bills that often result when a family member goes to prison.
This ground-breaking ethnography of modern urban America reveals a genuinely new argument: how misguided the commonly accepted ideas about supposed pride in prison time really are. Moreover, Braman brings to light the darker side of a system that is failing not only its criminals, but their families, too. Finally, the author argues that prisoners themselves must take more responsibility for their lives, as well as for their families.

“M” – Message from the Inside #1

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I received this message today from a dear friend of mine.  We will be working on project for the women who leave our prison system to have employment.  Although the National Prison Journal Project is for all prisoners, we cannot underestimate the need of more specific initiatives respecting the different needs of men and women behind bars.

My dear, 

I am here due to a medical issue—I have been at the Camp in Lexington—you will have a good laugh when I tell you why I left Danbury.  Ms. R nearly lost her baby—as we were exposed to truly lethal doses of toxic mold—I was taken to NY, then here.   I have about 36 months until I am out—I want to have much in place before that—so I will advise you as to the persons working on the project and what can be done.  You will not mind if I were to “pimp” you out—we can truly do some real good for these women—trust me it is worse than you can believe.

I will try to write you soon–and will e-mail—-I am weak –had surgery – got a horrible infection, re-operated on two weeks later—left with open wound from my belly-button to my crotch–.  Been on antibiotic drips—etc. and lots of medicine–am healing and truly being given good care.  Okay–lots more to tell you—take care.
Love,  M

Restorative Justice

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Restorative Justice contains some of the ideas NPJP embraces.  RJ is also something that is ripe to be introduced after punitive justice has been employed – since punitive justice is not going anywhere anytime soon.   A brief breakdown  of RJ to be discussed later.

Punitive Justice asks the questions:

1) Who did it?

2) What laws were broken?

3) What punishment should be given?

 

Restorative justice, on the other hand, asks:

1) Who was affected?

2) What needs to be done to make things right?

3) What do we need to set up so that this doesn’t happen again?

Section: Reconciliation

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

A section where victims could have a voice was always part of the vision.  This section will be call Reconciliation and it will feature letters, poems, essay and other writings from victims.

The opportunity to name the offender will be explored.  I’m sure there are legalities.  Maybe equally as important is that offenders HEAR stories from victims.   Accountability is a great soil for responsibility and change to grow in.

Shall the section have a static byline or a changing one?  Both?  One can be ever present, always explaining the value of the reconciliation section and another can be featured and changed per issue to be pondered and applied by readers.  I like the latter. You?

When reading over the information on VORP (Victim Offender Reconciliation Program), my main thoughts surround how these ideas can be converted into print and maybe even better served in some ways.  BTW, save the religious aspect, this program is a phenomenal idea.

Topic for another post:  the rampant presence of religious assistance in the penal system – narcissistic or beneficial.

The RECONCILIATION Section – Some Brainstorming

RECONCILIATION  in print form provides the opportunity to:

  • The participatory acts of reading and writing are completely consensual and voluntary expressions that can be revisited and completed in whatever time necessary.
  • Ask questions which may have arisen out of the offense AND receive a response from a wide variety of offenders involved in the same or similar activity.
  • Express feelings and opinions about the offense directly to the offender AND many other offenders – providing them with constructive, restorative information.
  • Take responsibility for actions and involvement in the offense AND express sentiments that were not fully disclosed during judicial process or that have come about during incarceration.
  • Move on to a better emotional state after the offense by restoring both victim and offender dignity.

THANK YOU – insidetime newspaper!

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have been lax in thanking Mr. John Roberts – Operations Director at InsideTime the National Newspaper for Prisoners in the United Kingdom.

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….

InsideTime November 2010

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the The Research – The Heart category at My National Prison Journal Project.

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