Does Human Dignity Exist in Prisons?
Lately, more and more people have been opting to retreat permanently into meditation and solitude to run away from frightening and horrific things that are going on in today’s world. As a way to seek guidance. Such kind of simplicity and solitude is said to assist deepen and strengthen the inner person. In an era in which information technology has made it almost impossible to escape the noisy world of work and play such kind of isolation seems impossible.
Nevertheless, those who manage to make such a choice, the impossibility becomes a reality. Such individuals spent a set time in contemplation and prayer and also do some work to cater for their basic needs. Most significantly, however, is the fact that the limitation is voluntarily imposed by the individual upon himself.
Self Isolation Vs. Forced Isolation
On the other hand, some are forcefully sent to isolation. This includes individuals who have not only broken the criminal law but have also the social rules of conduct, and are consequently deprived of their liberty while in retribution. Indeed, how would you define a prison? Simply, prisons are just buildings in which one group of people is denied freedom and liberty by another group of people. People are taken to prison as punishment for crimes they have committed.
The assumption is that locking deviant individuals acts as a deterrence to reduce or prevent the reoccurrence of such crimes. However, research has been revealing contradicting facts. For instance, recent data shows the likelihood of recidivism to stand at 70 % within the first two years after release from prison. Furthermore, there is a growing number of people who have been convicted of crimes they did not actually commit, because the private prison industry has become incentivized, so more are locked up.
Henceforth, this indicates that prisons are not rehabilitative institutions as they are thought to be. Instead, prisons are just like crime schools where young offenders learn most of their criminal vices. Most prisoners are serving sentences for minor offenses such as road traffic offenses and drug peddling. The population of prisoners jailed for violent crimes is significantly low.
Nevertheless, all the prisoners are housed in one roof regardless of the severity of the crime that one committed. As such, all the prisoners are subjected to similar conditions and are governed by the same regime. Is this not a suicidal approach, one that allows petty criminals to learn to become hardcore criminals? Indeed, people have the right to live in a safe environment where they can lead their lives without fear.
Hence, detention and imprisonment may be necessary to keep the society safe. Nevertheless, the criminal justice system must focus on understanding the psychology of the criminal mind to determine what attaches them to deviant tendencies. Mostly, criminal offenses are associated with working-class circles. The reason for the association is not because more crimes are committed in the working class are but because the profile individuals dwelling in such areas better matches with the societal notion of what criminal tendency entails. White collar crimes hardly ever reach prison, and are rarely publicized. Indeed, what extent is our current criminal justice as it is constituted responsible for keeping alive the circumstances that leads an individual to crime?
Poverty Leads To Crime – Crime Leads To Prison
Indeed, society needs to change its attitude towards people living in poverty if it intends to ensure that the criminal justice system is equitable and we must go beyond the crime to the person if the systems sincerely intend to rehabilitate and reform the criminal. Is it possible for punishment to inculcate a remorse attitude in an offender while it is not part of a holistic healing process? There are stories of prisoners who go to the extent of killing themselves, even under very close observations. The criminal justice system, as the custodial guardian to the prisoners, is responsible for the sustenance and support of imprisoned persons. It is doubtless that the life people experience behind bars is indeed brutal. Most people, especially the crime victims, hope that this is the situation.
Still, there are countless examples of prison guards abusing, berating, belittling and harming prison inmates. Even with children under the age of 18, in the case of Kalief Browder, for example.
Although crime requires action, the systems mandated by the society to enforce corrective measures should allow their humanity to be overridden by duty. The prisoners, just like the victims, have rights that should be observed. Some climatologists argue that such an approach would be too soft and argue the traditional harsh approach. Nevertheless, there is still no such thing as a good prison, a prison that returns healthy whole individuals to society. Besides, how can one know that there are prisons worse than others without attempting to bring changes in the system? Most prisons all over the world have been rethinking their rehabilitative strategies by putting into consideration recent scientific findings regarding criminal behavior. Some prisons have been learning much more from lessons of those who prefer isolation just like people in the outside world are increasingly turning into meditation for space and silence.
Meditation Brings Awareness – Which Brings Change
A number of offenders in prisons are been given an opportunity for supervised meditation while in solitary confinement. This method has proved to be effective in rehabilitating offenders. For instance, in the UK where this has been introduced in about 70 prisons where even hardened criminals have begun weighing the burdens of their crimes over the value of their lives. Most people would likely be skeptical of the notion of including meditation in rehabilitation routines in prisons. However, this approach has shown similar benefits to alcoholics where they are eventually able to acknowledge there exists powers higher than themselves.
Meditation sessions in prisons are provided with the belief that every individual can open himself to the divide and become free even while in jail. Skeptics may still claim that spirituality and criminality can not go hand in hand, further arguing towards the need for severe measures against criminal offenders. In reality, something like meditation is a rehabilitation program. Do you want more criminal offenders in society? Do you want more violence and danger? Or do you want the prison systems to actually work. The point of meditation in prisons is to create personal reflection and personal self awareness. This leads to awareness of behavior and choices, which leads to concrete change.
Nevertheless, this should not dampen the spirit of those who think otherwise. As such, some individuals have been working quietly seeking an alternative approach to long-established methods of incarceration. To make this possible, there is an urgent need that more resources are availed, be it spiritual, physical, material, or emotional.
The working and training and working conditions of prisoner also needs to be evaluated to ensure it always satisfactory. Furthermore, the role of media in reporting crimes needs to be looked into to ensure media reports are always free from bias. Finally, research is highly recommended to evaluate the effects of political and economic trends and the response towards criminal vices in the society.
Does Human Dignity Exist in Prisons?
Prisoners that are incarcerated are told when to eat, when to sleep, when to be locked up in a cage, when they get time in a chained off yard. Their entire lives are regimented and designated for them. They have no say, no freedom, and no liberty. Could we give them more dignity and respect? In doing so do you think that their mentality towards authority, society and the public may change? What if we focused more on healing and rejuvenation, and giving prisoners their dignity and respect?
In conclusion, indeed, the state of prisons in our country is pathetic. With the old order breaking fast, its time to experiment on new rehabilitative strategies that are centered on the psychological needs of the offenders. Most importantly, it should be noted that prisoners are also human beings and regardless of the offense they committed they also need to be treated with dignity, at the very least.