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Madison Shelburg

English 2010

March 20, 2017

Collin Hull

Our Broken System

America is referred to by many as the land of the free, despite the fact that, according to

the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, two-thirds (67.8%) of US inmates released from prison in a

sample of 30 states between 2005 and 2010 were arrested for a new prison-worthy crime within

3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years (BJS.gov). According to this

statistic, one could say that America is more like the land of the incarcerated rather than the land

of the free. These outrageous statistics lead many people to the conclusion that America is a

punishing society rather than a rehabilitating society and is dubbed unforgiving. Due to the

numbers of recidivism, it leads one to ask why so many of the incarcerated are repeating

offenders? It proves the point that there is not an effective means of rehabilitation in U.S. prison

facilities. Although there are rehabilitating programs in our current incarceration system, they are

statistically proven to be ineffective due to poor inmate treatment, lack of qualitative education

and extremely high recidivism rates.

Poor inmate treatment is one of the most widely known issues in prison. Abuse is an

issue that Terry Frieden, CNN for the justice department states a shocking statistic that nearly 1

in every 10 people who are incarcerated were sexually abused. Among all of the victims that

experience inmate-on-inmate sexual violence, a quarter said they had been physically held down

or restrained, and a quarter had been physically harmed or injured. About 29% of the victims
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reported bruises, black eyes, sprains, cuts and scratches, whilst 23% reported more serious

injuries, including stab wounds, internal injuries, and broken bones. (CNN.com) According to

the Huffington Post, just two years ago a correctional officer at a womens prison in Newport,

Arkansas, was charged with 50 counts of sexual assault involving three inmates. Authorities

allege that Kenneth Dewitt, 67, forced three female inmates at McPherson Unit into oral sex and

intercourse on a regular basis, and told them that no one would believe them if they reported the

abuse to officials. This is a clear and explicit example of issues that are going on today. This

evidence leads us to believe that our current incarceration system is not functioning correctly.

History tends to repeat itself when it comes to authority figures abusing their power. This

is an extremely prevalent problem when it comes to correctional officers. As highlighted in the

famous Stanford Prison Experiment, during the year of 1971 in Palo Alto, California. The

experiment started with a psychology professor, Philip Zimbardo, randomly selecting a group of

Zimbardo, Philip. Stanford Prison Experiment. At News, Zimbardo, Philip,Sarah Brunskill,

and Anthony Ferreras.

young men and splitting them into two groups of prisoners and guards. They were told they were

not allowed to physically harm the group selected as prisoners but told that none of the actions
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they participated in would result in consequences. After the fifth day they started to fit their roles

and the guards began to be abusive and arbitrary to the inmates. After so much hostility and

abuse certain inmates had to seek counseling and treatment and were unable to complete the

experiment. Although the experiment took place years ago, we continue to see the abuse in

prisons time and time again. Guards are given too much power and there are no checks and

balances to make sure inmates arent being abused. Just recently according to the New York

Post, Four corrections officers at a womens prison in New Jersey have been indicted for

sexually abusing inmates, violating the complete power they had over the women, authorities

said. This is a clear example of how several inmates were suffering and werent protected by the

people who are supposed to be protecting them. The balance of power is negatively skewed in

the prison system.

Another reason why prisons prove to be ineffective rehabilitative facilities is the lack of

quality education available to prisoners. The opportunity to get a G.E.D. is rare, only a few

prison facilities grant prisoners the opportunity to get a college degree and even fewer teach

trade school skills (ie. Construction work, carpentry, etc.). Following education, another issue

that needs to be solved is the therapeutic groups and counseling available to prisoners. According

to Jrank, while there are substance abuse programs and several religious programs, there are

several problems that hinder the efforts greatly including: the existence of programs vary

depending on the state, and as a result are unsuccessful in reaching specific needs of certain

offenders. The availability of places in treatment programs does not always match the supply,

and the quality of the programs vary drastically. Lastly the programs may not be based on

scientific criminological knowledge which is much like a doctor giving a patient medicine for the
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wrong disease. We can use the example of someone who has been sexually assaulted by another

person and only having the option to utilize the substance abuse treatment. That treatment is

ineffective for this type of inmate and therefore is pointless. This creates the problem of throwing

them away and giving them a time out to think about what theyve done. After serving their

sentence, this inmate then goes back out into society without having learned how to cope or

without critical thinking skills that help them think through decisions, and so they repeat the

same offense. This cycle continues because the offender hasnt learned anything. As humans we

are programmed a certain way from the time we are young and learn different behaviors that

cause us to have distinct beliefs. If we want change, we must strive to find the root of the

problem and focus on the healing and rehabilitating rather than the punishing.

To effectively rehabilitate inmates in our society, we must start by finding the root of the

problem; the specific incident that caused the inmate to acquire bad behavior, then teach them

how to heal and reprogram their brain to think critically about their decisions, how to cope in

everyday life, and provide them with the necessary skills and tools that they need to be happy

and healthy contributing members to society. To initiate the healing process, Jennifer Suliafu, a

life coach to people of all backgrounds, teaches a 6 month program that focuses on different

levels of healing called Love Lighthouse. Love Lighthouse focuses on mindfulness and

connecting to your higher self. She dives deep within each individual and uses a series of

meditations and powerful affirmation tools to teach her students to retrain their thoughts. Jennifer

teaches the idea that from the time we are born we are perfect individuals, or a white and clean

canvas. Throughout our lives we experience trauma, pain, bullying and injustice that paints this

canvas many dark colors. The program is titled Total transformation and begins by talking
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about anything and everything in your life that has caused you grief. During this first month of

life-coaching sessions, you release any of the dark paint being painted over from your canvas.

For the duration of the 6 month program she teaches: positive manifesting techniques, the power

of meditation, the importance of self-love, and the true meaning and impact of your life purpose

on the world. She focuses on the principle that the influences you choose to surround yourself

with become who you are. Imagine if Jennifer Suliafu were able to provide life coaching to

prisoners, and the impact she could have on their lives. This type of therapy is applicable to any

inmate circumstance. Rather than paying for multiple substance abuse programs this would be an

effective solution to end negative behavior and instill self love and confidence into inmates so

they can become productive members of society. A counter argument to this solution of prison

rehabilitation would be that there will be always be skeptics who are not willing to try

rehabilitation. We have to recognize the problem that while there are people who want to change,

there are still those who are set in a self-destructive mindset.

One of the best ways to help prisoners truly rehabilitate is through alternative spiritual

practices like mindfulness meditation. Brett Moran had a background of many who are

incarcerated. He was a man who sold and did many drugs and was eventually locked up in

prison. After realizing he hit bottom he found a book titled, Moment by Moment: the Practice of

Mindfulness with just a book and a few instructions of meditation and mindfulness for the law

of attraction, it helped him to realize he didnt want that life, and that those crimes did not define

him. Imagine how many for people, mindfulness meditation, and understanding the power of the

law of attraction could postively affect and impact their lives. The law of attraction is a simple

concept to grasp that has helped millions of people change their life. Along with teaching those
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principles, a group meditation would provide prisons with unity, and prisoners could share that

type of experience and and reduce inmate on inmate abuse significantly. An additional advantage

of meditating and the law of attraction is, that it doesnt apply to a certain type of religion or

group. Its something that could reach, change and impact every inmate in some way or another.

The issue with this would be getting prisoners to be open to the idea, and motivating them to put

in the effort to change. If their hearts werent open they wouldnt grow in any way, but merely

become more frustrated and rebellious against the system. But little by little, the impact would

reach one, and begin changing his/her life and spread like wildfire to the other prisoners.

Alabama Dept. of Corrections, mindfulness meditation class.

In conclusion, when you plant a seed of hope and you allow someones mind to believe

in themselves you create a capacity to heal, learn and grow. This is crucial to changing

negatively learned behavior and ending the cycle of crime. Our prison system is broken and is

desperately screaming for reform and change. The recidivism rates and lack of life skills and

education that prisoners are stuck with, is proof that something needs to be done. If we changed

the punish then rehabilitate program to something much more forgiving and beneficial, it would

greatly benefit our society in a major way. As a society if we taught prisoners the power of
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meditation, manifesting, and attracting positive life changes the recidivism rates would most

likely drop significantly. Although there are rehabilitating programs in our current incarceration

system, they are statistically proven to be ineffective due to recidivism rates, lack of education,

and inmate treatment. If we want change we must: find the root of the problem, begin the healing

process, teach the principles of mindfulness meditation, self-love, the law of attraction, and

manifesting a positive life. We must focus on facilitating an environment that helps people return

to society as productive members, rather than punish them for making the wrong choices.
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Works Cited

Schoenfeld, Heather. "Five things everyone should know about US incarceration." Al Jazeera

English. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.


Frieden, Terry. "Study Finds Nearly 1 in 10 State Prisoners Is Sexually Abused While

Incarcerated." CNN. Cable News Network, 17 May 2012. Web. 24 Mar.


"Home." Stanford Prison Experiment. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017. http://www.prisonexp.org

Admin. "AmericaTurk News." AmericaTurk News. N.p., 19 Aug. 2016. Web. 24


"My Story...by Brett Moran." The Law Of Attraction. N.p., 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 07 May 2017.


Jeltsen, Melissa. "Former Prison Chaplain Charged With Sexually Assaulting Female Inmates."

The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 May 2017.


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Suliafu, Jennifer. "Testimonials." Love Light House. Love Lighthouse, Jan. 2017. Web. 07 May

2017. http://www.lovelighthouse.com