There seems to be a common liberal idea that us prisoners are “victims” of our environments, that people commit crimes because they were placed in situations where it was their only option. With all due respect to these people, who are often genuine individuals trying to do good work, I think this is dangerously naive. There is no doubt that some of the causes of crime are traced back to one’s upbringing, poverty, parental influences, etc. But it isn’t that simple, as many people who have rough childhoods do NOT go on to become felons. From my own experience, and from what I’ve seen with most prisoners, we acted the way we did because it was FUN. It was better to be lazy and play video games and party get stoned and chase girls around. It was great. Much easier that working some “lame” job in front of a cash register. The irresponsible, selfish criminal mindset has a lot of appeal, period.
So I think to deny the role of personal responsibility in this, to treat us like victims (when the truth is that we MADE victims), is wrong-headed. If your childhood environment was terrible, you are much more likely to commit a crime, and we (as society) should do what we can to fix these environments. But we (as individual prisoners) also have to take responsibility for our decisions and admit the FACT that we did these things. Ourselves. No real change is possible until that first step can be taken.
Categories: Daniel Turner