Being in prison has made me question the whole idea of rehabilitation. And why it may or may not work? I know guys that have went home and they are doing well as law abiding citizens, however, I know a lot more guys that have come back or lost their lives. And this has nothing to do with race, although I think from a rehabilitation stand point whites have a greater advantage if they apply themselves. Obviously we know that “re”, means to do again or anew. And “habilitate” means to fit or equip for operation or to impart an ability or capacity to. Armed with that knowledge I finally understand why rehabilitation works for some and not the others. Most of the guys in prison come from the street life, single parent homes, and never even made it to the eighth or ninth grade. On top of that, they come from broken or dysfunctional homes. And that’s why all this programming,reentry, educational, and trade certificate stuff don’t make any sense, to them. Because they were never habilitated in the beginning. Well they were habilitated for survival and destruction. And that’s all I see around here. Whereas, Rehabilitation makes perfect sense to me, being that I completed school, went to college, and was raised to excelled. We were rewarded for education and making good grade, so I saw prison as an opportunity to figure out where I went wrong, and get myself back on track. So I fit right in with the programming, educational pursuits, and trades. I’m like, all this time is perfect to work on my character, and build my career. However, the more I grew, I realized what Obama said, No Child Left Behind. So I started to get involved in tutoring G.E.D. classes. It was then I realized these guys are highly intelligent, they just don’t have the interest or can’t make the connection between getting a G.E.D. or high school diploma(depending on how many credits) and their reality. Which for most of them was back to the streets. So I decided to use my spare time to create a program that would help to create an awareness and empower them in the process. I came up with the R.E.A.L. M.E.N. Workshop. I sat down with some of the greatest minds in the joint at that time and gathered feedback and ideas for the details. I used the classroom to throw several topics on the floor, since most of them weren’t trying to get their G.E.D. anyway. Of course, the one’s that were I helped them get theirs, in fact we had the highest G.E.D. completion rates among all the prisons in Ohio. So for those that wanted it, they got it! Needless to say, the workshop was a major success, I ran it for several years, and it was always full to capacity. I even took it to my next penitentiary. But my point is re-habilitation is only as good as habilitation. Now when it came to most of the white guys I noticed a distinction, a lot of them were not really signing up for the workshop. Upon further investigation I came to the reality that many thought and perceived that they were already man and no black man could ever teach them that. I found this slightly condescending giving the fact that the acronyms stood for, Recognize Empower And Let’s Manifest Excellence Now. Nonetheless, it brought me to another realization, that most whites are habilitated prior to prison, in some type of way. They either had trade skills, or higher levels of education. So they were able to see the benefit in having so much uninterrupted time on our hands. But why are they here? I thought. Obviously they had committed a crime, but why? When they have the skills for better paying jobs, and America caters to white privilege. After a while I just became bummed on the question. I will say this, another thing that gets in the way of rehabilitation is addiction. And the vast majority of these guys are addicted to some form of drug or another. I know you may be saying well prison should help them with that, but there’s more drugs in some of these prisons than in your local neighborhoods. No joking. And that was one of the most difficult things about helping guys get there G.E.D. On top of this, you have some teachers that are just as lazy as the students. So they rely totally on the tutors. For the most part, the department does a wonderful job at getting information, programming, resources and education to the prisons here in Ohio. However, it becomes futile when it is taught, or disseminated throughout the system. Because most of the staff are swamp with other duties, on top of having to teach these curriculums. So they’re going to half ass something and its usually the programs or resources. On top of this, the whole habilitation factor I just spoke of, which truthfully is not the responsibility of the department. It’s not this systems job to teach you the fundamentals of manhood. It’s not their job to teach you how to function in society. Or to tell you that the streets is just a sub culture of a bigger society. That’s not there job. There job is to improve on the skills and education you should already have developed at home with your parents or in school with the teacher. So there’s really no blame there. I’m just merely shedding light on the whole rehabilitation thing. And that’s why a lot of these guys come out worse. Because the rehabilitation that makes sense to them is reading street fiction and hood novels. Then getting out and applying bullshit they read. Which it may not be all b.s. given the fact that it applies to the streets. Their conversations are mostly evil or plots to do evil. And their programming is Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and any other day time show that can fill their mind with lustful images of women. Now that I think about it maybe they are being rehabilitated, all they have to work with is what’s already in them. They’re not open to anything else that doesn’t make sense or feed there reality. Which is how they were brought up, to W.I.N.(What’s Important Now)
Robert A. Smith Jr
Categories: rehabilitation, Robert Smith Jr.
Well stated and very true. Thank you for this.