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Who Cares?

There are many systems or institutions in our modern society that are bound by policy and governed by laws. The corrections departments, parole systems, and even court systems work in similar formats. The problem with these systems is that the people that hold positions within them get complacent and have very little accountability. The jobs become a place where they watch the clock or waste time doing personal things while on the job. Today I'm going to give two examples of this and try to explain these positions and how they are damaging society.

The first example is the grievance system within prisons. The grievance system is put into place for prisoners to file complaints and possibly get relief. It is usually a very procedural process riddled with deadlines and wording tricks added

to favor the department of corrections. This is already a problem because the education level of most prisoners does not meet necessary comprehension to complete this task. There are multiple steps to the process that must be met by a deadline. Prisoners in lockup or stigmatized dorms are even more disadvantaged because they are unable to get the necessary forms to the proper place on time.

Let's say that you have studied the grievance policy and understand all of the terms therein. You meet all of your deadlines and jump through all of the procedural hurdles. You have policy to show where the thing you are grieving is wrong. Most of the time you will get a rubber stamp answer that the "warden" has answered your grievance. What actually happens is the grievance coordinator who is supposed to be helping the prisoner does the investigation and answers the grievance. Then the warden signs off on it, many times without reading it at all.

The length of time that passes while you are waiting for your grievance to be denied allows enough time for the issue to no longer be relevant. When you know that the system is set up to discourage you from writing grievances, it starts to be a pointless task. But if no one cares it doesn't matter. The grievance coordinator covers the wardens ass and that guarantees their position.

The grievance will then go to the second step on a departmental instead of institutional level. Once again the same process takes place and the rubber stamp is applied. Most grievances are denied at the second step further discouraging you from future grievances.

This rubber stamp response and positional back scratching happens in most systems within correctional facilities. The second example I would like to present is the parole hearing process. Sentences were handed out before the 90s that were called 10 to life or 20 to life, meaning that once you serve 10 or 20 years you will be eligible for parole. There are men who have a 10 to life sentence that have served over 40 years.

The parole process happens annually or every two years. These men or women are called by the parole examiner for the prisoner to hand over their paperwork. There is no real instructions as to what this paperwork consists of. Prisoners turn in certificates, home addresses, and whatever else they think may help them out in hopes that they will find relief.

Seems like the parole examiner would take a more proactive approach, but I'm sure that most parole examiners do not know the people that prisoners work for in the institution, the officer over their dorms, or the people they live around. In fact, policy has been misconstrued to discourage staff members from writing reports in support of their release. Who better would know a man's character than those that see them daily. As with most policy it seems only to be used to work against the prisoner and never in their favor.

The parole process is very short. The parole board determines the prisoner’s fate in a matter of minutes. Most parole hearings take less than 20 minutes. Then the prisoner is destined to wait for another year or two on his next 15-20 minute hearing. A majority of the denials that happen year after year are based on the nature of the crime. It does not matter how many years pass this will never change. People cannot go back in time and change the nature of their crimes. They can change their lives in many ways, through their jobs, classes, education, religious experiences, etc. None of this seems to matter after many years of hearings.

The question of who cares? Is what comes to mind. If no one cares, this continues to happen. If no one cares to make sure that the millions of dollars spent on corrections are utilized in the correct manner, they continue to be squandered away on frivolous endeavors or tucked away never to be seen by a prisoner’s need. The prisoners are not the only ones getting the short end of the stick. You dear reader are footing the bill for men and women to sit in rubber stamp positions while the department cries short of staff.

So what are the solutions? What can you do? You can start caring where 100s of millions of dollars are going and if they are being utilized correctly. You can start reaching out to the correctional department in your state and see for yourself how secretive and unprofessional the institutions are. Ask the news stations to investigate. Ask colleges to do studies. Start asking questions! Be the person who cares. We need thousands of people who care. Most correctional facilities are short of staff, apply for a job.

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