Tuesday, May 08, 2012


A new federal study by the Department of Justice on reentry of prisoners into society concludes that those in jail are adversely affected by the crimes and violent acts they observe while incarcerated. The constant witnessing of crime combined with  being the victim of countless random crimes such as thefts, batteries, assaults, sexual attacks and other violent acts greatly increases the chance of failure when a prisoner is released into society.
Further, the more brutal the conditions of the prison the more likely it is that a released person won't find successful employment, will fail in the conditions of probation nor even be successful in finding reunion with family and friends, not to mention any Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys.
When the prison system doesn't rehabilitate but actually increases the chances of further antisocial behavior because of the violence found there, what can be done? The prison system's first goal must be  to rehabilitate prisoners. This study concludes that rehabilitation will not occur unless the prisoners are given a crime-free environment while serving their time in Pinellas and Tampa Bay jails. Instead our local prisons such as the Pinellas Jail are overcrowded and understaffed, resulting in the prisoners being treated as animals rather than future citizens who could contribute to our society. It's a waste that must be addressed.

Clearly, this study should be used by attorneys at sentencing for nonviolent crimes to argue that the more time a defendant has served in prison the more likely it is that antisocial behavior was caused by the prison sentence served and that further time in prison will only make the person more antisocial, at least that's what your favorite Pinellas Criminal Defense Lawyer will argue in mitigation of a sentence.

From page 100 of the prison study: We know from previous research that individuals who experience coercive events are likely to act out in anger and subsequently criminal behavior. The fear is that these individuals will be caught in a cycle of chronic offending. Colvin notes that the “individual is not merely a passive recipient of coercive forces, in both the background and foreground, the individual is active (although usually unwittingly) participant in the creation of coercive forces that reinforce his or her social-psychological deficits that compel and motivate behavior” (2000, p. 138). 
Our research shows that individuals who indicate that they have witnessed or directly experienced victimization and perceived the environment was hostile and threatening were more likely to fail on all of the outcome measures included in the study. This finding held even while controlling for other important re-entry variables, namely age, prior record, employment, and treatment in the community. The findings validate what others have suggested, that we need a cultural shift in our prison system.
(Bird Cage by Suzuki Harunobu)