Ironies

Judge Dennis A. Challeen, who has been on the faculty at the National Judicial College for the past 30 years, and was one of the first judges in the US to promote alternatives to incarceration, wrote these observations about the culture and practices in our prison system:

Prisoners

We want them to have self-worth . . . So we destroy their self-worth.

We want them to be responsible . . . So we take away all responsibilities.

We want them to be part of our community . . . So we isolate them from our community.

We want them to be positive and constructive . . . So we degrade them and make them useless.

We want them to be trustworthy . . . So we put them where there is no trust.

We want them to be nonviolent . . . So we put them where there is violence all around them.

We want them to be kind and loving people . . . So we subject them to hatred and cruelty.

We want them to quit being the tough guy . . . So we put them where the tough guy is respected.

We want them to quit hanging around losers . . . So we put all the losers in the state under one roof.

We want them to quit exploiting us . . . So we put them where they exploit each other.

We want them to take control of their lives, own their problems and quit being a parasite . . . So we make them totally dependent on us.

(from Making it right: A common sense approach to criminal justice by Dennis A. Challeen, Melius & Peterson Publishing Corp, 1986, pp. 37-39.)

Judge Challeen made these observations in 1986….has anything changed in the last 20 years?

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: criminal justice

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