Mission

This website was started by prisoners, for prisoners, their families, and for society. The objective of the site is to heal rifts in the community caused by sometimes unfair laws, and by the lack of honest communication not only about the prisoner and the prisons, but also with the prisoners about what it is that can be done to rehabilitate.

As the site grows it will be a mixture of serious topics surrounding prisons and how they effect society, but we’ll also offer insight into some of the opinions of prisoners on a variety of subjects which you will sometimes find shockingly conservative.

We welcome your opinions on topics covered, invite you to get involved in any way you feel comfortable doing so, and encourage you to periodically re-visit the site as it will continue to grow.

God Bless You from La Merle & Others

NOTE: Many of the documents contained on this website were scanned and saved as an Adobe Reader PDF file, in order to view them, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system. To get your free copy, click here. Be patient when opening the files, some are quite large and might take a few minutes.

Mission

The definition of insanity, “continuing to do the same thing in the face of facts which clearly show that it is not working.”

Society, you the tax-payer, the reported potential victim of hardened un rehabilitated criminals, continues to trust that those paying bills off of your miser (crime-punishment), will come up with and or enact laws/solutions to protect you.

Please ask and answer the simplest of questions; “How likely is it for a human being to work towards a goal, (re-habilitating criminals, causing them not to return to prisons), that will put them in unemployment lines?” In that realistic answer, (not likely), is the real reason recidivism is so high. It goes against basic unconscious instinct for people to individually and especially collectively (unions) to act against their best personal-interest.

Our goal at realistic reform is simple, ‘bring about realistic-reform to a broken-system’. Why? We’re prisoner’s, persons at the root of the problem, it is in our best interest; and based on our real like experiences, our brain power (knowledge) is the untapped market for change. Plus, the ideas you’ll find on this site, not only make sense, there economically sound during these financially-trying times.

La Merle (01/23/08)

Vision

To enact (through Legislation, etc.) effective rehabilitation policies and practices that reduce crime, victimization and violence; not discarding key laws (e.g. three-strikes, etc.) but through turning the convicted felon into a responsible/rehabilitated tax paying citizen.

Values

  • Accountability
  • Understanding
  • Individual Integrity
  • Sincerity
  • Growth
  • Education
  • Morals
  • Compassion
  • Communication
  • Safety

Realistic Programs to Reform Inmates

Houses of Healing: There are some reform-based programs which are offered in a very limited form to a small number of inmates by a few California prison staff members who recognize that true reform is needed, and one of the effective programs is Houses of Healing developed by Robin Casarjian, M.A. The Houses of Healing program is taught with the aid of video, books and with a staff member conducting the classes. It is a very powerful and effective program which should be, but unfortunately is not offered throughout the California prison system.

Victim Impact: Classes are now being held at Mule Creek State Prison, “C” yard, approved by Warden (A) Roseanne Campbell with the Staff Sponsor being Ms. Babrah. The curriculum being used was developed by MADD Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) in connection with the Office of Victims of Crime, for the California Youth Authority (CYA). The materials are heavily geared toward youth, but many of the adult inmates involved in the he program are gaining from the class and are suggesting that a hybrid program be developed incorporating many of the ideas in this website, (Victim Impact, Anger Management, Life Skill, Job Skills, Stress Management, etc.).

Anger Management: There are several different programs nationally recognized that could be adapted by CDCR. The objective is to teach inmates that anger is natural, everyone gets angry, ad the key is in learning how to identify things that trigger the anger and developing appropriate means of reacting to it which doesn’t harm them of anyone else.

Breaking Barriers: Many inmates have benefited from their contact with this program, learning many life-coping skills.

Stress Management: Like anger, stress is natural. However, when one fails to know how to identify stress sand appropriately deal wit it, it could turn into the victimization of themselves and others.

Life Skills: Everyday things like how to maintain a bank account, pay bills, grocery shopping, fill out a job application, successfully get through a job interview despite being a convicted felon, etc., things that most adults take for granted in regards to knowing how to accomplish but many prisons do not know how to do them.

Parenting Skills: Many prisoners have children and lack basic parenting skills. What you lack, you cannot pass on. Many prisoners had parents who were prisoners and their children may continue the vicious cycle that has become a family legacy until one generation learns how to get it right. The most precious opportunity is the ability to shape a child, if we fail as a society to aid a troubled parent in gaining the ability to responsibly rear a child, society is then setting itself and the child up for predictable future victimization.

Communication Skills: Most inmates lack the ability to successfully communicate with others, thus causing them to communicate inappropriately. Prison/Male (societal) culture does not encourage men to be in touch with their emotions which in truth warp many of them from being able to communicate responsibly and effectively. We believe that it is imperative to teach communication skills to reintegrate inmates back into society.

Medical Treatment of Violent Behavior: There are some violent behaviors that cannot only be controlled but also eliminated by medical care. Dr. Amen, M.D. is a neuroscientist/psychologist whose practice is in northern California. Dr. Amen has used S.P.E.T. brain scans to find the physical anomalies that are the cause of violent and/or anti-social behavior in many of his patients. Sometimes it is a small brain tumor in the lower left temporal lobe which is the cause of violent behavior, once the tumor has been removed the patient’s behavior returned to normal; other times the S.P.E.T. exposes other problems such as chemical imbalances, etc. Dr. Amen states that appropriate diagnoses and medical treatment of the anomalies could reduce crime and the tax payer expense of prisons.

Dr. Amen previously worked with the State of California at Youth Authority. In our opinion, we believe that if the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would establish a program to have violent and recidivist/problematic inmates to have a S.P.E.T. brain scan, the true cause of criminal behavior could be diagnosed and possibly eliminated by a physician once and for all for a number of inmates.

Gamblers: Gambling addictions are a growing problem and are the motivation behind many of the crimes we see today. We believe that programs to address this concern either need to be developed and/or adopted as they already exists.

Racism: Sadly, racism is prevalent in most prison environments. Even if a prison enters prison with no racist biases, it would be close to impossible to exit prison without having some residual effect of the prejudice all races endure when serving sentences. Programs need to be developed that address the realities of the hate bred into prisoners by racial divided experiences they inevitably have while incarcerated.

Closing

There are several rehabilitative ideas and groups active in the California Prison system, and we freely acknowledge that many of our ideas come from these sources. We feel that a combination of them all are needed in order to fully equip the prisoner to succeed upon release; society cannot afford thousands of spiritually healed prison gurus with no job skills, nor can it afford employable ex-felons who have failed to get in touch wit the realities of what drove them to commit their crimes.

Many of the things we believe rehabilitating inmates need to learn is that all of the emotions that drive them, anger, sadness, depressions, desire for a better life, addictions to various acts or substances, etc., are shared by many law0aviding citizens who deal with such issues without acting out criminally. Our objective is to remind society and the rehabilitating inmates of these shared emotional realities, and to equip the inmate with the tools to realistically address these realities in a way that is healthy for them and society as a whole.

There are a lot of Anonymous programs in prison which do great work, but most if not all are spiritually based and address specific issues. Many inmates are not spiritually inclined and would/will reject rehabilitative tools connected to what they would perceive as having religious overtones; and some currently established programs are not conducive to all prison environments due to security and other concerns. We be lived our ideas can be adapted by an prison environment and are applicable to all prisoners, concentrating on universally accepted truths (all people have emotions) ad provable scientific studies, (Dr. Amen’s brain scans, Robin Casarjian’s documented work).

Many existing Anonymous type groups focus on a behavior being an addiction, which many are, but our focus is not necessarily that a person’s actions are due to an addiction but instead due to the person lacking life coping skills that many people develop through proper parenting and mentoring as they grow up. Our objective is to equip those rehabilitating, with life skills, the tools to responsibly make it in society. If the inmate has righteous addictions, then we will deal with those additions. However, our ideas of healing do not require life membership. Instead, we invite prisoners in and allow them to be co dependent as they heal, toward independence. Like a parent molds a child toward not needing the parent, our objective is equipping the person to be self sustaining instead of being dependant on sources (e.g. us and/or other groups) outside of themselves in order cope with life.

Written by La Merle R. Johnson, James Dailey and Joaquin Jordon
Proofread and contributed to by: Johnny Cordova and Salvador Buenrostro

References

Robin Casarjian, (1996) Houses of Healing. A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom
Transcontinental Printing, (Canada) ISBN 0-9644933-0-6
Victims Impact, by MADD and OVC. Supported by Grant No. 96-MU-MU-K003
Breaking Barriers, copyright Gordon Graham. Also involved in project are Hyrum Smith and David Lewis