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“A Gang in Rebellion – Joilet (1975)”

A Gang in Rebellion

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A Gang in Rebellion

            Lack of initiative in the society and laxity of the prison administration to control gang activity in prison led to the rebellion in Joliet, and this has continued to plague Illinois prisons to this day. The article closely examines the increase of gangs in prison. It begins by highlighting the events that led to the prison rebellion. The rebellion lasted for a day, and in the end, one of the inmates had been killed, several guards had been injured, and property was destroyed. The author describes the condition of the prison and the inadequacies of the prison system in the state. He describes how the society has failed to protect the rights of all the citizens, by favoring some influential people in the society. The article illustrates how the society can be misled into enhancing social ills such as crime. The author has used the events that happened during the riot in Joliet, and the history of the prison to illustrate the society’s misconception.

In the article, the author has highlighted the condition of the prison system in Joliet before the liberal reforms were introduced. There were fewer prisoners in the prisons, and although the gangs were present in the street, their presence was not fully felt in the prison. The change of administration influenced the way the prisoners behaved. The liberal reforms were introduced by a young prison administrator who felt that the inmates were treated inhumanely. He lacked the necessary experience to lead a prison. He treated the prisoners as victims of circumstance, instead of treating them like offenders who could be rehabilitated and counseled. He had the right intentions, in the sense that some of the reforms were positive. Many times young leaders are keen to introduce reforms when they are given a position of authority. They fail to learn from the experiences of those who are older than they are, and those who have more experience and knowledge in a particular area. For any reforms to work, people should be willing to blend in the new with the old. They should take their time to understand the system, and this will guide them towards making the right decisions.

The author proves that freedom without limitation can be a dangerous thing. The problems in the prison escalated when the prisoners realized that they had freedom. This freedom started when the society failed to realize the presence and the power that gangs had in their respective communities. The society failed in the sense that it largely supported the criminal activities that were happening. The gangs received support from the church and the government, and this made them powerful. In most situations, governments fail to solve a particular problem because they are not directly in touch with the community. They do not have the right information to guide them in making the right decisions. Had the government and the church in Illinois been aware of the real threat posed by the gangs, they would not have funded their activities or supported them in any other way. They lacked the necessary information because they did not collaborate with the affected communities. Freedom in the prison was also enhanced by numbers. More than half of the inmates were African Americans. They knew that they controlled the prison system, and they used this to their advantage. Those who choose to conform to the insider rules led a more comfortable life than those who chose to remain independent. They controlled the prison administrators since they lived by their own rules. The administration feared them, and it felt powerless to do anything.

The prison administration was not in touch with the issues on the ground, and they did not know the most effective way of dealing with these problems. The author illustrates how a society that lacks initiative and momentum can lead to increasing crime and contribute the societal ills. Experienced leaders are able to handle some situations than learned leaders who do not have any experience. The society should be willing to act by the law. People should realize that freedom comes with responsibility, and that every choice has a consequence.

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