Synopsis of Diary
Synopsis of Diary
The diary is about the time spent with officials from the correctional department and the juvenile offenders as well. It begins on September 23, 2013. It offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the judicial service system because it has quite a number of descriptions of courtroom proceedings. Mostly he spends time shuttling from one probation officer to another. However, at some point he gets to participate in some procedural matter. For example, he was involved in curfew checks. Shockingly, on a separate day, there is a bomb scare and police officers who later give the all clear after ascertaining that it was a false alarm surround the whole courthouse. The routine is repeated for a couple of more days and ends on November 25,2013 with a plea by one of the offenders to a judge requesting to be released into community custody to serve the last days of his sentence.
Inmate population varies a great deal and is witnessed on different occasions. The offenders come from different backgrounds and represent a wide variety of ethnic communities. There are Hispanics, whites and black Americans with the latter being the predominant race. The usual perception of law enforcement’s bias towards blacks is reinforced within the cellblocks and most black offenders complain of being victimized even when they are innocent. This attitude boils over in to the courtroom by the way they address the judges as they go about their defense. Some are more conservative than others are and follow court proceedings with decorum while others are more outspoken. Most of the time, this lands them in trouble as this is considered contempt of court.
In addition, the ages of inmates vary from the youth to those who are elderly. Most of the senior citizens who are inmates have served long sentences with some of them serving life sentences. Usually, these criminals have performed very serious crimes and are considered dangerous to the society. They can be spotted in handcuffs and a few of the inmates live in fear of them. Similarly, among the inmates are those whose health has deteriorated and require medical attention. Occasionally, the judge issues an order demanding the prison authorities to hospitalize an inmate, much to their relief.
A few are people who had decent jobs before their incarceration but many of them are men who had abandoned their families. Their life stories are somehow similar because they talk about alcohol and drug abuse. These types of confessions help to build rapport among inmates and it is at such sessions that they talk about their different caseloads. They go as far as advising one another on the right channels to follow in order to secure an acquittal. Since these sessions are interesting, they are angry when prison warders break up their meeting for another normal day routine like when its time for chores or lock up.
Prisoners, even though they are lawbreakers, they too have certain rights protected by the constitution through the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, Amendment VIII. Most of them are observed to be eager to be granted certain rights while others are seen to be complacent. For example, one inmate protested that he should not be locked in solitary confinement, where there is no natural light or even any form of contact with another human being for more than twenty-three hours. This is because such punishments lead to mental illnesses that could make the inmate a danger not only to other inmates but also to himself. The high cost of maintaining such an individual would fall on the relevant government department.
Overcrowding in most prisons is also a common feature that is experienced firsthand. This leads to poor sanitation, which makes inmates to live in unhygienic conditions thereby exposing themselves to diseases. These deplorable conditions subject them to inhumane treatment yet they have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. Just because they are in prison due to horrible acts does not mean that they are denied their basic rights. The conditions of the cells are an eyesore and it is particularly tough for new entrants who have to get used to the foul smell. Even though some cannot say it verbally, the expressions on their faces reveals their hated of their surroundings and it is a pity to watch them have to endure such conditions.
On other days, some prison officials are seen ignoring a prisoner’s request for reading material. This is a clear violation of the inmate’s rights because they are entitled access to material to either read or write. Furthermore, they too can practice the religion of their choice without discrimination. Most of the time, the inmates try to fight back but the prison officials do not budge insisting that they know what is best for them. This condescending attitude is what leads to conflicts in the relationship between the two sides and usually, as seen in one instance, the warder ends up physically assaulting the inmate thus fueling the tension.
A striking feature that was realized was the number of programs available for the inmates to assist them in their reform process. The Substance Abuse Program (SAP) was so touchy and eye opening because it was motivating and inspiring at the same time. The inmates were advised on how to gradually stop their addiction with real life examples of other inmates in similar circumstances given. They were also encouraged on ways to develop a positive thinking mentality. A few of them had their substance abuse problems mentioned in their court cases. However, some were quick to defend themselves
There are community-based programs that were noted during the course of doing rounds. Some of these include assisting former inmates in their quest to readjust to normal life in the community and ensuring that they are reintegrated into the society. They are even given pointers on how to relate to their families as they embark on a journey to rebuild their lives. Extension services like granting of recommendations for easy access to community resources by prison officials to reformed inmates were also witnessed. This was seen as a way to foster good behavior among inmates during their time in prison .Additionally, there was a General Education development (GED) program in which qualified professors come to the prison grounds and evaluate the progress of an inmates academic ability after which tests are administered. This aids in keeping them focused and prevents them from being idle. It is also a safe bet for faster integration upon release due to the educational background. The practicum concludes with a final appearance in a courtroom whereby yet another offender is pleading for leniency.
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