Episode 4 -- Redemption
In Episode 4, we examine life within the Department of Corrections (DOC).
The balance between rehabilitation and punishment is never clear and constantly fought over. Our subjects suggest a change in orientation. Rather than focusing on vengeance and punishment, a better orientation is rehabilitation and redemption. Shaka guides us, saying, “All people are worthy of rehabilitation and redemption.”
– It is interesting to note many societies don’t use a specific penal system. Rather, they use a civil system when dealing with crime. During Pete A Turner’s years deployed, he met with elders who handled offenses including murder one –
Throughout the interviews with our subjects, and during Dr Richard Ledet’s research inside the Alabama Department of Corrections, we find inmates saying they are treated like animals, resulting in the incarcerated acting that way. Since most inmates leave the correction system at some point, our paroled “citizens” depart with more obstacles than tools to develop stable law-abiding lives.
This redemptive mindset is a bitter pill. However, our correction system has an inherent flaw. Anerae notes that a violent prison system that teaches inmates to be animals and bureaucracy consistently undermines its own redemptive success. This creates recidivism, the need for more guards, more prisons, higher salaries - and tragically, a hunger for young black men.
As we assembled the interviews, we sent out several dozen requests to employees within the correctional system. Many of these interview requests were sent to the people who are specifically hired to talk to the media about DOC. Yet, most requests were met with silence.
Further, the corrections officers within our personal network, including immediate family, proved unwilling or unable to talk on the record about the system. Why? Fear. These are not bad people; these are our friends, our family—good, honest hardworking folks. However, the consequences of speaking about the system proved too dangerous. The one interview we managed to conduct was full of insight and revealed challenges; however, the most telling aspect of the DOC was the fear of self-critique.
Our subjects all went through a redemptive process that was chaotic and long. We asked all of the subjects, “When did you turn the corner and start changing your life, your belief, and when was that rehabilitative process complete?” The answers are not what one might expect.