The California prison system is stepping up to the plate by fighting fire with fire. Yes, that’s right — they are saving tax-payer’s money and providing low level offenders with valuable skills and purpose by putting them to work fighting wildfires. Another side benefit of this ingenious project is California’s prisons are emptying out because these inmates are earning earlier release dates and are not reoffending.
Demetrius Barr is one of the first Los Angeles County inmates to be granted the opportunity to leave his confined jail cell and enter a natural atmosphere of breathtaking landscapes and spacious campsites. Not only can Barr help save this precious land from the destruction of fire, but his own life can be salvaged from the unforgiving world of crack dealing.
Barr doesn’t get to enjoy this new type of freedom for nothing. He receives this privilege by maintaining his fitness and best behavior, and being willing to fight thousand-degree flames. The best reward for fulfilling his commitment to the Pitches Detention center where he was trained, is earning good-time credits that will permit him to decrease his seven-year sentence by 35%. This would also insure that Barr “has what it takes” when confronted with a challenge as significant as a raging forest fire.
The general public would be surprised if they realized about 50% of California wildfire fighters are prisoners and a few of them are incarcerated women. Capt. Jorge Santana, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) liaison who supervises the camps, confirms these inmates are dedicated to changing their lives while serving the public and are saving the state over $1 billion a year. Inmate firefighters are contributing a major positive impact on California’s financial and environmental well-being.
By Lila Panagides / Springfield News-Leader There has been much talk about national security lately focusing mostly on the Middle East. Image courtesy prx.org Here at home, we are facing a serious national security crisis that, fortunately, is getting some attention — but perhaps not enough from the public. This crisis developed over the last…Read More
By The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wyandotte County law enforcement officials have endorsed a plan that calls for investing in early childhood education as a way to cut down on crime and prison costs. Image courtesy www.wycokck.org Sheriff Don Ash, District Attorney Jerry Gorman and jail administrator Jeffrey Fewell endorsed a proposal from…Read More
By Andres Aznar
In a world like ours – mostly free and full of possibilities – exists a threat. It affects virtually all of the world’s population. It’s called: “The Decision.” Decisions are made in seconds. In fact, without decisions, our lives would be meaningless. Naturally, we strive to make the right decisions in our short lives. However, every decision we make has its own consequences, good and bad. The decisions we choose to make in life can bring many rewards, like success in life or the creation of a better future for our children and their children. Good decision-making can also foster a life with fewer struggles and better opportunities.
Some possess an enhanced ability to make decisions which allow positive consequences. They weren’t born with that ability. They just had very good guidance when they were children and while they were growing up. As such, those men and women are geared for success. Much comes easy to them. They’re the ones you remember from high school. The ones that you envied because they were always receiving perfect scores with seeming ease.
On the other hand, for some people, their life is a struggle: a struggle to make ends meet; a struggle to be the best that they can be. They try and try but always get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. While this is a challenging situation to be engulfed in, it illustrates a very telling contrast. By asking themselves, “Why is it so easy for those other people to succeed, but not me?” The answer – and their shortcomings – is evident: Guidance.
By K.I. Love
Change [rehabilitation] starts with the individual. The person has to want to change, grow, and learn. This has to be a personal decision. This is a process that takes place naturally when our results don’t meet our expectations. In other words, when our circumstances are in contradiction with our desires, goals, or self-image, we entertain the idea of change.
This contradiction causes us anxiety and/or pain in some shape or form. When our lives don’t align with our ideals, then we move to correct or re-align ourselves. We rationalize the situation or minimize the problem so that we can eliminate the anxiety or discord in our lives.
What I have presented is an emotional process that we go through when we encounter a problem in life. Men are moved by their emotions. Therefore, if we are to attempt to influence people’s behaviors, attitudes, or conduct, then we have to stir their emotions — to produce anxiety and mental discord within that individual. You have to magnify and display the error in their thinking. If you can help a person see their blind spots, then you have the power to influence their thinking and therefore their actions.
This is the essence of education — to broaden perspectives so as to see thoughts, ideas, and actions in their entirety, as opposed to just a fractional percentage. How can we act tactically when our strategies are based only on a fraction of the data? If we do that, then our actions and performance will always come up short and/or produce failure. A limited view always limits the viewer and therefore limits performance. “When you know better, you do better.”
The Sustainability in Prisons Project’s (SPP) main objective is to educate prisoners about environmental conservation. The inmates are learning innovative ways to use nature’s resources to save tax-payers money in their own prison backyard. The project involves collaboration between Washington State Department of Corrections, Evergreen State College, inmates, prison staff, scientists, and community members.
Not only does SPP save money and the environment, but it provides prison inmates with a sense of dignity. They learn teamwork and leadership skills by working together on the prison grounds using nature’s resources to sustain the environment.
Inmates are provided with an opportunity to improve their lives on the inside and the lives of those living outside. The key fringe benefit the prisoners receive is exposure to nature. Most incarcerated individuals are confined inside prison walls and are rarely exposed to the outdoors. Working outside has healing effects on the human psyche, which is what the detainees need when it is time to function outside of prison.