By Todd Peterson
Give prisoners jobs! Real, honest-to-goodness jobs. Jobs other than the menial tasks we associate with prison life: serving food in the mess hall, doing laundry, scrubbing pigeon waste off the sidewalk. Jobs in career fields that can lead to viable employment after release.
At a time when the economy is in a downturn and many are struggling to make ends meet, concern regarding the employment of prisoners may seem somewhat dubious, if not downright crazy. However, if we are to lower recidivism rates – and truly rehabilitate prisoners – inmate employment is exactly what is needed.
Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done. For 208,118  men and women in the United States, as of 2009, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is the adult – albeit more severe – equivalent of this child’s punishment.
Even a short prison sentence offers plenty of time for reflection. Although our past misdeeds should never be fully forgotten, after the first few days or perhaps weeks, of a sentence, even the most recalcitrant prisoner must move on and find a way to “do their time.” This is simply the healthy thing to do.
In 1989, a federal prisoner named Fleet Maull, founded the Prison Dharma Network. The mission of the Prison Dharma Network is to provide ” a contemplative support network for prisoners, prison volunteers and corrections professionals. The Prison Dharma Network provides the most effective contemplative tools for self-transformation and rehabilitation.”