Visits from family and friends impact positively on an inmate’s well-being. Detachment from friends and family—in particular one’s children—is devastating and works on the mind, invading the realm of self-esteem. “If I’m not worthy of visitation, what good am I? What kind of parent am I?” I’ve heard that sentiment from distraught men time and again.… Read the rest
Our dysfunctional justice system and greed provide a foundation for for-profit prisons. What are for-profit prisons? Also called private prisons, they are places where inmates are physically confined—incarcerated—by private companies that contract with states or the federal government to alleviate overcrowding in their respective prison systems. These private companies fill a need created by cruel conviction and sentencing practices, high rates of recidivism, illegal immigration allegations, and the continuing war on drugs.… Read the rest
Welcome to the Break Out Blog. The purpose of this blog is to start a conversation about contemporary prison-reform issues. My personal points of view are a result of my firsthand knowledge of the California penal system, gained before, during, and after my two-year prison term. My twenty-one years’ experience as a trial attorney also influenced my decision to speak out on the need for legal and humanistic prison reform in the United States.… Read the rest
Prison time is boring. It feels like what I imagine death feels like—a void. Holidays, three-day weekends, and missed family events cause an empty desire all inmates must come to terms with in their own ways.
Each day feels like the one before. The program—daily routine—doesn’t change much. The creeping passing of time insults the mind like an electric shock—eventually the passage of time numbs the mind.… Read the rest
I was self-introduced to the emperor of Norway while waiting for chow at the California Institution for Men (CIM). CIM is a state prison in Chino, California. At the time, I didn’t know Norway had an emperor. The monarch and I were sitting at a stainless steel chow table when I was so informed.… Read the rest