Author, Expert & Speaker

incarceration

Common prison reform necessarily highlights the federal government’s smothering of inmates’ constitutional rights. The age-old patterns of violations of incarcerated persons are examples of legislative bullying designed to protect the security of prison officers and staff at the expense of inmates’ basic rights. Because prison communication to the outside is designed to hide behind the security of guards and staff,[1] the residual effect is but a hazy view into the lives of those held in the clutches of mass incarceration.… Read the rest

Poetry is a penetrating art form that can give voice to the plight of incarcerated people. In his book Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind, Robert Romanyshyn studies the art of keeping the soul in mind when authoring psychological research reports. I was struck by the unusual juxtaposition of his research.… Read the rest

A lot of time in prison is spent thinking about getting out; it’s natural. For any trapped animal, escaping captivity is instinctive and deeply wired. Being held captive is traumatic for wild animals. A March 6, 2017, Time magazine article entitled “The Future of Zoos,” reveals that “new discoveries about the environment of animals are raising difficult questions about keeping wild things in captivity.” The author, Justin Worland, writes that “study after study has shown that many animal species are far smarter and more feeling than previously understood, giving new insights into how many suffer from anxiety and depression when they are removed from nature.”

For humans, being locked up insults the regular cadence of life psychologically at every level.… Read the rest

I never really learned about crimes and the criminal mind until my time in prison. I studied criminal law in law school in an intellectually sterile context. Law students learn the elements that constitute criminal conduct from textbooks and lectures. Using the Socratic method of questions and answers, students learn the puzzle pieces that constitute jurisprudence.… Read the rest

I recently gave a prison reform talk to members of a book club at an upscale country club. The book club members were well informed and asked excellent questions. As always happens when I speak, I was peppered with questions about prison living conditions. People are fascinated by their knowledge vacuum.… Read the rest

Shame and resilience play critical roles in managing adult trauma. I found this to be true during my two years in the California prison system. Prison traumatizes. Shame is defined as “a self-conscious emotion . . . [that] informs you of an internal state of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor, or regret.” Shame can devour any positive self-esteem remaining in a person after a journey through our criminal justice system.… Read the rest

Held Captive for ProfitOur 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

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