New York jails turn lives around

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Opinion -

I would like the gen­eral public to know that its valu­able tax dol­lars are NOT be­ing squan­dered here at Green Haven C.I. Although a con­sid­er­able amount of money is al­lo­cated on its pro­grams — and pro­fes­sional, car­ing staff to run them — they are work­ing to achieve pro­found pos­i­tive dif­fer­ences in the tu­mul­tuous lives of men such as my­self.

Shame­fully, I have wasted the last 30 years of ray life in/ out of other prison sys­tems and the Feds — where for all in­tents and pur­poses I was sim­ply “ware­housed.”

There were no sub­stan­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion be­yond a G.E.D. and shops to main­tain the fa­cil­ity.

No A.S.A.T., No Think­ing for a Change, No Anger Re­lapse Train­ing. No Voc Eds to earn glob­ally rec­og­nized certs to be an elec­tri­cian, car­pen­ter, bar­ber, or com­puter op­er­a­tor.

Con­se­quently, I spent my days of in­car­cer­a­tion ei­ther con­fined to a cell or sit­ting around watch­ing TV and play­ing games — un­like Green Haven, where all in­mates are held ac­count­able to what­ever as­sign­ments they’re sched­uled to at­tend. I would leave no bet­ter but worse as my record grew longer and my chances of em­ploy­ment shorter.

I of­ten won­dered with a good deal of bit­ter­ness to­wards so­ci­ety why a state or fed­eral prison sys­tem would spend many thou­sands of dol­lars to in­car­cer­ate me yet very lit­tle on re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion?

A.S.A.T. and its won­der­ful staff gave me the cog­ni­tive skills to over­come a life­long com­pul­sion to steal things.

I am DEEPLY GRATE­FUL to the state of New York. I am glad that I ended up here. For once I will not be leav­ing with bit­ter­ness or no bet­ter off than when I ar­rived.

I will be leav­ing with a debt of grat­i­tude and re­spon­si­bil­ity to a state that lit­er­ally saved my life as I am cer­tain I would have died in prison had I not ended up here, which would have ul­ti­mately cost so­ci­ety that much more.

I earned a cer­ti­port IC3 and sev­eral Mi­crosoft Of­fice Spe­cial­ist Certs — and I am plan­ning on tak­ing the COMP TIA A+ ex­ams to be­come a cer­ti­fied com­puter tech­ni­cian of which I’ve been pre­par­ing for the last 12 months.

I was never given such op­por­tu­ni­ties in any of my prior in­car­cer­a­tions. If I had—I don’t be­lieve I would be here to­day on New York’s dime. So I pledge that should I get out and com­mit an­other crime — to ac­cept a life sen­tence as I would have to be truly in­cor­ri­gi­ble to leave here and re­turn to my old ways. I am done tak­ing. Green Haven is how all pris­ons should be run. There’s no other way to re­duce re­cidi­vism when you have a large class of men and women com­ing from bro­ken homes, emo­tional and phys­i­cal abuse, in which an ed­u­ca­tion and moral­ity aren’t part of one’s up­bring­ing — ware­hous­ing is not the so­lu­tion.

Its only re­sult will be what we have: Over­crowded jails and pris­ons through­out Amer­ica.

About elec­tion let­ters

The Oneida Daily Dis­patch wel­comes let­ters per­tain­ing to the Sept. 12 pri­mary. All the let­ter-to-the ed­i­tor guide­lines ap­ply, with the ad­di­tional pro­viso that let­ters mak­ing ac­cu­sa­tions against a ri­val can­di­date will not be printed in the fi­nal week (Sept. 7-12).

Crit­i­cal let­ters must be re­ceived and ver­i­fied by Mon­day, Sept. 4.

The last day of pub­li­ca­tion of any let­ters is Sun­day, Sept. 10.

Those let­ters must be re­ceived and ver­i­fied by Fri­day, Sept. 8. No elec­tion let­ters will be pub­lished on Sept. 12.

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