by Swift Justice
Thank you for being patient with my absence and the new method of my way in reaching out to you to discuss what we are attempting to accomplish. First and foremost, I thank God for giving us a platform to be heard to alleviate or mitigate the number of unheard voices in our concrete jungles across Alabama.
People ask me, “Why do you do this? Are you a rebellion junky?” I say, “No.” This is about the men around me and the women and children incarcerated in this state and country.
I believe there has been a misconception as to why we move and have chosen to come together and what we are pushing to change. For some, their reasoning and motive is misconceived, because they have tunnel vision opinions, built on or from a biased point of view.
We as people tend to conclude our opinions from our personal experiences, our surroundings, and things we perceive in awareness, realization and with our senses. Sadly, most don’t even scratch the surface of the true perception or discernment of reality because they don’t realize they suffer from the tunnel vision syndrome.
In order to be free of such a catastrophic way of life, you first have to open your mind to new and, most of the time, shocking revelations. You must become one who asks questions in regard to your perceptions, beliefs and opinions. You must be willing to knock holes in your own boat to ensure your perception is indestructible and can stand the weight of the test.
In order to be free of such a catastrophic way of life, you first have to open your mind to new and, most of the time, shocking revelations. You must become one who asks questions in regard to your perceptions, beliefs and opinions.
Otherwise, your perception will eventually leave you desolate and enslaved. Family, build your perception of this movement from your own experiences, and test your own questions in why and how, as well as what. I challenge you to attempt to knock holes in our boat, and for those who see things differently, I challenge you to attempt to test your own perception boat to see if it holds water.
Our conception of why we move now? Years ago, at Holman Correctional Facility, my eyes were opened to the realization of modern day slavery. How did I come up with this conclusion?
For years, I heard inmates talk about the plantation being our prisons, and I thought these men to be racist radicals looking to point a finger of blame at someone besides themselves for a crime they committed. I had even argued my point many times with the confidence I was right.
Years ago, at Holman Correctional Facility, my eyes were opened to the realization of modern day slavery.
But, the day came that I met a brother by the name of Robert Earl Counsel, and, with a plan, he decided to show us we were a product of a modern-day plantation instead of just telling us. During this time, the confined citizens of Holman Correctional Facility came together in unity and agreed to stop ALL labor inside the institution, including “ACI” labor, making tags for numerous state vehicles, the institutional kitchen, laundry, clean-up and inmate canteen.
When this took place, the reactions of Alabama’s DOC for me was very translucent and clearly transparent. Surprisingly, at the time, Warden Myers’ main focus was to regain labor compliance in the Tag Plant. I had to question why? Why was the tag plant the top priority for regaining operation?
Why not the operations of sanitation of the prison to ensure or prevent the spread of disease and illness? Why not the so-called rehabilitative programs that ensure the men in the compound receive the help needed to return to society as productive individuals?
The reason the Tag Plant was top priority was because of the “almighty dollar and profit” made from the use of slaves. Some would say, “Well, if that was true, it would make sense to ensure your slaves are healthy and able to work.” I’d in turn point out that these slaves’ health becomes irrelevant because these men are expendable and replaceable, considering our county jails hold tens of thousands of working bodies.
The reason the Tag Plant was top priority was because of the “almighty dollar and profit” made from the use of slaves.
If health were a real concern instead of a required overhead expense, why would ADOC use the medical company best known for its low cost and high rate of malpractice in America, Corizon Medical?
We have heard our Department of Corrections over many decades in Alabama claim time and time again, “Corrections is working!” I cannot argue against this slogan. I agree corrections “is working.”
Let’s look at two words, “correction” and “correct,” which mean to make right; conforming to a conventional standard; agreeing with a fact or truth; conforming to the standards of a specific ideology. The next word is “rehabilitate” or “rehabilitation,” to restore to a former capacity, rank or right; reinstate.
Family, these two words are far from being synonyms. Correction(s) is when someone or something obeys or complies with a custom or standard previously set in motion. These persons or things being none other than the “ideology,” which embodies the ideas characteristic of an individual, group or culture; and the assertions, theories and aims that constitute a political, social and economic program for that particular individual, group or culture. On the other hand, rehabilitation focuses on restoration of a former capacity, rank or right.
Now let’s start asking the much-needed questions so we can get the much needed and transparent perception of what has been taking place in our world in relation to our prison system. Mind you, we must remember and keep in mind our questions will arrive from nothing less than our experiences and our knowledge of the judicial and prison system – if you can attempt to think outside of your normal capacity on the subject.
I personally ask from my experiences and knowledge who is being corrected. I come up with only one logical answer: the individuals who seek to gain power and stature. I myself cannot logically, intelligently nor humanely place someone who is incarcerated in the focal point of corrections for two reasons:
- One, the definition of corrections cannot collaborate or connect with an individual who has been deemed by the government and society unable to hold status in society due to his or her actions.
- The second reason is the obvious recidivism rate in our state and monetary profit gained in incarcerating these thousands of citizens.
However, when you look at the picture of corrections from facts and truth as well as conforming to a specific ideology of political greed, you start to gain the perception of true duplicity or dissimulation. The Department of Corrections in Alabama is not designed to restore the men, women or children to a former state, capacity, rank or right within society. It was designed to remove, sequester and alienate.
Look at this word and definition: “Alienate” is a verb meaning to make hostile; estrange; to transfer (property) to another. The ideology of corrections in our penal system is clear from the fact that over 76 percent of those incarcerated in America return to prison within five years of their presupposed “correction.”
In retrospect, the Department of Corrections and politicians’ monetary gain from the very existence of mass incarceration can in no way be compared to rehabilitation. Matter of fact, the act and term of rehabilitation would be in direct contradiction to the corrections ideology and catastrophic to the assertions, theories and aims that constitute the political, social and economic program set in motion within the group of greedy politicians and leaders that profit from this.
In retrospect, the Department of Corrections and politicians’ monetary gain from the very existence of mass incarceration can in no way be compared to rehabilitation.
Thus, a picture is painted for society to see corrections as rehabilitation, although it is actually being concealed under another pretense. Let’s now look at what rehabilitation is. The true meaning of rehabilitation is defined in its simplest form as to restore to a former capacity, rank or right.
This is where the much-needed questions should be asked: Are our men, women and children within our concrete jungles receiving what is needed to come back to family, friends and society as they once were? What does it take to restore a confined citizen to a former capacity, rank or right?
We must agree that the penal recidivism rate results in a complete failure to restore men, women and children to their former capacity, rank or rights. Why is that? In Alabama, the DOC’s mission statement states: “The mission of the Alabama Department of Corrections is to confine, manage and provide rehabilitative programs for convicted felons in a safe, secure and humane environment – utilizing professionals who are committed to the positive reentry of offenders into society.”
Take note of the mission at hand: “Provide rehabilitative programs.” A program is a brief outline of the order to be pursued or the subjects included; a plan of procedure towards a goal. In essence, what ADOC’s purpose is, it will provide a plan for those who have been deemed unfit for society to be restored to their former capacity, rank or right, before they broke a law.
With that said, the provision of a program or plan alone is useless, without intense field training. We can plan all day, but without activating the plan into motion, it will never become more than a plan or program. In other words, it’s an idea and nothing more.
I ask myself what is the conception of rehabilitation of someone who has committed a crime against society? I must answer that by saying, bring me to a point I can use the tools and plan and see constructive benefits in my life.
To do that, one must first care that I succeed, and I have to realize these individuals exist. Next, I must be able to reap the rewards of my success, step by step, but from my 20 plus years inside Alabama’s prison plantation, I’ve only seen ONE program that offered the restoration of my former capacity, rank or right and offered a menu of benefits and incentives to succeed.
However, this program was done away with once it showed it could truly rehabilitate. How did it show true rehabilitation, and why was it stopped?
The program I speak of was known as Therapeutic Community (TC), and it was implemented through federal funding in the mid ‘90s. The program was designed to start and complete a highly intensive treatment in 18 months but was rarely completed in 36 months due to its intensity.
The success rate in this actual treatment was highly acclaimed not only by politicians and doctors across the country but it was so successful that, upon completion, men in Alabama’s prisons were granted parole or given a parole cut as an incentive. Then, the rate of recidivism of those who completed the program and returned to society dropped tremendously.
Then came the politics and removal of a plan or program to provide the men in Alabama’s prisons a real chance of restoration.
Now, there will be some that argue that TC was never removed from ADOC and, in a sense, they will be correct, but in turn I’ll point out the “program” or “plan” remains, but the real and intentional process was removed, leaving only the illusion.
Note that the word “process” was what I said was removed from the prisons. The word process used as a noun is defined as 1) progress, advance; 2) something going on: proceeding; 3) a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a result; 4) a series of actions or operations directed towards a particular result. The term used as a verb means to subject to a special process.
What took place during the successful process of Therapeutic Community was in contradiction to the process of corrections. It started resulting in rehabilitation and producing individuals equipped to succeed in society, not returning to the prison plantation.
This success in equipping confined citizens to prosper lowers product for the plantation of modern day slavery. In essence, if ADOC promoted true rehabilitation it would be forced to place itself out of business in the slavery occupation.
A perfect example of success is in Norway today where a small country is closing prisons instead of building new ones. People build more buildings because they anticipate the need for more storage. This is the mindset of the entrepreneur or businessman, not the mindset of a system that intends to disrupt the need for prisons.
The only logical and realistic way to disrupt repetitive criminal behavior is the process of true rehabilitation. This means more than a plan is needed.
In essence, if ADOC promoted true rehabilitation it would be forced to place itself out of business in the slavery occupation.
Also, we must come to terms with the reality that modern day slavery exists and is the root of the many problems of mass incarceration, the high level of recidivism, the tax dollars being wasted on a failing system, and the fact our school systems are now being disrupted and set on the path of failure in order to fund the illusion that “corrections is working.”
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is the gateway our nation has used for centuries. This amendment closed the door for the private citizen to own a slave and use another human for the purpose of profit without compensation, but it opened the door for the politicians, leaders and governments to take over the position of the plantation “massa.” Until society sees through this illusion for what it is, the impoverished citizens of our state and nation are targets.
The only logical and realistic way to disrupt repetitive criminal behavior is the process of true rehabilitation.
I can go on and on in regard to this topic, but instead I will give you this opportunity to think about what I’ve said, and I’ll end this by inviting you to the state capital of Alabama on Aug. 19, 2017, demanding the removal of the 13th Amendment “exception” clause of slavery. This event will be hosted by Unheard Voices OTCJ and the Free Alabama Movement. (On that day, the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March will be held in Washington, D.C., with a rally at the White House – click here to learn more – in coordination with local rallies around the country. Get involved! – ed.)
Send our brother some love and light: Swift Justice, c/o Unheard Voices OTCJ, P.O. Box 10056, Longview, TX 75604.