We Can Change Our Future!
Prison and Incarceration Reform
In 2027, a renowned professor from Hervard University named Henri Higenz received a $50 million grant from the National Scientific Foundation for an experiment in prison reform. He used it to establish the Dolittel Community Campus, in a decrepit small town called Eliza, Colorado, took on a staff of fifty diverse experts and 200 diverse, low-violence-risk inmates from a nearby prison and went to work.
His hypothesis was that most prison inmates who have committed crimes and been incarcerated did so, primarily, not because they are inherently evil or mean, but because they had been treated unfairly, abused, disadvantaged, and/or inadequately educated, trained or developed to be successful in society, and/or were suffering psychologically and/or emotionally from some kind of loss, deficit or condition.
They were results or byproducts of poorly performing educational, healthcare, mental health, housing, community, family, economic and/or other social systems. They were products of their environments.
Treating these people even worse, abusing them punitively in prisons, only made problems worse, creating even more resentment, anger, fear, self-loathing and other negative energies and emotions that are source states of problems. People in jails and prisons tend to be ongoing sources of problems, unless we are reformed, helped to rise up and become successful members of society. We can do that, and the net costs to society are much lower, and the benefits to society are much higher, when we do.
Our punitive criminal system is precisely backwards for most people who commit crimes. Instead of helping people in conditions producing criminal behaviors and actions to rise out of those conditions and become functional and contributing members of families, workplaces, communities and societies, we abuse them in prison, so their psychological, emotional and spiritual conditions and states worsen.
No wonder they continue to have and create problems when they are released from prisons and jails. We spend as much to keep people in prison as to send them to Hervard, and results are much worse. Let us set up a campus for offender reform, education, support and assistance, and we can help them become better people. We can make model citizens of them, instead. Let us attempt to prove that!
Professor Higenz and his staff brought selected inmates to the Eliza Dolittel community, gave them good clothes, housing, healthcare, food and water, and taught them to be contributing community members, growing food in gardens, making the town beautiful, and doing what was needed to make it work well. Staff and prisoners prepared and ate meals together. Each was encouraged to share their stories and to air grievances, and anybody could talk to a counselor about anything, at any time of the day or night.
Each got top rate education and training that matched interests and aptitudes. They learned to speak and carry themselves well and interact with respect. They went through Buddhist Vipassana meditation, together with staff, participated in self-governance, and learned to be successful conflict managers. Each was paid for contributions, so they built resources to use in establishing themselves afterwards.
Most completed the program in 4 years, a typical college education length. They were then helped to find homes in living communities, meaningful work to support them, and given 24x7 access to ongoing support and counseling. In 2060, only 3 of the original 200 has ever been charged with another crime, and two of those were acquitted, because they were committed in defense of other innocents.
Professor Higenz essentially won a bet with society. In 2035, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and allowed to oversee a prison reform movement that’s successfully replicated and evolved Eliza Dolittel communities across the nation. Millions of people who would have been very expensive, repeat offenders in the largest prison system the world has ever known are now model citizens. There are only a few hundred violent offenders left in the U.S. who are considered too sick to be redeemable. They’re removed from society, but treated well. Maybe one day they will also be redeemed?
Even more remarkable than this incredible success story, adoption of Earth Citizen Principles and Values, changes in laws, communities, education, housing, opportunities and government, and access to enabling technologies, network and information systems have so reduced income and wealth inequity, unfairness, dropouts, untreated conditions, discrimination, and a wide variety of low energy conditions, that, combined with the end of the War on Drugs, in 2060, crime and imprisonment rates have fallen to roughly 1% of 2020 rates. Many of Higenz’ campuses have been converted to schools and communities.
He won the Noble Peace Prize in 2045. Enormous resources previously used for the most expensive prison system the world has ever known are now devoted to making the world a better place, for all.
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