By K. Hecht, P. Berman & A. Hosack
The gang has invested too much money in me. They are never going to let me go.
Mr. Spargus had been wearing an even finer suit than he had brought for Larry. The attorney had also been wearing a gold watch, a big gold ring, and cufflinks; everything about him spoke money. He had fixed Larry’s past record and it sounded like he had fixed the parole hearing somehow. Only lots of money could be making this man work to get someone like Larry out of jail.
Larry has been alone for a while, waiting for his time with the parole board to be called; and reviewing his further. Until now, Larry was just a small cog in the life of the gang- he had hoped they wouldn’t care much if he disappeared from Philadelphia. Surely, they wouldn’t have much trouble finding a replacement for him. Larry had been shocked the gang had arranged this early parole for him. It made sense they were helping Martin; he had been part of the gang for years. The gang leader in prison was the smartest man Larry had ever me; he must have big plans for Larry to have gone to this much trouble for a new entry like him.
I am going to have to go to Philadelphia and do whatever the gang wants; they own me.
Alone in the room, Larry could stop acting for a moment. His head just dropped to his chest. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine the last smile he had seen on Claire’s face; he could never see her again; it could be her death sentence if he did.
He felt complete despair- as he had so many times in his youth when he knew there was no way he could escape his father. Tied with a weight too heavy to lift, Larry would just have to endure having his body made torn and bloody again and again by his dad. The gang wouldn’t be beating him, if he followed orders. Larry knew that he might be given a fancy suit and a car to drive but when he delivered those drugs, he could also be walking into a bullet in the head; would anyone even take the time to bury him?
Larry got up and walked over to his prison clothes and pulled his picture of Davy out of the pant pocket; he had carried it in that pocket every day since Claire’s last letter had arrived. Davy was doing well in school and making friends; Martin’s kids were already getting into big trouble at school. Larry couldn’t expose Davy to gang life. The only thing he could do to be a good father was stay far away and never see Davy again.
My dad and that Mr. Carson might both think I am rubbish- but I am not. I am giving up the only woman who could love me, and a chance to be with my son, to protect them both.
Someone came in for him. It was time. He quickly put the suit jacket back on; doing bad at the parole hearing was not an option, the gang would never tolerate him wasting their cash.
Larry would never have joined a gang if he hadn’t been sent to a prison. Larry had already been sexually assaulted in jail, even before being convicted. Larry had good reason to believe joining a prison gang was necessary to his survival.
Is prison supposed to increase Larry’s risks for violence?
Prisons were initially designed to be punitive so that fear of going back would prevent recidivism. However, this has not proven effective. Rehabilitation services offered in prison have been found to decrease likelihood of reoffending when they follow evidence-based practices. However, one of the most effective treatments for changing the thoughts and beliefs that are behind criminal behavior, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment, has only been made available to 2% of prisoners.
Consider writing your senators and representatives to encourage them to read this article by Steven Aos and Elizabeth Drake, “Prison, Police, and Programs: Evidence-Based Options That Reduce Crime and Save Money,” Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 2013,
Your letter could state something like:
Dear Senator X:
Research summarized by Steven Amos and Elizabeth Drake in their article, “Prison, Police, and Programs: Evidence-Based Options that Reduce Crime and Save Money,” demonstrates that there are evidence-based programs that help change criminal thinking, reduce substance abuse, and end association with antisocial peers; thus, reducing recidivism rates for felons. While these programs do require space within prisons and adequate staffing, they have been found to reduce costs to society in the long run. Studies have been done that compare the cost of these types of rehabilitation services, to the costs to society by crimes committed after felons are released from prison and reoffend including the costs to victims, then costs of arraignment and the costs of repeated prison time. Their research concludes that for every 5,000 prisoners it would cost about $25 million to provide one effective rehabilitation service. However, this would reduce recidivism rate by 12% which represents a reduced cost of $100 million to society. While increasing the dose to $7,500, prisoners would receive three treatment services and recidivism would be reduced by 40$. To read more about this go to: http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1396/Wsipp_Prison-Police-and-Programs-
Please support prison reform bills that would reduce the costs of our prison system as well as provide services that would help felons become reestablished as good citizens.