Category Archives: criminal justice

America’s Prison Problem

This article about a reporter who worked as a guard at a private prison in Louisiana is long, but it is a must read.¬†Reading it so soon after that last season of¬†Orange is the New Black, it was really grueling (there’s nothing about the show in the article). If you were wondering if for profit prisons are as bad as they are depicted in the show, the answer unfortunately is, they are worse. And the most enraging thing? For profit prisons are designed to keep people in the criminal justice system so they can continue to get paid for warehousing people.

We as a country need to ask if we want to continue spending millions to imprison people in depraved circumstances indefinitely, or if we want to set up a society that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation. There are many ways to do this. Improve our schools. Decriminalize drugs. Make sure every woman who wants birth control has affordable access to it. Increase funding for mental health services and respite care for people caring for family members with mental illness. Raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation.

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The Power of Systems and Giving In

!!!!!SPOILERS FOR THE FOURTH SEASON OF ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK!!!!!

Like a lot of people, I devoured “Orange is the New Black” when the fourth season came out over the weekend. As a counselor and psychologist, I am fascinated by the studies that Zimbardo has done on prison environments, and it is very apparent to me that the creators of the show are fans as well. One of the scary things about Zimbardo’s findings is that you can put good people in a situation that is dysfunctional and where they have power over others, and they can do horrible things. OITNB offers case study after case study in this phenomena, and this season ended with a punch to the gut that left me crying for thirty minutes and in a deeply contemplative mood.

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