Voices From the Inside
Peter Nelson - Click to read!
Scott Conner - Click to read!
Thaisan Nguon and Robert Martinez:
Some people say stereotypes are created from some form of the truth, and for prisoners, stereotypes have rarely been kind or complimentary. Many people imagine that most prisoners just waste away their days until they are released, but that notion could not be farther from the truth. There are many prisoners that have taken initiative in respect to the betterment of themselves, and education is one of the many pillars they are working on.
A movement driven by a hunger for knowledge has taken off all over California prisons. Many people might be surprised to find out how the challenges of these student prisoners are similar to their own. They constantly have to juggle many objectives at once. Life demands them to prioritize, compartmentalize, and alternate their time between their relationships with loved ones, extra-curricular activities such as legal appeals, and their jobs…yes, prisoners have 9-5 jobs. Plus, they have to adhere to the daily rituals of living in prison.
By no means is a prisoner’s life non-productive. So when they take on the challenges of pursuing a college degree they are stating that they are up to the task of being successful. They might not realize it in that instant, but they are blazing through a new trail that could give birth to new stereotypes. Stereotypes that allude to a prisoner’s intelligence, their mental toughness, and their keen ability to make the best out of the worst situation.
While many in society are under the impression that prisoners live idle lives, it is a serious misimpression. The truth is that prisoners are required to work. Some spend their days as ground keepers, some as porters (janitors), clerks, and many other jobs that utilize most of the hours a day and yield no pay other than the debt to society. Then there is the basic hygiene maintenance of the cell, the person, and hand washing clothes. Exercise is a necessity to deal with the stresses.
Of course the duties are a blessing that help one to deal with the monotony, but they are sufficient to leave the cons falling asleep upon return to their cells.
On top of these time and energy expenditures there are some prisoners with the drive the work into all their awake hours full college loads in voluntary education programs. These prisoners hunger for knowledge, self-improvement, growth, and self-actualization. They are the prisoners who develop the understanding, maturity and gravitas to effectuate the seeds of change among their incarcerated cohorts. They inspire and soon the waiting list for college slots is years.
It is well settled that education is the number one factor in the reduction of recidivism rates. That these prisoners not only choose to, but plead for, wait for, and struggle to accomplish this pursuit of higher education is more than positive and commendable. It is a course of rehabilitation that all of society should support and want made available in that it makes society itself safer. As recidivism rates diminish so do prison costs.
The stoic philosophers like Zeno, and Marcus Aurelius, believe that man only does wrong because he is ignorant of what is right, what brings the best outcome. This is based on the fact that man is a reasoning animal. No one would choose self-harm.
Higher education for prisoners is a war on ignorance, and that is a war on crime.
Because of Feather Rivers accredited AA program, Liberal Arts/Humanities, I will be transferring to Northwestern State College for the Spring 2016 semester as a junior. Although I still must finish out my semester with Feather River to earn my AA degree, I have already transferred 61 units with 3 awaiting approval, towards my AS in Psychology with the University. Without your program at Feather River, while I was incarcerated for 2 1/2 years, I would not be where I am today. Look forward to Quincy, and walking proud on my graduation day in May. About my accomplishments, it is a start, and I will strive for more as I make my transformation, becoming new, liking myself and treating others alike. Feather River ISP and Kelly Connor-Hall, you made a difference in my life.
"When I look at my drawings - even after the simpler ones (eyeglasses + sports scene contours" - after not having seen them for several days, they amaze me. I have always had an aversion to drawing. I've never considered myself capable. I am so thankful for Feather River's ISP!!!"