Inmates Are Still People

Whether or not we like it, those individuals who have committed crimes (even serious crimes) are still people. Recognizing this fact allows us to see more clearly their needs or even their risk. I recommend considering the implications of how we regard or “see” inmates. Do we “see” them as humans just like us? Or do we see them more or less than a human? To see inmates as people is to see the whole picture, their whole picture. The system is designed to punish each individual for their criminal behavior and takes little to no consideration for the contributing factors for such behavior.

There is a fancy word that scientists have used to analyze the main contributing factors for criminal behavior. They call this criminogenic needs. These set of factors have been highly correlated with a person’s likelihood for committing a crime. There are several different models or categories for these needs, but I prefer this 5-category model put out by the US Government:

Social Networks (the extent to which a person has pro social or pro criminal people in their life)
Substance Abuse
Thinking Errors

In other words, if a person has issues in these categories (depending on how big there issues are) they are much more likely to commit crime. What is the point? If we are going to help inmates not become inmates, then we need to see them as a person who has needs (criminogenic needs) and consider¬†all of their contributing factors and address them. If we can’t see inmates as people, then we most likely cannot see their needs, let alone find a way to address them.

2 thoughts on “Inmates Are Still People

  1. I agree so totally with this … I used to work on a prison in Indiana and some of the Correctional officers and other staff look at the offenders as criminals who will never amount to anything when they get released … I totally disagree.. the way offenders are t rating reflects on how they are treated in the system and if you are treated like a nobody and it’s pounder in ur h e ad every single day there there is no reason to change … people make mistakes and weather ur in prison or not ur still human and need to be treated like a human … … I think these courses are great and will help offenders change the way they look at the out side world not just look at what life is behind the walls

  2. My wife and I were truly pleased to discover the availability of the Life Skills courses. A current pen pal inmate, who will be joining our household in a few years when she completes her sentence, knew about it and asked if we could finance the courses for her.

    Well, duh!

    There is no doubt that our friend would succeed with or without the courses, as she committed to pulling herself up by her bootstraps several years ago and has never wavered from that decision despite her overwhelmingly negative surroundings. Yet she also realizes that she’s got a wee bit of reprogramming (of her own thinking) to do yet, and at least half a dozen of the courses will definitely help. Plus, on the pragmatic side, she’s done an informal “survey” of fellow inmates who’ve gone before the Parole Board…and tells us that an inmate’s chances of being approved for parole is increased by a significant percentage if she has taken some of the courses.

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