I spent 20 years as a correctional educator behind the walls of the Monroe Correctional Complex. The plan to close quite a bit of many of our prisons, including those in Monroe, is poorly planned and ill thought out (“As cells empty, state looks to close Monroe prison units,” The Herald, June 4). As usual Department of Corrections is being reactive and short sighted.
These men and women are put on an “adult time out” for a reason, and for DOC to simply adjust sentences under the guise of their being able to receive the necessary help “outside” contained facilities is unworkable and disingenuous as it is presented. There are few if no programs in the communities presently set up that can deal with the severity of need and assistance these men and women need; or they wouldn’t have gotten this far in the system. I, and others, spent decades implementing wonderful programs that addressed education, treatment and mental health concerns that cannot be offered while the person is struggling for money, a bed and food.
Moreover, the incarcerated need the stability of place and the opportunity to connect with family and services from outside, but only in a graduated gradual manner. An education behind bars can reduce an inmates recidivism by as much as 80 percent. Mental health and even physical health assistance cannot be provided in a quality manner because there are too many distractions that stop the offender from accessing them.
In the past when there have been empty beds the DOC has taken offenders from other overcrowded state prisons to supplement our financial overage. Also, DOC has recruited federal prisoners for money. This new plan is difficult to hear about and more distressing to watch.
The bureaucrats in Olympia will not cut their own jobs, but hundreds of trained, hard-working staff and custody in our small communities will be laid off. Then when the powers to be, the political elite, the misguided citizens see that this method is not working and that the homeless crisis and criminal activity has increased, they will once again swing the pendulum back the other way. Men and women will be placed in institutions and there will be no good programs to assist them while they are imprisoned.