There are many issues these days that our country is addressing or needs to address. One of those topics is prison reform. Some say that we need more prisons and there’s the other side that believe that isn’t the answer. The United States has the largest prison population, yet more crimes continue to be committed. People are sometimes wrongly accused and incarcerated…some are arrested for crimes that shouldn’t be punishable to the extent that they are, while some violent offenders get off too easy.
We all, at least many of us, have opinions about what we think is the right or wrong thing to do.
In this interview, you’ll hear first hand from someone that spent time in prison and what he thinks about the current prison system. We thank him for his honesty and thoughts on the subject.
Readers: please feel free to share with us what you think about the prison debate in our comments section.
There’s been a lot of talk these days about prison reform. Having spent time in prison yourself, I’d love to ask you your opinion on the topic. First, what sent you to prison?
My charge was “malicious wounding”. I was charged in Virginia, that charge does not exist in Pennsylvania. It translates to aggravated assault here in PA. I had an altercation with a man who stole from my mother. When I contacted this person, he was not willing to return what he stole and made some comments that really upset me. In a fit of rage, I found out where he was and confronted him. The situation escalated quickly, and we began to fight. I ended up hurting this person pretty bad and he was hospitalized as a result of the altercation.
How long did you spend there?
I spent a little over 3 years in. I am on Parole until 2022
What was the worst part of that experience?
The worst part of being incarcerated was missing my children and family. I have 2 boys and I missed them dearly. Missing their birthdays and holidays were the worst. I lost some family members while I was inside as well. That hurt a lot. When you are behind the wall, you cannot be there to help your family when you should be.
Having been incarcerated, would you think twice before committing that, or any other, crime again?
I think about it everyday. Since I have come home, I have been in situations that I know would have ended up totally different had I never been locked up. I was raised to be a fighter and stand up for what I thought was right, but now I have to handle things differently. I have to remind myself that no one ever has been arrested for walking away. I have to live my life extra careful now due to having a criminal history and being on parole. Sometimes I even have to think about it three times! I never want to go back behind the wall.
Do you feel that we need more or less prisons?
I feel there are enough prisons in this country. I do believe that they serve a very necessary purpose, but I also feel that they are over populated due to petty crimes that should be handled with alternative measures such as house arrest or community service. It makes no sense to put a person who has committed a victim-less crime behind bars with a rapist or killer. I believe the system has gotten complacent with just handing out time instead of trying to reform people and make them a productive member of society.
Should any changes be made to the prison system?
There is definitely a need for some changes. I don’t think that prisons should be privatized. There are companies that independently own prisons and are contracted to handle inmates. I feel that this feeds the need to incarcerate people so these facilities stay full. I also believe that inmates should be classified due to the nature of their crime instead of being thrown together like cattle. This creates a dangerous atmosphere for the guy who got caught with a little bit of weed and has to sleep in the same room as the guy who hurt people.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone that may wind up in a situation close to the one you were in, with a split second decision to make?
My advice to anyone in a situation like I was in would be to just take a minute to think about it. One bad decision can change the entire course of your life from that moment on. It is possible to win by walking away. When you go away, you are no good to anyone, and the people who care about you actually get stuck doing the time with you.