By Diane A. Sears

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies which is located in London in the United Kingdom, at least 10.1 million people throughout our global village are incarcerated. Many of the incarcerated individuals are parents – parents who are disconnected physically and emotionally from their families and communities. In the United States, approximately 2,239,751 individuals are incarcerated and approximately 1.7 million children in the United State have a parent who is incarcerated. It is estimated that on an annual basis, nearly 700,000 individuals are released annually. We are talking about 700,000 souls every year returning to our communities who need healing and humanization.  Psychological First Aid / Image courtesy

In the Spring of 2012, I had an opportunity to discuss with Douglass Capogrossi, Ph.D., the President of Akamai University (, who has designed and facilitates parenting programs for Incarcerated Fathers in correctional facilities in Hawaii, the need for the design and implementation of an intensive and mandatory psychological debriefing for individuals who are being released or have been released from correctional facilities throughout our nation. After some thought, I concluded that a need existed for a two-tiered “healing” and “humanization” mandatory program. The first tier of the program will provide mandatory and intensive psychological debriefing for a minimum of six (6) months to one (1) year for all individuals who have been incarcerated — particularly Men. At the same time, the second tier of the program will provide for mandatory and intensive sessions with loved ones and family members of individuals who have been incarcerated. This second tier will provide the loved ones and family members with the necessary psychological and emotional tools they will need to help those they love who have been incarcerated heal spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally; trust again; love again; create a future for themselves; and empower and strengthen the communities that they have returned to. The second tier is necessary to create positive reinforcement and transform the environment to which the formerly incarcerated have returned.

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Life in Prison: Where Does the Line of Solidarity Begin and End?

By Christopher Zoukis

Today, as I returned to my housing unit from the noon meal, I witnessed something that bothered me greatly.  I observed a number of FCI Petersburg inmates removing an old, (presumably less-secure) fence and installing a new (presumably more-secure) fence at the entrance to the recreation yard.  They were there working hard, jackhammers, fork lifts, and other supplies in hand.

While I understand that these prisoners work in the facilities maintenance department, and that these sorts of tasks fall within their work purview, it still bothers me that they — fellow federal prisoners — would be involved in the act of enhancing the fences and bars of the institution which contain all of us.  I had the same feeling when they engaged in the same project about a year ago.  That time they replaced existing fencing and gates with the more secure variety.  They also installed new cameras and put in some very annoying secure turnstile entrances to the Recreation Department.  This time they will complete the job by removing the rest of the old chain-link fence and replace it with the more sturdy bars topped with razor-wire (picture circular spools of barbwire, but topped with razor blades as opposed to sharp barbs).

The question which comes to mind — no, the internal debate and conflict which comes to mind — is whether prisoners should be involved in constructing new security or monitoring measures, the purpose of which is to better keep us in the prison or to make our lot in life worse.  This same work detail frosted the FCI Petersburg Special Housing Unit windows not too long ago, so that those locked in the hole would not be able to look out their windows.   Shouldn’t there be at least one iota of solidarity and brotherhood amongst all of us who are locked up and locked down?  We all know that there will be bootlickers and stool pigeons.  And we know that there will be snitches.  But should the average federal prisoner be involved in such actions?  I think not.  To me it is offensive.

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