Showing posts with label Happy Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Happy Thanksgiving. Show all posts

23 November 2017

I'm Not In Prison... A Thanksgiving Meditation

by Eve Fisher

Image result for alternatives to violence projectI spent last weekend at the pen, doing another Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop.  This time we were training inside facilitators, which we do every two years or so.  These are inmates who have done basic and advanced workshops, and have shown themselves to be really good at walking the walk as well as talking the talk.  These are guys who have gone a long time without being written up or put in the SHU, who know how to and do defuse situations on the ground, and want to be a part of spreading the word to others.  Without them, we couldn't do AVP.  (NOTE:  Check us out on Facebook!)  We outside facilitators need their help in all sorts of ways, and I can't say enough good stuff about them or give enough thanks for their help.

Meanwhile, I'm so glad I'm not in prison.  It's one of the things for which I am truly thankful.  And I don't take it for granted.  There's a long, long, long list of things which will send you to prison and I know very few people who have done none of them.  And it can happen so fast...  I've seen guys in the pen who are absolutely shell-shocked because suddenly they are there, and they almost don't know what's happened.  (Some, who are mentally disabled, really don't know what's happened.)


Image result for prison v. nursing homeMeanwhile, this meme - the one on the right - has been going around the internet for a long, long time, comparing prison (favorably) to nursing homes.  And I've refuted it every time I see it, and will continue to do so.  One version of it starts "Let's put Grandma in prison", to which I always respond, you must really hate your Grandma.  And then I explain why this meme is absolutely, one hundred percent false.  Not to mention pretty damn hateful...

So, let's compare apples to oranges, prisons to nursing homes:

Yes, prisoners get a shower every day - it's to prevent lice, mites, and scabies.  It's a health measure, not for their pleasure.  Believe me, a lot of prisoners would just as soon not take showers, because they don't want to be in a large group of naked men, some of whom are hostile, and - what with steam, slippery tile, soap, etc. - it's a place where rape and other assaults can happen.  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?
(NOTE:  In a nursing home, they do get a bath or shower every day, but in private.)

Image result for prison cell usa toilet in front
Prison cell
Yes, there is 24/7 video surveillance.  That's for security.  Yes, the lights don't go off at 7 PM in the pen - they don't go off at all.  That's for security.  The average prison cell is 6 x 8 feet, and (except for lifers) it's shared by two inmates, and the toilet is open, right in the front, by the door, so that literally everyone can see them doing their business.  That's for security, too.  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?
(NOTE:  The average nursing home room is at least six times that size, and the toilet is in a private bathroom with a door.  And no, the lights are NOT turned off in a nursing home at 7:00 PM.)

Yes, there are three meals a day.  They're awful.  I know, I've eaten a lot of them.  (We don't go out for meals during a weekend workshop.)  They get no fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, or red meat.  (The exceptions:  once a day they get canned corn or canned green beans or lettuce or raw carrots.)  There are a lot of carbs, which is why, even if you don't have diabetes before you go into the pen, there's a good chance you'll develop it before you go.  (Nationally, 21% of inmates have diabetes.)  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?
(NOTE:  I've eaten many a meal in assisted living centers, while visiting my parents, God rest their souls, and they weren't cold, except the salads, and they were pretty good.)

Yes, prisoners are allowed to have a TV - if they can afford it.  (No, they're not free.)  This is also a security measure, believe it or not.  Unless they have a job (and as many as half the prisoners don't), they're locked down, in their 6x8 cell 23/24.  Lately, they're also being given tablets (provided for free by private corporations, and not on the taxpayers' dime), which allow them to make telephone calls from their cells (using earbuds), listen to music, and access the digital law library.
(NOTE:  The digital law library has caused some prisons to quit having a paralegal on staff to explain the law to the inmates, which is sort of like providing a medical library and firing the doctors.)  Working or not, inmates are only allowed 1 hour for recreation (rec).  Depending on staffing levels, or climate, even rec is cancelled.  Inside rec is in the gym, which does come equipped with basketball hoops and weight equipment.  (Personally, I want them to burn off their energy somewhere....)

Prison tiers, SDSP
When the weather is nice and staffing levels are good, rec is outside, where inmates can play baseball and walk / jog around the track.  But, as soon as the temperature goes below 50, all rec is indoors, because the inmates - for security reasons - aren't given coats unless they have a specific job outside.  So, here in South Dakota, that generally means that for six months out of the year, inmates don't get to go outside, at all.  And because of the configuration of cell blocks, most cells don't have windows; and where there are windows, they're covered with iron mesh, which means that inmates don't even get to see the sun for six months out of the year.  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?

Now let's talk about medication.  Most prisoners are now given Vitamin B and D supplements, because of the lack of sunlight, the food, and the constant fluorescent lighting.  Yes, there's generally a paramedic and a nurse on duty 24/7 at a prison.  Yes, there is free prescription medication, and if you really want people with bi-polar, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses to go without medication in an over-crowded environment of people who are stuck there for years for criminal behavior, well...  that one's beyond me...

But notice I said prescribed medication.  You have to get that prescription, and getting it can take a while.  First you have to get an appointment to see the doctor, which takes a while.  Diagnosis takes a while.  And the medications are given out on the prison time schedule, not the prisoners.  Diabetics don't get to check their blood sugar and medicate accordingly.  They get their insulin at the scheduled time.  Period.  Inmates on chemo get to ride out the side effects in their 6x8 cell, without any special diet or help.  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?

Image result for elderly in prisonA lot of prisoners are elderly.  You get 20, 30, 40, 50 years or life, you're going to grow old in prison.  Eventually, elderly and disabled prisoners are allowed knee braces, walkers, and eventually even wheelchairs.  Those who are in wheelchairs are often assigned a pusher, which in this case is an inmate who will push them to where they want to go.  But they're not given any special help in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, up and down the stairs, to and from the chow hall, the medication line, etc., until they're actually at the hospice stage.  Is this really the way you want Grandma to live?

All I can say, is that if your elderly loved ones are in a nursing home that does what the meme says, you have put them in the wrong nursing home.  (That or you really do hate them.)  Get them out.  Immediately.  Here are the official Nursing Home Care Standards:  find some place that follows them!

Meanwhile, I hope that reading this has made us all truly thankful for the things we have:  a home, with a private bathroom, a soft bed with comforters and pillows, weather-appropriate clothing, the ability to go outside whenever we want, do what we want, eat whatever we want.  The simple fact that I can actually turn the lights on and off is wonderful.  The fact that I can have a Thanksgiving Dinner with friends, loaded with good food...  it's fantastic.  I am truly, truly, truly, thankful.






19 November 2012

Random Thoughts

Jan Grape
by Jan Grape

Seems like I've used the "Random Thoughts" as my article title before, but not sure and even if I have it's here again. Mainly, because I had a rather good idea earlier this week on what I was going to write and silly me didn't write it down or make notes and I've forgotten what it was. So all day today, I'm been searching my brain to remember and since I didn't remember you're stuck with my random notes.

I was watching Sixty Minutes a little earlier this evening and one segment was on thorough research being done with babies to see if they are able to show that their little brains are not exactly a blob or sponge. That they actually can think. The researchers had babies three and six months old watch little puppet shows with a Teddy bear in blue shirt and another bear in a yellow shirt. The bear in the blue shirt does a good action and the bear in the yellow shirt does a bad action. The researcher then would let the baby choose which bear they want. Over 84% of the babies chose the bear in the blue shirt. who had done the good deed. Strangely enough the three-month-old baby would look at the bear who did the bad thing for only about five seconds while the baby would look at the bear who did the good thing for 33 seconds. This showed that even the babies who couldn't reach for the bears, in fact, made a choice. In the test with the six-month-old babies, the baby would reach for the bear in the blue shirt...the one who had done the good thing in over 87% of the time.

More of the tests consisted of the babies choosing a bear who liked a certain food offered as the baby was offered. The baby would choose the bear who chose the same as he or she did. This test indicated the baby had some bias by wanting the same thing. Because it wanted the food object that the bear seemed to choose. These researchers in the Baby Lab have published their results so they may be examined and duplicated by other researchers.

I have no idea how this plays out in the future but the researchers did go on to say that babies do go on to learn likes and dislikes from parents, teachers, and religions, all the things making up their environments. I guess it is true that evil and hate can be taught but we are actually born with some prejudices and biases inside us from the beginning. We just learn right from wrong and suppress those wrong things if we become a "good person" and never do suppress them if we're a "bad person."

It was quite interesting and I may not have gotten all of the information exactly right but I imagine you can go to Sixty Minutes online for details. It does, however, seem to be something we might consider when writing our good guy and our bad guy characters. The old good verses evil and nature verses nurture comes into play. Someone being born bad to the bone. And where does empathy come in? Is that something we're born with or without? I also remember reading a while back about names defining a personality. I guess if you name your child Adolph Hitler or Judas or Jezebell you can expect him or her to grow up to be bad. But if you choose a name like Matthew, Mark, Mary or Esther you child will be good.

Yet here's another random thought about babies having some ability to think even when only three months or six months old. Is it possible that the baby is a old soul? A person who lived before? That reincarnation is real? Perhaps in the previous life they were "bad" and have to come back to earth, live again and try to learn to be "good." That you have to keep coming back until you learn the lessons of being "good" until you finally get it right and can evolve or go to heaven?

Like I said, random thoughts. And one final one...and it's a good thing I watched Sixty Minutes tonight so I'd have something to write about. (All because the Dallas Cowboys played an early game...which they won in overtime by the way.) Another segment on the TV show tonight was about ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents) taking down a strong, powerful, rich drug cartel which operated in South America. The leaders made billions of U.S. dollars and yet lived almost like someone without much of anything. That was one reason it was hard for the agents to identify them. Living it up with millions is somewhat of a give-away to agents. When the mastermind was captured, one of the agents asked him why he lived so frugally when he had all these millions of dollars?  His answer..."Power." Remember that in your next story. Money, power and greed. To some people, POWER is what matters most.

I personally have much to be thankful for and I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.