The prison system and those responsible for the care and rehabilitation of female inmates understand that the majority of those women have suffered some sort of trauma or abuse. It is finally being researched and recorded that men have suffered these same traumatic events and abuses as well. To me and those who come from the religious community or from the behavioral science community it is an obvious assumption. We don't believe or assume that a person is just "bad" or violent by nature. We know that human beings and especially children are impacted by their environments, their circumstance and events in their lives. Much research and attention has been given to the high rate of post traumatic stress disorder in returning military veterans and the violent incidences that occur after they return home. Veterans are given information concerning warning signs so that they will seek help for PTSD but often that help is given too late.
With all this information you would think we would be compelled to reevaluate the way we treat and rehabilitate violent and addicted inmates. The prison system has never even thought to look at the why only carry out punishment and condemnation. The Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey recently released a report concerning the rates of traumatic events in male inmates. "Eighty-five percent reported being a victim of a crime-related event, such as robbery or home invasion. More than three quarters of the men had been physically or sexually abused.State Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said at first he almost didn’t believe the figures. "When I saw the numbers and I saw the prevalence of trauma overall, I was just blown away," he said. "I couldn’t believe that so many, such a high percentage of our offenders — so I called her up and said, are you sure about these numbers?"
If the goal of prison is to correct the behavior of the inmate so that he/she returns to be a contributing member of our communities then we have to stop thinking of these individuals as "criminals" and start looking at them as human beings. These inmates are people....wounded, misguided, abused people who see themselves as failures. It is up to us to instruct them and guide them to a better life. It is our job to take care of the widow, the poor and the fatherless, to teach and train young men and women in the way they should go and to help our brothers/sisters to find the path to a good life. We can't lock them in a little room, away from family, community, education and treatment and expect to have things turn out differently when they come home. Prison is supposed to be a time out. Not a lifestyle.