The prison system is having people return to prison within two years all over Australia and in many parts of the world. Between 40% and 60% of inmates return to prison… Why is this happening?
When you go into prison there needs to be an induction where inmates receive the right information, the right knowledge and the right techniques to be able to, in a sense, program themselves to do jail in ways that benefit themselves, their family, the community and the jail environment.
When an inmate does a program to address their offending behaviour part way through the sentence or at the end of their sentence, this is failing to address a critical part of human behaviour. That is, the habits we create at the beginning of a prison sentence and carry on throughout a prison sentence are fundamentally how we will act and behave in society.
An induction at the beginning of a sentence or a period of incarceration has a huge opportunity to fill the inmate with positive knowledge and techniques that actually work. What needs to occur as well though, is a support system for the inmates and their families or supporters for these loving connections are proven ways to facilitate lasting behavioural change.
A cornerstone of what makes for a successful jail time is to have the right resources and then the onus is on an inmate to implement them by doing the internal work on a daily basis throughout their incarceration. Well trained staff could follow up on this regularly.
A huge situation with inmates is the lack of continuity. This has three aspects:
- Continuity at the inmate’s personal level with the connection of different departments at all stages of an inmate’s life as they journey through the justice system.
- Love and the feeling of being loved, which gives an inmate a stronger identity; therefore, a far sturdier foundation to do their inner work.
- The inmate will however, have to forgive themselves, forgive others and circumstances, and learn to realise their potential. They specifically need to learn to love and support themselves, as most inmate’s core issue is self-hatred.
Any inmate may feel some loving support from guards in the prison system, but then a lot of the time they won’t. And then inmates may feel some loving support through the parole process, but then a lot of times they won’t feel that at all. If a system can be designed where an inmate feels supported at the beginning of a sentence, throughout the sentence, through the parole process, including the family and supporters being involved - then the inmate is likely to feel a continuity of support and in a sense being loved for who they are, not for what they’ve done in the past, and being loved for their potential.
It is our hope that corrections systems around the world realise this fundamental situation and shift towards a model that relies on “continuity of loving support” throughout an inmate’s journey in and out of the system.
Without this, we will continue to manifest reoffending.
We have a chance to co-create men and women who can be positive contributors to society. People we would all like as our neighbours.
Brent Ovalsen & Kathy Craig