May 2, 2012

Dear Blog

by Daniel L. Van deBogart (author's profile)


Daniel L. VandeBogart
T-81483 MCI Norfolk
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056

Dear Blog, 4-17-12

Hello people and peopletttes, I am sorry I let a month lapse since my last entry. I wish I had a colorful excuse but the truth is the days just blend together in here and I need to make these entries more a part of my daily routine.

I would like to thank Spryte for all of your creative ideas for bathing in a dry county. :) They are definitely better than my idea of laying on my back and spitting straight up, a technique my cellie objects to (quite vociferously).

A little creativity goes a long way in here. Consider the numerous ways inmates can get into trouble. Making home brew (wine) using everything from jelly to jolly ranchers. Making tattoo guns using typewriter motors or computer modem motors and ink from gel pens or soot and toothpaste. Or the hundred and one tools that can be duplicated with a pair of fingernail clippers (or it's industrial sized cousin, the toenail clipper). :)

Hmm... that seems like a good topic for future entries - "how to survive prison with creativity." :)

We all share our many ideas at our version of the water-cooler, "the yard." Everyone walks the compound in their small groups, exchanging the days' gossip, bragging about the great "scores" they had in the past, or trading ideas for future endeavors. Some of the conversations are about as lame as you might expect and a hen house has nothing on the gossip some of these guys can involve themselves in.

But, occasionally, intelligence does win out and an intellectual conversation can spring up and develop into a refreshing round table workout for the grey matter.

I make a conscious effort to avoid what I call the Jerry Springer rants, there is just way too much of that in here, and in the world as a whole. Why are so many negative television shows so popular? For instance "Survivor," the premise of which seems to be who can be the most underhanded, conniving, deceitful, and manipulative person, and that person is awarded a large cash prize at the end of the game. This show and many just like it have become so popular that you can't go by any water cooler where it's no being discussed.
This promotes the very worst behaviors in human nature, and people flock to it on the edge of their seats waiting to see who will be manipulated off the island. I live this in here, why has this become entertaining?

The Jerry Springer show makes no allusions to anything but the pain and suffering it sensationalizes. The sole draw of that show is to see someone have a horrible secret dumped on them for everyone to see while a frothing audience eggs them into violence. Is this what we are? Is this the modern day version of gladiators being torn apart for the amusement of a mob, and make no mistake, those audiences are just that, a barely restrained mob. Is it any wonder that anytime a home team is successful at some sporting event the kids cause so much destruction. That is what we are being taught is acceptable behavior, we are in fact encouraging this behavior by sensationalizing it with television.

Am I way off? Ask yourself how many of the most popular reality shows get their ratings from the most negative aspects and who is watching?

A while ago the local press made a lot of noise about prisons allowing inmates video games and cable T.V. On the one hand the idea is this place should be punishment and inmates comfort is low on the list of society's worries. Yet the future is important and most inmates will return to the general population, in fact, next door to a lot of you. So the question is what kind of person should be reintroduced into society --- someone who has just spent the past few years watching Jerry Springer and Survivor, or someone who has been watching A&E, Discovery, ESPN, and Bravo? There are those who would argue against television altogether, but the reality is T.V. is a necessary part of prison, without it, the "good behavior" incentive is gone and this place would be dark and dangerous, when who are you releasing into your neighborhoods?

That seems to be one of the major flaws in the argument for tougher prisons - is anyone really taking into account the future, the release date and the consequences of the years of abusive treatment? Consider a dog in a small cage, would you feel comfortable maltreating him for years then opening his cage with your family around you - or consider taking a dog who has been mistreated all its life, and over a period of time show it love, kindness, patience and work with positive reinforcement, then open the gate in the presence of your family.

Prisoners can be reeducated and can become productive members of society but only if society wills it - otherwise the answer is to release no one lest a monster be loosed in your neighborhood.

Wow - quite a rant, but I invite any and all feedback. If you think I'm off base I'd like to hear your ideas. For now I'll send this and hope you all live each day to the fullest, enjoy your life and find ways to smile each and every day because a smile trumps gloomy any day. :)

LAR, I was then and have always been. Time goes by but that is true for us all. In yer window ;)


Daniel L. Van de Bogart
T-81483 MCI Norfolk
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056


Replies (3) Replies feed

Spryte Posted 11 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
Dear Mr. VandeBogart:

You are welcome.

I was going to write my own rant...but it can be summarized in two sentences:

Jerry Spring bad.
Survivor goooooood.

My opinion on what should be considered "fair punishment" can be summed up in one paragraph...I think.

In this cage, I have a dingo...the dingo ate my baby.  Now the damn dingo wants HBO, Cinemax and an XBox.  Hmmm...

Okay, I might not be feeling too charitable toward the dingo and I'm thinking endless episodes of "Judge Judy" just might teach it a lesson...but someday that dingo is gonna get out of that cage....

When he does, he'll probably want HBO, Cinemax and an XBox.  Not only that but he's going to be pissed that it costs a lot of money and he'll have to work...which will cut into the time he could be watching "Ice Road Truckers."

But that's in the future...for now we have to decide whether or not cable programming or lack thereof has a direct impact on recidivism.  Seriously?  

It's one thing to jab a stick into the cage and poke that damn baby-eating dingo, it's one thing to starve it or drive it mad with thirst, it's one thing to put it in a cage so small that it's tail hangs out one end making it ripe for tugging and it's ears stick out the roof...that would be cruel and I would probably keep any future babies out of the dingo's reach when he was released.  

But if that dingo asked for a joystick and the benefit of something that costs me over two hundred dollars a month to enjoy?  Hell no.  I'll pay taxes to see that you are fed, sheltered and given whatever things you need to be comfortable...I promise not to poke you with sticks and pull on your tail...I'll treat you with the respect that every human being deserves, but I'm not going to contribute to giving you freely, the luxuries that I pay for with my own sweat and sacrifice.  

That would be akin to having you enjoy a filet mignon while the majority of the people in the outside population have to make do with beans and wienies.  And trust me...I'm what's considered upper middle class and can afford the luxuries I have...but I'm not so foolish as to believe that everyone is so fortunate.  I work with a woman who shops gladly at the local Goodwill store and keeps all three of her children fed and clothed on a single mother's income.  She doesn't have cable...but she's not a dingo.

Well...I guess it took more than a paragraph...but you must have hit a nerve. :)  My husband teases me that I've grown more conservative with age and I deny it vehemently, secretly believing in global warming and cheering on the "Occupy Everything" protesters...but he's right, damn it!  I have.  I want to send every illegal immigrant back to where they came from.  I didn't like Obama.  I still don't.  

Ah well...I guess it was bound to happen.  At least we haven't started comparing old people physical complaints yet....

Spryte Posted 11 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
I guess what I'm saying is...don't be a dingo.  I mean...all joking aside, I understand what you are trying to say...but it's a bad argument.  If a person can be a better person simply because they watched cable programming, were more up on current events...then there is a huge sector of the free citizenry that doesn't qualify.  It is not considered a necessity...not when there are groceries, rent, utilities, clothing and medical bills to deal with that take priority.  A prisoner is given all of those things at no cost.  My co-worker puts in an eight hour day, away from her children, her home...and nearly every cent goes for those necessities.  Tell me...why you should get what she cannot for free?  How are you better?  I'll call you equal...but definitely not better.

Now...what I propose is that if an inmate wishes to have these luxuries, then he earn them somehow...real work, real rate of pay...just like in the outside world.  This would prepare him for the reality of becoming a free man/woman.  I find this to be a fair solution to a "fair punishment."  


(PS - I had to break this into two pages cuz I wrote too much)

Spryte Posted 11 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I have set it up so that whenever something new is posted, I am notified via email...but I still check the site every day to see if anything new has arrived.  Last night, a funny thing happened.  There wasn't anything new, but your last blog had been transcribed and the first line that leapt out of the text began with LAR and I hadn't heard the "in yer window" for a very, very, very long time...and it made me laugh.  I was so sure that the transcriber must have added it...getting that line from a phone call...but no, when I looked back, there it was plain as day in your original post.  I just hadn't seen it.  For some reason, I missed it, I don't know.

Maybe I wasn't meant to see it until last night.

The house is quiet for the moment...I have it to myself, along with one rather bored Australian shepherd and seven cats (which is about as alone as alone gets around here).  I encourage my husband to go out and be with his friends (who are not necessarily mine) but it isn't often that he actually does it.  It is a rare thing for me to have the house to myself so I enjoy it whenever the opportunity presents itself.  

I do plan on going out in a  Groceries and whatever.   I plan on doing a bit of wandering and browsing.  Tomorrow is Memorial Day and although we have no big plans, I thought I would do something a little extra special for dinner...steaks on the grill, salad, potatoes...and maybe a batch of home made ice cream to round it off.  There are also a few things that I need for the house.  I've been going through some bizarre cleaning room at a time.  You'd be amazed at how toxic a house can become with an infestation of felines. Or maybe you wouldn't.

There's a lot we have to catch up on and in time we may.  I have to take it in small doses, I think.  Twenty three years is a long time...and a lot has happened in that time.  There's no real place to begin and jumping in to the middle of it is daunting.  

I do think of you and without animosity...for the most!  Occasionally there are regrets, but what is a life lived if you haven't a single regret?  You came into my life for a purpose...not the one I would have chosen, but it set me on the path I am now and I'm pretty happy with where I am and who I I can't bitch.  Although I sometimes do...

You need to write more frequently though...try once a week.  You always did suck at discipline...  :)


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