June 26, 2012

Nation Inside: Communication Strategies Against Mass Incarceration

by Jose Antonio Hernandez (author's profile)


Nation Inside: Communication Strategies Against Mass Incarceration;

RE: Reply ID: AMC2012

I did not grow up wanting to be prison #11616584. As most any kid I had high hopes and expectations in my life. I grew up poor and with a single mother, but she tried to instill a sense of goodness in my thinking.

I don't know where I got lost, but I do know it would be a miracle at this point to find that goodness again. I'm only 33 and I've spent half my life incarcerated. I guess by posting this blog I'm trying to lend my voice so the next boy growing up doesn't one day realize he's wasted half his life in prison.

Here are my answers to the following questions based on experience of prison life.

1. How can organizations working to end mass incarceration do better?
I feel the only way to end mass incarceration is by mass intervention of young offenders. The majority of prisoners I know all started committing crimes as juveniles. Instead of helping to instill greater family values in my life, I was sent from foster home to foster home. ONce you get lost in this system, gangs and drugs are the only way to fill the void. Organizations should combine their efforts to stop the problem when it first starts.

2. What support do you need that you are not getting?
I feel prisons should offer more up to date education that could be used once released. Most offenders are given lengthy prison sentences so they struggle to survive in a society that is more technologically advanced. Given the right tools an offeder can learn to fix cars instead of stealing them.

3. Are there any changes to law that we should advocate for?
I think we should advocate for the reduction of mandatory sentences. I think what lawmakers fail to realize is that "good time" is not give, it is earned. Without the possibility of early release for successfully completing cognitive and drug programs, most prisoners give up hope and have behavior issues. They carry these same behavior issues to society once released. I am in prison with prisoners who receive "good time" and prisoners without "good time." The difference between them is like night and day. When you have nothing to lose and in this environment, it is only a matter of time before someone just trying to do his time is subject to this person's bad behavior. If we all had the same possibility of earned time, this environment would change for the better.

I hope this letter helps shed a little light on a dark subject.

Jose Antonio Hernandez
82911 Beach Access Rd.
Umatilla, OR 97882


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aaronrosenblum Posted 12 years ago. ✓ Mailed 12 years ago   Favorite
Hi Jose,
I'm reading your post here at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan. Thank you for sharing your words with the public, they are powerful. It is a shame that people like yourself are stuck inside and not able to grow your skills and work to help the very youth you refer to in your letter. I think your comment about cutting out the pipeline from youth to adult incarceration is so important... when young people are presented with few paths it is no surprise that they should end up following one that is already so present in their lives (like prison). It will never be enough until this whole "justice" system is turned on its head but I will try to fight as hard as I can from the outside, and hope that you manage to maintain the strength and will to fight from the inside.

In solidarity,

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