The American prison system is a mystery to most, with the average citizen knowing little more than what they have seen on television or in the movies. Although Hollywood is not known for being a source of reliable information, there is one aspect of the prison experience that they usually get right – the feeling of helplessness that a new inmate must feel as they enter a cellblock for the first time. Scared, alone and sentenced to spend the foreseeable future in the company of all manners of individuals who are often the worst examples of American society are some of the feelings they experience. Of course, entertainment soon gets in the way of fact when the new fish finds himself taken under the wing of an experienced, kind hearted lifer willing to show him how to survive. In the real world, the first time offender is more than likely going to learn about the prison culture the hard way, through trial and error, unless they attended prison boot camp first.
Every law enforcement officer has heard the stories and seen the training videos describing how many inmates use their time behind bars to learn how to become a better criminal upon their release. But, this does not help the first time offender survive their sudden immersion into this foreign culture. With a prison boot camp, these newly sentenced inmates can now turn to “prison consultants” who will teach them a host of skills necessary to prepare them for a life many never believed they would face. One such firm advertises the ability to assist soon-to-be Federal inmates in everything from obtaining a favorable Pre-sentencing Report to early release in a half-way house. The staff includes a former police officer, who was himself convicted and sent to a Federal prison, an attorney experienced with Federal sentencing guidelines and a self-defense expert – and this is where I become concerned.
I understand the need for the inexperienced future inmate to be aware of the prison culture- the various groups that may attempt to offer protection, the racial divides and hierarchy that exists inside the walls. I have no problem with this same convict learning how to work the system to their advantage so they can earn time off their sentence or qualify for alternative programs; I learned long ago that is part of the system. But I have serious concerns with teaching anyone convicted of a crime the finer points of knife fighting or other self-defense techniques. No, I do not think that prison should be an inhuman experience with petty white collar criminals taken advantage of or subject to physical attack. But, it does concern me that such training is preparing that same inmate to be more of a threat then prior to their conviction.
What happens when that inmate, who likely had no prior violence in their background, decides the threat is not another inmate but the guards? Although the guards are trained to treat every inmate as a potential threat, we all know it is taxing to be at condition Red every minute of every day. Guards are humans first and are naturally more likely to relax when dealing with a con man or tax evader, especially when they are unaware that same inmate prepared for their time inside by receiving training in hand to hand combat.
In a perfect world the guards would be able to protect all inmates, allowing each and every one of them to serve their sentence without unnecessary threat of harm. As unlikely as that is, I do not believe the alternative is to turn that new fish into a barracuda, which in the long run may be just as detrimental to their long term rehabilitation.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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