Friday, April 5, 2002

The Seed

Respect, you only get out what you have put in. What about Life Skills, Communication and Conflict Resolution. Evolution, perhaps some children and adults miss the whole or part of the course. I did, and so how surprised do you think I was when I realised my parents missed the course as well. Things like Compromise, Win Win, Empathy, and Love. Invisible energy and other skills like public speaking, how to Relate, Assuming, Blaming, Forgiveness, Freedom and Discrimination. This is how I learned respect. If you don't know what it is then how do you relate?

I ran into a friend he was about 60 years of age and I asked Egor a Russian Scientist. "Why do we learn and then die? " He said you have to pass it on.

So Grasshopper, how do we plant this seed so that the bin (jail) is a school of life? a University to teach life skills. Instead of emptying out the rubbish in the bin we turn out compost and fertiliser to promote growth. Nurturers.

How do we create unless we Nurture Nature. Like cradling a baby in your arms the very same cradle swings below us when we care for all living things.

I described an injustice to Barbara an elderly lady I met at a Justice Action meeting. I said, "This is not the Australian way ". Barbara said, " Well I think it is". I went numb thinking well I did not want to hear her negative conformation.

I still wanted to believe after all I have been through and all I have done that there is an Australian way and that the majority was good. I asked her when was a conscience born? She said, "When babies can focus their eyes."

I am still learning because I was told conscience was born when our mothers smacked us about the time we threw our bottles down from the high chair. Barbara had the better idea because no violence or threat is induced to form her view.

We cannot defeat evil. We can only balance it hopefully by the greater good. Why? Because people, (human beings) only learn from trial and error. By making a mistake the thing we call evil. Like falling off a mountain some people break their arm and some people break their neck. The severity is a matter of the circumstances around the fall.

So do we punish everyone equally for his or her first error? No, we deal out just desert in relation to the severity of the crime and the enthusiasm of the crowd (the populist view) then we throw them in the bin. Human beings are not dogmatic yet we take away their ability to learn after they make their first mistake.

I asked Mr Tze a Chinese Triad I use to play chess with I said "Mr Tze how do I defend myself?" He said, " Do not strike." Why? He said, " you will Always underestimate your opponent." "If you project anger you will always get angry people in your life if you project happiness you will get happy people in your life. So dont scare just take two steps back." I know too that the cat always scratches back.

I met Jimmy doing 30 years because he was made an example of 30 years ago. Jimmy told me a myth. Once upon a time this little boy went walking up the cobblestone road where he met a man. The man said "Son go home and cut out your mothers heart and I will give you treasure." So the little boy went home and cut out his mothers heart and went racing up the road holding his mothers heart in his hand. The little boy slipped over grazing his knees on the cobblestones. Just then his mothers heart spoke to him saying, " dont worry son it will be alright". The moral to the story?

Your mother and father will always love you. It doesn't matter if you did not have the skills. It doesn't matter if you were a drunk. It doesn't matter if you were a junky. It doesn't matter if you were disabled. It doesn't matter if you suffered a mental illness. It doesn't matter if you are discriminated against or marginalized. It doesn't matter if people don't forgive you for your first mistake.

$500 thousand dollars of taxpayers money was spent on me in the Special Care Unit (SCU) at Long Bay Prison Complex for six months to learn from the best teachers in the world. As well as to learn from my own experience and my peers and my friends.

I majored in humanities in the University of hard knocks. Psychology, Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Criminology, Parent Effectiveness Training, Life Skills, Conflict Resolution, Communication, Musicianship, and Law. Most people in jail never saw light of day of that unit or anything like it only because I was bright enough to challenge the systems ideology. Then why is it I am not regarded by the authorities or some beauracrats and agencies when I make a comment? Same flawed system decided you're worthless and broken. Spoilt and disposable because I made a mistake once.

What can we make out of him? A Goose? A Pawn in an Election Campaign? A Monster? Dangerous? Or just plane Bad? A law for one man perhaps? Or lets just spend $500.000 and trip him over again while he is not looking? If the taxpayers of this state worked out how much money the government spent on my good self so far it would be in the tens of thousands. Possible more than a million dollars.

Now I would like you to help me plant the seed. A human being is priceless and unique. The money has to be spent on education not on bins. That education can be provided without maximum security at a reasonable cost. Medium Secure Education and life skills will help our children grow. Leaving the State and Country less inflation like trying to teach doctors how to communicate with their patients years after they learnt how to be doctors.

Now! Who is bad?

By Gregory Kable 5 April 2002


CRC funded reports 1983-1984

Evaluation of the special care unit (at Long Bay Gaol, New South Wales)

Grantees: Dr D W Porritt, Research and Statistics Division, NSW Department of Corrective Services

Criminology Research Council grant ; (8/85)

The Special Care Unit (SCU) is a 20-bed self-contained unit within the NSW Department of Corrective Services which opened on 1 January 1980. It has a short-term goal of assisting inmates with behavioural/psychological problems to adapt to the prison environment and a long-term goal to facilitate their rehabilitation back into society. The research was designed to evaluate the short-term goal, and to provide feedback on staff and prisoner perceptions of the benefits and/or problems of the unit.

A total of 140 inmates were interviewed either at entry to the unit, at exit or at three month follow-up, as well as 24 inmates in a comparison group. Several psychological tests were also administered including the Interpersonal Behaviour Survey, Jessness Behaviour Checklist, Lovibond's Self Analysis Questionnaire and Spielberger's Tait Anxiety Scale. Interview results revealed that inmates had learnt to overcome initial apprehension about therapy groups with prison officers and were able to discuss themselves and their problems openly with most staff (including prison officers). They reported heightened self awareness and an improved ability to relate to other inmates and prison officers after leaving the unit. The results of psychometric tests showed statistically significant differences between groups but these did not have any clear interpretation.

Data were also analysed for a total of 45 questionnaires and 28 interviews from staff who had worked in the unit between April 1984 and June 1986. Staff reported enhancing their skills in working with inmates and particularly in dealing with angry or distressed prisoners.

More generally, other benefits and/or problems were reported by both staff and prisoners. The reported benefits appeared to derive from the unique environment created in the SCU when compared to the main gaol system. For instance, the high degree of mixed staffing was rated as having a 'positive effect on inmates' by 70 per cent of the staff, and none said that this had a negative effect. Some staff also reported that they felt that working in the SCU improved their prospects for promotion and improved their interpersonal and communication skills. Some staff also said it improved their communication with their families. Inmates said that the unit offered them better conditions than the main gaol system (for example, more visits and phone calls, opportunity to wear their own clothes) and claimed that they enjoyed greater freedom in the unit.

Some of the problems mentioned by staff were difficulties adjusting to the unit, the location of the unit inside the walls of a larger prison, the selection of staff and inmates not being stringent enough, and lack of training resources for staff. Staff also mentioned that they felt inmates should be provided with more support after leaving the unit. Some of the inmates said that they found it difficult to make the transition from the unit back to main gaol and would have liked more support. A few inmates mentioned that they felt the SCU program itself was very hard for them, because they found group counselling too confronting or they felt uncomfortable talking openly in a group. Many of the inmates who had these difficulties did not complete their stay in the unit. More generally, a high non-completion rate was a continuing problem for the unit with a non-completion rate of 48 per cent for the period of this evaluation. Many inmates were expelled from the unit for non-work or drug use.

In short, the research provides some support for the conclusion that the SCU achieved its short-term goals; to enhance the ability of troubled prisoners to cope with the gaol environment through improved staff-to-prisoner and prisoner-to-prisoner relations.

The report makes recommendations based on the research findings to:

improve on the number of inmates who complete the program;
help inmates with stress imposed by the program;
support inmates and staff leaving the unit;
enhance the network of available programs;
implement a procedure to provide feedback on post-exit functioning of inmates;
provide a standardised assessment for staff in the unit; and
implement performance indicators for the unit.