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Prison Life--a satire

What manners are we teaching them?



Soon your ___________________________________ will be returned to society.  Because of the once close relationship, he will be released into your care.  Though he has greatly benefited from prison therapy, he nevertheless will need much support on your part to help him trans­form into a productive, normal citizen.  We provide the below information to aid you in your task of transforming our CLUB FED graduate.  The modification of old habits is a slow process; DRASTIC CHANGES CAUSE ANXJETY.  Kindness, understanding, and patient are essential.


1.    Prepare a small bathroom with cot, small steel locker, small steel desk with small,

steel shelf above it, and one large box under cot marked on the outside Legal Papers. The door will have a window slit of 6 inches by 2 feet and be of solid wood. 


2.  For the first few weeks he will drop whatever he is doing at 3:45 PM and head to his cell. At 3:50 yell, Standup count! and at 4:05, Count clear!  Repeat the same routine at 8:45 PM, and 11:15 PM.  At the 11:15 count, lock him into his room.  Averaging once in 3 counts, yell Repeat Count, count not cleared, and take an extra 5 minutes.


3.   Turn lights on at 5:15 AM, but do not unlock his room until 5:45 AM.


4.  Have in living room a small mailbox nailed to the wall.  Check the outgoing mail nightly to be sure its contents are appropriate, than seal letters.


5.  When mail comes for your felon, slice open across the top the envelope, read, then

staple it all together. At 4:30, yell mail call!  Wait a couple of minutes then call out his name, and give him his mail.


6.    Periodically walk through the house jingling a bunch of keys.  Other times yell mono­syllabic words in a threatening tone, slam dominoes on table, slam chair on floor, and like.


7.  No metal, ceramic, or glass, only plastic utensils, cups, etc.  Serve cafeteria style.  Give only one portion.  If he tries taking a second portion, SCREAM, Only one.  Put it back!!!!  Then give him a long hard stare.


8.  Serve powdered, scrambled eggs for half of the breakfasts, the other half is Cream of Wheat; for lunch alternate between bologna, macaroni, hot dogs, and hamburgers; for dinner bake all meat dishes in 6 inches of water.  Be sure to use the maximum amount of cheapest oil in preparing all dishes.


9.    Outside the dining area, when you bring him food, he will give you in exchange either stamps or cigarettes.  Accept them.


10. Post by phone sign that All calls are monitored.  Give him Approval Form on which he is to list the name, address, and number of each whom he will be calling.


11. Warn those on list that he will be calling collect.


12.    Supply him a special combination by Master Locks which can also be opened by a master key. 


13. Your Club Fed graduate is likely to hide markers, tape, glue, Whiteout, scissors, shank in his room.  Periodically search his cell and divest him of those items that cant be bought at the commissary.  During the search check for surplus bedding, clothes, and reading material and remove surplus: the limit is 5 books, 5 magazines, 2 newspapers, 3 shirts, 3 pants, 5 socks, 5 briefs, 2 sweat pants, 2 sweat shirts, and 2 gym shorts.  No colors; only gray or tan or white.


14. Dont be surprised if prior to leaving the house, he hands you his drivers license.  Ask him where he is going, & either fill out a 3by3 pass form, or give him a 3by5 laminated card marked recreation pass, unit 2-B.  When he returns, demand the pass be turned in.  If he doesnt have it, fill out form labeled Incident Report.


15. Keep entry doors locked until move.  Five minutes before the hour yell, Ten minute active move.  At 5 minutes after the hour yell, Moves over, then lock the entry doors.


16.   When taking your dear out to the library, explain that he is not to cut pictures from books or magazines, speak with a stentorian voice, or palm the librarians tape, glue, etc.


17.  Always take him to the same supermarket on the same day of the week, and at its busiest time.  Rehearse the procedure below with the store clerks. 


18. Beforehand, arrange with clerk to accept list of items, which he is to fill.  No items may be bought that are in a can, a glass jar, or has a metal lid.  The clerk is to adamantly refuse to add new items or to substitute for outof-stock items.


19.    Whenever returning from a visit, your felon will expect to be stripped search.  Be sure to search carefully his clothes, and to tell him to, Lift your nut sack and spread them.


20. When your felon goes out, make sure he doesnt wear a coat with a slit in its lining.  When out with him, pay attention to the way he eyes liftable restricted items.


21. In the late afternoon or when returning home, your felon will place a flimsy folding chair in front of the television, then drape his shirt over its back.  Dont touch the shirt!


22. Your felon watches only splatter films and sports.  If you manage to get the chan­nel changer from him, select the same.


23. If perchance, he finds you watching Public Broadcasting or the Arts and Entertainment Network, there is, even if you change the station, a 93% chance that he will grumble ep­ithets such as: For faggots! Sucks! Asshole! In your mouth! And there is a 7% chance he will simply flex his muscles, glare, and grab the channel changer.


24. If you are wishing sexual delight, put on mens clothing, then say in a gruff voice, Let us take a shower, now.


25. In the shower he will expect you to submit to both oral and anal sex.  Fortunately, he will be quick


26.    Having never looked for employment, he will expect to be handed a job assignment.


27. Your felon believes that all employees pocket items, charge extra for deluxe service, and also for certain extra work. Collectively this is known as the hustle.


28. Based upon his prison work experience, steer him to jobs that require mere pres­ence, such as directing traffic at a roadconstruction site.


29. You should accompany your felon on trips to government offices, just to show him that it isnt a waste of time.  For years he had been told by staff in prison: (a) too busy, come back tomorrow (the day Mr.-So-And-So is off); (b) it is Mr. SoAndSos task; (c) were out of forms; (d) I dont know the answer, Ill find out next week; (e) cant because of regulations; (f) my office is up stair, where the form are; see me there (hes rarely there).


30, Much worse than the staff are the guards. Thus he will naturally avoid encountering those wearing a uniformstimulus generalization.


31. Dont feed him beans.  Warn others who are indoors with him, that has developed, because there were no unoccupied spaces, the habit of easenthemout.


32. You may politely make suggestion, but never order or angrily take offenseexcept when acting the role of a guard.  Any con­frontation by an equal will be considered a matter of honor, for which the resolution often is bloody.


33. He lived in a bathroom, thus he will enter it when occupied; even use the shitter while others are washing up.  Warn others to expect and accept this.


34 He will resist the suggestion of continuing his education or vocational training be­cause he believes that next to nothing will be taught and the class will be baby-sat by a former student. But if you offer schooling as a substitute for work, he will take it.


35.    Remember we learn through socialization, and his has been the federal gladiator school.  Their customs are quite different.  He will consider his customs more valid than yours.  Each society holds on to its traditions, and members seek out likes.


36. His companions will be those shaped by like experiences, not his old friends.  Thus he will bring home a group of seedy, foul-mouthed criminals.


37.  Dont expect civility; it is offensive to gladiators.  There is an aversion for weakness, civility, and femininity, for they have consistently been negatively reinforced by the prison population.  Be strong and tough, like him.  Dont expect romantic signs, such as roses, curtseys, hugs and kisses.  The cause for the high failure rate of renewed relationships is the failure of the wife to adapt.


38.  Change will come gradually over years, but never completely.  You must adapt and endure; better yet, act like him.


39.    Remember, as every simpleton knows: Chain a dog to a tree and you make him vic­ious. Now that your dear has been freed to live with you, good luck.





Prisons ought to be a place to treat behavioral problems.  The above satire illustrates how the current system rather than treat, promotes the problem.  From a moral point of view, our system falls far short of the idea.  Retribution, which is what our politicians promote fails.  As Bernard Shaw tersely put it:  Every idiot knows that if you chain a dog to a tree, you make him mean.  A recidivism rate of 70% confirms this. 


The other approach, that of promoting the good through establishing new patterns of behavior, has been used in Europe with far greater success.  Since infliction of pain ought to be used only when the other alternatives are impractical (the utilitarian standard) and retraining has been demonstrated to be far more effective, our incarceration system needs a total over-hall. 


One conclusion held by all of the Greek philosophers is on the nature of the ideal man:  he is a rational animal.  Education trains the rational side.  If the state functioned as a parent, then it would institute policies that would promote wisdom.  Broad general education which also stresses the development of rational skills is essential for moral development.  The teaching of reason is the surest guide to virtue.  Those who study earnestly the topic of moral philosophy including what constitutes the good life? are influenced by what they study.  Prisons are a perfect for education since most inmates are confused as to what good is[1].  It could become a training place for those who are socially ill. 


Education creates new types of behavior, thus there is less time for the activities that contribute to criminal behavior.  Moreover, the inmate who develops delectation for learning is less likely to associate once out with the peer group that supported his criminal behavior.  Add to education, occupational training, and the separation becomes greater. 


Since most who are incarcerated have been there before (recidivism run around 70%) the most sensible approach is to modify the conditions that contribute to crime outside the walls.  In addition to improving cognitive abilities including an understanding of moral philosophy, there should be an employment program.  Poverty in various ways promotes crime.  The federal government has UNICOR, prison factories; they need to be outside the fences.  Guaranteed jobs would remove the second factor leading to criminal behavior.  Incentives to hire the criminal would create a variety of employment opportunities. 


The period of incarceration should be opened ended, viz;, based on his performance.  The system of parole boards and judges with the ability to give sentence whose duration was determined by the parole board out to be re-established—it was dismantled in the late 80s.  Both in federal and state systems there is a flat 85% serving of the sentence (very few inmates loose more than a few of the 15% of the good time).  Prior to that parole in most places was available at 1/3 the sentence, and release at 50% was the norm.  Going to 85% greatly increased the period of incarceration.  Long sentence consume tax dollars (about $45,000 per year for the federal prison system[2]) while reducing the incentive of behavioral modifications.  In addition to greater good time, the stay in halfway house longer ought to be longer. 


The prison system needs to get serious about treating sociopaths.  One way would be to turn prisons into training camps that limit the leisure choice of inmates.  Television programming and reading materials ought to be limited to materials that educate. Have only education programming available prison television.  Offer a set of classes on television.  Have interactive learning courses on computers.  Each prisoner ought to have access to a key board and monitored networked to a central processor.  Offer classes as a way to get out of the cell, earn yard time, and other perks.  Selectively reward constructive leisure activities.  Make prisons a fulltime school rather than a warehouse. 


As for those who are not ready to partake in such programs, they can mature on the Aleutian Islands, in a low-cost situation without guards.  Food and supplies can be dropped off.[3]  Prisoners would be allowed to apply to get off the island, and their staying off would be contingent upon gradual, positive integration into the prison school programs.  If this seems too harsh, then our existing penitentiary system could be used.    




All these sorts of changes require able administrators.  Reform needs to start at the top with an overhaul of our political system.  They appoint the judges who make a mockery of our jurisprudence system. 

[1]   Socrates went around asking citizens what is good.  While there was much disagreement, the very process of discussion and the skill of those participating (plus the fact that the audiences of Greece would listen to the reading of Plato’s dialogues) indicates that in the cognitive skills are society was inferior to theirs. 

[2]  The budget of the Department of prisons divided by the number of inmates—rather than their underestimates.

[3]  Abusive treatment every psychologist knows is the worst way to deal with a problem (see site on Scientific Psychology if you need convincing).  By leaving them to their own devices the burden upon society is reduced.  Moreover, the state is not directly responsible for causing harm, as they are with our current system of warehousing.  It is fitting for those who resist becoming again part of society, that they should be removed and ignored—to become as foreigners, non-citizens.