The first penitentiaries in America were created in Pennsylvania and New York, with the sole purpose of inflicting punishment on prisoners and not rehabilitation. This is part of the root cause for many issues we face with our prison system today.
Given that human beings are social creatures, the idea of solitary confinement, living in small cramped spaces, with strict rules and mandatory silence were thought to help inmates repent for their crimes and thus their sins. Other forms of punishment included solitary labor, Bible reading, and reflection. Some penitentiaries had a mandatory silence rule going as far as covering their guards’ shoes, and forbid noise and communication.
57% of criminals are in prison for non-violent crimes and offenses. The Great Rebuild (TGR) calls for major prison reform to help reduce recidivism among non-violent offenders and end the privatization of prisons. Prisons should help rehabilitate and prepare prisoners to be responsible citizens upon re-entry into society. We should take their freedom for committing a crime, but should not take their life.
The United States prison population has increased 500% over the last 40 years according to The Bureau of Justice Statistics. with this suicide rates in prisons have also sharply increased. 50% of suicide victims in New York prisons experienced inmate-inmate conflict, 42% experienced recent disciplinary action, 40% were in a state of fear, another 42% were physically ill, and an overwhelming 65% had either lost "good time" privileges or had severed relationships with friends or family. New Jersey saw a 55% increase in their suicide rate from 2012-2016.
How can we expect that prisoners will learn form their crimes and be productive citizens when released if they are in a prison system that feeds the fight or flight mentality, confines them into small spaces, increases anxiety and stress, and strips them of responsibility and support? Murderers and prisoners who are deemed too dangerous to be in society should not be released, however, we should treat them humanly and learn from their psychological patterns and behaviors to better help us detect future would-be predators who need help before they hurt or harm an individual.
These are some of the reform programs that would be included in the TGR:
should focus on teaching them responsibility
hands-on and virtual jobs training
keeping them up to date on society and technological upgrades
digital classrooms and virtual education to better help them adjust to societal and technological advances in the workforce and everyday life
companion training with animals. The goal would be to end euthanization of healthy animals nationwide and use our prison systems to help train unwanted animals to help Americans who suffer from mental or physical disability.
Change the way we medicate our prisoners by offering alternative ways of coping with anxiety in addition to also using prescription medications if needed. Such would include mandatory meditation, individual counseling, a mandatory fitness regiment, cannabis as a substitute to other forms of medication
Increased family visitation and digital communication to help maintain their level of support while serving their prison sentence
Developing a smart prison grid to provide extra safety and security for the prison staff and prisons, provide health and mental analysis and monitoring, and energy management within the prison system.