Monday, December 13, 2004

Representative Paul Froehlich on visit to Angola State Prison in Louisiana

I'm quite honored to have a guest poster: State Representative Paul Froehlich. I'll let his post speak for him:

Last week I spent two days in the biggest maximum

security prison in the USA: Angola State Prison in
Louisiana. I went with Sen. Rev. James Meeks, Sen. Peter Roskam,
and former State Rep. Tom Johnson of the Prisoner Review Board.

It was quite an experience to see what was once the
nation's most violent prison now that it's a
faith-based institution. A seminary exists at the
prison and inmates get acredited four-year degrees
at no expense to taxpayers. Several inmate churches have been built by
inmates without state money. Assaults on staff and
inmates are at an all-time low even tho there are
5,100 inmates, most of them lifers.

Illinois suffers from record high recidivism and a growing inmate
population, despite a declining crime rate. The Illinois Department of
Corrections isn't doing enough correcting. Rehabilitation doesn't
occur just because someone is locked in a 12' x 8' cell. We should learn
from the experience in Angola.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Religion is certainly not the answer. Perhaps the good is less derived from the religion aspect as it is from people having faith in inmates' human potential. A little care and love goes a long way, even if it is couched in BS stories about God.
Dan I worry about you sometimes. Next you are going to be posting about all the good faith-based social welfare does.

LK

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Louie, we've got to have an open mind. If those faith-based services do a much better job at calming prisons and saving lives of guards and prisoners, I'm very open to it. Be more of a pragmatist!

Anonymous said...

Dan, pragmatism isn't always the best answer. Even if it does get you some benefit, it may just be getting you further into a local potential energy well, where the better alternative is going over the hump to a much lower potential energy well. That is, it may be better, but it is getting us further from the best alternative, which is adequate funding for a non-profit prison system that is designed to re-habilitate. It is like privatized social welfare. Funding charities does good for people but it also appeases the masses such that substantive systematic government sponsored social welfare that actually addresses poverty and inadequate health care, becomes an idea even further away, and more difficult to attain. You see what I'm saying inbetween the physics speak about potential energy wells? Sometimes localized improvements actually make it more difficult to achieve the optimal results.

LK

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I don't buy it. If we can make life better, we should do it. Energy wells and possible political distance to the progressive promised land is no substitute for making peoples' lives better when we can.

Jeff Wegerson said...

Intrigueing. I hope we get to hear more. I assume that the "faith-based" organization bid for the job and won it. I assume that it was an open bid contract. So in theory any other not-for-profit group could have bid.

So, is that true? Then there are questions as to how much outside the prison volunteer hours, if any, are put into the project. How long have they been doing this; what kind of track record is there?

Then there is the question of where on the political spectrum does this "faith-based" organization lie; fundementalist, mainstream or left-activist?

I agree with the both of you. Take improvements where you can, but don't get sold down a river.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, the expression "faith-based" needs to be struck from the language. Why not just say "religious"?

The first thing I thought of reading this post is how anyone is guaranteeing that assaults aren't simply being underreported.

-N. Y. Krause

FightforJustice said...

It's hard to hide dead bodies. There used to be murders every year. There aren't any more.