Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Roots of Change
My brief sojourn into a local prison highlighted one of the issues that I struggle with in my research - different prisons can have wildly different cultures.
Short-term prisoners tend not to be involved in "prison politics". As they are, literally, not staying around then their incentive for speaking up is vague. Why even try to prompt change, when one won't be around to enjoy the fruits?
But there can be a deeper malaise than this conscious indifference. The prison system can look overwhelming and impervious, especially to those with only sporadic experiences of it. And this easily fosters a mindset that "nothing changes, why bother trying?"
This is common enough amongst long-termers, and an attitude I am always ready to challenge. It is a false view, and it dismisses the suffering of those who have fought to bring change.
Recent experience makes me wonder whether a more formal, organised alliance between prisoners and their families in pushing for change could be fruitful? After all, prisoners families do have a greater moral standing, a useful platform from which to argue.
Labels: prisoners' families voices