Standard and Poor's lowered America's credit rating from AAA to AA+, I heard. The news report that came across my radio headset early this morning provided further evidence of how the world has changed. We are a weaker country because of mismanagement by government leaders. Misguided government leadership has hindered my life in numerous ways throughout the 24 years that I have served in prison so far.
I've followed politics ever since my prison term began. Ronald Reagan sat in the White House when I began my term. I watched elections that led to presidencies by Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, and Obama. I had hopes for reforms that would bring attention to the prison system, but the only reforms I saw led to more spending and bigger government. Leadership refused to cut any aspect of government, and I lived in the midst of a group of government workers convinced that they were doing God's work by locking people in cages.
Even during these troubled times, with high unemployment and record deficits, those who run America's bloated prison system argue passionately on the need to preserve policies that keep people in prison for the duration of the sentences imposed. They vehemently object to efforts to implement reforms that would provide mechanisms for nonviolent prisoners to work toward earning freedom. Those who support the prison system insist upon preserving the status-quo. Their income depends upon a massive prison population.
For those who stand behind the prison system, preserving failed policies and procedures represents a higher priority than preparing prisoners for law-abiding lives upon release. It makes for bad and expensive public policy, as high recidivism rates make clear. Even during difficult times that lower credit ratings make clear, I doubt whether American leaders will consider the absurdity of its bloated prison system as an option for reform. I'm pleased to have reached the final months of my imprisonment. I intend to work toward improving the lives of those within it upon my release.
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