Monday, May 11, 2009

How Would I Change the Prison System?

To Senator Jim Webb

To answer the above question [How Would I Change the Prison System?], I would start from outside the prisons. One, eliminate the number of people entering the prison. This involves having numerous prevention programs for young people.

During the late 60's and 70's I supervised a program in a project area where we provided classes for adults and children, utilizing 30 volunteers, job corp, and PHEAA students. The four women aides, employed, helped me keep the program open from 9-9. These four women supervised the adult volunteer group, all in turn supervised the college students and the college students supervised the high school students. Every person involved was responsible for planning the executing a simple, fun filled program for all children in the area from toddler to 16 years of age. We even started a daring program of paying 12 year olds $2.00 per hour for specific skills when they became proficient and the arts, needlework, or writing.

Each Friday afternoon I closed the program and had everyone involved write a report about their work. Social work students from the University of Pittsburgh evaluated the program and put the results in report sighting the importance of preventive measures although prevention is difficult to statistically prove.

It seems our society would rather gather statistical evidence that crimes have
been committed than prevent them.

I have kept the results of a very successful program between 1968 and 1978 to utilize if our country ever comes to its senses and realizes how valuable prevention can be to the whole society.

The cost of this program, effecting 20+ students, 4 aides, 30 volunteers and one social worker and myself totaled less than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, not including the job corp and PHEAA students.

My question of this congress is why would you spend up to fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars to keep so many in jail when you could effect the lives of twenty rather than one or two.

The materials are all available to replicate this program nationwide and I am confident that there are massive numbers of people with talent who would readily volunteer if a well developed program were implemented.

I have visited the Region Five facility in Western Pennsylvania and am saddened by the number of young people who reside there because our society has failed them.

It is time to make a change.

Thank you,

Carol E. Burrows

(Former Director of Social Development for the Redevelopment
Authority of Monessen, Pa. and Director of the non-profit organization Everyday
People which was forced out of business by the shortsightedness of the people
who saw no advantage in providing wholesome daily activities for our youth.)

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