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Corrective Debilitation

Today, (9-15-11), the Pew Center announced the results of a study in which it found that, after three years, 408 of ex-cons suffer recycling through the state’s conviction machine. What, specifically, may be some of the causes of this?

Perhaps the major cause, behind the obvious lack of moral character, is the fact that they are easy targets for lazy cops to recycle. Their names are already in the cops’ databases. The cop-computer spits out custom ized lists of names for each crime typed into it. Each name is of a target previously convicted of that particular crime. Jurors are easily led to re-convict persons who are already forever branded as criminals. Why expend effort to uncover new criminals when old criminals are so easy to re-convict? (DNA proves that, in the case of death sentences, which are the gold standard of the lawyer’s system, fully seven percent of its convictees are completely innocent, having nothing whatsoever to do with the crimes for which they were scheduled to die. This failure rate is compounded by the fact that it encourages the lucky criminals who got away to perform more, worse crimes in the future.)

This 40%, (3 year) failure rate of “corrections” industries may also be partially explained by its systematic undoing of its “corrective” function by its “Security” apparatchik. E.g., the corrections industry, though full of programs, is very anemic in rehabilitative substance. Many of its programs are faith-based, which constitutes taking advantage of a free service in lieu of providing a costly professional approach. Other programs, such as “Cognitive Behavior Therapy” and its many positive thinking variants, have a slight, discernable effectiveness and basis in psychology, but are taught by guards who have accepted the title of “counselor” rather than by trained professionals in the field which invented the theory. In fact, real prison psychologists are reserved for chronic and emergency care, such as suicide prevention.

Captives are forced to attend such classes through threats and inducements. Some accept the value of what is taught. More seem to simply feign belief to obtain what feeble “goodtime” that is offered. Captives are realists, learning better ways of manipulation while suffering manipulation. They learn and practice a set of behaviors designed for dealing with their captors, and practice a different set of behaviors required for dealing with fellow captives.

Psychology, as a whole, is known for its nebulosity: its effectiveness can not be accurately measured, as can the exact sciences. What effectiveness it may have is easily destroyed by outside factors, such as, in prison, daily, petty harassment and mental or even physical torture by guards, prisoncrats and administrators. E.g., in all prisons, there is a constant, continuing fixation on counting all their victims, day and night, every hour or two. This occurs in extreme forms that border on the clinical definition of insanity. Two guards count each captive twice each time. One guard bangs on each cage to wake his victims when his flashlight in their eyes fails to do so. He can see two victims in each cage. It is never dark, as the lights are always on to some degree, and the cages are specially constructed to be like fishbowls; there is no place in the cage that his eyes can not see. Yet he or she will not go away and leave their victims in temporary peace. Sometimes they will even demand a “Stand Up:” count. The reason for these mental tortures are never revealed. Their victims are left to guess, because any explanation of this behavior would be indefensible.

One of my guesses is a deliberate policy of “Corrective Debilitation”. This strategy is linked to the 1998 findings of University of Pennsylvania Professor Martin Seligman, and his work that amounted to torturing dogs with electricity. These dogs, he discovered, went into a state of abject submission. He called this process “Learned Helplessness”. This appears to be exactly what the guards of prisons, particularly corporate-profit prisons, are teaching; helplessness in the face of their terrible, uncheckable power to harass and torture, 24 hours/day, seven days/week, for decades.

Teaching helplessness would seem to counteract the corrections industry programs that teach positive thinking. Is it possible to think positively while enduring constant harassment and torture from people who are determined to teach you helplessness? Almost all the captives in my researches respond according to the conditions of their sentence. The ones who are lucky enough to have escaped the lawyers’ system with an end date to their sentences try to survive with their mental abilities intact by focussing on this end date. The ones who have had their lives taken away either suicide or try to make pretend-lives within prison around the constant harassment. They exhibit abject submission and learned helplessness toward prisoncrat observers, yet often appear to their fellow captives to possess a death wish or display psychopathy or psychopathic tendencies.

Corrective Debilitation arises from the stereotyping and hatred of prison employees determined to add extra punishment to persons sent to prison as punishment and needs to be itself corrected if successful reintigration is an actual goal of “Corrections” industries. This needs to occur because laws change at whim of elected officials and due to sudden onset of pressure from the mal-governed.