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Prisoners are measuring future success

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

To what extent? By whose standard? Yours. The citizens of Illinois. 

Sadly, too many of us feed the need to cater to low self-esteem, for unquestioned dependency on street life, still holding on to old ties and the deviant ways of thinking that brought us here. This only reinforces prison cultural mindsets, negative images that influence perceptions and attitudes of learned helplessness and anti-social behaviors: a toxic blend ending in hopelessness. 

Given inmate resourcefulness, intelligence, and willingness to overcome, how and why is it that we languish in want of true re-entry planning, programming, and preparation for discharge? Despite the willingness of some IDOC officials who are serious about bringing us to useful citizenship, we lack the resources and political will from society to make necessary changes in IDOC. Or does society care only about putting us in storage? 

We must address this reality together, using something beyond pretense, looking past propaganda, understanding the moment. Present circumstances can never change overnight. Neither past nor present failures should stop us from considering the view of hope before us, fueled in confident assurance of rehabilitation. 

The analytical process has begun. Actions are now needed. There’s a program that has been effective in its 30 years of service: The Ohio Plan for Productive Offender Re-entry and Recidivism Reduction, as implemented by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. 

Here at Dixon, the Positive Living Unit, we have entered the steps of transformation into becoming productive members of society – not just returning convicts.

Special thanks to the Lionheart Foundation of Boston for its support to Dixon’s inmates and the Positive Living Unit. Your voice to encourage change is exemplary.

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