Prisoners are individuals, and they should be handled as such in the same manner as people in the outside world are treated. Offender recovery is a challenge that comes with prison, and it is a task that should be performed by society as a whole, not only by offender correction agencies. As a result, services must be placed in place to ensure that prisoners are supported during their correctional journey, regardless of the amount of time they will spend in jail. For example, the United Nations Department of Drugs and Crime defines two approaches to prisoner rehabilitation based on financial and human rights considerations. It states that “the detrimental impact of imprisonment, not only on individuals but families and communities, and economic factors also need to be taken into account when considering the need for prison reforms” (Brewster). These programs need to start the minute an inmate is taken into custody and needs to continue throughout their life in confinement. This should always be progressive of the previous stages, developing the prisoners’ way of thinking and character. Another example of a program is the use of Shakespeare in transforming inmates’ lives, a task done by Laura Bates, who dedicated her time to teaching Shakespeare to maximum prison inmates.
An individual being imprisoned does not mean that they cease being human and that how we perceive them should not change. During their correction period, they also need to be offered programs that target to help them grow in both talent and personality. This is to prepare them for their return to the normal world.
It has been proven from studies that programs offered in prisons help to change lives of prisoners in a very magnificent way. An example of these is arts, like Shakespeare which is an educational art taught to prisoners. This document analyzes some of the programs offered to individuals who are incarcerated to help them improve their lives in behavior, a way of thinking and personal knowledge.
Laura Bates, an English Professor in Terre Haute at State Indiana University dedicated her time to teach Shakespeare to inmates, some of whom were regarded as dangerous and beyond correction. She placed a lot of focus in the maximum security prisons, where inmates were serving long-term imprisonment and termed “violent.” From her perspective, she argued that those were the kind of people who needed help the most since they were neglected and feared in those facilities with very little or no opportunity. “Shakespeare has the power to educate convicted killers and help them examine the choices they made that landed them here—and how to avoid making those choices again” (Berlin).
In the process of performing Shakespeare, Laura explains that it builds a person’s skills such as an increase in creativity, improving a person’s analysis of interpretation and critical thinking. In a specific project, individuals who had been incarcerated in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility worked for hand in hand with their partners, women inmates from Rockville Correction Center in a task of rewriting a specific act (Bates was also involved) in which play was converted into a domestic violence commentary (Berlin). After growing up in a neighborhood filled with crime, she became more interested in understanding how criminals think and has devoted to helping them develop into much better people.
Research from studies has also indicated that art benefits prisoners, an example being a case in which those who are struggling with cases such as confidence and self-worth are helped in their course through exploration and self-expression. There is also a linkage in the right brain developing and educating someone through arts and its practice. This leads to the development of thinking capabilities and skills and also emotional establishment (Brewster). Apart from fostering reflection, personal evaluation, communication, and creativity, arts programs enable inmates to develop ways in which they realize how discipline can help them in the working environment.
Coining right statements when coming up with poems, painting, and drawing of images to capture moments, internalizing the statements involved in a play and coming up with the correct musical notes when playing musical instruments are tasks which require discipline to master. Through resilience, an individual gathers enough strength to see them through the entire process. This is also one of the values that are fostered through the programs offered in prison (Brewster). More factors such as the free will to take risks and from which that someone can learn that mistakes are not the end and that we are supposed to learn from them and not shy away, that self-reflection and criticism are part of someone’s life.
Inmates are human beings, and the fact that they are incarcerated does not mean that we should stop caring about them. They should be treated with respect and offered the same platform in which they can grow dimensions such as physical, emotional, spiritual and also intellectual. They need to be helped in such a way that their behavior is improved and uplifted, preparing them for life after imprisonment when they will be joining the outside world. We should be compassionate as Laura Bates teaches, and that inmates need to be shown love, even for the most feared ones.
Berlin, Jeremy. Shakespeare in Shackles: Laura Bates. 30 April 2014. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/innovators/2014/04/140428-innovator-laura-bates-prisons-solitary-confinement-shakespeare/. 15 November 2017.
Brewster, Larry. “The Impact of Prison Arts Programs on Inmate Attitudes and Behavior: A Quantitative Evaluation.” Justice Policy Journal (2014): 1-28. Document.