Your July 19 editorial “Fewer inmates, a better nation” gave N.C. Department of Corrections Commissioner David Guice too much credit for a reduced prison population. While the Justice Reinvestment Act may be responsible for a decrease, the Department of Public Safety falls short in too many other areas.
The way mentally ill inmates are treated, for example, is terrible. It wasn’t long ago that the debate was whether they should even be in prison.
You tout a 14 percent decline in recidivism. Why not push for 100 percent? I am a product of the state doing absolutely nothing to help with the transition from prison. OK, they gave me a long list of people and organizations who all said, “We can’t help you.”
I take much of the responsibility for being a repeat offender, but the people who run the prison system should also bear some for keeping people in for double-digit years and then giving them a $45 check and a “good luck.” There’s a reason federal prisoners are sent to a halfway house six months before they are released.
North Carolina prisons have been getting away with doing a shabby job for decades. Morale is at an all-time low. You’d have to be on this side of the fence to see it. We have no parole to look forward to, no real reason to always exhibit good behavior because we will serve the same amount whether we do or don’t. Citizens should care because it often translates into more criminal behavior after release.
The writer is an inmate at Caledonia Correctional Institution.