"Prison and home: across the street from each other"
[Click on the drawing to download a larger picture on your computer.]
Phoenix programmes, particularly those such as Conversations in Families” & “Family Conferencing”, are routinely showing that the ways in which prisoners think about their homes are critical to the making of an emotional and practical flexibility in all members of their families; this flexibility will make a considerable difference to whether or not social reintegration happens after prison. It is often characteristic for prisoners to suffer severe amnesia about social identity with respect their own homes. Families also begin to forget that they have members incarcerated.
In this drawing, prison and home are shown to be similar institutions, merely “across the street from each other”. The idiom by which both are depicted is the same in each case. The perimeter fence of the prison and the forbidding enclosure of the home are homologous.
How are we to tease out the thinking embedded in this drawing?
Perhaps it is this: after a while, prison ensures that the creative imagination collapses and the idea of liberty has no positive use in the minds of most prisoners. One is reminded of the creeping infection of the prison outlook, and perhaps of the kind of attitude exemplified in Hamlet:
What have you, my good friends, deserv’d at the hands of
Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?
Prison, my lord?
Denmark’s a prison.
Then is the world one.
A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and
dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.
We think not so, my lord.
Why then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
In prison, one learns that the world is a hostile place, and the prison fabricates in mental outlook a desolating emptiness, which assimilates to itself ideas of home and communty. This ensures for many that a return to prison on subsequent criminal charges is inevitable – “the world is nothing to you, and you are nothing to the world”. That is the reality of recidivism.
The idea of “rehabilitation” or ”corrections” has been universally shown to be one of societies’ grandest yet most absurd beliefs.