Beyond Bars: Rehabilitation is a Right

by David L. Cruz
San Luis Obispo, CA 

Dear Guild Family,

First and most importantly, thank you for your time and service to the People. I was filled with pride when I received the Guild Notes (Vol. 44, No. ¾, Fall/Winter 2019) because the organization took note on an issue that I had against the 13th Amendment. For a long time ago, I understand that crime is a real problem in society and that the lines between “mala in se” (inherently bad) and “mala prohibita” (bad because they are prohibited) can be blurred when you look across cultures, but it still amazes me how disproportionate the numbers of incarcerated minorities is to the rest of the population in prisons. It is at least questionable, in the part of social justice when our society has laws that can strip its citizens of their inalienable rights for committing a crime, like the right to vote, but it won’t provide a clear, attainable path to rehabilitation and restoration of all civil rights. The U.S. has the biggest prison system in the world and California has the biggest among the states. So why are we not addressing all causes of crime systematically and on a national level? Why is it that incarcerated people don’t have the right to rehabilitation? Why is it that I cannot go to my correctional counselor and as for a rehabilitative book for my issues like I can ask for a religious book to a chaplain, and he or she must provide it? Why is it that (CHCR??) is not mandated to use all criminogenic need scales on the (Northpointeine’s) C.O.M.P.A.S. system to provide the best odds to reentry to individuals? I think that the prison guards union is looking for its own interest instead of doing right by their oaths. In (CHCR?) we have “the Green Wall,” an organized body of guards who are by all means a gang with many criminal “stripes” of their own. Anyways, anyone who has ever read in a psychology book about the prison experiment of Stanford knows that if we are not careful in the design of our systems, they can create conditions in which persons in authority become abusive and even sadistic; I think that this is the case with U.S. prisons. At the age of enlightenment, we created the 13th Amendment to protect freedom in as much as the consensus of the mind of Americans allowed at the time and the Jim Crow laws tried to reverse those efforts, even then, through legislative efforts. Now, at a time where U.S. knows a bit of the pain that a prisoner faces due to COVID-19 lockdowns, we should as a nation reconsider the worth of human life and the dignity of the U.S. prisoner/slave population, and redesign our systems in a way that rehabilitation is its main focus and the rights of every citizen are upheld/restored.

#StrikeTheSlaveryExemption !

#FreeTheVote !

#RehabilitationIsARight !

#InitiateJustice !

David L. Cruz

Initiate Justice Inside Organizer, NLG Member

California Men’s Colony – West Facility