OK, I watched about half of it (insomnia’s a delight).
I don’t know. I just don’t know. I was glad when they revealed that sadistic prison employees had been fired for certain acts, and that suits had been filed over specific events. I’m glad that documentaries such as this are made, to shed light on these problems and prompt reforms (although clearly some “reforms” seem to up the ante rather than solving the problem – pepper spray is not a humane alternative to violence).
I don’t know, though, that it’s fair to just place blame on the people staffing and managing prisons. In some ways they ARE acting out a mandate that the public has given them – I think we DO send people to prison to punish them, rather than reform. I think we’ve given up on reform. We’re sick to death of repeat offenders acting on innocent victims.
And there is a culture of criminality in the U.S. I know somebody who worked as a psychologist in a group home for children, teenagers and older adolescents who were in serious trouble with the law. It’s a big facility, just north of Chicago, nice campus with lots of trees. These kids were real close to doing major jail time, and were given the chance to go to classes there and get some help instead, turn their lives around. Basically “reform school”.
Some of them did reform. Some of them changed their lives. It wasn’t many, but it did happen.
Many others, though, threw chairs through windows during group therapy. Destroyed things. Abused the staff verbally. Refused to cooperate. They couldn’t wait to get out of there in order to get to real jail! That’s what they bragged about, how they were going to prison like their relatives and friends.
The guy in that documentary who said “Well, put someone in a cage and they start to think that’s where they belong.”
Hell yes, some of them DO.
How one goes about sorting out those with potential from those without? I have no clue.
I’d be interested to read what QtM has to say. When the documentary started out in Texas and Florida, it was easy to say “Oh, those people are nuts anyway”.
I know there are other Dopers who’ve been the victims of awful crimes; I have to say I respect their feelings on this as well.