Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates
The basic idea of rehabilitation through imprisonment is that a person who has been incarcerated will never want to be sent back to prison after they have been set free.
They can also make connections and become more deeply involved in the criminal world. (source) Ignorance is so convenient. But time’s up. We all have a choice to make, and hopefully, it will be an informed one. Chances are we all probably fall into one of two populations. One: thoughtful, compassionate, aware and self-aware, or two: thoughtless, selfish, unaware, and self-righteous. So, where do criminals come from? When we believed slavery was proper, we believed some people were given to us to righteously use and abuse. Today, in its place we have what I call The Tulip Theory. When I was newly married about 35 years ago, my husband and I were into gardening and we sent away for 100 tulip bulbs from Holland, never mind that we lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County or that climate change was yet to be considered.
The endeavor to garden was life-changing for me.
The bulbs arrived. I opened the box and there, on top of 100 tulip bulbs, was a note: “The wonderful thing about these bulbs is you can’t go wrong.
They don’t need any care. You don’t have to water them, feed them or put them into the ground. Whatever you do or don’t do, they will still blossom into beautiful blooms even if you leave them on a shelf in the dark.” I put down the piece of paper and said to my husband, “Oh, my God. I was raised on The Tulip Theory.” Prisoners were raised on The Tulip Theory, and some of us look at them as though they were given to us to righteously despise or to give us the illusion of superiority, when we’re not doing so well, ourselves. Today, lots of us share the philosophy of the tulip farmers, even professors, attorneys, and doctors, who may end up raising unhappy children by setting expectations without nurturing and coaching their children into achievement with regular prompts such as, “I know you can do this.” Some parents raise ‘timebombs’ and shooters, in part because we leave our babies in the hands of daycare providers or rotating neighbors and relatives – this can be very psychologically damaging for some children. The economy requires a two-income household now, so it is easy to see why both parents do end up working. Working during the formative first five years of our children’s lives used to be a choice. Now, not so much.
The very wealthy want even more money. What they have is never enough.
The pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the educational industry all want you to believe in The Tulip Theory aka take the side of Nature in the Nature vs. Nurture debate. You have been told that the jury is in and the scientific evidence supports genetic programming of personality. When I was a young, new therapist, I didn’t believe it, but my clients did.
They brought me articles about evidence that their personalities were inborn.
They brought articles about the Scandinavian Studies, the Schizophrenic Studies, the Babies Separated at Birth Studies, and the Adoption Studies. I was never a science major. That wasn’t my thing. However, it appeared to me I had no choice. So, for twenty-five years, more or less, I researched the research. I had to teach myself how to read a study because they were written so that few would ever understand them. I finally got it down, and I uncovered and listed about 20 techniques that scientists use repeatedly to get the results they are paid to get (Snyder, The Search for the Unholy Grail, 2016). I listed these techniques so that anyone could read, assess and see through a behavioral study.
The best-designed studies and research questions can be replicated.
The worst cannot.
The best studies represent childhood causes.
The worst represent genetic alleged causality. Some scientists from the Human Genome Project admitted that finding such genetic instruction isn’t supported by research or the design of the human brain to include inborn behavioral programs, after all. All this is to say the jury is in, whether you want to know it or not. Criminals are made, not born. Sometimes, even with good parenting, a community can be so saturated with survival behavior, a parent can’t win. Still, there are consequences to parenting choices. Most of us don’t know them. So, we depend upon The Tulip Theory. How we raise a child will determine how successful and praiseworthy they become or how damned they will be.
There but for the grace of God go I, right? Not convinced? In another book I wrote about how anyone—parent, judge, school counselor, therapist, forensic evaluator—could assess a childhood on a single sheet of paper, and within a 10% margin of error, predict forward a person’s aptitude for a successful life or not (Snyder, Predicting and Understanding Behavior According to Critical Childhood Experiences, 2016).
The same measures can help us understand backward how a person became the way they are. Criminals are made, not born. In this book I evaluate the childhoods of 25 famous people known for extreme behaviors, so the reader can see how their childhoods created who they became. Columbine, Sandy Hook, El Paso, ad infinitum, all had killers who were predictable and understandable, yet we continue to wonder how a person could do such a horrible thing. In 1988, I spent about twenty hours interviewing The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, and realized that no one honors thy father and mother like a serial killer. I studied the childhood of Jeffrey Dahmer in depth only to discover he killed in order to keep from being left. As an infant, his mother wouldn’t touch him. Even after he was old enough to climb out of his crib, she pushed him away from her. I watched the Menendez Brothers trial from beginning to end and heard jurors say afterwards, “I was abused, and I didn’t grow up to kill my parents.” We don’t understand cause and effect yet. Over the years, I developed a formula of not only what critical childhood experiences it takes to turn out to be dangerous or amazing people but in what combinations and orders these events need to take place. A violent person has to have had an insecure attachment, to have been physically abused, and probably emotionally shamed as well.
They too have to have been raised in a family with a repression ethic, as the underground child, but they also have to have been raised within a family blame ethic versus a family self-reflection ethic. If all three of these factors are present, there will be violence. If one factor is missing, there will not be violence without provocation. Repeat: If a child has had a secure attachment, she will never have the drive to exploit or harm another person, even after a high dose of abuse. Put another way, a secure attachment in the first five years of life makes a child not only immune to long-term effects of abuse, but just about guarantees resilience as well. I could go on, but that’s not what I came to tell you today. I came to talk about why people become criminals and what we can do about it, if we care to invest in the quality of human development. Criminal behavior involves a legacy of abuse, like slavery, racism, devaluations, and survival, but it can also be linked to families who simply fail to form an attachment with their child, employ abusive discipline, judge and blame others, and then insist their child not complain. To create a poverty-based criminal, start with an insecure attachment because most of these moms and dads have to work. Add issues of deprivation and chronic concerns of survival. Add emotional abuse, a blame ethic (versus a self-reflection ethic), and a repression ethic (versus an expression ethic). Depending upon the seriousness of the crime, some or all of these features will be formative in childhood.
Then, there are the adult ‘modifiers’.
The adult child could run into a wonderful group of friends or a religious environment of ethics and character, or the adult child could hang with drug addicts or gang members that influence them in another direction. Note that the way to create the majority of criminals comes from broken attachments, deprivation and a lack of parental investment, but the way to create some of the most brutal criminals in the world is to give them broken attachments, to not give the child a stable and constant parental figure, as well as to over-indulge them with an entitlement to exploit and abuse others.
The most terrible people on the planet murder, torture, exploit and abuse others.
They are our dictators. Supporting them are business people without scruples, who invest in the entitled exploitation of others. How do you feel about punishment and retribution? Have you thought you would like to rub someone into the ground for their harmful choices? Have you ever asked, “How could someone do this?” That question reveals that one doesn’t yet consider that meanness comes from a different way of thinking born of a different set of experiences and history. This has to be Awareness 101.
The language we use, the values we have, the understandings we reference are not inborn. We don’t know what we don’t know. And even if we had some peripheral exposure to ethics, we disregard them, because those ethics never protected us. As a matter of fact, it may enrage us that others get to have such pretty lives, and we didn’t. We believe what we experience. We take as true what we are taught unless we are given permission to question. If you want a person to think differently or better, you have to ensure they have the wherewithal or freedom to think differently. Would we be willing to rehabilitate them in a controlled environment rather than punish them? Of course, we need a multi-tiered program where people earn their ways into more privileged populations.
The hardcore prisoners don’t get to go up to the next tier unless they soften. Can we then grant them trauma therapy and classes on adulting and relationship skills? Can we grant them an education? Can we grant them an opportunity to have relationships? Can we find pleasure in the satisfaction they discover from praise for a job well done? Would we grant them a permanent companion, a dog, who loves them and only them (given the dog is safe)? Would we allow them to enjoy playing tennis? Would we grant them a television to watch the news or educational programming? Would we want them to have good books to read, especially literature and sociological studies? Would we grant them the right to vote if it makes them feel a part of the system to which they never thought they could belong? What do you think about redemption? Can we grant them another round to try to live a better life? If a person learns to think differently and comes to regret their bad and harmful choices, are we capable of forgiving them? Can we take our boot off their neck? Can we grant them some guarded faith that they can turn their lives around? Or, would we insist that they couldn’t possibly change and should therefore never be forgiven? Can we give them the opportunities we had that they never had? Can we believe in them, or would we be the people who refuse to believe in redemption? Would we, then, be hypocrites? How would we assess whether a person has changed or could change? Do we have criteria by which we evaluate whether or not a person has genuinely changed? Can we recognize true remorse? Can we credit humility? Can we look for different choices? Do we recognize the dangers of negative mirrors, wherein a person can never outgrow their reputation? Can we identify a healthy dialogue supported by virtuous values? Can we praise new choices and show appreciation? Rather than holding them as people we self-righteously despise, we might find our own reward in helping them take the high road and consider that a person never chose their own fate but lived out only what they knew. If we give them new experiences, we might find that we are richer ourselves, and capable of investing in a world of better people. Our planet is down to the final challenges between the enlightened and the greedy. What side will you be on? This article was written for Collective Evolution by Dr Faye Snyder. Dr. Faye Snyder is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and forensic evaluator. She is the founder and clinical director of the non-profit Parenting and Relationship Counseling (PaRC) Foundation in Granada Hills, California. She has taught developmental psychology at the California State University, Northridge. Most importantly, Dr. Faye, as she prefers to be called, along with her husband, Ron, is the proud parent of daytime Emmy winning Scott Clifton, her laboratory and her evidence. Dr. Faye is a late bloomer and is rapidly producing products designed to help parents heal their children from previous injuries or raise their children for greatness. Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network! It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows. Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anyw.
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