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INMATES SPEAK OUT
Following are articles submitted to our site by inmates who are incarcerated within the Tennessee
Department of Correction. The following stories are not meant to represent the true feelings of those
who run the Unforgiven. We are only sharing a look into the views of those incarcerated. As a
member of the "freeworld" I'm quite aware that the public hears only the political side and stories that
our governor and officials from the Department of Correction allow you. For those of you who do not
have a loved one in prison, we especially want you to hear the views from the inside. These articles
are inspired by the TRUE Department of Correction, the inmates. Until you've walked a mile in their
shoes, don't begrudge them their right to tell you what it's really all about. There is more than one side
to the story. Welcome to it.

The Accomplice
Authors of the following articles will remain anonymous as to protect his/her self from retaliation by prison officials. The
idea to hold anonymity is by choice of the UNFORGIVEN, not the author or contributor to the site. Upon permission by
inmates or contributors, we will later publish all names of those who have submitted their articles or crafts for public view.
REFLECTIONS ON CORRECTIONS
Recently there have been reports in the media regarding the subject of prison rehabilitation and
recidivism that has caused me great concern. As a convicted felon presently housed within the Tennessee
Department of Corrections, I am becoming increasingly aware that the Department of Correction is no longer
condemned with the principle of rehabilitation or in assisting with personal reform of the incarcerated individual
and is content with rebuilding the ticking time bomb that corrections once was.

To illustrate my point, it is necessary to revisit the difficult times of the eighties. Tennessee's problems
with prison overcrowding began with the Lamar Alexander administration, who for political reasons, came up
with the bright idea of pushing for and having passed the "Class X" crime bill in 1979.

The sole purpose of the "Class X" crime bill was to lengthen sentences for some crimes whole
abolishing early release opportunities for others. This on it's face seemed to be an excellent idea for those who
stubbornly slung to the belief that "If you do the crime, you do the time". However, what no one seemed to
take into account was that without chances for rehabilitation of the incarcerated men and women within the
state, the theory of cuff'em and stuff'em would result in a much larger problem for the state and taxpaying
citizens.

Common sense dictates that the more you force into a restricted area, the greater the chances of an
overflow..and so it was with the Department of Corrections. The "Class X" crime bill caused the prison
population to increase at such an alarming rate that by 1982, the Federal District Court had to step in and
declare Tennessee's prisons to be unconstitutional and unfit for human habitation. By 1983-85 prison escapes
increased from 39 in 1978 to more than 130 in 1988 while prison assaults were up by 82%. And, of course,
we cannot forget the prison riots of 1983 and 1985.

It appears that Tennessee's prison administrators have forgotten the lessons of the past and are content
with ignoring the implementation of an effective plan that would serve to reduce prison overcrowding, while
promoting the idea of personal reform. Political figures have told the hard working citizens of our state that if
we just continue to construct one correctional facility after the other, we will somehow magically build our way
out of Tennessee's overcrowding problems, while nothing could be further from the truth and has been
demonstrated throughout Tennessee's correctional history.

Now as we enter a new millennium, Tennessee still faces the problems of the eighties and seems to be
unwilling to deal with the problems faced by it's penal system by employing a realistic plan for prison reform. In
April 2000, the Nashville Tennessean reported that in a March 6, 2000 meeting of the Select Oversight
Committee on Corrections, the Oversight Committee stated that the Department of Corrections had returned to
the state between $11 million and $30 million each year since 1997.

On April 18, 2000, the Greeneville Sun featured and article entitled "Audit: More Tennessee Inmates
Are Going Back to Prison." In this particular article, Donal Campbell, Commissioner of Corrections for the
state of Tennessee, ventilated that there are problems with recidivism and blamed poor funding for the lack of
rehabilitation services within the department. He further stated "It is not disputed that inmates are in need of
multiple services and programs that may have an impact on the recidivism rate.: This indicates that prison
officials are aware of the needs of those incarcerated behind Tennessee's prison walls but because of poor
funding, nothing can be done to satisfy these needs. Is that truth or myth?

In the same article, Donna Blackburn, Executive Director of the Board of Probation and Paroles, said
that less that $500,000 of the Board's $51 Million budget was spent on rehabilitation last year and that the state
is searching for "new" sources of state funding form such programs. Why? If the current budget is not being
used for it's intended purposes?

In my opinion, state officials are being quite deceptive about their desire to execute better solutions that
would be more constructive to rehabilitation and the reduction of the recidivism rate. The Department of
Correction has some 11 to 30 million, you the Commissioner of corrections has declared that due to poor
funding, the state can not afford to implement meaningful programs and services that can and will make a
difference in the reduction of prison overcrowding and recidivism. This has been acknowledged by the
Commissioner of Corrections, so why then, is he not pushing to have this money spent of that which it has been
created?

Similarly, the state board of Probation and Paroles has spent less that $500,000 our of a $51 million
budget designed form rehabilitation purposes and now seek to collect additional funding for such programs
when they aren't using the money presently on hand....at least not for rehabilitation purposes. So then, what IS
this money being used for?

There is no question that there is something amiss and until the taxpaying citizens of this state take notice
and begin to question state legislators and prison administrators as to how the state can be in need of more tax
dollars of the construction of needless prison facilities, political figures and prison administrators will continue to
dupe the taxpayers with constant crimes for more and more to be poured into a failing prison system. THINK
ABOUT IT!!!!






ROUND AND ROUND WE GO
With each passing day, I become more and more appalled at the manner in which Tennessee legislators
successfully ignore the problems that currently plague the penal system within this state. What's even more
appalling is the fact that the inmate population doesn't seem to mind the fact that everyone appears to be
prospering of the incarcerated felon, with the exception of the families of those incarcerated. We are being
exploited by a system of correctional enterprises.

At present, Tennessee warehouses more than 21,274 inmates. We have more felons jailed than the full time
student population at Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech combined. This shows the sad priorities of our
elected officials and indicates that it's more important to go to prison than go to college. By this, I mean that there
seems to be more of an effort to incarcerate than educate. Shouldn't our schools receive the proper funding ?

If we are to accept the principles of our current government, then we would belive that there is no other
means of dealing with the overcrowded penal system than the construction of more and more prison facilities.
However, if we concern ourselves enough to take a more realistic look at corrections, we will see that between
the years 1994 and 1997, the prison system has increased by 24%. Tennessee's massive prison building project
is wreaking havoc on Tennessee's tax dollars.

Are we so naive that we actually believe that crime has increased to such a point that our state requires more
than twenty operational facilities? Or that if you continue to build, crime will discontinue to occur when it has
been a part of every civilization since the time of Cain and Able? Despite building more prisons, a projected
growth rate indicates that Tennessee will have a chronic shortage of prison bed space for years to come
regardless of the fact that almost 6,000 beds are expected to be added by 2004.

There is no doubt that as long as the voting citizens of this state refuse to acknowledge the fact that the
Department oaf Corrections has become a merry go round that houses, holds, then releases short tern felons
back into society without actually holding them accountable for their actions, and as long as we continue to hold
those men who have elected to reform themselves, it won't be long before we just have to put a fence around the
whole state of Tennessee because the prison system will continue to multiply[ at such an alarming rate that there
won't be room for anything except for the new prisons Tennessee expects to build.

As a citizens of this state, we know all too well the nature of the problem when it comes to corrections.
Either we choose not to involve ourselves or we continue to be duped by the media coverage dealing with our
prisons. Recently the Nashville Tennessean reported that the state of Tennessee ended it's fiscal year being more
than $44 Million in the red. Why? And more importantly, How?

I submit that there is a more feasible solution to the problems with prison overcrowding, but it requires putting
the inmate population to work. Not in those private interest programs that allows free world enterprises to
prosper off inmate labor. Rather, my plan is this: The State of Tennessee creates enough revenue to institute a
program I call W.A.R. (Working Against Recidivism). Legislators are claiming to be tough on crime but to initiate
W.A.R., tax payers, as well as friends and family of incarcerated felons must demand that elected officials utilize
the presently existing funds to designate of the twenty facilities to house inmates who have been incarcerated for
fifteen years of more.

In order to do this, the state must select those individuals who have demonstrated the ability and desire to
return to society by singling out those inmates who have spent the past five years without any major disciplinary
infraction, absolutely no positive drug screens and who have maintained steady employment for the past five
years. Once we have determined who these men/women are, they would be required to undergo extensive life
skills programs, anger management, academic and vocational skills, as wells as random drug screen. This coming
from the $11 million recently awarded to the state by the federal government.

Under the W.A.R. program, inmates would have done a one time shot at proving their worth. And if one is
found to have failed a drug screen, he/she would be expelled from the program. After five years it would become
obvious as to who is serious about working their way out of prison, and who is not. the undesirables would be
weeded out and only those who are reformed would remain. After five years, the inmate would be required to
undergo an addition five years of participation in a state work release program where he/she would be allowed to
maintain jobs in the free world and return to the prison at night.

The inmate would also be required to relinquish 20% of his/her income to the state for the purpose of
supporting the program and the rest would be put into a savings account and awarded to the inmate subsequent
to his/her release to assure that he/she leaves prison with a substantial savings, as well as a job. At present, it is
obvious that once an inmate leaves prison with the $35 the state gives him/her is not enough to get them started on
a new path once released and is almost a sure sign that failure will soon follow. however, under my plan, inmates
would be better equipped to return to their prospective communities and become contributing members of that
community by immediately entering the work force as opposed to being engaged in a job search.

Under W.A.R. potential employers would be more likely to hire ex-felons under the federal bonding program
that requires the federal government to pay the employer so much for hiring and ex-felon. In addition, the state
would be able to collect the accumulated interest from the savings accounts prior to the release of those inmates
who successfully participate in and complete the W.A.R. program. It would also save the tax payers millions of
dollars that are currently being wasted. I realize that there are those who would violently oppose such a plan, but
nine times out of ten, it will be those how have a private interest in correctional enterprise who would claim that
this would not work. One thing is for certain...sitting back and waiting for crime to magically disappear from our
society is definitely not working!!!!
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