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I think self awareness is so essential, because it makes us reflect upon ourselves and the alternatives that may be affecting that one situation. I think I’ve come to realize that personal values can often get in the way of certain things. The way we act, the way we think, the way we see things.

I’m very interested in the population of prisoners and people who are “not criminally responsible” and how they integrate back into society after their prison term/being on condition release. But there’s that personal part of me where I cannot -not- think of the offenses that got them into prison in the first place. For instance, some of them could be rapists, or violent sex offenders, murderers… and the list can go on and on. But when I put on my therapist hat, I cannot help but think of all the other factors that come into play… such as: what led them to do this act? Was it their past events? Was it their social history with their family? Or was it because of the mental illness they didn’t know they had and didn’t know how to treat?

Stephen Harper wants to put billions of dollars into making new prisons when crime rates are actually going down. He wants to make new prisons and expand existing ones. But the question is: Are you already setting yourself (and us) up for failure? He is already anticipating that crime rates will get worse, and that we will -need- to use these prisons. Why spend billions of dollars to build new prisons, when that same amount could be put into existing programs within the prison, or alternatively, to provide more efficient and effective services to the people already in prison? Or why not provide better transitional services for those who are re-entering the community? Instead of saying “okay, you’re free now. Here’s a bus ticket. Go wherever now”… we have already set them up for failure. How do we expect the ex-prisoners to understand how to take the bus, to get ‘home’ (wherever that may be) when they haven’t been out in real society for 10 years? And that’s where the conflicting goals come into play. Prison is concerned about safety and punishment of the prisoners, but rehabilitation is more concerned about development and maintaining skills needed so that they can use them one day once they’re done their time. I guess my point of view here is that we should provide rehabilitation services for those in prison because we are trying to -do- something rather than mere punishment. How far is it going to get society when all we are doing is letting the people suffer in prison by depleting them of stimulation? What are they going to do when they come out? It’s all just a revolving door effect. In a matter of months, they’ll end up in prison again. And why? Because they don’t have the skill set to survive and integrate back into community. And because of course, stigma.

But regardless, I think Stephen Harper is just putting the money into the wrong places. Why expand/create new prisons when that money could be put into other services that would be more effective, efficient, and helpful? It’s mind boggling.