Yesterday I actually got to start participating in a program. It isn’t a required program for parole, it isn’t a clinical program nor is it even a cognitive-behavioral program, it is just a program run by the education staff to attempt to address criminal thinking, though as I said it isn’t even a cognitive-behavioral approach. The program is called Moral Reconation Therapy. The fact that the word reconation hasn’t been used since the 1800s should be some indication that it is a somewhat dated, and not evidence based, approach. I will take it and get what I can out of it and bottom line is that taking it demonstrates to the parole board that I am at least attempting to do things to better myself while I’m in here. It is a 1 hour class once a week for 12 weeks so in 3 months I should complete it. I’ve already gone over all the exercises and read the initial 18 chapters of required reading by helping my cellie to do it and he graduated the program yesterday.
We haven’t had another Toastmasters’ officers’ meeting since the first. The club coordinator, Gigstad, has been out on vacation but should be back now so I hope we get started soon. I have heard from at least 10 guys from F gallery that are interested in participating, and that’s F, the most disruptive and juvenile gallery of them all. And that is without me doing much recruiting either. If we get just 10 from each gallery that will be 60 people making for some very big club meetings. I don’t even think that many people can fit in any of the classrooms at one time so maybe the club will have to have 2 groups a week. I don’t know if Gigstad can make space on the schedule for that. She should have foreseen the huge interest since there is almost nothing else for people in PC to do so of course everyone leapt at the chance to join any club. The irony is that is it Toastmasters, a public speaking club, which most of the guys who are signing up would not have considered participating in on the streets. LOL I look forward to seeing how the administration deals with the huge demand.
Last week I sent a kite to the warden with the first of my suggestions on how to improve things around here. It was a simple, time sensitive suggestion which is why I made it first. I suggested that next month during the solar eclipse they made accommodations to allow anyone who is interested to sign up to go out to yard to observe it. Normally only 1/3 of the housing unit, 2 galleries, would be out at yard at a time. I suggested they allow anyone from any gallery to sign up to go out and observe the eclipse since it is an exceedingly rare educational opportunity because the path of the eclipse passes right over Tecumseh. Of course I need to research how to observe the eclipse without burning our retinas but I think it would be a unique educational opportunity for the prison to offer to the inmates.
I’v been coming up with suggestions for TSCI/NDCS that I think would improve both security and living conditions. Generally they center around positive reinforcement. Prisons tend to use only negative reinforcement; punish an inmate for infractions of rules. They don’t really reward good behavior. The administration might say that good behavior earns you good time and increases your odds of parole but as any game theorist will tell you, distant rewards don’t usually factor into people’s decision-making. So I want to suggest immediate, positive rewards for good behavior. They already do this on a limited scale with the Inside Dad’s parenting classes. After completing each of 3 classes the inside dad earns a reward: an extra visit with their kids once a month, a father-daughter dance (no plan for dads with sons yet), and after the 3rd class they get an extra 15 minutes of phone time a day. That certainly motivates my cellie to take the classes. So why don’t they offer something for completing MRT, or earning your GED? The possible rewards could range from something simple like the ability to order something special off canteen to extra yard/gym time or maybe an extra visit or phone time like Inside Dads gives. I’ve also thought about suggesting a 191 good time gallery. People who qualify for 191 good time, meaning no write ups in the past year, get put together in a gallery and then allow them to keep their doors unlocked while dayroom is open as opposed to hourly unlocks. It would be a well-behaved (and safe) gallery that’s for sure. *smile*