Reflecting on the book and thinking about the many themes we have written about this semester, which theme you did enjoy thinking and writing about the most and why, or which theme intrigued you the most and why. Did this book spark a curiosity in you that encouraged you to read other texts on the same subject? Di you enjoy the book? Why or Why not?
In the final chapters of the book, Laura Bates reiterates the idea of escaping our own prisons and fears. Newton tells Bates about his encounter with one of his biggest phobias and how he overcame his fear by being strong and not losing his cool. Newton finally answers the question that Bates has been waiting for so long. Newton tells Bates that he would never kill again and admits to finally escaping his own prison by changing as a person through the influence of Shakespeare. When Bates was at her family reunion she remembered the what Newton had told her about each individual escaping their prisons when they are free. “Spending ten years in supermax myself taught me to recognize that Larry was right: despite having the liberty that he will never have, we all put ourselves into “so many prisons”’ (286). Batex knew that Newton was right so she overcame her very own “prison”. Newton’s transformation as an individual that had nothing to lose is a very good example that even when you are in the darkest or lowest places during your life, you can still find the power within you and overcome the challenge you are facing. Have you overcame any challenges when you at a very low point in your life? Was one of your “prisons” too hard to overcome? How did overcoming your “prison” shape you as an individual?
I the article “After Prison, Then What?”, Mikael Carlsson talks about what happens to inmates after they are released from prisons. He says that many inmates struggle realizing with the idea that they are going to be free no matter how much time they have served. He also mentions that they are use to being locked up so it is hard for them to fit in with society as soon as they are released. Since it is hard for them to fit in with society, they tend to go back to their old ways and end up in prison once again. I would say that their “prison” is taking freedom for granted by not learning from their mistakes. To deal with this some inmates join groups in order to help them change as an individual and see everything from more than one perspective. These types of groups are similar to the one that Newton joined which transformed him tremendously and freed him from his “prisons”.
In the last few chapters of the book Laura Bates shows us the letters that Newton has written to her. He begins to describe how his cells are and how confined he felt in the beginning. Then he begins to tell us that the old owner of the Westville Correctional Facility came back to the facility once he remembered who Newton was. He remembered Newman as the dangerous prisoner who once escaped from that facility twelve years ago. However, Newton is not that same prisoner he once was because he changed his way of thinking and his decisions because of the new perspectives he has gained through Shakespeare. In a letter Newton tells Laura that the old owner is back because of himself and that he receives strip-searches and his property searched as well. Newton then says that the old owner says to Newton, "...it was nothing "personal," and certainly not "harassment," but let me know this will be a regular thing" (269). But the old owner is only doing this to Newton because of the old Newton from twelve years ago. So the searches are personal and is considered harassment.
Personally I have made bad choices in my life and have gotten caught. Which caused my parents to not fully trust me but as time went on I finally regained their trust. Because they gave me the benefit of the doubt and let me show them that I would not make the same choices again. But all in all, I am sure all of us have done something we are not to proud of but we learned from our mistakes and grew from them. So my question for this facilitation is, should people who have made past mistakes be treated differently or be looked at for the old them and not give them a chance to show how they have changed?
As we come to a close with this book, I hope everyone has enjoyed it! In the final pages Laura Bates has once again brought up “escaping our own prisons.” To me the last few pages are so powerful when she's counting her steps at her family reunion. Larry Newton told Laura Bates that when he was in isolation for many years, his cell was 5 steps long and 5 steps wide. As she is making her way to the beach she crosses many items that would be considered luxuries to people such as Mr. Newton. “Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. The waves lapped rhythmically against the shore, a soothing accompaniment to my walk” Bates says (285). Here we see how lucky we truly are and how great we have it compared to others because the things we encounter can be considered normalities. Now as much as we want equality for all including people who have ended up in Larry’s situation sometimes they are better off where they are. According to the Bureau Justice System “ 51.8% of prisoners released during the year were back in prison either because of a new crime for which they received another prison sentence, or because of a technical violation of their parole.” There are so many demons on the outside world such as tempting situation or peer pressure from old friends and many people do not want to hire felons. Larry did leave a tremendous mark in Mrs. Bates life as well as many others and some may think had he gotten the chance to get out maybe he would've become a professor and changed so many students lives but take the time to think if he relapsed what would happen because so many people do? When he was writing to Laura describing the mistreatment he was getting at the correctional facility he was at, he was describing how tough it was to deal with. What good resources did Larry have waiting for him to start a successful prospering life? There are halfway homes for prisoners who have nowhere to go and they occasionally get set up with jobs but sometimes those homes have no regulation and aren’t as safe and helpful as they claim to be. Should there be more regulation on these? Or what solution can we offer to help those from returning to jail?
In this week’s readings (231-248) Laura Bates starts off the section with writing about the time Larry finally opened up about the night the crime was committed and about his Timeline of Anxiety. He was hesitant at first to discuss that night with Bates because he feared of being judged and not liked by her. Bates did not judge him for his actions, instead she listened to what he had to say regarding about how he felt that night. She then later goes on in the section to write about Larry’s write-up and how he was sent back to segregation. With the other inmates, Bates assigned an activity where the male inmates were able to write to female inmates. By participating in this activity both sides were able to view and react to their actions, as well as comprehend how they hurt the victims of the crime they committed and also the people around them who care for them.
The main idea of the reading that stood out to me was the topic on the justification and redemption of inmates on the crimes they committed, specifically on the crime Larry committed. This topic is first brought up in chapter 64 after Larry talks about his Timeline of Anxiety. Bates writes that “getting convicted killers to “look on” their deed again is an important step to keep them from killing again” (234). After reading this I began to think about a time I did something wrong in life, and how knowing what I did was wrong and revisiting the moment is a step forward that will help me not do it again. Though it wasn’t as big as killing someone or something illegal, looking upon the wrong you did and how it affects either yourself or others around, will prevent you from doing it again. Then in chapter 68 the prisoners are able to reflect on whether they feel remorse or if they regret their actions. After participating in the activity about writing to the female inmates and expressing their feelings the prisoners were able to feel regret and realize that they did hurt people with the crime they committed through this experience. Both sides were able to confront what they have done.
Bates begins to question whether or not Larry was guilty based on his “psychological instability at the time he committed” the crime (233). Being able to read about the night of the crime in Larry’s point of view makes me wonder whether or not he was guilty. Then again we also have to take into consideration that someone was killed that night and that, that person had family and friends who cared about them. Given the fact that he wasn’t all mentally stable throughout the night do you think he is fully guilty? Could murder be justified? Do the inmates deserve redemption for what they did?
Doing good for bad done, is exactly what it sounds like and the chapter goes on to explain why we don't do bad to bad people instead we do good such as give them an education. Bad people are called bad people because the do bad things and it's a choice they choose to do so if we do bad to bad people that would make us bad people as well. On page 223 the question was why should we do good to bad people? “The answer is because anything else would be bad.” Giving them an education was an example that gives them a sense of hope and understanding, they have done bad things because they have a lack of good in their life for example education. Its scientifically proven that criminals have a lesser chance to reoffend if they are given an education. My thoughts on this subject are in the same boat as this chapter. I believe we all have choices in life and sometimes we just need to be lead or put in the right path even after we do bad, but yet still give some type of punishment to make the criminal realize what you did is going to have an effect on you. I remember a time when I was little I was in a store and wanted gum and my mom didn’t get it so I put it in my pocket and walked out. My mom saw me and took me back inside to give it back. Instead of punishing me she took me back to learn what could have really happened if I got caught do something like that. It showed me later in life that I could have ended up in bad places, so luckily she taught me instead of just punishing me. Less severe example but same concept. In the online article “The Telegraph” they explain what they do with criminals and how most of them are given some type of education to move on in life and not just commit another crime when let out. Simon Heffer says, “It is not sending people to jail that indicates a failure on behalf of society, because if there are persistently bad people about then they must be punished and the public protected from them. It is what we do with criminals once they get there.” (paragraph 2)
Heffer, Simon. Many Criminals Just Need an Education. The Telegraph, 2 July 2010. Web. 2 May 2016.
This week’s reading (pgs 211-214) talks about Fears and Phobias. Bates shows Larry a reenactment video of Larry’s hostage attempt in the SHU (Secured Housing Unit) in 2000. They reminisce about the video and Bates asks Larry if there is anything that does not seem accurate. Larry mentioned that not all prisoners are dangerous. Bates asks Larry if there is anything that he is afraid of. “He shouted,”Yes!”, smacking the table with his hand for emphasis--a common gesture.”Spiders”! He said with a shudder.”Always have been”” (Bates 214). This was odd for Bates because to her, Larry seemed fearless. “Another lesson learned: even the toughest of criminals has his weakness” (Bates 214). This proves that not anybody is too big of a person to not have fears. Everybody is human and everybody has some kind of fear no matter what it is. I believe it is very upsetting to see somebody get treated different because of what kind of situation they are in or for what kind of person they are. Everybody has feelings. What makes people treat people bad and not equal? And what can we do to prevent it?
According to google, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger. What known phobia do you think you might possess? A phopbia that I have is tryphobia. Tryohobia is a phobia where you are scared of holes. Ever since I was a kid I did not like dark holes. It took alot for me to even go down slides. To this day, I dislike holes and it would take a lot for me to get into one, but I will never get into a dark hole no matter what. Is your phobia similar to mine? If so, please share some of your examples.
Last year, I started to read this book called “The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should Not - and Put Ourselves in Great Danger”. This book describes the fact of us fearing things that we should not. It describes how we are the safest creatures on this earth, and we should not fear as much as we do. We are all human and we all have fears, but do you think your fears are not worth fearing? Even though you think your fear is a “weak” fear, why do you think you still fear it? Do you think you can get past this fear?
One of the topics in the chapters are kind of self reflection and evaluation even though the chapter title is “sociopath or”. Laura Bates is looking over a refection poem Larry wrote. Then Bates proceeds to ask him how he sees himself Larry replied “‘I think I’m a good guy, really, For two reasons. For one, I have a genuine compassion...and two,because i genuinely want to be better”’(215). Bates wants to know what being better means to him. Larry said “it is on the inside” that he doesn’t want his environment to influence him. Then he begins to talk about even when he was young and how he hated bullies or people that would hurt animals.
That is when bates starts talking to him about when the reporter who called him a sociopath. Larry doesn't believe he is a sociopath but that he just became callous. It want a callous on killing but it was callous on the emotions after the event living with yourself.
When people talk about sociopaths I wouldn't imagine someone someone who talks like larry, A sociopath defined by google is: “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience”. Which I believe Larry has a conscience they way he talks about himself and his other inmates. I can't relate to being called a sociopath but I can relate to Larry reflecting on a person he is. As I become older I look back on who I was and who I want to be. When I look back I used to let my surrounding influence even if that was people or atmosphere. I used to cowered down when it came to something I didn’t believe was the best thing and would let people walk over me. If I would to be asked if I thought is was a good person I would say because of my happiness i've been told and it is contagious. Also my compassion I truly love people and hate to see them hurting.
This week’s reading focuses fears and phobias. Bates shows Larry the video reenactment of his escape from the SHU. They talk about the video for a little while when Bates asks him if he has any fears because he seemed like a pretty fearless person. He reveals that he is afraid of spiders and this revelation really shocks Bates. She figured that since he grew up in really bad living environments and prisons his whole life that he couldn’t be afraid of anything. She then compares this to the types of prisons we put ourselves into like she did in a previous chapter. Larry tells her, “We just happen to be in prison. We’re still human.” (214) This goes to show that no matter who a person is or what they do, they’re still human and have insecurities and fears that the deal with like the rest of us. People in prisons still have all the same feelings as everyone else does. It really bothers me when I see people being treated differently due to race, social status, background, or gender. At the end of the day we’re all human whether we live in a mansion or on a cardboard box. What can we do differently to make sure people are treated like equals?
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary a phobia is, “An exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” We all have them, including the most fearless people we know. One of my biggest fears is being alone, commonly known as monophobia. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by friends and family encouraging me to be the best that I can be. Since I have come to college and moved out of my parent’s house, I’ve felt the most alone I have ever been. There’s not someone always there telling me what to do or worry about where I’m going. I don’t always have someone to go to if I need to talk. What are your biggest fears/ phobias?
In my Philosophy class we’re reading The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud and it actually talks about phobias. “The ego is the actual seat of anxiety. Threatened by dangers from three directions, it develops the flight reflex by withdrawing its own cathexis from the menacing perception or from the similarity regarded process in the id, and emitting it as anxiety. This primitive reaction is later replaced by the carrying out of protective cathexes (the mechanism of the phobias).” (47) Basically your ego, which is responsible for our sense of personal identity, escapes your personal problems by forming phobias. How do you see yourself? Are you happy with who you are?
This week’s reading discusses how Larry and his fellow inmates created their own adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and presented it to atrisk youth. Their adaptation, Tybalt Must Die, “...focused on the peer pressure that can push a good kid like Romeo into murder” (193). The prisoners go on to share how they each have to serve very extensive sentences, some life sentences, for crimes that they committed as youths. Larry, who committed murder at the age of seventeen, talked about how he received a “...sentence of life without the possibility of parole” (202). This means that Larry will never have the opportunity to get out of prison. This brought up an interesting subject for me; juveniles that are sentenced to life in prison. It seems crazy that children as young as fourteen years old could receive sentences upwards of 199 years (202). Or even Larry, who will spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he committed when he was seventeen. There have been numerous arguments against youths being charged life sentences without parole, such as in Larry’s case. In an article entitled, “Should Teen Murderers Receive Life Without Parole”, Andrew Cohen writes that, “To the Equal Justice Initiative (a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising legal questions), “life sentences without parole” for young teenagers, even those convicted of the most heinous crimes, are actually “sentences of death in prison”, [which] is both cruel and unusual”. Cohen is saying that, a youth sentenced to life in prison without parole is basically the same as a sentence to die in prison. There is also the popular argument that youths aren’t as mentally mature as adults and shouldn’t be tried as adults. On the other side of the argument though, youths can and do commit crimes that are just as bad and the same as what adults commit. So why should or shouldn’t youths (those under the age of 18) receive the same sentences as adults? Do you believe that youths should receive life sentences without the possibility of parole? Why or why not? Cohen, Andrew. "Should Teen Murderers Receive Life Without Parole?" The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. .