When seeking to improve the effectiveness of our current prison systems here in the United States, it is important to recognize the humanity of those behind bars. So says Prison Fellowship President and CEO Jim Liske in a recent op-ed article for the Huffington Post.
A version of the following post originally aired as a BreakPoint commentary.
The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” He spoke from experience, having spent four years in Siberia after having his death sentence commuted.
Much has been written in this blog about Warden Burl Cain. (See here, here, and here for examples). During his nearly two decades at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the prison has shed its reputation as the “bloodiest prison in America,” and has become a model for other prisons seeking to reduce violent assaults among prisoners.
Antoinette Tuff was sitting at the front desk of the elementary school where she worked when a mentally unstable young man entered with an assault rifle and a bag full of ammunition. But instead of the too-familiar narrative of a tragic school shooting, another drama played out.