OZY on Prisons

OZY on Prisons

Why you should care

Because we all need to know more about what goes on behind bars — and what happens afterward.

Homeboy Industries: Gratitude for a Second Chance

Homeboy Industries is a gang-rehabilitation program that takes “Everybody deserves a second chance” to the next level. This is our way of saying thank you for all that they’ve done. The Los Angeles-based program, founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, provides jobs, job training, adult education classes, tattoo removal, anger-mangement sessions and the gift of a second chance to hundreds of former gang members, ex-convicts and high-risk youth. It is the largest gang-rehabilitation program in the country and provides its members with skills for not only getting a job, but also coping with life after gangs, prison or both. They run a host of small businesses which are used as transitional employment, including a bakery, a cafe and catering company, and a silkscreen and embroidery company.

Should We Let Prisoners Upgrade Their Prison Cells?

If we follow San Pedro prison’s example and allow prisoners to buy luxurious accommodations, the economy of incarceration – and the idea of fairness — will change completely. What if your cell were spacious and included a private bathroom, kitchen and cable TV? These are the accommodations for some prisoners at San Pedro prison in La Paz, Bolivia. But luxury isn’t free: For about $1,000 to $1,500, an inmate can purchase a high-class cell for the duration of his or her sentence. San Pedro is divided into eight sections, ranging from shared small cells with risks of stabbings at night to the opulent cells that have access to billiard tables and fresh juice stands. Every inmate must buy or rent a cell, regardless of quality, and many inmates have jobs as hairdressers, laundry staff, food-stall operators or TV repairmen.

More Women Behind Bars

74,000: The number of imprisoned women in Latin America in 2011, the most recent year for which numbers were available. Hardly shocking — until you pair it with 40,000, which is the number of imprisoned women there just five years earlier, according to a report from the International Drug Policy Consortium. Women make up a tiny fraction of the world’s prison population — roughly 5 percent — but the fact is, those numbers are climbing. Why? More women are going to jail for drug-related offenses. And instead of breaking the cycle by doing time, many female offenders continue to live in the shadow of drugs while in prison, building networks for transporting drugs into and out of the jails.

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