Why do prisoners fail to emphasize the impact that their crimes had on their victims and their families? It deserves immediate attention from credible sources—the prisoners themselves.
I interviewed seven Otisville prisoners, as young as 22 and as old as 55; with as little as five years in and up to 26 years in and over a dozen years accumulated from years of parole denials. Here’s what the men had to say:
*Brother Ward (imprisoned 16 years) – Some men aren’t able to articulate those emotions. We don’t have forums in which men can becomes comfortable with expressing those feelings of remorse. Conversely, in some instances their emphasizing the negative impact of their crimes can be construed as feigned and insincere.
Art (twenty years) – I feel that it’s a given that negative acts brought me here. Emphasizing the impact my crime had on the victims and their families leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and it can be perceived as me sensationalizing the crime. At this point in my bid I don’t want people to continue to view me as a monster. I want to change the negative perceptions people have of me. I think that it is only right that I focus on my growth and change as a person while giving the public a hint to the injustices that is being perpetuated by those that claim to spearhead justice.
Sunny (Fifteen years) – Why would you emphasize the impact your crime had on the victims; that would be subsequent to your won demise. There is a time and place for things like that.
D-Mass (fifteen years) – I don’t think men have a blatant disregard for human life, but your time has been served already. In the case of homicides, why would I carry the cross of the dead? I think that everyone wants injustices exposed and conquered. Emotions don’t get laws passed, laws get laws passed. What’s wrong with focusing on the issues?
Louis (Five years)- Some men may have changed and are now more responsible, however, they may not have any real remorse for the actual act.
O.T. (twenty-six years)- Subconsciously, some may be in self-denial. Reasoning that it was the victim’s fault for whatever transpired. In cases of drug dealers robbing or killing other drug dealers, some may not consider their victims to be actual victims, that they did society a favor by harming another criminal.
Earl (Seventeen years) – Who would help you after you emphasized negative happenings about yourself?
The answers of the men proves that their opinions are as diverse as the difference in their years of incarceration—all prisoners do not think the same. One of the biggest hurdles to prisoners being viewed as men capable of true rehabilitation is the misconstruction that we are babies crying in a giant crib.
The blatant disregard for humanity displayed by some prisoners and freed men is not the case for all prisoners and freed men. Furthermore, as the majority of the men in this interview expressed, what I once was is not what I am now. Is there anything inherently wrong with finally forgiving yourself for your past? Is there anything criminally wrong with fighting for the freedom a judge said you would deserve after you proved that you were rehabilitated?