The Heart of a Jailhouse Lawyer - by: Brian
After more than a decade of toiling in the front lines of prison litigation, the thing that sustains my fighting spirit more than anything else is my appreciation of the sacrifices of those who came before me. The progress they paid for with blood and sweat is slowly being chipped away by a prison system built on oppression and mercilessness.
The old guard of chain-gang lawyers are dying off one by one, and many of today's prison inmates are simply unaware of the brutal history of America's prison underworld, or of the costs that have been paid for the rights we prisoners now take for granted. Unfortunately, even less people in the general public are in any way concerned about what happens to the untold thousands of souls unfortunate enough to have fallen through the cracks of our broken system of "justice". If the next generation of prison litigators don't stand against the tide of oppressive policies, any semblance of humanity in prison will one day be forgotten.
Here in the state of Florida, where I have been incarcerated at for over 14 years, that tide has already taken a horrendous toll. The system has pretty much abandoned all hope of rehabilitation for its prison population. Rather than help inmates break the cycles of criminal thinking, the system here is actually designed to induce that very mindset.
Inmates are not paid for their labor, but are forced to pay hefty canteen prices to maintain any semblance of humanity. We are only given a small piece of soap each week to bathe with, and are served meals that only the most hardened of us can stomach. To pay for deoderant or dental floss, you must pay the cost. To enjoy a decent meal, you must pay the price. Without any legal means of earning even meager prison wages, indigent inmates are left with only one way to pay the state's cost: crime.
Making matters worse, Florida has canceled the bulk of their re-entry programs, as well as all drug abuse treatment programs in its prisons. Inmates are literally being left to fend for themselves - being detained for years in a state sponsered college of crime, with even those being "released" left with only their own devices for making ends meet. The question MUST be asked: what will it take for society to open its eyes to the reality of prison injustice?
Prison reform will not come by itself. It is up to this next generation of prison litigators to expose the deep-rooted problems plaguing today's prison systems. Even when the fight seems unwinnable, we must carry on without losing heart. The future depends on us, and for that reason hope must be kept alive. Viva la resistance!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Brian Glick is serving a natural life sentence for 2nd degree murder. He is certified by the Florida Dept. of Corrections as an inmate law clerk, and has been active in prison litigation for over ten years. He can be contacted via email at JPay.com using ID # R45761.