By Robert Wood, Senior Social Media Advisor – The Prison Scholar Fund
In the fast-paced world of today, we must be prepared to adapt to change, not only in technology, but also in the way people think about, receive, and disseminate information. Those emotions are a part of the human factor which is integral in almost all decisions human beings make. That human factor will definitely be important in the decisions members of America’s incarcerated population makes as they prepare to re-enter society and then actually do it. As the world changes, we have more access than ever to what people are thinking and that information is delivered more rapidly via a variety of new and innovative technologies. Regardless that the human element is a huge part of the driving force behind everything we do and we must not lose sight of that. It is the people, not the technology that makes the difference. Technology merely allows us to reach people quicker, in larger numbers, and with more information than previously. People, including prisoners, are creatures of emotion with real human traits and feelings. As we communicate using these sleek modern methods we must keep in mind that it is people we are we are actually communicating with and dealing with in our attempts to reform the prison system in the United States. Often as individuals and groups in society interact with certain groups, especially in regard to our incarcerated population, people they forget about the all-important human factor. Where this is ignored no stylistic devices or methodologies can make up for such a grave error.
It is in this same manner that we must think as America begins to get more serious about rehabilitating our incarcerated populations through education, vocational training, and employment assistance. Although these people are incarcerated, due to actions which warranted the incarceration in most cases, they are still human beings and when they re-enter society education and updated information about what is going in society allows them to make a much smoother transition into a society that may have changed drastically during the time they were away. They must understand that the human factor is always applicable in their own interactions with others as well. As a nation applying the human factor wisely to any rehabilitative efforts and programs will make a big difference in those rehabilitative efforts actually bearing fruit. Real rehabilitation means actually preparing people to prepare for change with the tools and skills necessary to participate and succeed in a society in a manner they previously may not have been able to.
As we get serious as a nation about rehabilitation let’s be sure to communicate the message in a way that makes those affected realize that we not only want to see them change but we actually care about them and want to see them succeed. Remember that prisoners are people too, and no matter how society communicates about them and with them in regards to the need for rehabilitation, applying the human factor to our efforts will make their reentry into society more effective and instill a greater respect for the human factor in them. I believe this will ultimately be reflected by changes for the better in their behavior, lower recidivism rates, and increased participation in community service and volunteerism as well as greater success in the workforce. Understanding America’s incarcerated populations and making sure they know that you understand them is the key to successfully rehabilitating them.