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Thursday, April 28, 2005


one of the most interesting things about social work is the variety of environments you can work in -- places that you would never choose to go, but change your life once you experience them. in this case, i still have not had the chance to see the inside of a nyc jail, but i just spoke with a fellow sw student who is just finishing up his first-year internship at one of the most well-known (and not for its exemplary record). hard to believe that they'd send a fresh-faced post-grad to a place like that, right? you should have seen my parents face when they heard i'd be going to the south bronx...

for one of our final papers in this class we're supposed to follow the progress of one of our clients. this student in my class was not allowed to do so because the jail he was working at would not let him. the situation there is so bad and so discouraging that they won't even let their sw interns keep track of their own progress for fear of it getting out to the press or an ex-inmate with a good lawyer. now that alone sets my teeth on edge because this is supposed to be part of the educational process, but what it says about what is happening inside the jail is even more frightening.

last month the ny times did a lengthy expose on the ny state prison system and the private healthcare company that is supposedly providing medical care to the inmates, but seems to be lining its pockets instead -- what a shock! and you thought that the kind of company that would make a profit off of the health and well-being of prisoners would be a vision of beneficence.

anyway, it is my feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg. the prison system has turned into big business. how many people get fat off the misfortunes of others? since when has the revolving prison door become a substitute for real mental health care? and why do we feel that we own people's souls as soon as they enter the justice system? why do we punish people for their addictions rather than try to help them? who's thinking about all of the children that grow up in foster homes because their mother's are in prison serving manditory minimum charges on drug possession? where are they likely to end up? what have they done to diserve that kind of life? and why are politicians spending their time arguing over steroids in baseball and unnecessary changes to social security when thousands of americans are suffering -- and that's not even talking about the millions of working americans who go without healthcare! when can we stop talking politics and start talking about how to run the country??

anyway, that's my rant for today. on to more hopeful topics tomorrow...

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