Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jan 2003
Source: Tennessean, The (TN)
Copyright: 2003 The Tennessean
Author: Tim McDonald


To the Editor:

Our third largest state agency is the rapidly growing Department of 
Corrections. Unfortunately, the label ''corrections'' conveys the false 
impression that some sort of ''correcting'' is going on with these 
citizens. My experience over the last three years of visiting prisons and 
working with inmates and former inmates is that punishment and imprisonment 
are the only two priorities at TDOC. Small wonder we expect 47% more women 
and 28% more men to be imprisoned within the next 10 years. Where will this 
end? When will prisons be the largest state expense?

But what of the word ''corrections?'' Do we not imply some sort of positive 
educational goal here? Then why not have an educator heading the Department 
of Corrections? Anything to get us away from the repetitive prison and 
punishment mentality which drives our current system. True, there are 
violent offenders whom we must incarcerate for our own protection. For this 
we hire police and penologists.

But how many people in our prisons are in fact violent offenders? Most 
persons in prison simply suffer from low education, poor parenting and 
consequent drug use.

For our own moral and fiscal good, we need to refocus the TDOC. I'm for an 
educator or a counselor to head the Department of Corrections. Let's get 
serious about changing lives.

Tim McDonald

Huntingdon 38344
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