From the Desk of Dr. Tom Zeager
New Prison for LCP/ First Info Meeting
September 21, 2022
Justice & Mercy’s Comments
I very much appreciated the informational meeting that took place on September 21, 2022, at the Lancaster County Training Center. I was glad that around 30 people attended. Thank you for the good effort and good start. I’m looking forward to more meetings regarding the new correctional facility.
1. Spread the Net of info Gathering
It appears the people planning the new prison are the same ones running the present system, which of course need to be included but I recommend the prison board spread a broader net for gathering info on what the new prison should look like. When the Consultants announced they were doing a needs assessment they said they were getting their assessment from law enforcement, the court, and the prison. This reminded me of more of the same trail them, nail them and jail them. We need to focus more on
2.We have great respect for many leading this cause
Include other organizations and faith-based groups who are doing something to bring hope to the system. We have great respect for many of the present leaders on the committee. We again want to emphasize the need to be spreading a broader net that includes treatment people. We need to do more in terms of changing lives, giving hope, and teaching the inmates on how to be good and responsible people.
More Treatment people involved in Planning
I want to hit this point home that the input from the Prison Consultant seems like more of the same trail them, nail them and jail them. We need to do something to teach them a lesson on how to do good and be good.
3. Justice & Mercy Suggestions
When the Consultants spoke about their needs assessment,
I did not hear anything about the following:
Counseling for the whole family of the offender
How do we lower the recidivism rate?
We encourage the committee to move away from the old saying trail them, nail them and jail them and move forward with providing the inmates the information and tools to empower them on how to be good and do good!
4. Bring Hope to the Equation
Our goal should be to cut the recidivism rate to at least 25% and to do this we must start by bringing hope! Most of the people in prison do not have any hope and without hope they will ALWAYS recidivate and be repeat offenders.
Our present recidivism rate is about 70% repeat the crime and do the time, which shows our system is broken but we can make improvements to fix it!
At what point do we start planning on how to create public safety, change lives, and help empower them to become responsible people? I suggest we start now in the planning stage.
I heard the people who spoke from the community speak on these issues,
but I did not hear from the Consultant about these issues of treatment.
It could be that it was mentioned but I didn’t notice it.
In Lancaster County we have an abundance of treatment organizations. It’s time that we empower them to create public safety from faith based and otherwise.
The government should be willing to partner with the private sector or
possibly step aside and allow them to do what the
government may not be able to do.
5. Some recommendations for the next meetings
If we say that we are listening to the people, we should videotape the
meeting and make it available to the committee and the public and
publish it on the new prison website in some written form.
It would be helpful if the Consultant prepared a handout at the
beginning of the meeting stating what they heard from the
community in the previous meeting. This will hopefully keep
us from repeating what others have said, which will then make us
be more concise and effective.
In the Consultant’s handout, they should highlight the suggestions
taken from the community that they are taking into consideration.
This should speed up the process of understanding.
I know undertaking this project is not easy and will take a lot of
time and effort, but I believe if we put our best foot forward, we can
accomplish some of the things listed above. I know it will not be perfect,
but I ask that we at least try!
6. A Reason for Offenders to Change
We should stop thinking about lock them up and throw away the key
except for the offenders who make it clear that they are unwilling to change.
Maybe the offenders who claim they don’t want to change need a reason
to change—We should provide that reason!
Dr. Tom Zeager, President
Justice & Mercy
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