No matter how well a correctional facility seems to be managed, or no matter
how modern a facility may be, these places have the potential for fights and other
acts of violence. For there are men living under stress, who sometimes
deep-seated anger, or who may be having a bad day when their lives start to spin
out of control and everything seems to be going wrong.
The prison I'm in now, for instance, even though it
first opened around 1985
and is considered to be "state of the art" with easier to manage cell blocks,
surveilllance cameras in the recreation yards, and a smaller population (around 400)
compared with the older and larger New York prisons that have 2,000 or more
inmates), is just as potentially dangerous as any other facility.
Recently, since the start of this year, we've been
seeing an increase in
fights. There's been tension in here that has never been at this level
Although, fortunately, things continue to run smoothly.
But there has been a measurable increase in confrontations. In fact, one of
the local newspapers in this county published an article about the problem titled
"Inmate Assaults Cause Concern" (Sullivan Democrat, Tuesday, February 10, 2004).
This was their lead story for the day.
In the article, concern was expressed by various prison
workers that the
growing number of assaults on staff have upset them and are a cause for alarm.
A majority of the inmates who are incarcerated here
go by the rules and have
no desire to make trouble or cause problems. However, these assaults to
ripple affect that helps to create an atmosphere of tension that touches everyone.
And while prisons are not designed to make the inmates
or staff feel
comfortable, it is certainly more difficult to live and work in an environment
where the potential for violence is at a heightened level.
But I do believe the tension will eventually decrease. As a Christian, I've
begun to pray aboaut this. So have the other men who attend our
During times like this, however, I'm grateful for the
peace God gives to His
children when our minds are fixed upon Him,
This is an inner peace which passes all human comprehension. It will remain
throughout all the storms.
February 12, 2004
(c)2004 David Berkowitz