Is it Relapse or Recidivism?

'That Ramsey County probation officers are looking at "a new model" called Desistance Theory to assess clients' made me grimace. The elephant in the room is not always a bad thing, perhaps.  I applaud all progress in Corrections and Law Enforcement, no matter how incremental it might be.  I see Minnesota at the forefront of progressive REAL change, so please don't hear me as a cynic.


I and many others are Activists are Deconstructing Recidivism & Peacefully preventing Relapse.  Recovery in and out of treatment settings is nothing new, nor is forgiveness and ‘RJ’ (Restorative Justice).


We know all about treatment versus incarceration statistics and the percentile of persons doing time that have substance abuse issues. But consider taking a look into recidivism more deeply.  More often than not, 'recidivism' is a misnomer; it's actually 'relapse.'  


"It's cost prohibitive" is so antiquated and unrealistic.  Paying for treatment rather than incarceration is considered a waste of money for Offenders, but the revolving door of relapse is far more expensive in terms of human damage (victims) and tax dollars than treatment.  


RJ is, loosely speaking, one manner of treatment. In my opinion, as an “Insider” ExCon, RJ rises to the top as the 'best of the best' when orchestrated by trained professional Mediators in Healing Circles. I've witnessed (and personally experienced in my life) the miracle of self-forgiveness through the forgiveness shown by victims of crime.  But relapse prevention requires repetition of the emotional healing that takes place in Healing Circles until the new thinking becomes a habit and permeates the majority of memories of an abusive past.  Zig Ziglar said, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”  Scientifically stated, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb first used this phrase in 1949 to describe how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition. I heard Doctor Joe Dispenza say, ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together.  Neurons that don’t fire together through disuse, untie.’ (close quote):


I sometimes wonder if people in Corrections suffer from a need for Instant Gratification.  They obsess on one mistake or infraction and miss the underlying causes.  It seems like they get lost in the forcing of solutions (power struggles) with inmates and arrestees.  I’ve heard police say, “I’m not a social worker’, which spells out to me that maybe a social worker should accompany officers into the field of duty.  I’d hate to resort to Public CLOUD Access to police videos that can’t be shut off or screened by law enforcement, but if the lack of conscience remains endemic in the officer’s mind, then maybe that’s the direction we’ll have to go.


Prisoners can see through BS very quickly because they used BS as a survival tool for most of their lives.  But this is true of us all; WE ARE ONLY AS SICK AS OUR SECRETS.  Those in power frown upon transparency, but if we drop our fear of lawsuits and celebrate openness, we can do what works.  Change comes from the INSIDE-OUT.  Building trust creates a field of healing for ALL.  It brings me great hope to see Paul Schnell sitting down in circles with “Power of the People” and shaking hands with inmates in prison.