Prison State Frontline Essay

The United States sends more people to prison than any other country in World. The state of Kentucky has also been having a jail problem. The Kentucky police has been locking up more inmates than they have ever before. The jails are overpopulated and the state is trying to figure out a solution to this jail problem. The video “Prison State”, a documentary by PBS Frontline, shows the problem Kentucky has with more inmates in jail. The states spends a lot of money to lock up prisoners. The state alone spends 50 million dollars annually on locking up juveniles. It also cost 87 thousand dollars to incarcerate a child.

The video focuses mainly on a neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky called Beecher Terrace. According to the video, the state of Kentucky spend 15 million dollars a year on prisoners from Beecher Terrace where 1 in 6 people cycle in and out of prison. The video interviews four inmates who have been in and out of prison or juvenile detention. The first inmate they show is Keith Huff. Kentucky has spent 1. 1 million dollars incarcerating him. He has been incarcerated 5 times and has been in the system 27 years. Keith is a non-violent offender. He has a record of burglary and impersonating a police officer.

While in prison, Keith was diagnosed with bi polar disorder and schizophrenia. Mark Bolton, The Director of Louisville Department of Corrections, says we should stop locking up nonviolent offenders, like Keith, and start locking up people that are violent. The Kentucky legislature passed a law where nonviolent offenders will be released early and the saved money will go to drug treatment facilities. Because of this law, Keith Huff was released early from prison. When Keith was released he had no job, nowhere to live, and the only clothes he had were the clothes he was wearing.

Keith also had only a 30 day supply of his medication. Not to long after Keith was released, he was arrested again because he was not meeting with his parole officer. He also ran out of his medication and started undergoing drug abuse. The second person that was interviewed was Christel Tribble. She is a 15 year old girl from Beecher Terrace. She lives with her mom and her siblings. Her father is in prison. Christel is diagnosed with bi polar disorder and ADHD. Christel has had a troubled pass by getting in fights at school and having to attend alternative school. She now faces court for truancy.

Before her court hearing, she gets more charges because of fighting and resisting arrest. After her court hearing, the judge sentenced her to 20 days of home incarceration. Only 3 days after her sentencing, Christel skips school again. Now she is placed on probation to the department of juvenile justice. Two months into her probation her mother says she has been staying out of trouble and Christel says she is a changed person. The third person interviewed in the video was Charles McDuffie. Charles is a Vietnam veteran. He says since Vietnam he has had no mental health treatment.

Charles is serving a 5 year sentence for burglary. Charles said he also has a drug problem and started doing drugs while he was in Vietnam. Because of the Kentucky law that releases nonviolent offenders early, Charles is released and is sent to 6 months of rehab. Charles went through rehab and he says he no longer has nightmares about Vietnam. At the end of the video, Charles is reunited with one of his fellow soldiers that he fought with in Vietnam. You can tell, at the end of the video, that Charles is a happier and changed man. The fourth and final person that was interviewed is Demetria Duncan.

Most of Demetria’s family has been in and out of prison. Her mother was also killed when she was nine years old. Demetria is 14 years old and she has 11 charges against her. She has also been to juvenile jail three times. She has now being charged for assaulting her aunt and she was sent to a shelter that is run by the juvenile courts. She is also being medicated for anxiety disorder. When Demetria went to court the Judge sent her to a state detention camp for teenagers. After almost a year at the camp, Demetria was released and was sent back to her aunt on probation.

Unfortunately Demetria violated her probation and when the video was still being made she was said to be on the run. As the video shown, prison can change some people and others it does not. For Charles McDuffie and Christel Tribble, it changed them for the better. They both haven’t gotten in any trouble and Charles is clean from drugs and does not have nightmares about Vietnam any more. For Keith Huff and Demetria Duncan, prison has not changed them; they are still in and out of jail. I believe Keith went back to jail because he did not have any help when he got out.

He was released with no job, no money, and no place to go. I think this is why so many people go back to jail because when they get out they do not know what to do. They go back to the only thing they know, which is the life they lived before they went to prison. Prisoners go back to their gangs or go back to selling drugs. I think jails should invest more money into starting programs on helping and teaching prisoners how to live in society when they get out. These programs can also help them get skills to start new jobs and show them that there is a better way to live.

It can also teach them that they do not have to do the things that brought them to jail in the first place. I think if Keith had help when he got out of jail he would not have stopped his medication and would not have fallen back into his old habits. I think most people who grow up in a neighborhood like Beecher Terrace do not care if they go to jail because they think it is their destiny. Growing up, they have seen their friends and family in and out of jail so many times that they think this is a normal occurrence. Most of them see nothing wrong in going to jail and some might see it as a free and safe place to stay.

It is so easy for people who live in this type of place to go to jail because there is temptation on every corner to do wrong. A way to help this is implementing programs in schools that encourage and educate children to believe that there is more opportunities in life than what is out their front door. Most children do not know life outside of the neighborhood they grew up in, but if they are taught that there is more opportunities outside of their neighborhood it might change and strive them to work hard to live a better life out of the rough neighborhood.

Overall I did not realize how much money it cost to keep prisoners in jail. I think the judicial system should stop spending so much money on imprisoning nonviolent or mentally ill offenders. They should spend that money on rehab centers and programs that will help people when they get out of jail to get more acclimated to living a successful life outside of the facility. They should also create programs that could hit this problem head on by teaching kids while they are young that there is more life than a life of crime.