The burden on the families to stay close and the burden on you to lose your families from staying close. So I think that anything that can be done to enable fathers, mothers to stay close to their children is obviously really important.
I would urge the warden who’s very liberal minded thinking to maybe work with you in trying to come up with a program that maybe could be an example to other prisons in the years to come. If we can help a bit we would love to try to help a bit within whatever we’re allowed. I can see how important it is.
Be entrepreneurial. Maybe get a few of the other students together. Try to work up a plan. It may be too late for you, but it can help other people later. Good luck.
Scott Budnick: I think it’s important to note too that this prison is the first prison in the entire state to bring in technology and start an online college program. It’s now planning to be replicated to all the different yards of this prison and then throughout the department. So it’s the first time in the history of the California prison system where they let inmates touch a computer, especially a computer that’s connected to the Internet to take college classes.
I know there’s talks about having Skype visiting for families that can’t come here. There’s also a new program that Millicent Tidwell and Rodger Meier started where you can read a book to your child and send it home on disk. That’s being rolled out in the next couple of months. So I think the ball’s rolling slowly, but rolling as it relates to technology.
And I think with Mr Branson’s idea and his help I think we can really kind of push the system to move this quicker.
Richard Branson: The Skype idea just seems like a no-brainer. Because it doesn’t cost the prison anything. And for families that can’t travel is quite a strain on the families to travel hours and hours from other cities.
Inmate3: You mentioned the draconian sentencing that we have in this country. My question to you is, do you think our behavior while incarcerated should be considered in regards to our release date?
Richard Branson: Look, I’m certain that the behavior whilst you’re in prison, you should get benefits from it. Would you mind telling me what you think?
Inmate3: Well, I think that seeing that we’re a part of such a groundbreaking idea as far as the educational system within California Department of Corrections being able to obtain degrees now, to really change our aspect and the way we think and what we’re able to accomplish, I think that it would be even more motivational for us if there were — if it was considered for instance we have, like I said, the college program here has completely changed not only the way I feel about learning, but the way I look at life.
I understand now that what I do as an individual affects not only me but everyone around me. I didn’t understand that when I got locked up. I thought it was just all about me, me, me. But now that I have some type of education I understand that we are all part of, or equally a part of, a bigger whole.
So I think that if those behaviors were considered, you know, I came in, I didn’t have a college degree, now, thanks to the system, in June I’ll be receiving 4 degrees, I think that that should matter.
And if I have a pattern of not being disciplined, no disciplinary actions or anything like that I think that that should be considered on an individual basis.
Richard Branson: You put it far more eloquently than I could. It is fantastic what Ironwood’s doing. It seems to be setting an example to the rest of the prison system in California as far as the educational policy it’s got here. It’d be great if other establishments could learn from it anyway.
Scott Budnick: Thank you.
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