Domain of recidivists

“No routine or spiritual practice in the world will dim the reality of daily life on Death Row.  A normal person does not commit murder.  For almost seventeen years I’ve waited for someone to walk through the door whom I could have a conversation with, but it just doesn’t happen.  The people here are all mentally defective in ways that range from mild retardation to extreme schizophrenia.  Others are stuck in some no-man’s-land between sanity and delusion.  There are no criminal geniuses walking these halls.  Most not only are culturally illiterate, but also can barely manage to express themselves in English.  I have never met a prisoner with a college education, and I can count the high school graduates on one hand.  Nearly all lived in absolute poverty, and most were abused in one way or another.  Not a single one of them is capable of functioning normally in society, and it’s not a skill they’re likely to learn when locked in a cell among others who are as bad or worse.  I’ve yet to see any sign of ‘rehabilitation,’ or any program designed to bring about that aim.  Most of the people you meet in prison have been here repeatedly.  Some have been to prison three or four times before making it to Death Row.  They claim to hate and despise everything about prison, but they always come back.  It’s like they’re collecting frequent flyer miles in hell.  They themselves can’t explain it, falling back on excuses such as ‘It’s hard to stay out once you’re in.’  Why?  How?  It’s hard to refrain from snatching an old woman’s purse?  It’s somehow difficult to prevent yourself from committing rape?  Somehow you accidentally found yourself burglarizing a house or stealing a car?” — Damien Echols, Life After Death

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