Prison Radio
United Black Family Scholarship Foundation

My name is Barry Monroe. Question is; How do you believe your unique perspective as an incarcerated individual can enhance your contribution to nonprofit sector and address social issues effectively? At the age of 40, I was incarcerated. So, my worldly perspective plays a part on how I navigate prisons. That being said, I was able to see dysfunction that was in prison, that’s in prison currently, meaning there’s a total disconnect from society while you’re in prison. You adapt another role, or another way of living, for the punishment for the crime that one committed. In here, you have inmates, you have staff, you have custody, who is also caught up in their dysfunction, which even enhances the dysfunction that’s already in prison.

So, once people start treating each other with respect, and once people start adjusting their dysfunction, and start living positive pro-socially, and functioning on that level, treating each individual as an individual, because we’ve all have dysfunctionality in our lives, that will create some type of social answer that will allow, at least, an inmate and the staff to have a better relationship. The inmate in mental health has a better relationship, an inmate on an inmate has a better relationship, then that inmate will eventually trickle back into society where he now is not seen as, ‘Yes, I made a mistake’, but I’m not seen as that mistake constantly, constantly. So, I believe that is what’s needed in order to address social issues, those types of interactions with people in a more humane type of way versus a more authoritarian type of way. That’s my answer to question number one.

My question number two is making amends. How do you envision the conference topics to assist us in this process? I believe all the topics that’s on the panel were up for discussion is about making amends, or have you made amends? There’s three type of amends that we deal with, living amends, direct amends, and indirect amends. All these amends are something that each individual in here should be doing for the crimes that we committed. Indirectly, we can do a lot of things. We can take groups. We can go to school. We can learn about our behavior that got us into this, that’s indirectly. Directly we can make amends by being able to pay our restitution to the victims, writing remorse letters to the victims. I believe there are programs out there who have victims and victimizers where they meet together and they are able to discuss their remorse, or discuss their dismay and their hatred, and then come to some type of forgiveness or some type of closure. So I believe that’s, that’s needed.

I also believe a living amends. Living amends means you constantly, your daily lifestyles, are showing that you are regretful for, for, the crime that you committed, which got land you in prison. Or, the crimes that you committed that you haven’t got caught for, or haven’t got arrested for, excuse me, that landed you where you can say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this because in the past, I did that. And I don’t want to continue to go that route.’ So, I believe making amends is key for a person that says I truly regret my maladaptive behavior, and now I’m accepting being a positive pro-social person in society. That’s it for question two.

For question three, my question is; In your opinion, how can nonprofit work, collaborate with abolinish, absolutionist, excuse me, to [mitigate] the damaging effects of the Prison Industrial Complex? On that question, and I had to think about this for awhile, a nonprofit that establish concrete tools for an incarcerated person to use once reentering back into society will achieve all of this. If I’m a nonprofit, and I’m listening to what the inmate wants, versus what the inmate is asking for or what the inmate needs, excuse me, versus what he’s asking for, or she’s asking for, I think that is essential. Most inmates need, most inmates think or say they they need financial support once they get out of there. In all actuality if we have, if there’s transitional housing or subsidized housing that a person can go to, now, they need to be able to be financially secure. Most crimes are committed due to financial burden. And I think financial education is key. I think that if a nonprofit can establish that, and use that as a stepping stone to help people; also how to communicate their emotions.

Men, as men, we don’t communicate our emotions in a healthy way, and that creates to a lot of violent behavior. We become passive aggressive, or we repress a lot of emotions, and therefore it comes out passively aggressive. Also, you have a lot of people in here who who have, who’s fed up with being a gang member, but they can’t say it. So if they can’t say it, they have no outlet. But I think once a nonprofit comes in and helps them and, assuring them that it’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m fed up with this. And now what type of life do you want to live?’ And helping that individual in that aspect. So those are those are my answers for those three questions. And I thank you.

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