From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters
Gunnison, Utah—I’m hoping to raise awareness of how everything here in Utah’s prison system is going to hell. Excuse my language but I’m one of many frustrated and depressed inmates trying to better ourselves before we reenter society, but do we have any real opportunities here? They have shut down most of the education programs because two or three inmates got caught with porn on the computers. Instead of just punishing those inmates, we all suffer.
We’ve already been punished by the courts by being sent to prison. Yet they keep taking and making our lives miserable. All we want is real opportunities to become better fathers, mothers, workers and so on.
PRISONERS NEED TOOLS TO SUCCEED
We can’t do that when we are not given the tools to succeed. They worry about stuff like how many pillows we have instead of us progressing in here and bettering ourselves. Other states have college programs for prisoners as well as some computer access. Other prisons have trade schools and a whole lot more positive reinforcement to help those who wish to change and become better, so that when the day comes that we get out, we don’t come back. When will Utah start to care about rehabilitation?
I’m in incentivized housing and hold the highest privilege level, as do 90% of inmates at Boulder, Fir, and Gale units at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. Why do we work hard to stay out of trouble and be productive if we can’t get any real opportunities to better ourselves? Even though we are willing to work hard and do good, we still keep having more and more taken from us. We have a lack of educational classes, no trade school programs, limited mental health and rehabilitation programs, and no college or advancement classes.
We have had a majority of commissary and incentive items removed. The prison has allowed a higher than nationwide inflation increase on our commissary. There has been no increase in our work pay and a large cut in our prison job opportunities, forcing us to be more of a financial strain on our families.
NOTHING TO FILL THAT VOID
Inmates are not receiving timely medical treatment and are having to wait years in some cases before they get the treatments they desperately need. We still can’t have contact visits. Our lives are spent on our beds rotting and watching stuff on TV.
We have dropout gang members that are trying to do good with nothing to fill that void. Down in the Henry building and at the new prison, violent gang members are being housed with nonviolent inmates who are open to change. These nonviolent individuals are being pressured, bullied, threatened, extorted, recruited, and even killed by gangs.
We are in a state that preaches forgiveness and change. When will Utah step up and help us, so we have a chance to become better people, better humans? How much more violence, how many more deaths will it take? We need change. We need hope. We need a glimmer of light to get through this darkness.
—C.S. wanting to learn in Utah