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Original Essays | August 20, 2014

Julie Schumacher: IMG Dear Professor Fitger



Saint Paul, August 2014 Dear Professor Fitger, I've been asked to say a few words about you for Powells.com. Having dreamed you up with a ball-point... Continue »
  1. $16.07 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Dear Committee Members

    Julie Schumacher 9780385538138

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Prisons (Current Controversies)
Prisons (Current Controversies)

learning to dance, March 4, 2012

This topic is much larger than any single group can tackle. Most of us are aware the problem begins at home - poor neighborhoods which most often breed the wrong need for support from others: Gangs. The use of - alcohol and drugs (fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effect - the ramifications of a mother on meth, crack, pot, and the new "designer drugs" etc while pregnant) - lack of hope - little to no education that is meaningful - and most importantly, the "knowledge" that those in positions of authority should be feared, mocked, and ignored; and absolute lack of support for change, except for others to provide for, take care of, not challenge, and provide for "me", my definition of entitlement I believe "I" should have. YOU are expected to take care of "my" needs.

After working in the prison system as a therapist for Chemically Dependent persons for roughly 12 years (about 6 years in a men's prison; about 6 years in a woman's prison; I also worked an out-of-class opportunity at a women's boot camp) -- I have experienced few incarcerated person's that leave with any desire or want to change. The most interesting and perhaps the most productive change was experienced by those that completed boot camp.

The argument is always they picked the "cream of the crop" for boot camp - so of course they have a high rate of success! - is not viable. What I have witnessed repeatedly is the inate belif of person success; an increased awareness of how a peron's actions affect others;increased belief in one's own ability to succeed; pride; support (not previously understood or even aware of...) from others to move forward and seek to change; loss of the fear of persons in authority... The list is so much longer than this it lacks the depth of change that happens.

When reviewing hundreds of life histories for persons entering treatment, I have noticed a direct correlation to the end of the draft. The generation that initially experienced not participating in the support of others, created laziness and a deep sense of entitlement.

NO ONE wants their child put in harm's way - that is not what I am indicating - the draft did far more than send men and women to war. It provided an unbelievable pride in our country and willingness to move forward in life. I hate that war has taken so many of our young people - and I come from the Viet Nam era - I despise the lack of accountability and pride our young people have or understand the need for.

I continue to work with chemically dependent and mentally ill persons in our community; I hope to provide an accountability to one's self and an understanding that "our country is truly OUR country" and owes them NOTHING! I care, encourage, provide consequences, and invest time into each and every person I work with and am told repeatedly: "I used to think you were just mean - now I get it - you have given me the chance to know what I CAN do, instead of just going back to where I came from." I never raise my voice, I never "punish" my clients, I am not mean; I believe in accountability. Each person is held to the same standard as every other person in that group. Many times it creates an opportunity for easy comraderie within the group and even some humor (a new understanding for most as this is not "making fun of...others" which many have participated in as an opportunity to make themselves look better than others). As each identifies feelings of not following through (accountability to one's self and others) with an assignment (lack of pride); each provides a piece of the puzzle I can never provide: the fact that change is happening to each and everyone of them and they like the feeling! Each client provides understanding and encouragement to the new members along with increased belief in one's self.

In a clinical setting this is the closest I can come to building a true sense of one's ability and accountability to others. Boot camp goes far beyond what I, alone, can do. I receive messages from former clients, "I hear you in my head when I (think about drinking) (think about criminal activity) (etc)..." "You helped me change and I am better for it."

There is no person that cannot benefit from some type of accountability. It is not an ugly word. It is a word the current masses believes is for others, rather than for themselves. Accountability is the beginning and understanding "I have created my world" and "I with the suppport from others can change my world."

Accountability is the willingness to accept myself as the cause of what happens in my life.
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