Erik on the Justice and Penal System, Part Two

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And now, something to give you nightmares:

Here’s the last half of our Justice and Penal Code series with the YouTube at the end. Thanks again to Beth George for her hard work in transcribing this!

Elisa: All right. Real briefly, what do you think about the private penitentiary system? It’s become a big business in the U.S. and I think there’s like 3.2 million people in American jails. Wow, that’s a lot.

Erik: You said the key word there, mom. It’s a business.

Elisa: Yeah, right. So, what do you think of them?

Kim: Wow, he’s really passionate about this. He’s really angry. Like, he’s expressing anger.

Erik: It’s garbage. It’s a business and there is so much that gets swept under the rug. There is so much that stays under the blanket. He says the system, there’s nothing in place if someone goes to jail, there’s nothing in place in these penitentiaries to rehabilitate them. They come out worse of most of the time than before. There’s no bridge for the psychiatric confinement – no psychiatric bridge for the confinement that that they’ve been through. So, it’s usually much worse. It creates introverts that become narcissistic and need control still. It’s like a collapse.

Kim: He keeps showing them all collapsing, all failing all falling in – maybe not financially – but they are all falling in – in the sense of being able to actually help and rehabilitate people.

Elisa: Because they are guided by money, by the bottom line, not by what is going to have the best results for society and the inmate.

Kim: Yup.

Elisa: Ok. Now, I’ve seen news reports where some jails have great programs to improve the lives of inmates like convicts taming horses, inmates practicing meditation. Are there any other programs that you think would be successful, Erik? That would improve their lives and reduce the recidivism rate?

Kim: Yes, I don’t know if America is ready for a concept like this, but he’s actually showing inmates. He’s showing me an image of people dressed in orange, so symbolically represents inmates, speaking to young adults – like in school systems. I’m not sure how school systems, you know, this is why he’s saying America is really not ready for it.

Erik: Mom, this goes back to what you wrote about in your books. If we had these inmates go and talk to these people about how to be productive citizens. For one, it makes them think for themselves. It makes them internalize and see for themselves, but it’s also rehabilitating the person too because they are putting themselves – they are exposing their vulnerabilities, but they are doing it in a way that they know is positive. So, it’s kind of like dissolving the negative attachment they had to their past. You know, decisions they made or whatever.
Elisa: Yeah, sure.

Erik: They share with these people and they become fulfilled by that sharing. And then, of course, it makes all of the kids listening internalize the process – the thought process – and go, “whoa. I wouldn’t want to do that for myself. I wouldn’t want that kind of life for myself, so I should do this instead.” So, it really makes people be a little more mindful. Both parties win. But could you imagine the day when they started letting inmates come and talk to schools – like kids at the school systems?

Kim: He’s literally showing them with chains around their ankles and wrists. But, of course, when they get up and talk they let their wrists fly, but their ankles are still chained.

Elisa: Oh my God. Go into the kindergarten class. Oh boy, that’d be interesting. Well, one thing that I think is kind of sad is that when they get released from jail, they are still shackled because so many of them get background checks, so it’s hard for them to find a job. It’s hard for them to even find an apartment, etc. And so some of them resort back to crime because they just can’t make their way through life. Any suggestions?

Erik: Yeah, it’s a stigma. They become the label the put them in jail in the first place.

They become that.

Kim: Ok, he’s going to suggest on both sides… for the people, the community – for me personally, my first cousin is a drug addict and he is recovering for 10 years now. And so, we look at him and he’s like, “if you guys could just accept me for who I am now and who I want to be… and stop holding my past against me, I would actually want grow and change. But all you guys ever do (like his brother and stuff) – ‘oh, you’re just a drug addict’ So why not prove them right?”

Erik: We as a community need to be willing to accept who they are and where they are now, not what they did yesterday. Not even what they did last week. And then for that person that’s trying to overcome that label, that stigma, action speaks. Action speaks louder than words. So your character is going to speak for itself. Again, this is where the system fails us. We’re stamped with that label. That label is on our resume and then people are afraid of labels. But your character speaks louder than any words ever will. Your energy speaks louder. Be what you want to be in such a way that no one will question anything else. If you want to be seen as productive and motivated, then be that to the nth degree in such a way that they won’t question if you have a good work ethic. Your character – this is where you’re going to have to fall on your character speaks for itself. Not just saying it, speaking it, telling people, it’s time to do.

Elisa: Yeah, but sometimes they can’t even get their foot in the door. The first thing that’s done is a background check and boom; they won’t even talk to the employee, the convict, the ex-con. If I had a choice between somebody that didn’t have a record and someone that did, I’d choose the one without the record. That’s the problem. Maybe their record should be absolved after a certain amount of time of good behavior or even expunged. What do you think?

Erik: It should and again, this is where the system fails us. Some of these people do come out a completely different human being for the better.

Kim: He’s even showing like, it’s not an IQ test, but there is some sort of – something in place where it kind of defines who you are. Where an IQ defines, you know.

Elisa: Yeah, ok.

Erik: If there are no incidents, after 3 years or so, let it go. Why keep labeling them by their past. So after 3 years of no incidents, the court systems dissolve it. Let it go. They’ve proven that they can be productive.

Elisa: OK, a couple more quick questions before we close. Is there ever going to be a day in modern society where current jails will be considered as human cruelty just as we see now how mental asylums of the yesteryears were?

Kim: At first he said no, but he is kind of going like this with his hand (Kim gestures with her hand).

Erik: Because right now, mankind is still in this stupid pattern of believing that because they did bad, they deserve to be treated like that too. Like “oh, you did that? Well then, we should do the same to you.” Well then you are just perpetuating that energy. What good does that do?

Elisa: Fighting fire with fire. Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Erik: So, if you actually want to make a different, love is the only thing that can make a difference, but humans don’t have that capacity yet, like as a collective, to love a serial killer. To have compassion for them…

Elisa: That’s a tough one.

Erik: …because of the grace and the love that they lack. It’s to go “Oh, man. What a terrible life that they lived because they don’t know what grace is, they don’t know what love is. Can you imagine? To have compassion, not pity, but compassion and love for where they are in their consciousness. Because ultimately, it is an aspect of you… we’re all…

Elisa: True, true. So do you think instead of jail, we ought to have a home where these people can be mothered and loved and rehabilitated? Is that it? So they could learn how to love themselves?

Erik: No. There needs to be more effective programs in the jail systems, but if we were to take…

Kim: This is actually really disappointing.

Erik: If we were to take serial killers and all that and put them in homes where the public can access them, or they can access the public, it would cause much more turmoil. For example…

Elisa: No, no. I’m not talking about an actual home, I’m talking about an institution. But the institution works via the foundation of love and nurturing and all that kind of stuff. Like – still a jail, but their whole concept is to teach people how to love themselves and how to receive love.

Erik: Yeah, it’s the same concept. You’re right. It’s still a lockdown place, but that’s where these programs need to be in place. Meditation classes or Yoga – anything…

Elisa: So, stop concentrating on the punitive aspects of it and concentrate instead on the loving aspects, the healing aspects. Is that what you’re saying?

Erik: Right, because they’re ultimately lacking fulfillment in some manner, so they lash out because of it. They might not be mindful of it, but hell, if we teach them mindfulness think about how much good we could do!

Elisa: I know.

Erik: But, they are not fulfilled in that sense, obviously. That’s why they are on the dark end of the spectrum instead of the light end. So, if we can fulfill them, then they are transformed.

Elisa: And they can help transform others on the outside.

Erik: Right, it is a ripple effect.

Elisa: When will we see major changes in the jail system?

Erik: Not in this life. It will get worse before it gets better.

Elisa: Ugh. What can we do to change the current prison system, this gentleman asks, write letters, if so to whom? What? He wants to know what he can do – what we all can do to help.

Erik: You can write letters. Contact your Commerce or Congressman or whatever. And, volunteer.

Kim: He’s showing a small thread of energy in these people that they are very aware that this system is failing — the inmates – but they are like “what are we gonna do about it?” They don’t put any energy into it. So, if they actually find someone who is willing to put energy into it…

Erik: Could you imagine motivational speakers going to jail to talk? Could you imagine them having seminars for all of the inmates to sit down and listen to a motivational speaker? So those people being put in place would be huge for the inmates. It’s getting those people to do it.

Elisa: Yes – and it’s about starting before they get to jail. Going out in to the communities and creating programs – and they do have some of course – that make these troubled kids learn how to feel loved and learn how to love themselves. So, I guess what you are saying is that the ideal justice system is one that has no punitive aspects, but has the aspects of healing and love and remediation.

Erik: Yeah, because think about it from a mother’s standpoint. When your kids fucks up and they hurt themselves and they hurt others, what do you do? You say “oh, come here. Ok. I’m going to tell you why this is wrong, but I’m going to help you figure out a better way to do it next time.” You never just scold them and throw them away. But that’s what we’re doing. We just trashcan them.

Elisa: Yeah, it’s too bad.

Erik: It’s very simple and very basic, but we’ve become so religious to our rules and the system, it is like its own religion. And people are crazy about “don’t mess with it!” “Don’t mess with the system! It is what it is, leave it.”

Elisa: It’ll be a while. Ok. Well thank you very much Erik. Thank you! We have to close now. You guys, check out Kim’s website. She has Sedona coming up, I think you have other places – other itineraries. Check it out: and I will post it on this YouTube too. Thank you, Kim and love you! Thank you Erik, I love you!

Erik: I love you mom!

Kim: He’s doing his shoulder thing again.

Elisa: What’s with the shoulders? Bye guys!

Kim: Bye!

Here’s your chance to help Erik and me out!

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Elisa Medhus