Journal Entry: Christopher Jason Ross-02/29/2024

Journal Entry

“I pursued a degree in criminal justice thinking I was going to make a difference and help people. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. This is just… sad.”
-Anonymous custody officer employed at a medium-security facility in Marion, IL

It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your tax dollars are (being spent)?

Mandatory minimums have been proven to not work many times over, along with many other standard practices, both official and unofficial, in the DOJ and the BOP. It seems almost every other week I fall into another magazine article that articulates this sentiment in one way or another. Yet when the gears of progress begin to turn, if indeed they do turn at a rate detectable with the human eye, why is it so slowly it seems that nothing has changed at all? Is it not the great American government that serves its constituents? If you have a loved one that is justice-impacted, is it not also an issue relevant to you? There arecountless organizations dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system with thousands, if not tens of thousands or millons, of individuals lobbying for progress. On top of this, there are some extremely expensive practices that most people do not know are common in the system. Do you think a U.S. Citizen suspected of downloading images off of the internet warrants the mobilization of a S.W.A.T. Team? When prisons become overcrowded and people begin dying from Covid-19 while locked in a tiny cell “to preven the spread of Covid-19,” is the answer to simply pretend that compassionate release will be implemented on a wide scale while secretly more bed space is made and people shuffled around indiscriminately?

Factors like this make it a quite common occurence to observe inmates watching as notices of such things as “Sentencing alternatives” get posted on noticeboards and the result is simple scoffing. “We’ve already been sentenced!” they exclaim. It is an unwritten rule that if you fight for your freedom too hard, your punishment is an even higher re-sentencing length. All these wacky practices and inefficiencies and “unofficial” punishments culminate in many wasted tax dollars thrown at maintaining a network of human warehouses.

I am still hoping for some sort of “rehabilitative” program that actually benefits me as an individual. I have given up on hoping for a sentence reduction as an incentive forparticipating successfully in rehabilitative programs. I simply have zero interest in criminal behaviour or activities. I never did have one in the first place. Yet I have been incarcerated for nearly a decade, and have a decade more to serve. After that, if I am lucky tohave a staff willing to process my release so that I do get to go home, I have another decade of supervised release under a Probation Officer. My only desires in life are to have a stable job, home, family, and to express myself artistically and do some work saving history for future generations. At nearly sixty years old, I will most likely only be a case for social security.

It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your tax dollars are (being spent)?