Memo Regarding Violence October 2003

Date: October 8, 2003
To: Mr. Mark Chastain – Associate Warden C Facility
From: Men’s Support Group – C Facility
Subject: Violence

Due to the recent incidents of violence in this institution and the subsequent lockdown, we wanted to take this opportunity to express some of our views on violence. We want to make clear that the views expressed here do not represent the views of everyone participating in the groups. In fact, there are probably no two inmates who’s views are exactly the same on this issue, as each man’s relationship to violence matures the more he participates in the men’s group process, but, we do want to express some overall opinions.

Most men who first come to the groups ordinarily do not give the subject much thought, other than his willingness to use it when ever and where ever he deems it necessary. Probably 95% of us come from environments where violence is the predominate recourse to solve nearly all disagreements and the majority of us were first taught this form of behavior in our childhood upbringings.

As men continue to come to the groups they see and learn, by watching other men who have been in the groups longer, that there are much more productive ways to resolve differences. They learn first of all why it is they want the things they want, but, perhaps more importantly, they learn why it is the person they are having a disagreement with wants what that person wants. Most importantly they learn that the use of violence to resolve disagreements are most often, in fact, fear based. Afraid that they are going to lose something, afraid they are going to be judged weak or unable to protect themselves, and so on.

As each man finds his deeper inner strength and loses his attachment to disagreement based fears he finds his dependency on violence beginning to rapidly diminish. Each man begins to draw healthier boundaries around when he will use violence and when he will not. Most men begin to deeply regret the enormous amount of violence they have depended upon in the past. They also begin to regret that they live in an environment where he may need to use violence at all. Some men, although very, very few, resolve not to use violence at all again. Unfortunately we, as convicts, all live in a world where we may be called upon to use violence daily and even in the outside world very few human beings have the courage and the conviction to renounce violence in their lives, no matter what. We would all live in a very different place if more had the courage to make this bold commitment to life, forgiveness, compassion and each other.

We are committed to changing not only our lives but the environment we live in and pray that we will be given the continued opportunity to do so.

Respectfully,
The Men’s Group – C Facility