The Billings Outpost

Prison programs ineffective

Kim Gillan [Outpost, April 25] was very selective about her choice of responses. Ever the politician (ex, that is), remember she is a grant writer with a successful track record.

She missed several key points of my letter [April 4], including the daily abuse and discrimination against female inmates. She can pump all the cash she wants into the Montana Women’s Prison, but until she recognizes the sexual discrimination rampant in the prison, such cash is a waste of taxpayers’ money and will never alleviate the problems she claims to seek to alleviate.

For example, the men at the Montana State Prison have the ranch, dairy farm, furniture factory, a gift shop, a wide range of profitable hobby opportunities, cottage industry handicrafts and even online sales. On the other hand, the women have none of these.

Most, if not all, of the programs Gillan refers to for the women have been discontinued.

In fact, last year the computer lab was closed because a female inmate committed forgery and had unlawful online contact via the computer lab. She learned her computer skills at Montana State University Billings.

All of the sexual traumatic experience techniques are totally worthless. For instance, the TAMAR program was created for sexually molested young girls (but it is used for sex offenders as well). Page 54 lists 62 self-soothing techniques, including star gazing, calling 800 numbers (to hear human voices), lighting scented candles, walking in the park, drinking hot cocoa and taking bubble baths. Page 53 is similar with another 62 suggestions (useless to inmates) on how to heal past sexual trauma.

But my favorite suggested distraction technique instructs prisoners to experience the sensation of sex. This distraction technique clearly conflicts with the program’s overall intent. The obvious conflict is further advertised in the staff instructions to balance out distraction techniques with the class designed for male sex offenders.

With the legislative session’s end, the Montana Senate’s Law and Justice Committee will begin work on two approved bills: 1) to study the overall effectiveness of the parole board itself and 2) to conduct a thorough review of the operations of the entire Montana Department of Corrections.

My hope is that the committee will address the gender bias and discrimination against women as well as sexual misconduct committed by the prison staff. All of these offenses occurred on Kim Gillan’s watch as Montana senator and as an official representative of MSU Billings.

How much taxpayer money paid her to further dead-end failures of programs that contradict their own ends?

May Simmons

Billings

 

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