The troubled youth of today don’t just need to be imprisoned; they need to be rehabilitated so they may become productive members of society when they finish their sentence. Programs like The Beat Within and Inside Out are useful for youth that need to be rehabilitated before being released back into the general population. Unfortunately, these programs for incarcerated youth are being cut because of budget problems. These programs, such as Inside Out, should be kept around because they help the young inmates express themselves and at times even help them come to terms with the violent crimes they commit.
Mark Salzman wrote about his experience teaching a group of incarcerated youths in the Inside out program. His book, called True Notebook, shows how the program was helpful to the juvenile inmates. Before even starting his own class he visited his friend Duane’s class at the juvenile detention center, and when Mark heard what they wrote he was very impressed by the things that they came up with. He even went as far as to say that they were better than the students that he taught in college.
Soon after, Mark was persuaded to teach a writing class of his own that met in the library of the detention center on Wednesday and Saturday. Mark did not teach the inmates proper grammar and punctuation, but he showed them how to express themselves through writing by giving them some creative topics. One student that benefited from the class was Francisco Javier. Francisco wrote two letters to his mother explaining how he feels and appreciates her. In one of his letters he said, “You know what, Mom? When you lecture or counsel me, even though it doesn’t seem like I’m listening, your words stay in my mind.
When I go to bed, I reflect on them. I know you think I don’t appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but it’s the opposite. ”(96) Even though he never sent either of his letters to his mom, he shared his love and appreciation for his mother with his fellow inmates. Another inmate, Jimmy Wu, wrote a paper about growing up; it included moving to the United States from Taiwan, the birth of his brother, his parents’ divorce, his brother being diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and why he became who he is today. He wrote small part of it about his family coming apart as, “I always thought that we’d be together. Forever. And then my dad got married. To a person that I disliked. I began to hate my father. My heart was full of anger. In the sea of rage I began to drown. I stared to hang out with gangsters. Gave up on my education. ”(68) This was another example of how the inmates learned to open up to one another, which is something that they probably never would have learned to do if it wasn’t for programs like Inside Out. Not all their writing was about opening up to each other, some of the inmates came up with some great stories that showed off their talent.
In particular, an inmate in Mark’s class named Nathaniel Hall wrote an amazing paper on his first night that he showed up to his class. He wrote a story about being sentenced to 187 years in prison and being frozen in a block of ice until eligible for parole in the year 2185. The paper was about being paroled and being let go but not knowing anything but the life of a criminal. In the end of the story the prisoner had two options; sell a gun to get the things he needed or rob the pawnshop and the money and keep his gun. The prisoner ended up robbing the pawnshop but was apprehended right outside.
The story ended with the prisoner waking up and realizing that it was all a dream and he was still frozen in that block of ice. This story that Nathaniel wrote showed how talented he was and if it wasn’t for this program it would have never been know how truly talented he is. I’m sure that he wasn’t the only one who wrote great stories like these, many inmates who weren’t in the book could have written as good or even better stories than his. Unfortunately, if this program was cut some of them would never know that they have it in them to write amazing pieces.
The writing program, The Beat Within, was started in San Francisco in 1996. Just like Inside out The Beat Within allows inmates to do some creative writing. The writing they do is similar to that of the writing of the Inside Out program, but they also do artwork, poetry, and write their opinions on subjects given. One of the differences between this program and the other is that this program publishes the work of these inmates in a weekly 70-page magazine also called The Beat Within. They also publish poems, art, and opinions in the magazine which build the inmates self-esteem because they ee their work in a magazine. Monica Carlos, a former inmate who had work published in The Beat Within, said that just seeing her work published made her feel happy. Another thing that The Beat Within does is allow some of the former inmates, like Monica, to respond to some of the articles the current inmates write. Things like this keep people like Monica from falling into the cycle of committing another crime and ending up back in the detention center. It also allows them to continue to do something that they enjoyed even after they have been released.
Both of these programs are great for the inmates like Francisco, Jimmy, Nathaniel, and the many that contribute every week to The Beat Within. These programs help them show off their talent, give them confidence, help rehabilitate them, and do much more. If programs like these are cut because of budget problems, who will be there to get these inmates to open up, express themselves, and show them they do have something that they are good at? Eventually some of these inmates will be released and these beneficial help them become more productive members of society.
For those still waiting for their trial or to be sentence it gives them a hope for a brighter future. Submission Note Part A For this essay I still had concerns about my thesis. I still had a few problems writing a good thesis on the last essay so I thought the same problem would continue with this one. Along with my thesis I also thought that my supporting details were not entirely supporting my thesis. The peer editing workshop was very helpful again. Some of the feedback that I got was about the structure of my paragraphs and adding quotes from the book to strengthen my detail.
After reading all the comments, I went back and moved somethings around and split some paragraphs that had different ideas. After that my paper seemed like it made more sense because the two or more ideas weren’t in one paragraph. I also added some quotes from True Notebooks to show some examples of the boy’s writing. I think that my reorganization of the paragraphs is my strongest point because it divides my points into a more comprehensive way than it was in my original draft. The one thing that I think still needs work is the detail for The Beat Within.
Part B My writing as well as my writing process has changed greatly since the beginning of the class. I have taken more time to write a paper instead of just rushing it like I did in high school. I believe that my papers are stronger because I My studying skills have improved from what I knew at the beginning of the semester. The Practical Guide was a very useful text book, and I will most likely end up keeping it. The most helpful thing that I got from it was the annotation of the text before, during, and after reading.
I believe I am ready for English 100 because I have improved my writing skill from when the class started. This class has taught me things that helped me write better papers than I wrote before. I learned how develop a more in depth paper by adding only the necessary supporting details and taking out things that really don’t add to it. Also, even though I think I still have some trouble writing a thesis, I believe that I have made a major improvement that I can use to write much better papers in English 100.