THE INSTITUTION AND I
By Jacob Anderson
'Paranoia is an illness I contracted in institutions. It is not the reason for my sentences to reform school and prison. It is the effect, not the cause.' Jack Henry Abbott's famous words are the basis for this article. It is why we ask sometimes if institutions really do stand to achieve rehabilitation? Or do they just neglect their visitors?
The purpose of an institution is to restore a person to normal life. An institution is any place of change; a hospital, rehabilitation clinic, prison or any place established for the promotion of a particular object. A recurring problem and effect of modern day prison institutions is the revolving door effect; where prisoners go in and come out of the institution without changing. The more rigid and more rule demanding institutions have a higher turn-out of individuals that experience a negative effect from the inner workings of the institution and its occupants. The opposite can be said for more rule bending institutions, as they are know to have a higher turn-out of individuals that experience a positive effect from the institution and its occupants.
This is similar to Brett; the protagonist in Scott Monk's unconventionally written novel 'Raw.'
We first meet Brett at his umpteenth time of committing a crime. On his journey to his latest institution; 'The Farm', we learn of his negative attitude and surprise of being sent to a 'federation-styled homestead' instead of a 'concentration camp patrolled by Dobermans and gun-toting guards.' His negative attitude to authority is exemplified by constantly referring to the police as 'pigs' and similies like 'Cops and food go together like pigs and slop.' Sam is the symbolic role model who initiates Brett's reform, he offers his hand for a handshake, but Brett declines...