Wake-Up FLOC–It’s Time For Change!
As a member of an international Corrections Reform organization–C.U.R.E. (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), I almost cry as I read emails daily from mothers, fathers, wives, etc. seeking information, sustain and sometimes just a listening ear as they struggle with being a member of the FLOC–Families and Loved Ones of Criminals.
Frequently though I teeter on the brink of frustration as I read letters from criminals in North Carolina, who write me complaining about overcrowded prisons, bad food, unfair, yea already racist custodial officers, the complete gamut of complaints about a so-called broken system.
On the other end of that spectrum, I sorta smile inwardly as I sit in meetings listening to correctional professionals praise themselves for the excellent efforts and meaningful strides they’re making in fledgling change programs and the like. Meanwhile academicians research a wide range of issues and show that prison populations will continue their spiraling growth. Local police seek more money, federal, state and otherwise to set afloat anti-gang initiatives, increase undercover investigations in the illegal drug cultures, etc. Judicial officials struggle with huge caseloads and frustrating challenges of who to send to prison and who to sentence to house arrest on probation.
Remember, I take in all this information as a 65-year-old who did crime and time from when I was five-years old until I was 26-years-old, and was released from prison for the final time on Dec. 9, 1968, one of the nation’s most turbulent years. Simple math tells you that I’m approaching my 40th anniversary out of prison, and I’m happy, yea proud, to report that I’ve made the arduous trek from crime to contribution, moving carefully and steadily along the Change Continuum.
During those same 40 years, prison populations, along with probationers, parolees and criminals under other court sanctions, have skyrocketed from less than 500,000 the year of my release to more than five million today. Studies indicate that the nation should plan to build at the minimum two 500-1000 bed prisons each week for the next 10 years just to keep speed. State and federal prisons across the country release more than 600,000 inmates yearly. During the same 12 months, about an equal number either return to prison or “catch” their initial sentence after some years of doing crime.
Can we exit this vicious, violent and costly cycle? Can we help more criminals move onto the Change Continuum, and make the challenging transformation to community contributors? I believe we can if all the stakeholders become willing to undergo meaningful paradigm shifts.
For me, the basic shift begins when I organize everyone into what I refer to as Stakeholder Groups and see an amazing truth appear! The stakeholder groups are:
Criminals who must learn to break the crime habit, to earn an ever-free life, and to make the arduous trek from crime to contribution.
Crime response professionals (police, judicial officials and correctional professionals) who must learn how to become change advocates.
Citizens, who, by the way, pay the billions required to sustain this broken system, who must learn to need an adequate Return On Investment. They, too, must become change advocates. This stakeholder group must be understood as citizens who play at the minimum three different roles in this painful “play” of crime and contribution. Some are crime victims. Others belong to one or more of the other stakeholder groups. The FLOC–Families and Loved Ones of Criminals–function as some of the least organized and most frustrated stakeholders, but also the ones with the greatest strength possible. I will deal with that point more thoroughly later.
Careerists, those human resources professionals, small business owners, etc. who must learn how to tell the difference between a change activist and a con artist.
Change advocates, individuals who are also crime response professionals, citizens and careerists who learn to understand the Change Continuum and advocate strategies that help criminals move onto and along this course of action until they become community contributors, instead of pain-dealing predators.
Change activists, individuals who grow from criminal by the time of action of becoming a former criminal and onto the next stage–change activist–on the way to becoming a change conqueror.
Crime response professionals often seem to approach this issue–the Change Continuum–from a law enforcement, judicial or corrections paradigms. For example, law enforcement professionals seem reluctant to believe that most criminals can and will change. Judicial professionals appear to be paralyzed in the determinate sentence paradigm. That is to say that for every criminal sentenced to prison for a specific number of years, society somehow becomes safer. They appear unable or unwilling to understand that under our current laws and system, criminals are only required to outlive the sanction–if the sanction is prison–before returning to their “real” mission–doing crime. In the case of probation, for example, criminals don’t have to already stop getting over on people as long as they pay their probation fees and do not get caught violating the sanction in other ways. Correctional professionals appear to see themselves as working effectively when they manage to control possible violence within prisons and maybe already superimpose some education and job training onto the mental and emotional foundation of criminal thinking and hope for the best. These paradigms do not ease change, or the complete metamorphosis that must occur for a person to grow from being a criminal to become a community contributor.
Meanwhile, the stakeholder group that I believe has the best possible for leading us from where we are to where we all claim we want to be–helping criminals change from predators to contributors– flounders in disarray, often unable to be heard over the cacophony of confusion from other stakeholders. As most of you know, I refer to this stakeholder group–truly a part of a larger group–as the FLOC, Families and Loved Ones of Criminals.
The FLOC owns a rare perspective because they belong to multiple stakeholder groups. For example, as citizens, the FLOC are also often crime victims, with the offenders being, in many instances, their own loved ones. Of course, the FLOC also help pay the billions we all invest in a system that provides a much too small of a return on investment. We can also often find FLOC members in other categories of stakeholders in addition, include crime response professionals and careerists and change advocates. Some FLOC members are already change activists and change conquerors. consequently, FLOC members, organized into NFLOC (a network of families and loved ones of criminals) could become a collective catalyst for real change that includes helping to downsize the Prison Industrial complicate by helping criminals escape the clutches of recidivism.
So wake up FLOC! You have critically important work to do! I I suggest the following three initial steps:
The FLOC must learn to understand, master and apply the 40 laws of transformation that govern the Change Continuum. For a clearer understanding of the Change Continuum, please read my article on this topic, published here at AC.
The FLOC must begin to teach and aim their loved ones who are criminals, whether incarcerated, or between prison sentences, the value of living in alignment with these principles, instead of breaking themselves “against” these powerful laws.
The FLOC must demonstrate the powerful, profitable value of these laws by living in alignment with them.
The FLOC must partner with their criminal-thinking loved ones, teaching and training them to move progressively along the Change Continuum until they grow from criminals to change conquerors.
For additional information, please consider the resources listed here! Then review the seven performance laws of success listed below:
Get started–You can talk about change forever, but nothing happens until a change advocate gets started toward becoming a change activist.
Develop a powerful “why” for your venture–Your “why” statement focuses you and your partners on a shared philosophy that develops from the shared vision of transformation.
Become teachable and coach-able–To be teachable method to be willing to learn. To be coach-able defines a willingness to “run the plays” already when you cannot see initially how they can possibly succeed.
Master course of action and systems thinking–course of action thinking method to simply follow the “rules of the road,’ and system thinking method to learn to mesh various elements into specific “turn-meaningful” systems that produce predictable outcomes.
Work S.M.A.R.T. The acronym stands for Specific, assessable, Aggressive, applicable and Time-focused. All our work in this arena must meet those standards.
Work hard– This definition is self-explanatory
Never quit–As long as your partners in change flow progressively by the four stages of transformation–criminal, former criminal, change activist, and change conqueror–the FLOC must not give up on the time of action of teaching and training your loved ones to align with the laws of transformation that define the Change Continuum.
So wake up FLOC! You have critically important work to do! Let’s get started!