A Heart Behind Bars As his adrenaline pumps through his body, his heart beat beings to race as he walks through the sin he is about to commit in his mind. Approaching the victim, his eyes glaze over and his heart freezes as his hand reaches out to touch the girl. Although his thoughts are spinning, the need for pleasure is dominating his actions. The minutes pass by as the screams intensify the pleasure into a struggle. The plan isn't going quite as he had thought. Just a few more seconds until there is silence, five, four, three, two, it is finally over. Now two choices come immediately into mind. Should he get rid of the evidence himself or should he rely on the drug he gave her earlier, and pray it kicks in. In his irrational state of mind, he took the easy way out. This commonly traveled road lead him straight to life in prison on charges of rape and murder. This was the only option for his punishment, but is it his only way out of his problems? In Wilbert Rideau's "Why Prisons Don't Work," he presents the idea that prisons don't work because people go in and come out the same way, unchanged. He says that authorities think the best solution is to "get tougher" by cracking down on crime and locking away the criminals in prisons, but Rideau had first hand experience in one of those prisons and knows that the solution wasn't helping. People in prisons need to be punished, but also given a chance to change their ways. Although these criminals are usually psychos and beyond help, some might be reached with a little patience and time. The movie, Dead Man Walking provides a perfect example of how someone in prison should be handled. The main character is a convicted rapist who is scheduled to talk with a woman one on one until his death by injection date. For the first time in the rapist's life, this woman talked to him like he was a person and made him feel like someone truly cared for him. She helped him realize what he had done was undoubtedly wrong, but he still had a chance to get right with God before his death penalty was carried out. He was given an opportunity to change his heart. By the end of the movie he learned to love God and also the woman who had spent so much time with him. He was given a second chance, and it saved his life eternally, just because someone took the time to care. Life for a convicted criminal shouldn't be luxurious by any means, but they are still people and deserved to be forgiven if they truly want help. One on one counseling sessions with these criminals would be a good first step toward change. So many people feel like no one cares about them or wants to listen to their problems. A personal counselor would be perfect for helping the criminals deal with those emotions in an appropriate manner. The counselors could set up a time each day or week to be in the prison to listen and assist. These criminals are crying out for help by their devious actions and might benefit from simply talking to someone who cared. Also, keeping a diary or journal each day might help them collect their thoughts. People like themselves who commit crimes have an unbelievable amount of chaos and stress built up which might be relieved through expression in a journal. Instead of dealing with anger and pain by going out and shooting or raping someone, the counselors could teach the prisoners to deal with their problems on the paper before it is taken to the next level. Lastly, the prison should be divided into sections. Each category of crime should have its own section. Having this kind of set up, each section could get specific help in their area by the counselors. It might negatively affect someone who had stolen something to be kept in a cell with someone who committed a murder. The counseling sessions could also be held in a group setting after the one on one sessions were finished. Group sessions could be helpful for all the people convicted of the same crime to talk together and realize that someone relates to what they are going through. Not dealing with a struggle alone is always more comforting. I am not questioning whether prisoners should be punished for life or death, but I do wonder if prisons should be more than just a punishment. Criminals are people too, and deserve the help that they are obviously yearning. The opportunity to change is a God given right, and people in prisons need a small shove to get going on the right track. With well-trained counselors and the right atmosphere for the criminals, changes in their lifestyle can occur. Finding the right people to help with this change is going to be the hard part, but with a little dedication anything can be achieved. A hurting heart behind bars is a life wasted, but a content heart behind bars is a life forgiven.