Friday, August 28, 2009


(pronounced /rɨˈsɪdɨvɪzəm/; from recidive + ism, from Latin recidīvus "recurring", from re- "back" + cadō "I fall"). Technically, "the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also known as the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested."

A little while back, a prisoner in one of my classes in San Saba saw a poster on a bulletin board as he was walking into class. He says "Recidivism, that's a new one." He'd never heard the term before.

The poster illustrates the reduced rates of recidivism as prisoners get more education. The more school they get, the less likely they are to come back to jail. That's why I get paid to come out there and do my job, and why the high school classes are held out there too. The state wants each prisoner to at least get their GED before they get out, if not more.

But this dude had never heard the term before. So he asked me what it meant. I said "Well, it when some looser keeps gettin' busted for the same shit, over and over, and spends all their life in jail."

One of the other prisoners says "Looser?" I said"Uh, yea. How would you describe such a person? I mean, most of us do stupid shit now and then, but we manage to stay out of the slammer. Folks who just keep comin' back over and over... how would you describe it?"

I try to bring this kind of shit up now and then. It's fun, while I'm lecturing on something like the Enlightenment, the Great Awakening, to drift into a discussion about destiny and fate. When we talk about Manifest Destiny, I tell them that God is not in the real estate business. But I tell them that people and countries make their own fate, and that if a nation like ours decides it will one day stretch from "sea to shining sea", chances are it will achieve that destiny.

If a person decides they will be a success, they keep working at it until they succeed. They don't let anything get in their way. Similarly, if someone decides, for whatever reason, that they can't be successful, chances are they won't be. They'll decide "it wasn't in the cards", because that takes all the pressure off their own shoulders for not doing what they were capable of doing.

We decide, ether by our actions or our inaction, what our fate will be. Nothing is written. That's just a cop out invented ether by rich people back in the day who wanted to believe that God had made them rich, or by people who are weak and would rather think that they are leaves, blown about in the wind, and have no power over their own lives.

Thing is, some people are lucky. They're socialized to have the confidence to believe in themselves and trust their own decisions, or they somehow rise above the crap they're being taught to see the truth of their own potential. Or they just get pissed off and are too stubborn to let some bastard stop them from doing what they want to do.

One way or the other, I try to insinuate to these guys that their story isn't over, and that they can DECIDE not to come back to San Saba when they get out. We get down and dirty now and then. It's fun. Gives me the feeling that maybe I might have an impact. Get some guy to think about things, and maybe make a few different choices.

One of the guys drew a picture of me while I was lecturing the other day. Looks damn good, accept for the Nikes. I don't wear friggin' Nikes. Don't know where that came from, but everything else is spot on.

That's how I sit at the desk: feet propped up, relaxed, spinnin' the story off the top of my head. Every now and then I have to grab one of their books to make reference to something, but not too often. I've been doin' this shit for about twenty years now, so it mostly spills out of my head with very little prompting.

As far as the finger is concerned, we were talking about the Spanish/American War and Foreign Policy that day. I was talking about how we seem to have a love/hate relationship with the rest of the world, and have for a very long time.

We want everyone to love us, and can't understand when they don't. We want to exploit much of the world for our own profit and comfort, and then we expect them to love us for the charity we give out from time to time, the help we've given and the lives we've lost.

So we drift, as a nation, from wanting to be fully engaged in the world and wanting to flip everyone off and go home. And yea, I flipped everyone off to illustrate my point. It works. Gets a few laughs and makes the moment memorable. The high school kids in Florence love it when I do stuff like that.

Oh, and as far as recidivism is concerned... Yea, I started working down in Florence again this last Monday, and guess what I stopped and had for breakfast the first day?

Thing is, after two months off, those corn dogs tasted greasy as hell. Really nasty. So I didn't go back. I've been having frozen egg rolls or chicken fajita wraps all week. Even made myself a sandwich for lunch one day. You know, tryin' to be good. Tryin' to practice what I preach. It ain't easy, but nobody ever said it was. If the easy thing is so bad for ya, why not have the integrity to try the hard thing?

Aside from all that, it's Friday again. High school football starts tonight. We plan to head over to Temple and take mom out to eat, and then we'll head down to Florence to watch my kids play Bruceville-Eddy. The JV kids beat their JV team yesterday by something like 40 to nothing, so it might be an interesting game. Maybe Bruceville-Eddy's saved all their good players for the Varsity team. Ya think?

Otherwise, we plan to have a relaxing weekend. I hope you guys do to. We all deserve it. Cheers!


Mushy said...

Bet'ya got a big greasy spot on you crotch from those corn dogs!

FHB said...

Naaaa, they didn't last that long. Maybe a big greasy spot on my colon though.

BRUNO said...

Ya' know, one of these days, you're gonna need to make a panic-stop, an' get the opportunity to explain to an ER-attendant: "Now, Mr. Wilson---explain to me once again---how in the HELL did you manage to avoid the collision, and STILL end-up with TWO corn-dogs, an' a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew stuck-up your ass???"

Coincidence, or necessity??? Only YOU could "make the call"...LOL!!!