Today I ran across a very troubling article, The Scientology-Based "Re-Education" Program for American Prisoners, Sponsored by Goldman Sachs. The author, Sarah Beller, wrote:
I wanted to find out more about this strange book that has been forced on a million people in the prison system, this book that uses terms and ideas from Scientology and tells people that their immoral personalities are responsible for their substance use, their incarceration and their unhappiness.
But for an organization that purports to seek to help as many people as possible, Correctional Counseling keeps its materials mighty close to its chest.
The similarities between Scientology and the Moral Reconation Therapy:
I wondered what Goldman Sachs had to do with this heavily-Scientology-influenced company.
The much-heralded “social impact bond” (SIB) uses money from private funders to pay for public policy programs.
The very first SIB private funder was Goldman Sachs, which contributed $7.2 million to launch the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) in Rikers Island for kids aged 16 to 18.
Goldman Sachs and the team it employed chose MRT as the treatment model.
Beller went on to write:
So in a sense, MRT was the perfect choice for a Goldman Sachs-government partnership program: Its underlying logic props up the structural status quo, which ultimately benefits the very bankers funding it. Interestingly, one of the early studies “proving” MRT worked was paid for by a Koch brother (conducted by the Koch Crime Institute).
Beller closes by asking
Instead of shooting money into pseudo-rehabilitative, pseudo-Scientology “treatments,” couldn’t we put it toward more helpful things? Like bail reform: 79 percent of people in Rikers have not been convicted of anything; they’re only there because they can’t afford bail. Or a cause for which Abe Bergman, whose son underwent MRT, is now a public lobbyist: supportive housing for people with mental illness.
I can think of some other ones too, like remediating prisoners' literacy rates.
85 percent of all juveniles who come into contact with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. So are 60 percent of all prison inmates.
Inmates have a 16 percent chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70 percent for those who receive no help. This equates, according to the study, to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders (California & New York spend over $200,000 per year on juveniles in their juvenile justice systems).
The article was published at The Influence, with which I was unfamiliar.
The Influence is a journalistic publication covering the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs and potentially addictive behaviors. We explore the nature of addiction and the various responses to it, as well as political, scientific and cultural aspects of our field. We aim neither to promote nor to demonize drugs, and we approach our subject open-mindedly, with respect for different lifestyles.