Magazine article Techniques

Albert's New Draft

Magazine article Techniques

Albert's New Draft

Article excerpt

An individual I'll call Albert reported to my classroom with his assignment sheet in his hand and a warm smile on his face. It was 8 a.m. Thursday, the middle of December 1992. Snow had fallen the night before and a foot or so lay on the cold cement outside. I gave Albert a briefing on what this program was and what was to be expected of him. He seemed distracted by the cold and uneasy feeling of entering a prison education program. His motive and incentive were to receive one day off his sentence for each day he attended class. We call it half-time--six-and-a-half hours of work a day. Albert took his seat assignment and began on what amounted to a stepping stone to a good career in the drafting field.

After a month Albert had finished a basic, four-function math review course that sharpened his math skills. He asked to take sheet metal and welding blueprint-reading workbooks. Three months passed and Albert finished the two workbooks. He became involved in the drafting program and asked if he could try mechanical drawing. His progress demonstrated that he could move into this field with relative ease.

I asked Albert if he would consider studying drafting rather than being sent to a fire camp to be trained as a prisoner/firefighter. He said he wasn't going to camp anyway because of the nature of his crime. He told me violent criminals can't go outside the prison walls and he was going to be "down" for eight years with half. That meant he would be paroled in four years if he stayed "disciplinary [action] free."

I started thinking Albert could complete this program and get a job when he was paroled. I asked to see his central file; that would give me an idea of his background and potential for success. His file said he was incarcerated for second-degree attempted murder for shooting a friend of his three times. He blew his buddy's jaw off for not turning down the radio when Albert told him to. …

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