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Would positive change still happen if lifers weren't in for life?

HSBurke's picture

In this week's reading, I was particularly interested in James Taylor's account in Doing Life. In his interview, Taylor expresses his desire for the Parole bill to be passed, which would allow people (presumably lifers) to be judged on a case-by-case basis for release. Taylor says that the bill would "do much to raise the hope level, the desire for betterment, reaching for the future with some hope." While I agree that such a program would encourage inmates to be on their best behavior, I can't help but think that so many of the interviewees attributed the turnarounds they've made to the fact that they were lifers. If that no longer the case, would these people who understood the need to be positive and active as a way to survive the inevitable fact that they would die in prison, still have the same mindset. So then, might such a bill encourage "good behavior" just to get to the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than encouraging true self-growth and betterment? Because Zehr's book revolves solely around lifers, I'm just honestly not sure if these significant turnarounds have been noted in non-lifers. As one of the interviewees said, it's hard to fake remorse. I feel like a program like this may encourage those who really haven't made strides to attempt to fake progress. I do, despite all that I've argued, believe that some people really do change and deserve to be recognized for that. I just have a hard time understanding the possible repercussions of such action.