Shock Treatment in Prison

shocktreatmentIf shock camp is our best hope for reforming incarcerated addicts, then New York State has a big problem.

I cannot speak for everyone. Perhaps, there are a few people who have benefited from the program (although I doubt it). All I can speak for is my own experience.

I received a sentence of 21/3 to 7 years for a drug-related crime in 2012. After winding my way through county jail, and through the reception and classification phase of prison, I ended up in Brocton, NY, at Lakeview Shock Incarceration Center. It was mandatory in order for me to be released.

The program is supposed to be geared toward people with addiction problems. There were substance abuse classes, strenuous physical training, and a strict set of rules and regimens. In exchange for abiding by those strictures, eligible inmates served just six months instead of whatever their sentence may have been. You just have to survive shock.

Running, drug treatment—that doesn’t sound so bad, right? Not so fast. The whole premise seems flawed.

Although shock is geared toward treating addiction, many addicts—and many inmates in general—have mental health issues. However, shock won’t take anyone who is being treated for a mental health issue. Now, the problem with this picture is that shock is the only program that can get you released early. That’s a pretty strong incentive. So what do we do? We stop taking our mental health meds. As it turns out, you don’t have to nothave mental health issues, you just have to not be in treatment for any mental health issues.

This was the case for me and for countless other women who also went to Brocton. The result is that the state ends up taking inmates with depression, debilitating anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress and putting them into a mentally and physically demanding military-based training program.

Like a lot of the women I met there, I didn’t need a military-based training program to break me. I was already broken.

Zero weeks wasn’t so bad. That’s the two weeks at the very beginning designated for physical torture. That I could handle. It was the mental and psychological aspect of it that got me.