For the past couple of years, inmate deaths have been at the center of a conflict between the authorities and human rights crusaders in America. It is a conflict that has seen the friction between the prisoners’ rights advocates and the government/the prison authorities get even intense over the years. There are certainly worrying statistics in terms of prisoners who die in custody. Statistics according to according to the General Custodial Deaths Report by the Texas Attorney, over 60 inmates have died since 2005 in the state custody of Montford Unit only, including the West Texas Hospital for prisoners (Brambila, 2014)
The data collection on inmates’ deaths began to follow the federal Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000. These kinds of deaths may include anyone dying in the arrest process, en route or even incarcerated in state prison, municipal or county jail, or any other correctional facility. The death causes can vary from natural factors such as age or disease, and other factors like dying at the hands of prisoners or suicide. Others die merely from neglect, abuse or the inadequacy of facilities, as a University of Texas School of Law documented earlier this year, where 14 inmates in Texas died of injuries related to heat since 2007 (Brambila, 2014).
This is what is at the centre of the conflict, because while these statistics are given to incriminate the prisons department for laxity and negligence, the authorities will often defend themselves by giving conflicting information and reasons to the deaths of the inmates. Despite the medical examiners giving findings of some inmates’ deaths as to negligence, suicide or murder, the state has always been on the defensive, claiming that these deaths are caused merely by natural factors, while in other cases the officers who that the inmates die under remain tight-lipped.
The information from Lubbock online is indeed so helpful to us to diagnose the conflict facing us today. According to the article by Brambila, (2014), this is a conflict that involves the state, through the prison’s department, and the human rights crusaders, who include the advocates of prisons reforms. It is an article that well presents some facets of conflict diagnosis, in the context of such a conflict. Conflict diagnosis is a process that provides a laid down step-by-step process that analyzes and understands the conflict at hand (Coltri, 2004). According to Coltri (2004), the conflict diagnosis process should be grounded in theory and research that is tested as well as one that is backed by experience, so that it enables anyone willing to solve a conflict to understand better the forces behind the conflict and those that impede its resolution. In the article by Lubbock Online, the author very well kick starts the conflict diagnosis process on a high standard. The article outlines the topic of conflict, which is inmate’s death, and the conflicting reports by the stakeholders. A thorough research, including records and statistics from deaths are used as reference materials. Also, a deliberate effort is made to get to the reality of things and the mystery surrounding inmate’s deaths. As proposed, the article also analyzes the kinds and levels of trust between the two conflicting parties. This is after the conflict and its source have been established, and research as well as past experiences have been reviewed. The relationship between the state/prisons department and the human rights activists/advocates is critically analyzed, in a bid to dig deeper and see how the conflict can be resolved. This will be beneficial in determining the dynamics of the conflict as this is an important factor in the diagnosis and ultimate resolution of a conflict, as proposed by Cheldelin (2003). As expected, the disputing parties tend to only see the righteousness and the good side of their perspective and the negativities of the opposing sides. This information is important in the diagnosis of the conflict, and the article explains to us how this reveals itself, when the authorities defend themselves from the accusations leveled against them by their accusers. The information relayed in this article is in such a way one would suggest the conflict resolution methods to apply, that would be effective in this context. According to the article, every side is so much dogmatic and holds on to their point of view so tightly, for some reason. This can be a potential hindrance to resolving the conflict, and it should be reviewed keenly, according to Coltri (2004).
The approach that is to be applied here would be one that would first see the two parties come together to decide on how to resolve the conflict. The first step of the ABC model as widely suggested would be to achieve a rapport first. The two parties, regardless of who initiates the process ought to establish a rapport between them, so as to have a good environment to solve the problem. This rapport is to be initiated by either party, or a third party, but in this case, initiation by either party would be appropriate.
After creating the rapport, the next step is to make sure that the two parties discuss the issues at hand objectively. The parties here will boil down to the issue that is being talked about, which is about the deaths within the police cells and correctional facilities. The issues that are to be tackled here include the fears of what might hinder the attainment of any solution to the conflict. Both sides will consider every side’s story, and should loosen on their stand if any results are to be achieved. Finally, the recommendations that were generated from each side on the second step are acted upon, with accountability on each side. These recommendations will be easy to implement, because they came from the two parties themselves (Cheldelin, 2003). It is recommended that the parties look for a third party to hold them accountable, which means that they will be held to their word. This is always good for both parties, because knowing that there is a third party, they will stay true to their word
This is the approach that would be best suited to resolve such a conflict, owing to the nature of the conflict and the parties involved. When determining the approach to be used, one ought to consider the nature and dynamics of the conflict, as well as the parties involved.
Brambila, N. (2014, October 18). Dying behind Bars: Conflicting Opinion on Inmate’s
Death, Part of Larger Problem, Advocates Say. Retrieved June 7, 2015, from http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2014-10-18/dying-behind-bars-conflicting-opinion-inmates-death-part-larger-problem
Coltri, L. (2004). Conflict diagnosis and alternative dispute resolution (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle
River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Cheldelin, S. (2003). Conflict: From analysis to intervention. London: Continuum.