They are put in lower-education classrooms, and each inmate has to talk about his or her case, show remorse, explain how their behavior will be prevented in the future and then the instructor “deems” the inmate rehabilitated.
It is conducted as group counseling, and as in any counseling program, the individual is expected to admit having a problem and needing help. However, true counseling programs encourage and entrust voluntary admissions.
SOMM demands admissions be made as a way of avoiding punishment. This way of thinking is akin to the old days when police beat people or provided electric shock to select portions of the person’s anatomy until the confessions were obtained.
The Department of Corrections mandates that all persons convicted of a sex offense participate in the “voluntary” program or face a Code 116 Class A conduct report for failing to participate in a “mandatory” program. Code 116 provides that non cooperation cost the individual loss of good time credit class, time in seclusion and loss of other privileges, such as visitation, telephone contact with family and commissary.
Upon forced agreement to “participate,” the individual is required to sign a statement saying he is entering the program voluntarily. As the program progresses the individuals are again mandated (under the threat of Code 116) to admit their guilt and relate details of behavior verbally and in writing, even when the individual pled “not guilty” at trial. The SOMM “counselors” hold onto the position that finding of “guilty” by the court is absolute and there can be no error.
Everyone in prison is guilty, and it is not possible to be innocent and be in prison. Guilt must therefore be acknowledged. The only allowable exception to this is if there is an appeal or post-conviction petition already pending in court. But this, too, has a built-in trap. If the inmate is acting “pro se” (by himself without a lawyer) his action is not recognized by SOMM. Notification to SOMM of pending court action must come from a lawyer or the court. Anything the inmate may show on his own behalf is automatically deemed “fake.”
So an inmate who cannot meet SOMM rules to demonstrate pending court action, or inmates who plead “not guilty” and do not have court action pending, now must admit guilt or they are told that they are lying. They get removed from class, forced to take a questionable polygraph test against their will and be faced with Code 116. This is a clear violation of 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
The DOC hired Liberty Behavior Health Corp. (Indianapolis) to run its SOMM program. They execute it for profit. They staff the instructors and also administer all polygraph tests; one inmate was told by the man forcing him to take the polygraph test that one inmate in the last 27 tests passed.
Because of all this, many inmates, even those who pleaded “not guilty” at their trial, take the stance “tell them what they want to hear and get it over with.” These individuals think the information will stay “in house” and not affect them later. This is not true if someone originally pleaded “not guilty” and later tells stories to pacify SOMM; they may or may not be retried for the offense admitted. Yes, this would be a violation of the 5th Amendment. However, the individual also opens themselves up for a possible perjury charge, having lied to the court.
SOMM does not have client therapist confidentiality. What is said is noted and becomes part of the public record. No matter how much innocence is claimed, it is negated by a SOMM admission and that admission will affect the inmate forevermore.
Admit guilt, keep the earned good time and go home. Profess innocence and the good time earned is taken away, the individual stays in prison longer.
Indiana thinks this is legal and proper, and the General Assembly gave the Department of Correction permission to do this.
Welcome to a state where, to me, civil rights and the U.S. Constitution seem to have little meaning and where tax dollars are wasted on fake programs like the SOMM.