US Prison population and reform
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18-07-2015, 12:56 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
(16-07-2015 05:49 PM)earmuffs Wrote:  
Quote:Nothing will change IMO until the for-profit prison model is somehow made illegal.

This.
Private for-profit prisons are a beyond stupid idea. You need them to cost tax payer money because it encourages to the government to focus on rehabilitation over incarceration because it's cheaper.

Yabut. Something can be changed before the system changes. And I would argue that it's a prerequisite...

Public opinion.

To do this, one needs to raise awareness and encourage empathy.

I suggest ...
1) An exchange program
2) broadcast as a reality TV show.

The question is ... who to exchange?

Options:
a) Congressmen?
b) Liberty University students?
c) NRA members?
d) Other.

Consider

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18-07-2015, 01:23 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
(18-07-2015 12:56 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(16-07-2015 05:49 PM)earmuffs Wrote:  This.
Private for-profit prisons are a beyond stupid idea. You need them to cost tax payer money because it encourages to the government to focus on rehabilitation over incarceration because it's cheaper.

Yabut. Something can be changed before the system changes. And I would argue that it's a prerequisite...

Public opinion.

To do this, one needs to raise awareness and encourage empathy.

I suggest ...
1) An exchange program
2) broadcast as a reality TV show.

The question is ... who to exchange?

Options:
a) Congressmen?
b) Liberty University students?
c) NRA members?
d) Other.

Consider

Cool. I was going to suggest waiting until technology is in the up-swing and, instead of breaking down/building up like animals, they can be reprogrammed. Shy but the TV show is prob the quicker option currently.
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18-07-2015, 05:16 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
Funny, I was just wrapping up watching the final season of OZ when I saw this thread.

Things that are overcrowding our prisons would include.

1. Social unrest

2. Complete lack of complete and total, UTTER rehabilitation and design of a new national mental health care program that needs to start from as early as kindergarten and follow through to adult hood. We need a psychologist and mandatory against the parents wishes with felony charges against the parents for fighting it on religious, parental or any reason, sessions every week for every student in America from kindergarten to Senior year of high school with a much stronger emphasis on mental health care providers being necessary to human life and health. Which means, American citizens should be seeing a doctor just as often when they are feeling the slightest bit angry or sad as much as people go a see a doctor when they have a tummy ache.

3. Legalize pot and then toss everyone who has ever been jailed for pot back out on the streets.

4. Racism.


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18-07-2015, 12:33 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
After skimming though this thread, and the conversation that kind of lead in this direction on another thread, I just wanted to throw in a few observations and stories. I spent some time working in a provincial detention centre first as a correctional officer, and later with immigration. In addition, many of the people in my unit are correctional officers in the U.S. And despite some differences in the way they are theoretically run, I find that many of the problems with the U.S. and Canadian systems end up being the same.

Random thoughts:
• Obama visiting the prisons is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's a symbolic gesture, nothing more. I guarantee he did not get anything resembling an accurate glimpse into the reality of the institution(s) he visited. Hell the management who works within the institutions doesn't even get an accurate glimpse of what's happening on the rare occasions that they actually leave their offices go do a tour of the wings.

• The single biggest problem we face are manpower shortages, whether because of irrational planning or because the manpower simply isn't available. On paper, the institution where I worked was set up to run quite nicely. Daily yard time for every inmate, educational programs, rehabilitation programs, church services, etc. The problem comes with the fact that in a provincial detention centre, which is quite similar in function to the facility mentioned by RocketSurgeon, the nature of its operations eliminates the possibility of any form of consistency. Large and completely unpredictable numbers of new inmates arrive daily, some remain there after being sentenced, some are awaiting transfer, some were someone else's problem child that they had to pawn off on us, some are let go at court... Then we've got the intermittent population, who are basically on a part time sentence where they come in a couple days a week to serve their sentence in increments and are released to work at their normal jobs the rest of the week.

The point is that on any given day, it is nearly impossible to predict exactly what the population is going to be. This is a problem, because in order to keep everyone safe and happy, there are very specific regulations in regards to how many officer must be on duty. Each wing must have a designated amount based on its population. If the inmates are in the dayroom, as opposed to on lockdown in their cells, that number must be higher in order to be able to deal with potential problems. If there are any programs going on, we must also have a designated number of officers available as something of a quick reaction force in order to deal with issues that might arise with inmates either in a classroom (a less secure and higher risk area than either the dayroom or their cells) or simply being escorted from place to place.

On a typical day, we will ideally start with just enough officers to meet that requirement. More would theoretically be a waste of money, especially considering that a number of us are going to be on overtime as is. But inevitably, problems arise. Maybe an inmate has to go to the hospital and needs two officers as an escort. Maybe someone attempts or threatens to commit suicide, thereby requiring him to be placed on a 24 hour segregation watch, tying up an officer who would have otherwise been at a different station. Maybe two get in a fight and any officers that respond end up spending the next 6 hours buried in reports instead of at their assigned stations. On an average day, by the time we even get to scheduled classes or yard time, the number of officers we are legally required to have available to oversee that is rarely met. Though the management starts calling people and asking them to come in for overtime when it becomes obvious it will be needed, they are rarely able to fill those positions on short notice. As a result, classes get canceled, yard gets overlooked, and when staffing gets critical enough, everyone is put on lockdown. That basically means in order to reduce the chance of a problem requiring an officer response, all inmates are locked in their one to three person cells until staff numbers are once again sufficient to allow us to legally let them back out into the dayroom.

This is not something that happens on occasion, but damn near every day. The daily yard they're theoretically guaranteed ends up being a once or twice a month kind of thing. The 30 person class only gets to take 6 people, because we don't have enough officers to legally supervise 30. Thus, whatever idealistic system is in place is ultimately made impossible by issues with chronic shortages in staffing. If that problem isn't solved, it doesn't really matter how much research you put into how you think the system should be run. It's just not gonna happen. In a federal prison, where day to day operations are much more predictable, maybe. But not in the madhouses where the bulk of the population resides.

• Which brings me to the point of staffing. In Canada, I made about 70k per year (much more than my American counterparts) just off my regular assigned shifts, and could easily surpass 100k if I took advantage of what was essentially a blank check on overtime. Simply put, if I wanted a shift, I had one. And it wasn't enough to be worth the bullshit that comes with the job. Sure, there's the stress and the risk of injury, but all that's expected. I'm talking about politics. More and more, the public is by default against us whenever a situation arises, and most of the management is more interested in appeasing the public than they are with having our backs. As mentioned in the other thread, we would frequently say that if you're not getting suspended every so often, you're probably not doing your job. If you keep at it long enough, the feeling is that you will inevitably get charged with something and end up in jail yourself, or at least sued. I ultimately moved to immigration, hoping for a less shitty situation. But a large portion of the job involves going into the detention centres and removing, usually by force, people who have been scheduled for deportation. And no I'm not talking about the guys that come to work, they usually don't make much trouble. I'm talking about the guys who are convicted of serious crimes and are going back to somewhere like Libya or Somalia. They know the fate that awaits them is a lot worse than anything Canada has in mind, and every single one of them is dead set on fighting to the death, if necessary, to keep from going back. So once again, I ended up in a situation where I was doing something the general public doesn't understand, and is thus unlikely to be sympathetic if and when something goes wrong. The second I saw a comparable offer in private sector, I jumped at it. Most good COs do not intend to be there permanently. Nobody goes into that line of work with the intention of making it into a career or, if they do, they quickly change their mind.

I actually had pretty good rapport with the inmates to the point that when there was a dispute, they'd often request that I be the one to come in and deal with it. I wasn't known as a pushover, or even a nice guy, but I was consistent and treated people like humans. If they were respectful, I'd go out of my way to get them what they needed. And being a practiced borderline psychopath, as mentioned in another thread Tongue, I was pretty good at getting into the heads of pissed off people, figuring out what the issue really was, and finding a solution without getting pissed off myself. Sometimes it pays to be a little less human and a little more like a robot. But ultimately the best I could do was help keep things running day to day. But the bigger picture? Solving the problems of the system? Everyone seems to think they have the solution, and I guarantee it's not as easy as implementing a few programs.

'Murican Canadian
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18-07-2015, 05:54 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
Right on, Yakherder. I agree with every word you say. Can't LIKE enough.

And you've only cracked the surface.

On that note, I want to say thanks for being one of the good COs... there's such a culture, especially in crappy, redneck state prisons, of bottom-feeders who get their rocks off torturing inmates, psychologically. Everyone knows who they are, but as you say, since the actual Staff have no idea what's really going on (and make it clear to all that they don't CARE), the worst elements manage to control everything and keep the few decent COs from being able to matter... so they quit, making it worse. Only the strongest-willed COs who are actual decent human beings manage to stand up to their fellows, and I have seen them protect inmates from some truly heinous stuff, just by being someone they can go to speak about genuine problems, and that the bad-actors know is there to look out for the inmates.

A common misconception is that inmates hate COs. They don't. They understand that 1. Society says there must be prisons for those who broke the law, and 2. Someone has to guard them. It's the rampancy of corruption and horror in those places, and the COs who delight in making it worse for "the Bad People™" whom nobody minds if they abuse a little bit, whom we hated. When there was a good CO who actually treated us like human beings (not the ones who tried to be our buddies or be soft; no one respected them either) and did their job evenhandedly, they were protected. Indeed, in one of the prisons where I was, a small riot popped off, and when a couple of inmates tried to go after the nearest good CO (having already kicked the bad CO, who had pushed them over the limit, almost to death), several of us pushed him into a cell and stood in the door ten deep, in order to protect him until the reaction teams could arrive.

So Yak, seriously, thanks.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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18-07-2015, 07:43 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
(18-07-2015 05:54 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  And you've only cracked the surface.

Oh believe me I could go on for pages, as I'm sure you could as well, the drug based institutional black market economy and leadership hierarchy being next on my list, and the increasing number of mental health cases we're left to deal with without adequate training or resources being a close second. But like I said, it's all way beyond my ability to fix. Trying to deal with this shit gets overwhelming and frustrating pretty quick.

I get paid more by private companies, the job and the people are more enjoyable, and I face less risk of litigation if things go wrong. Worst case scenario, I get fired and have to go find something else.

'Murican Canadian
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18-07-2015, 08:29 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
It might make you happy to know that, just before I was released, the Major in charge of security at my final facility (MDOC has a habit of moving inmates around a lot) was arrested, after months of tormenting the guys at the Work Release building where I was housed (WR = goes out on Missouri Dep't of Transportation slave-crews to pick up garbage and weedeat the overpasses, etc, not some sort of min-wage job, or even close) with constant cell-tosses because he said we were the source of the facility's drug influx, for being the guy actually bringing them in.

http://www.abc17news.com/news/missouri-d...s/31796722

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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19-07-2015, 04:50 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
If you want to listen to something really eye-opening, listen to episode #159 of The Humanist Hour....The Failed War on Drugs with Johann Hari. He's a British journalist who has done incredible research on the war on drugs and has written a book about it. It's really worth listening to the program.
I have no connection to the podcast other than as a listener. Listened to this program yesterday and was really astonished.
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19-07-2015, 07:24 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
http://thehumanist.com/multimedia/podcas...ohann-hari

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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19-07-2015, 08:25 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
From the above interview, at the 48 minute mark:

"The one thing you can say for the War on Drugs is in its defense, and I think it's important to say, is we've given it a fair shot. Right? We've spent a trillion dollars, a hundred years, untold numbers of peoples' lives, what have we got to show for it? We can't even keep drugs out of prisons, right, and we've got a walled perimeter that we control, that we pay people to walk 'round the whole time. If you can't keep drugs out of that, good luck keeping them out of the United States!

And yet, the official slogan of the U.N. -- the United Nations -- Drug Policy program, which is mainly controlled by the American government, is 'A drug-free world: we can do it.' What a ridiculous nonsense! But yet that's what we're spending all this money on trying to achieve.

It's time we look to the real world and see that policies based on stigma, and hatred, and control, and repression have completely failed. Where they're trying policies based on love, and compassion, and order, and legality, they're seeing real successes."

- Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream, about the failed war on drugs.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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