US Prison population and reform
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
20-07-2015, 08:14 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
The thing that complicates it within jails/prisons is what you create when you take a large number of people who are addicted to narcotics and confine them with a bunch of people whose career revolves around the sale of illegal items. What could possibly go wrong?

Where I worked smoking was also not allowed. The result was that, within the institution, single cigarettes went for as much as $100 each as black market items. And the stuff that's actually illegal? A number of frequent "visitors" literally make their living off the black market economy created by the justice system. They'd fit as much as they could up their ass, get arrested on purpose for some minor infraction for which they'd be out of jail in a month or two, sell it within the institution for an astronomical amount compared to what it's worth on the outside, get out, and repeat until they were tired of spending so much time in jail and had saved up enough in secret foreign accounts to move to South America and "retire".

'Murican Canadian
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
20-07-2015, 08:26 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
(20-07-2015 08:14 AM)yakherder Wrote:  The thing that complicates it within jails/prisons is what you create when you take a large number of people who are addicted to narcotics and confine them with a bunch of people whose career revolves around the sale of illegal items. What could possibly go wrong?

Where I worked smoking was also not allowed. The result was that, within the institution, single cigarettes went for as much as $100 each as black market items. And the stuff that's actually illegal? A number of frequent "visitors" literally make their living off the black market economy created by the justice system. They'd fit as much as they could up their ass, get arrested on purpose for some minor infraction for which they'd be out of jail in a month or two, sell it within the institution for an astronomical amount compared to what it's worth on the outside, get out, and repeat until they were tired of spending so much time in jail and had saved up enough in secret foreign accounts to move to South America and "retire".

I have been in a prison where smoking was not allowed, and one where it was. The market did exactly what you say. We got the majority of our drugs (theirs, since I did not use even weed, on the inside, because I'm not insane enough to be willing to get caught up in that world, or to make myself vulnerable in a predator-filled environment) from guards who brought it in.

That's why I was so tickled when the head of security not only for the prison but for the region, who had literally been having our cells tossed weekly, our papers and property thrown everywhere, because he said we were the ones bringing it in, was arrested.

If you haven't listened to that podcast, do so... it's deeply insightful into the issues relating to how we handle crime in general, but specifically drug Prohibition, in the US... especially given its (overtly) racist beginnings, prior to Nixon making it a full out War.

"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
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
20-07-2015, 08:55 AM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2015 08:59 AM by yakherder.)
RE: US Prison population and reform
(20-07-2015 08:26 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  
(20-07-2015 08:14 AM)yakherder Wrote:  The thing that complicates it within jails/prisons is what you create when you take a large number of people who are addicted to narcotics and confine them with a bunch of people whose career revolves around the sale of illegal items. What could possibly go wrong?

Where I worked smoking was also not allowed. The result was that, within the institution, single cigarettes went for as much as $100 each as black market items. And the stuff that's actually illegal? A number of frequent "visitors" literally make their living off the black market economy created by the justice system. They'd fit as much as they could up their ass, get arrested on purpose for some minor infraction for which they'd be out of jail in a month or two, sell it within the institution for an astronomical amount compared to what it's worth on the outside, get out, and repeat until they were tired of spending so much time in jail and had saved up enough in secret foreign accounts to move to South America and "retire".

I have been in a prison where smoking was not allowed, and one where it was. The market did exactly what you say. We got the majority of our drugs (theirs, since I did not use even weed, on the inside, because I'm not insane enough to be willing to get caught up in that world, or to make myself vulnerable in a predator-filled environment) from guards who brought it in.

That's why I was so tickled when the head of security not only for the prison but for the region, who had literally been having our cells tossed weekly, our papers and property thrown everywhere, because he said we were the ones bringing it in, was arrested.

If you haven't listened to that podcast, do so... it's deeply insightful into the issues relating to how we handle crime in general, but specifically drug Prohibition, in the US... especially given its (overtly) racist beginnings, prior to Nixon making it a full out War.

Corrupt guards were not AS big of an issue for us (though it did happen). An officer taking home $300 to $450 per shift is not at the same risk for being sucked into that world. Yeah, you can certainly make a lot more with drugs, but since you're not be default in debt scraping by trying to make ends meet, the prospect of going to jail for a little (or a lot of) extra money is not as enticing. But some of my counterparts in the U.S. starting at like $13 per hour, in debt, trying to take care of a family? I assume that's a little more than tempting, considering how ridiculously easy it is.

The most I'd smuggle into a cell was an extra meal or a magazine if they weren't habitually ass holes. One time a ordered a few pizzas. Our institution was also big on hoarding, and required that we take everything leftover from meals, which I found to be silly. If I knew someone was ordering protein powder off the canteen list (which they're allowed to store), and kept the milk from their meal to use for a protein drink after their workout later, no I didn't bother grabbing stuff like that during a search. Some officers would. I also overlooked things like weight bags, which they'd construct out of garbage bags filled with juice bags, since our facility didn't have a gym, unless I thought they were using it as cover to make some brew. In cases like that I'd usually confiscate it, but I wouldn't bother doing a write up on it. Even stuff like small amounts of pot I'd usually confiscate but not bother writing up. Not because I approved of them sneaking it in, but because I'm not gonna spend several hours doing a write up when I realize it's just going to be overlooked by management with an overcrowded institution and bigger fish to fry.

'Murican Canadian
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
20-07-2015, 09:27 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
(20-07-2015 08:55 AM)yakherder Wrote:  Corrupt guards were not AS big of an issue for us (though it did happen). An officer taking home $300 to $450 per shift is not at the same risk for being sucked into that world. Yeah, you can certainly make a lot more with drugs, but since you're not be default in debt scraping by trying to make ends meet, the prospect of going to jail for a little (or a lot of) extra money is not as enticing. But some of my counterparts in the U.S. starting at like $13 per hour, in debt, trying to take care of a family? I assume that's a little more than tempting, considering how ridiculously easy it is.

The most I'd smuggle into a cell was an extra meal or a magazine if they weren't habitually ass holes. One time a ordered a few pizzas. Our institution was also big on hoarding, and required that we take everything leftover from meals, which I found to be silly. If I knew someone was ordering protein powder off the canteen list (which they're allowed to store), and kept the milk from their meal to use for a protein drink after their workout later, no I didn't bother grabbing stuff like that during a search. Some officers would. I also overlooked things like weight bags, which they'd construct out of garbage bags filled with juice bags, since our facility didn't have a gym, unless I thought they were using it as cover to make some brew. In cases like that I'd usually confiscate it, but I wouldn't bother doing a write up on it. Even stuff like small amounts of pot I'd usually confiscate but not bother writing up. Not because I approved of them sneaking it in, but because I'm not gonna spend several hours doing a write up when I realize it's just going to be overlooked by management with an overcrowded institution and bigger fish to fry.

I can see where a good paycheck can make a difference. The guards in Missouri made just over $12 an hour, had to buy their own uniforms/equipment, and got a really crappy benefits package that ate up even more of their check. A recipe for disaster... not to mention failure to attract, shall we say, top talent.

Yeah, most prisons have very strict rules about what you can and can't have in the cell, not keeping food, etc... which the cruel guards use as a badgering tool. It was designed to prevent people from making hooch (valid) and to prevent disease from lack of refrigeration (valid), but not to stop you from bringing milk back from breakfast (the one meal where you get milk) to put into the dry cereal or oatmeal you can buy on canteen. Mainly, the effect of confiscating food taken from the chow line for later consumption is that it keeps guys who can't afford canteen from supplementing their diet, and since prison food is near-starvation levels (supplemented with high-calorie, high-fat items designed to meet federal law minimum calorie requirements) from having even humanly-decent nutrition. This is not only psychologically damaging, showing contempt by taking an apple from a guy who just freakin' wants to wait till he has digested his high-fat/starch main course before enjoying a between-meals snack of fruit, but it makes the have-nots dangerously jealous of the haves, and encourages stealing and worse. If your goal is rehabilitation, it's one of the most counterproductive approaches you could possibly take. The regulations are not deliberately cruel, and may even be well-intentioned, originally... it's the application by the guys in daily contact with the inmates (who are rarely as decent or as intelligent as you, YH) in the absence of oversight by uncaring (and often callous and/or bigoted) upper-level staff, that causes the environment to be so awful.

Yes, taking an apple from a hungry guy may not sound like a big deal, but it's a pinprick right in the soul... and when you get a dozen such pinpricks a day over the course of years, it adds up. Believe me! It's amazing anyone comes out of those places with their sanity intact.

If we did not overcrowd so badly, sending people "away" (as if they disappear!) for far longer, per crime, than any other nation, then we could afford to pay guards better, could hire overseers who weren't simply petty, callous tyrants, and things would greatly improve, in terms of rehabilitation for those who must go to prison. (We also need to do a better job of recognizing those who cannot be rehab'ed, the genuine socio/psychopaths, and separating them from "regular" folks who simply broke the law... or who were unable to prove they didn't.) That's why I keep emphasizing the "they will return to society someday" element.

People talk about the repeat-offense behavior of "criminals" as though they're broken-minded, unable to obey the law or respect others; I say that except for the actual predators, mentioned above, 85-90% of the people in there could be truly rehabilitated if we stopped with the "PUNISH THEM FOR THEIR WRONGDOING! HURT THEM BACK!! PUNISH THEM HARDER!!!" mindset, and started focusing on a healing approach to truly reintegrate them with society, their families, and to heal the rifts. This isn't just hippie-dippie talk, nor is it what I believed when I went in; it is what I observed over the years of watching a population I did not previously understand at all.

As things currently are, I'm amazed anyone ever makes it out of there and successfully reintegrates into society.

By the way, my monthly meeting with my Parole Officer went well, this morning. I think he has finally satisfied himself that I'm not going to set up a network of medical marijuana black market dispensaries in this area. Rolleyes

I'm approved to go see my family in Louisiana next week. Hooray!

"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
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes RocketSurgeon76's post
20-07-2015, 09:50 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
It's hard not to start generalizing or stereotyping, but I've gotta say I saw quite a wide variety of people behind bars. Some, as mentioned above, got there on purpose for access to the potentially lucrative institutional market. Some were genuine pieces of shit. Some were good guys who made a mistake. Some didn't belong there while others should probably never be allowed access to the outside world. Some were ridiculously smart. We had one inmate who I swear would make good movie material. He managed to memorize every single guard's badge number, he once took apart a phone and used the components to turn his light into a clap on clap off type of thing, and he almost cut his way through the wall using a peach pit. Others were so dumb they were bound to be repeat visitors not because they were bad people, but because they simply weren't capable of existing within the complexity of modern society. The hardest to deal with were the ones who were completely screwed up by a lifeline of drug use. The inmates with mental health needs that the mental health facilities refused to take for whatever reason certainly made things random and interesting... Every single person in there had a slightly different need in regards to rehabilitation/punishment, which makes solving the problem with a one size fits all strategy difficult.

'Murican Canadian
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes yakherder's post
20-07-2015, 10:05 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
Hear, hear!

Though I knew several COs I deeply respected, albeit I'd say less that 5% of the total I met, I never thought I'd find myself in such thorough agreement with one in an online debate, only three months after being released!

Big Grin

(Well, technically tomorrow = 3 months free.)

"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
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
20-07-2015, 11:14 AM
RE: US Prison population and reform
Well before I sit here and soak up too many compliments, I'll remind you that I ultimately sold out and went to the highest bidder, which in this case is the evil mining corporations in need of experienced security up north Tongue I'll let big industry support me, stay in the National Guard back in the U.S. to keep my training up to date, and the justice system can either solve it's own problems or crash and burn. I don't even care any more. If they succeed, great. If my paranoid daydreams come true and society collapses, even better. I'm bored and have too much ammunition stockpiled back in Vermont. I didn't get into corrections, or immigration for that matter, because I had any delusions of making the world a better place. I went because it provided a paycheck. Being a good CO, so to speak, was simply the most rational way of earning that paycheck without creating problems for myself.

As an example... One time I came in for a shift at the minimum security wing. The CO I was replacing had a hair up his ass that day, and had been randomly grabbing people for extremely minor infractions, like wearing their pants too low and thereby exhibiting gang like behavior, and transferring them to maximum security. For those of you skimming this thread that might not know, that's a pretty big deal. In our institution, anyway, in minimum you had an open bay barracks style setup, with 24 hour access to the day room and, therefore, 24 hour access to phones (quite important if you've still got an ongoing case), showers, etc. Inmates who are there are generally there because they try very hard to follow the rules in an effort to maintain those privileges, and mostly just want to get through their sentence without fucking with anyone or getting fucked with themselves. In max, the population tends to be more predatory and manipulative. So when this officer started randomly taking people who had, for the most part, been model inmates, and screwing them over, it quickly created a situation in which the rest suddenly think why bother following the rules if you're gonna get punished regardless? Thus, seemingly insignificant actions by a CO having a bad day can quickly transform a relaxed wing full of compliant inmates into a virtual warzone. The logic involved here goes beyond caring about the long term result It's just cause and effect. As soon as that officer left, I spent the next few hours annoying the shit out of the managers and getting most of them transferred back. Even if I didn't actually give a shit about anyone involved, it still makes sense from a purely selfish perspective because the end result is me having easier shifts and less problems to deal with.

'Murican Canadian
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
20-07-2015, 12:11 PM
RE: US Prison population and reform
At every local election here (mostly rural) the prisons and police dept. try to get a new tax for more funds approved. At every election they fail. Been going on for decades.

Prisoners are released routinely either the day after apprehension and booking, arraignment etc., or at some early future date to make room for new ones.

There is a normal amount of crime here - some theft, break ins, domestic disturbances, drugs.

I think this situation likely played a role in the legalization of weed here. The police completely stopped paying attention to weed months before the new law took effect.

I bet in this corner of the world, legalization of weed is going to make a huge difference for the better. Frees up a lot of money, space and time.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: