Thursday, December 16, 2010

On Strike

There is a prison strike going on in Georgia (the American one).

Inmates at six major prisons in the state of Georgia have begun a strong yet peaceful protest against inhumane conditions in the facilities in which they live. The protest is unique because it represents a coalition of Black, Brown and White inmates, jumping the line of racial segregation so prominent in prisons across America.
Those running the prisons are not letting the prisoners get away with it.
Thousands of inmates stayed in their cells Thursday, Dec. 9, leading to strong and swift retaliation by the prison guards. According to those familiar with recent events, inmates have been beaten and had their personal items destroyed. Inmates also say that the authorities have cut off their hot water and shut off the heat when outside temperatures were in the 30s.
And what exactly do the prisoners want?
Demands by prison inmates include, among other things, decent living conditions, educational opportunities, just parole decisions, the end of cruel and unusual punishment and better access to their families. Currently, inmates’ families cannot send money orders and are instead expected to send funds through a company that takes a large percentage of the money sent. Also, the companies that provide short, 15-minute phone calls for inmates charge massive amounts of money to families, many of whom are in poverty due to missing a primary breadwinner in the home.

Most prisons in Georgia don’t allow for hardly any educational opportunities beyond the GED. This is inconsistent with the notion of preparing inmates for re-entry into society upon their release. If someone is both marginalized by the criminal justice system and uneducated, their likelihood of going back to prison is very high.
So how did the prisoners get organized?
When state prisoners went on strike last week to protest what they called unfair conditions, they used smuggled cell phones to get their message out.

It's a security breach the FOX 5 I-Team first reported last month.

One former inmate shared his cell phone secrets.

The original investigation looked into what the I-Team called Facebook felons, Georgia prison inmates who somehow managed to set up their own Facebook pages behind bars.
I wonder if the cell phone smuggling has anything to do with the high cost of making phone calls to inmates?

And just think of trying to find an outlet where you can charge the phone batteries under prison conditions.

But this brings up an important point. If you can't keep contraband cell phones out of prisons how in the heck do people think a drug free America is even possible? And how is the TSA doing in keeping contraband off airplanes? Not well. Not well at all.

This book seems relevant:

Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons

From a Publishers Weekly review:
...Elsner uses a conversational tone in recounting the aspects of day-to-day life for American inmates: drug and alcohol abuse, rampant disease, rape, murder and racism. Prisons, Elsner writes, are fertile ground where the worst aspects of society take root and blossom, and the majority of his book, drawing on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, court cases and interviews with current and former inmates, paints a stark picture of a seedy world where guards rape inmates without fear of recourse and inmates can be left in lockdown for weeks as a budget cutting initiative. Instances of the sadistic creativity exhibited by inmates (generally with the aim of violating prison regulations) and guards (to punish inmates who have creatively violated prison regulations) pepper Elsner's sobering reportage, much of which concerns itself with figures and statistics so staggering that Elsner, clearly an advocate of prison reform, hesitates to even hint at solutions until the final chapter, when he outlines three elements of prison reform: reducing the number of new inmates, lowering recidivism rates and eradicating the "worst abuses within the system."
I also found this bit from the product review sobering. more than 2,000,000 Americans came to be incarcerated; what it's really like on the inside; what it's like for the families left on the outside; and how an enormous "prison-industrial complex" has grown to support and promote imprisonment in place of virtually every other alternative. Reuters journalist Alan Elsner shows how prisons really work, how race-based gangs are able to control institutions and prey on weaker inmates, and how an epidemic of abuse and brutality has exploded across American prisons. Readers will discover the plight of 300,000 mentally ill people in prisons, virtually abandoned with little medical treatment. They'll also meet the fastest growing segment of the prison population: women. Readers go inside "supermax" prisons that cut inmates off from all human contact, and uncover the official corruption and brutality that riddles jail systems in major cities like Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Finally, they'll learn prisons accelerate the spread of infectious diseases throughout the broader society--just one of the many ways the prison epidemic touches everyone, even if they've never met anyone who's gone to jail.
Prisoners are no longer people but commodities i.e. slaves. But under our Constitution such slavery is permissible.

From the XIIIth Amendment:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

It may be permissible, but is it wise? Think about this: when the innocent (there are some) and guilty get out you have a very hardened cadre suitable for making revolutions. (see Prisons, Czarist Russia).

H/T A friend.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Welcome Instapundit readers. And if you would like to read something different may I suggest Sex Machines in which I discuss my work on a high powered sex toy.


tsj said...

I estimate that around 10% of the prison population consists of innocent people. I defend that number at Look for posts regarding The Rate of Wrongful Conviction.

Given that we have 2.5 million people behind bars, counting both prison and jail, I believe we are subjecting over a quarter million innocent people to such conditions as you describe.

M. Simon said...

M. Simon said...

The Rate of Wrongful Conviction

Anonymous said...

While ending drug prohibition laws would remove a large chunk of the problem, the existence of rapists, child porn makers, murderers and robbers will continue to create a system where the innocent get caught up unfairly and all are exploited. Meanwhile, the real perps will often escape justice or exploit efforts to make the system more humane so as to get unfairly light sentences.

I don't know what the solution is. In the days before states and kingdoms, sickening behavior was dealt with by retaliation from the victim or their loved-ones. But without modern forensic investigations the problem of innocents being published was most certainly worse while family feuds (not the gameshow type) could cycle on for generations.

New advances might help detect and treat psychopathic natures and take another chunk of the problem away after ending prohibition but since most of humanity exhibits some level of psychopaths tendencies and delusional and/or paranoid thinking there would likely still be a problem. Perhaps concealed carry laws would help deter the rest of them but who can say.