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Prison: No Picnic

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posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 10:09 AM
Not sure where to post this...

I read in another thread where someone said we should stop coddling prisoners and take away libraries, tv, etc.

I know a few people who have been and one currently in the system, and it's no picnic. These are not luxuries. It's a nightmare, especially if you don't belong in there, which more than a few don't. Overcrowding and incompetent staff are only a few of the problems. I know that two of the seven tapped for the Abu Ghraib fiasco are U.S. Correctional officers. They didn't just start that crap when they went overseas. Some deserve a worse hell than any prison can offer, and some absolutely do not.

As for libraries, why deny them the opportunity to read? For many this is a step up for them. Their first real association with books and learning. Why deny something positive that could help change them? Prisons are not rehabilitative in most instances, except for a few experimental facilities that are around right now. They are storehouses which often turn petty criminals into real social problems. People go in and get hardened and come out even worse, and often with new "friends". It's tough on both sides of the bars in these places. The wealthy convicts might go to "Club Fed", but the run of the mill person goes to a very unhappy place. Still too many instances of non-violent offenders being put in with extremely violent people. Medical facilities that are run on a shoestring with inadequate help. And I'm hoping no one is foolish enough to believe that there are no innocent people in jail, because there absolutely are and that's hard time no matter how many cable stations you get. I'm also hoping no one still harbors the notion that the court system and police are all honest, because many are not and we're seeing it come to light more and more in the past decade.

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 02:41 PM
You're right torque. Thats why I am so vehemently against the death penalty. I have read of too many miscarriages of justice to agree with putting anyone to death. Put someone in jail wrongly and they can always be released later (and compensated). Put them to death and thats it.

I agree too with the prison library system. I even support educational training so that they will have a better chance at life when they are released.

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 03:02 PM
I'll support libraries (censored of course, this is for rehabilitation), and I'll support tv (but only for news).

What I don't support are things like weight-lifting, boxing, etc. in prisons. Gee, let's take brutes who can't live by society's rules, and make them even MORE capable of inflicting harm.... Great idea...

I will agree that some are there unjustly, (believe me, I know all about it with some close to me)....but there are far more perks than should be allowed, in many prisons....

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 06:07 PM
This is a good topic and deserves more than a "rant".

I generally find the public at large completely misinformed on prison life in general. The subject is wrought with misconceptions.

I realize the term "hard time" is meant to imply some lengthy sentence in a particularly spartan prison with a bad reputation, and that's true.

But there's also a huge maljustice being served in those thinking "jail" versus "prison" is somehow easy time.

Bottom line: Jail sucks. I've known guys in jail for one year sentences BEGGING the courts to be sent to prison.

If you don't know, jail is where the county sends you (for up to a year) for something like driving to pick up your kid on a suspended license or whatever. Prison is the state or federal version for those unfortunate enough to have a crack rock in their pocket or something we've declared "war" on.

In jail, there aren't perks. You're in a room with up to 100 guys all day and all night. Eat there. Sleep there. Poop there. Repeat. And if you're lucky there might be a TV. A library?
A book?
Oh hell no. Think about that for 12 months. No parole from jail. No nothing. Just jail.

Unless it's one of those privatized counties (like in Georgia) where you're sold to a corporation and work a farm all day or build cabinets. Again, no parole. They own you.

In prison you have more rights, as you should I suppose. Parole is at least an option. You'll probably serve less time on a two to five year prison sentence than a one year jail sentence...that's just how it works.

The hour a day with weights, or TV or whatever....sooooo doesn't bother me. Though I find the comedian hilarious that said about these people that rant about "color TV's in jail".... what do you want? A new departement of tax payer funded garage sale scouts looking for 1970 black and white TV's just to punish prisoners some more?

Also, house arrest is no day at the park. Literally. Maybe if you had a wife or something, or someone to buy you food and cigarettes..but more than likely you lose your job and everything if it's long enough. And it's designed to trip you up and send you back.

These Mayberry Machiavellis that run these programs (all privatized) LOVE screwing you over. I'm giving you 31 minutes on Sunday Mr. Rant from 12:21 pm to 12:52 pm to take the subway across town to check in with me every week. You can get groceries on your way if you're hungry.
Otherwise, it's back to jail.

Frailin' SOB's.

Another thing. Cops and cop TV shows and the public at large need to seriously CHILL with the prison rape talk. Like anyone in prison DESERVES to get raped? Oh hell no. That mentality is what got screwed us at Abu Gharib. Sadistic psychos.

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 06:18 PM
Take a look at the crime rate. Jail certainly isn't a deterrant, rather a right of passage in some areas. I also agree it should only be made for violent offenders(rapists, robbers, murderers, etc..) and be made a little less hospitable.

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 06:31 PM
There aren't supposed to be any "violent" offenders in "jail" which is the worst time of all IMO.

Did you mean "prison"?

That was my point, people don't get.

posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 06:42 PM

Originally posted by RANT
There aren't supposed to be any "violent" offenders in "jail" which is the worst time of all IMO.

Did you mean "prison"?

That was my point, people don't get.

Yeah, my fault... teh vodka is creepin up on me!

posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 03:34 PM
I worked in law enforcement until 1997, when I changed careers last. I worked for a bureaucracy that dealt with prisoners and other law enforcement agencies on an hourly basis. My boss's job was to deal with them in an official capacity, I talked to their people on the phone. I was kind of like the "radar o'reilly" on the old M*A*S*H* sitcom.

Rant is partly right. Jail and Prison are not ALWAYS the same thing. Legally, most states refer to all incarceration as 'imprisonment,' hence anyone holding you is a prison. In many southern states, prisons are for punishment, jails are for the accused. So there ARE "county prisons" in some states. Even more confusingly, there are state jails.

Federal laws, other than civil rights issues, only apply in Federal jails and prisons. State laws govern state and county facilities.

Generally, in most western states, county lock-up varies wildly from one institution to the next. One will be a place that is so ultramodern that it looks like a rehab clinic, the next will turn out to be "the Hole" that looks like the set of "midnight express."

In Texas, where I worked, (like most southern states) Prisoners have an UNALIENABLE right to the county law library, so that they can assist in their own defense. You can be charged with oppression for denying lawbooks, even for people otherwise on total lockdown. The only qualifying reason is if they are intox'd and might puke on the books(!)

I know of a county jail in tx that removed the weight-room. So prisoners requested tomes from the library and benchpressed volumes of Black's Law Dictionary and Vernon's Civil Statutes.

The real reason for TV's in jails is that it began as a great way to bargain with inmates. But most younger inmates are so addicted to TV that it really isn't something to bargain with. If they are under 30, and you remove their TV's, you'll have to put them on suicide watch within a day or so. They simply cannot think without a TV set on all the time. They turn their faces to the wall and quit eating. It's horrible.

* * * * *

Yes, I have seen people in prison I thought were innocent. They were about 1 in 500 inmates or so.

And "Law & Order" is one of the most realistic shows on TV. The only unrealistic thing is that every case goes to trial. In truth, 97% of the felony cases we handled plead out between grand jury and empanneling the trial jurors. Most accused make the prosecutors prove their serious, then they'll cave for a shorter sentence.

The only prob with L & W is that most people think it shows all U.S. systems. Which it doesn't. New York law is, in my opinion, some of the most f'd up procedural statutory systems in the U.S. Most eastern states are based on it, though.

For instance, many western states outside of the west coast are at least partly influenced by "Code Napolean" from French and Spanish colonial days. TX is like this. TX does not have degrees of murder. It has murder and capital murder, which is murder to coverup another ongoing crime. And by its name, it opens up capital punishment. Shooting a cop while robbing a bank is the classic example.

I was watching a conspiracy show about how LBJ had Kennedy killed. They were saying that one associate of LBJ had previously done time in Texas for "1st degree murder." They said it several times..... which makes me think it was b.s.

Part of my job was to be present for prisoner interrogation. I never saw anything like Abu Ghraib. That is so far beyond my experience I cannot even comment on it in a meaningful way, except to say that anyone from an enforcement background knows the law well enough that they could never be manipulated into crossing SO MANY boundaries. Most of those twerps must have been total newbies to even be in the same room.

In my experience, it was easy to tell who was innocent, or shall we say more conservatively, who would later be found innocent. Mot "criminal masterminds" have an answer for your every question. They have thought out their alibi, and only trip up when you hand them information that says they screwed up. My favorite is the old "If you were never there, why would we find your fingerprints on the phone?" Then the perp shouts, "you couldn't find my prints on the phone, because I wiped it down with windex!" next case.

The innocent ones were easy to spot. They burst into tears, demand a Bible and a lawyer, and refuse to participate in the questioning. So if you respond that way, most cops will tend to believe you're innocent. The perps have an answer to everything. How the gun got there, who saw me last thursday night, etc.

Personally, I think prisons could be made much more effective and cheaper. Here's my "to do list."

1. Get rid of "trustees." They aren't. They are usually the ones who facilitate escapes.

2. Sentence people to days of labor rather than time sitting in a cell. The mere passage of time doesn't change a criminal's attitude. Work actually does have a beneficial effect in my experience. With the 'days of labor' approach, the prisoner doesn't work except when he chooses to, but doesn't reduce his sentence except through his own efforts.

3. Individual cells for sleeping. That's just common decency. Most prisoners would choose an individual cell the size of a broom closet over sharing a room at the Ritz with Stinky, the animal molester who's in for life . . .

4. Token economy. They earn points for good deeds, and that is the only way to buy candy, etc, which must be consumed on the spot. This has worked really well in mental institutions, which have a lot of overlap with jails.

5. Teach art. Seriously. Most perps totally cannot express themselves. Most felony cells have a resident artist who teaches other inmates. Artistic ability is about the only thing they respect in each other. And yes, it makes them employable on the outside. Tattoos and Airbrushing streetrods are both growth industries.

posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 03:59 PM
Great additions Dr Strangecraft.

I should have said my only knowledge of the various systems is from horror stories out of Georgia.

I'm sure every state has it's more scandalous counties. Georgia's is COBB.

It's a county just outside Atlanta that feeds on those stupid enough to wander in it's jurisdiction. The prosecutors have a saying: Come to Cobb on vacation, leave on probabtion.

And there's no incentive for them to work things out, or keep someone out of jail. They've got a privatized work farm that actually makes the county money off you the longer you stay. That's where I said people sometimes beg for prison over jail. It's no "farm" it's just an overcrowded craphole. And it's not given with any rhyme or reason. It's a lottery. Some sit in the county facility for up to a year. Others go straight to work. It makes no sense from the standpoint of "fair".

posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 08:18 PM
yeah, I used to live south of Marietta, about 10 years ago. When I lived there, as I recall, Zell Miller's brother was the head of the State Police (does that sound right?) which was in turn over a quarter of the state budget. It sure seemed like a police state to me. The also freaked when they discovered my tx work, warning me that I had no rt to carry a gun in their state (I wasn't, but thanks for telling me you fear anyone who might defend himself.).

posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 02:00 AM
I've been to Ontario Prison and Boise Prison, (my dad worked at both), and the inmates are actually living pretty comfortably from what I have seen, and I have been all around those prisons. They get cable, internet access, gyms, etc. A man beat another man to death with a sock full of batteries and now he is sitting in that prison watching nick at night.

Maybe prisons are different according to states, but oregon and idaho's prisons are pretty lax if you ask me. They need to crack down a little more.

posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 07:54 AM
Excellent clarifications on "prison" and "jail" there Rant.....

posted on Jun, 14 2004 @ 10:42 AM
Augusta County Jail in Staunton Virginia is a hole and should be demolished. It's violent offenders, violent people in for non-violent offenses THIS time, and various other dreg types. Not to mention a few certifiable psychos. And finally a few who were unlucky enough to have the wrong look on their face or have the wrong last name or just not have enough money to buy a fair trial. My friend, who's 70/diabetic/heart transplant list was basically made an example of. The judge took great pleasure in reciting his academic accomplishments before saying "Well, you're going to jail" and smiling. He's dogs**t and everyone in that county knows it, but he's a big fish there and what he says/thinks goes, even if it's flat out wrong.

(Another rant-worthy topic in my opinion.... Power Mad Judges)

But let's say we take away t.v. and weights, etc. What do you do with them? Programs cost money, and the system cries poor constantly. Just store them in cells with nothing? In these cases, t.v. and such aren't luxuries, they are almost along the order of crowd control. Air Conditioning? I'd rather have it than not, though Powhatan has none for the g.p., only in medical units. I've not known extreme heat to calm anyone's anger and make them easily controlled, but maybe that's just my own experience. When we pulled up some of the guys were outside playing volleyball. I have no problem with that because it gives them something constructive to do, especially having to work as a team. Not to mention... after "enjoying all these luxuries", they go back to their cells. Back to being imprisoned. Back to maybe seeing someone for an hour per week if they know anyone who lives close enough or cares enough to show up. And they only enjoy the toys when they're told they can. You can give me all the tv, weights and libraries in the world and I'd trade it in a heartbeat for the ability to get up and go to the fridge at 2am for ice water before heading back to sleep. I'd trade it for the ability to throw the tennis ball for my dog until the burgers are done grilling. I'd trade it for the ability to close the bathroom door and have some privacy to do anything and everything humanly possible to do in a bathroom. THAT is luxury.

Everyone he's run into in there has said "Why are you here? You don't belong here.", both guard and inmate alike. The magistrate said "Seems like simple self defense, he shouldn't have any trouble". And yet he's been sentenced to 10 years. He's not physically capable of working and in fact is basically dying in there by inches. The most he can do is try to help the guys around him with things like writing letters, understanding the legal materials they have to deal with and reading and such since he can't get a teaching gig inside while he's in the medical portion of the prison.

Gotta stop when it starts getting me riled up. It's very frustrating. Like having someone caught in a machine that has no kill-switch. All I can do is watch him get mangled in the gears while "technicians" (lawyers and judges) stand around submitting paperwork against each other to see if he's going to be left in the machine or if what's left of him will be allowed to be spit out. Sometimes I understand people who blow things up. He'll leave there feet first under a sheet while the snot stain who attacked him continues to contribute sewage and little else to society. It's disgusting.

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