Fabulous story: Calvin Duncan, victim of mis-identification, spent 28 years in prison until the Innocence Project helped release him. With the help of the Tulane Law School, Duncan applied for and received a Soros grant. He uses the money to find and send inmates the necessary paperwork for their appeals. Soros is backing a winner: in prison, Duncan filed writ after writ, helping those around him. Now, happily, he can do it from the Free World.
Why would a state governor continue to use state money to fight against federal oversight? California governor Jerry Brown again and again returns to court, arguing that the state has done much to overcome past problems. He either ignores or denies current problems, many focusing on the care of mentally ill inmates. Why not use all those legal fees, instead, to hiring competent psychiatrists (many have left the system) and doctors? Why not continue to release nonviolent inmates to make room for those who need to remain separated from society? So far, federal judges have remained skeptical of his arguments.
Money talks. Big money talks big. Think $100 MILLION to run youth prisons and detention centers. Well, some will have to be spent on guards and food and medicine, but not too much, apparently. YSI has been sued in a number of its 16 states for abuse, neglect, etc. Still, Florida chose them, again, to protect the youth there. Why? Perhaps the $400,000 in political contributions?
A wheelchair-bound inmate claims he was forced to re-use his catheter and was denied required medicine while incarcerated in Lower Buckeye Jail. He developed an anti-biotic infection and has lost one half of his buttocks. Sheriff Joe enjoys enormous popularity among the tough-on-crime voters in Arizona.
Shut out and shut down by the Supreme Court, Gov. Jerry Brown had a few options to following court orders. He could have reduced the prison population by releasing more nonviolent inmates. He could have asked nonprofits and medical staffs to evaluate and properly place the ill and mentally ill into other, reasonable facilities. Nope. Instead, he is moving inmates into tax-payer funded private prisons, with 2 and 3 yr guarantees of payment.
In Minnesota’s inmate newspaper, we learn that the leading causes of death, 2001-2010 are the result of long prison terms and bed medical care: Over 4,000 inmates will die in prison and local jails this year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Heart disease, cancer, liver disease, respiratory disease… many of these deaths can be avoided if inmates receive proper care within the system, or are released to VA and county hospitals where they can receive care.
They are at it again: Oklahoma has chosen to participate in a Justice Reinvestment Initiative: its principle asset is sending people back to prison for minor infractions. The program “sends men and women on parole back to prison for the slightest infraction. Even missing an appointment or failing to pay a monthly fine.” Susan Sharp, a University of Oklahoma sociology professor who has been studying the state’s high rate of female incarceration since the 1990s, says, “We have set up debtors’ prisons in Oklahoma.” She labels of Oklahoma’s drug laws “mean” and overly punitive. She said the state’s tough-on-crime sentencing guidelines are to blame for nearly all of the women serving lengthy terms in state prison.
And they say incompetence doesn’t pay. In prison health care, it seems incompetence is rewarded again and again and again. Florida became the 29th state to allow Corizon Prison Healthcare to control the lives and destinies of its inmate population. It’s even getting $1.2 BILLION over 2 years. Yet Corizon has been sued at least 660 times for malpractice. Before you react that prisoners just like to sue, remember the PLRA: they can’t sue unless they have jumped through all the technical hoops Congress invented to keep them out of courts. This number might be 100 times higher if those mis and mal treated had been able to sue. Many of them, of course, are dead.
We are talking about $2.8 BILLION that could be spent elsewhere. Nope. Congress requires ICE to fill the detention centers’ beds, all 34,000 of them. They even require them to spend more money than the agency asked for. Why? Why an increase that doubles the ’06 requirement? Follow the money.
About time: the Orleans Parish Jail fiasco drags on, and on, with officials fighting each step toward improvement. But now the Southern Poverty Law Center will recoup a bit of their attorneys’ fees, $900,000. The decree that accompanies the order may cost the Parish as high as $20 MILLION. To this outside observer, the amount is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the pain, suffering, and deaths that occurred there before the law suits began. Imagine if the sheriff had applied this money to making a safe environment instead of the hell hole?