California Gov. Jerry Brown is taking his version of prison overcrowding and inadequate health care (all has been repaired) to the Supreme Court rather than comply with the Dec. 2012 federal court mandate. Well, that’s sure one way to fix a problem. California has released–or moved to state jails–many inmates. They need to reduce prisons by 10,000 more to reach the federal standard. And health care? “Fixed.”
Tomoka Correctional Institution [sic] in Florida has guards who allegedly taunt the deaf, abuse them, and ridicule them. Probably this treatment is not what the jurors had in mind during sentencing, but according to the head of a nonprofit advocating for human rights. She is suing on behalf of 21 deaf prisoners, including one who reported the abuse but has not been seen opr heard of since.
Cocklebur Press publishes each and every brief read at the Supreme Court. One of its employees, Shon Hopwood, operates it blog and recently brought the graphic novel Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write, to the attention of its followers.
See the review, which says the book is good for prisoners because “it is written in a simple and easy to understand language and because it is a graphic novel.”
At the solitary confinement unit, Central Prison, North Carolina officers and supervisors face a federal lawsuit on behalf of 8 inmates–and all future inmates. Beatings, etc., allegedly took place in the blind spots that cameras can’t reach. The lawsuit requests cameras everywhere due to the pervasive atmosphere of abuse.
A federal judge in 2012 called it a “cesspool.” Youth 13 are held in solitary rooms, blindfolded. Rapes and beatings. “Guards regularly had sex with their young charges and the facility’s pattern of “brutal” rapes among prisoners was the worst of “any facility anywhere in the nation” (court’s emphasis). Guards also were deemed excessively violent—beating, kicking, and punching “handcuffed and defenseless” youths and frequently subjecting them to chemical restraints such as pepper spray, even for insignificant infractions.”
Texas keeps showing up on the list of Worst Prisons. Reeves County in Pecos, Texas, which was supposed to merely hold those “illegal aliens” until trial, just received the distinction of 8th Worst Prison in America. The GEO Group, which operates Reeves, proudly declares itself “the largest detention/correctional facility under private management in the world.” Largest isn’t best, here. “Overcrowded and understaffed, Reeves has a reputation for horrifically inadequate medical care.”
It took years and the dedication of many affected, effective supporters, but they closed the notorious super max in Illinois. They did it with the help of photographers and artists, among others. Maybe each state should focus on one example of cruelty and inhumanity, and get it closed. How marvelous that activists were able to get artists and community folk into the legislature and out on the streets.
It costs me less than 10 cents a minute to call Switzerland. It costs inmates so crazy much, between the connecting fees and per minute charges, just to call home, that the FCC is actually taking a first step toward regulating this money-eating monstrosity. It needs to take the final step and just close down the industry that bleeds the poorest citizens dry; then they should require states to offer competitive bidding for phone companies Inside, just as they do Outside.
It’s not a Dickens tale, nor a relic of America Before Enlightenment. Nope. It is possible to be put in jail for being too poor to pay municipal, city, etc., fines. And when you’re in jail, you aren’t working to make money to pay off those fines. A fine kettle of fish, eh? The Ohio ACLU hopes to bring this medieval practice to light; how to stop the cycle? Maybe community service?
So many citizens in prisons, so many mentally ill in prisons–do we administer anti-pyschotics to help them maintain a balanced life, or drug them into compliance? That’s the balance California prison medics are working with, and there’s no one-answer-fits-all. Sadly. In California, anti-psychotics “account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals purchased for the state prison system, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.” Please note: this story appeared in the Business Section of the Washington Post. California is broke, the prison system is under federal court scrutiny, and the medical unit says its dispensing with all these drugs to avoid law suits