It's nice when a major news outlet covers stories about the prison complex. This story is even better: the author looks at causes of the current, wide-spread hunger strike throughout the California prison system, and concludes conditions must be really, really bad or men and women wouldn't risk what little freedom they have to help those being punished in solitary confinement.
While California prisoners are starving themselves to death to call attention to prison conditions, Mother Earth has published a list of actions etc that can get an inmate thrown into prison. Included are drawing the Northern Star on a Christmas card ... drawing birds ... confidential reports from fellow inmates who weren't even in that prison at the time of the 'incident,' etc. Solitary should be reserved for the worst of the worst, not Christmas card artists.
Federal and state law, plus all prison policies, make retaliation for grievances a crime. Yet the staff and administration of the California system has been accused of just that during this now 10-day hunger strike. Inmates are being placed into the very condition they are striking to close down--cement cells with no windows, no comforts, no human contact.
Seems most of the people in Tulsa are in jail or prison or out working to pay taxes to support the prisoners. "The sheriff's office say drastic times call for drastic measures. They say the overcrowding is so bad they had no choice but to file the lawsuit. They say overcrowding is dangerous for the employees, bad for inmates and is costing taxpayers money. Tulsa County's jail has been dealing with overcrowding for the past year, to the point many inmates are sleeping in "boats," plastic beds placed on the floor."
There's a logical answer to the problems, but if you read the Readers' Comments for the accompanying NewOn6 story, you'll learn that half of the Tulsa responders want to just kill 'em all. Problem resolved. That wasn't the logical answer I was thinking of...
What's it take to encourage four national Congressmen to ask the DOJ to step in and investigate one state? Lots of trouble, apparently. And Louisiana prisons have lots of trouble. "The congressmen said they have evidence that Louisiana prison officials held prisoners in solitary confinement for unprecedented lengths and "colluded" with members of the state attorney general's office to cherry-pick evidence from inmate phone calls to justify longer confinement sentences."
Let's hope the DOJ responds with guns blaring!
Amarillo sits at the top of the Texas Panhandle, dry, battered by red sands. No one would go there on purpose. Yet of course there's a prison there, and it now is making the news: highest reported incidents of sexual abuse by staff, and inmate-on-inmate. Appx 8% for both reported.... who knows what isn't reported for dear of retaliation on the plains?
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Denny Chin, noted that Walker "plausibly alleged conditions that, perhaps alone and certainly in combination, deprive him of a minimal civilized measure of life's necessities," and that prison officials were "deliberately indifferent to this deprivation."
Thus his case was sent back to the lower court, where he will have the opporunity to explain why 6 men in a 2-man cell deprives him of minimal life necessities. According to Walker, his cellmates included gang members, and the "overcrowding, gang activities, violence [and] fights" in the cell placed Walker "in a situation to kill or be killed." Walker also claimed that his cell was unsanitary, with so much "urine on the floor” that "urin[e] or defecat[ion] would splatter." Walker complained to the warden and other prison officials to no avail.
Sometimes, you just have to shake your head. At least they are noticing, though: the West Virginia legislature realized they investigate dangers within the mining industry, and are now wondering if there is danger for staff and inmates in overcrowded prison and jail cells. Surely this will lead to a committee that appoints a committee. Meanwhile, they plan to study other states' overcrowding. I suggest they start with California, which is under yet another federal court order to release inmates because some prisons are 345% overcrowded.
A death-from-heat lawsuit named Texas prison officials has culprits in the deaths of four men last summer. Seems all of them sit in 75 degrees and have their weapons kept a serviceable 75 degrees, while temperatures within the cells soar above 100 into the night. The weak, those on medicines, the vulnerable die. Inmates don't even receive adequate water, according to the complaint: " Prisoners are not allowed to have personal fans at the Gurney Unit and water is in short supply, the families say.
"Defendants provide grossly inadequate amounts of water to help prisoners survive the extremely high temperatures indoors," the complaint states. "TDCJ policy requires officers only to bring one large jug per fifty-four prisoners to the prisoner living areas (at most) three times a day. Throughout the system, and at Gurney, the jugs did not contain enough water for each prisoner to drink enough to protect them from the heat, and are frequently filled with lukewarm water.