You know it's bad when your local prison is rated worse that Tent City Jail, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's personal Hell for Inmates. But two prisons have indeed been rated worse: #1 of course is ADX in Florence. CO, the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," and #2 is the Polunsky Unit, Texas's death row in Livingston. Authors of the study, James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, operate on a grant and unusual, reasonable access to prison units across the country. They know what they're talking about, and it's all grim. Thank you, Mother Jones, for running this series.
"Of the more than 8,200 inmates at the two prisons, the medical receiver estimates 40% — or 3,280 — must be moved immediately. It is not clear why certain populations are more prone to the infection than others. But from 2008 to 2010, at least 355 prisoners required hospitalization, and the receiver reported 34 deaths related to valley fever from 2006 to 2011, most of the victims African Americans."
Dawson is run by Corrections Corporation of America; CCA usually responds to document and discovery requests, but this time the Texas representatives ignored the information requests by Prison Legal News and Texas Civil Rights Project. So CCA is being sued for the information. Behind this suit is the larger one, a suit against Dawson and its controllers, for "unconscionable and unconstitutional conditions." Plaintiffs allege seven deaths and lack of medical care. The Texas legislature is currently debating whether to sell the jail, or to keep it and even buy two more, despite reductions in total state inmates.
Prison shaves the life off people--even when they are released. There is a 15.6 % increase "in the odds of death for parolees compared to people who had never been to prison, which translates to a two-year decline in life expectancy for every year served inside prison." The statistic can be overcome if the person is not reincarcerated. "The difficulty of getting proper health care in the months immediately after prison is a particular problem, Patterson said. Many times an inmate with an illness is discharged from prison with a 30-day supply of medication and little chance of connecting with a new health care provider."
The ruling covers only Columbia County, Oregon, but plaintiff Prison Legal News anticipates that other groups will help jail inmates overturn a jailhouse rule against receiving envelop mail. The policy first began, of course, in Maricopa County AZ, where the notorious sheriff worried that opening mail for inspection took too much time, and his staff found numerous instances of contraband in the letters. The practice spread to other jails. Now, though, First Amendment rights are protected--in one county at least.
My graphic novel, Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write, just had a terrific boost: Amazon.com added its special feature, "Look Inside," to its posting. Now buyers can see page after page of the art work, and learn how I integrate instruction for writing grievances.
An inmate killed another inmate in the overcrowded Menard Correctional Center in Illinois this week. More than half the inmates at Menard are there as punishment for murder. John Maki, director of the prison-monitoring John Howard Association, says Menard has a long list of problems: "This is why everything matters in prisons. Why food matters in prisons. Why medical care matters in prisons. Why staffing levels -- because they are such tense and course of places, that when something goes wrong, it can spark really bad things."