Posts Tagged ‘inmates’

Capitalizing on Inmate Firefighters

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Image_washingtonpostThere’s no excuse for inmate firefighters becoming pawns of prison reform.

Inmate firefighters: it’s an odd term, isn’t it? “Firefighter” is a badge of honor, while “inmate” is a brand. Yet these particular convicted criminals are routinely sent on 16-mile marches to square off with raging wildfires for 24 hours at a time, carrying the mark of offenders while performing duties as honorable as they come. For about $2 an hour.

These men (and women) are typically housed in a more congenial, campus-like setting. They eat better than their counterparts who are still behind prison walls, and they’re addressed more cordially by both frontline custody personnel and the civilian training staffers who oversee their participation in California’s esteemed Conservation Camp program.

Most of these folks were convicted of non-violent crimes. But violent offenders have also swung picks and wielded shovels for the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection (CalFire) for decades, and a proposal to expand their participation was recently submitted by California corrections officials. Good thing it was withdrawn almost as soon as it was made public, as the plan could have been a disaster.

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Apocalypse Hoosegow 9

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Apocalypse-Hoosegow__9__Where-Excuses-Go-to-DieA newly-appointed federal monitor will now oversee the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail and the wider LA jail system. Finally, movie nights –and maybe even civil rights– are back.

Changes are afoot, and prisoners housed at 441 Bauchet St., LA’s notorious Men’s Central Jail, may soon be eligible for social skill-strengthening activities and other privileges that have been forbidden since…who knows? 1965? The year after the facility opened? Well, decades, at least.

And that makes me wonder:

  • Might newly elected Sheriff Jim McDonnell do away with the Fight Club free-for-all day rooms, with their non-running water, MCJ 3000 Floor Day Room_Where Excuses Go to Diebacked up toilets, and rodent infestations?
  • Will rampant abuse and neglect in this, the nation’s “largest care-taking facility” for the mentally ill, finally start to slow?
  • Will the Sheriff’s Deputies and civilian jailers stop tossing decks of cards through the bars as a substitute for rehabilitation?
  • Or will those same individuals continue to celebrate excessive force and use it with enthusiastic prejudice?
  • Will the screams of men being sexually assaulted at MCJ no longer stomp bootprints of bad memories into the heads of those fortunate enough to only be plugging their ears?
  • Will Badges finally start assigning chores or handing out mops and brooms to inmates other than those willing do “torpedo runs” and other scheming favors?
  • Will visitors to the facility at last see an end to beat downs while handcuffed to a bench?

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