Posts Tagged ‘LA County’

Prisoner Re-Entry Schools

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Photo by Nick VedrosThe time is right for Prisoner Re-Entry Schools.

Offenders must be redirected, not simply recycled, ideally through public-private partnerships. People who have earned a second chance need places to go where stock phrases like “new beginnings” aren’t made into nonsense through endless repetition.

In Boston, Massachusetts, inmates will soon have the option of applying for enrollment in a new prisoner re-entry school inside the 45-year old Boston Pre-Release Center. In addition to a long list of programs that began in 1972, the new Re-entry School will help connect parolees with individual and community leaders confirmed to support them and, ultimately, to help reduce recidivism and crime. (more…)

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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Plain ‘ol Prison Survival

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Prison Bacteria for Dummies with Excrement Assault Guide_Where Excuses Go to DiePrison Survival Literature: where’s the chapter on being hustled?

“Two men enter – one man leaves!”
It’s all you need to know, right?
Okay technically, sometimes, sure.

My cellmate wanted to order a copy of Put ‘Em Down, Take ‘Em Out! Knife Fighting Techniques From Folsom Prison, but I was able to talk him out of it. Good thing, too, because the publisher’s catalog through which the order would’ve been placed belonged to me, and it was high contraband. Back then I was in possession of several such catalogs, which offered titles on everything from document falsification to improvised explosives; from contingency cannibalism (my favorite) to how to dispose of a dead body. I got the sense I’d exceeded the natural encyclopedia of criminal knowledge around me as a result, and that was nothing short of cross-eyed fabulous.

Each catalog entry was accompanied by a book-jacket photo and lengthy summary. Where Excuses Go to Die’s chapter, “High Weirdness by Mail,” describes how reading snippets of these out loud to certain trusted inmates caused laughter so physically enfeebling that only a death rattle was left in the human body’s big bag of tricks.

It seems crazy to recall being rendered sightless by tears of joy in the company of murderers, shot-callers, and stonehearted life-termers. But these “moments of genuine whimsy,” as I refer to ‘em in Where Excuses Go to Die, were what my own prison survival was made of. Sure, I’d read the titles and descriptions in a funny voice, but I allowed the absurdity of it all to do the heavy lifting. We didn’t actually need to possess the instructions for do-it-yourself blowguns; picturing blowgun wars in the chow hall was priceless enough. We’d really lose it when some badass piped up to correct, clarify, or corroborate. Such sessions turned tall tales into skyscrapers.

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