Posts Tagged ‘prison’

Upselling Prison #4

Friday, July 14th, 2017

A former inmate sizes up detention products, #4 in a casual series.

Accessories, upgrades, add-ons, telecoms, toilets, and the first responders of the detention supply industry.

It’s a dubious distinction, I know, but I’ve been among the first 75 inmates to populate a brand new prison. The place hadn’t even been “officially” opened and it wasn’t entirely complete; it took months for the technological marvel it was said to be to actually function as designed. But while Where Excuses Go to Die (the book) can tell you a lot more about that story, today we return to those particular design elements and specialized detention products that represent modern mass incarceration in America. Unlike previous editions, this time we’ll look at just one pressing problem: inmates who stop up cell house toilets and the wastewater control systems that swallow every dinner, document, dictionary, and domino thrown at ’em.
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Smart Prerelease Instruction: Inmates Helping Inmates

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

The double-edged-sword of getting out of prison.

For those of us who follow incarceration and reentry issues, the inmate-created, inmate-run, prerelease program in Cumberland, Maryland, that was just approved by the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be something to keep an eye on.

Ideally, Young Men Incorporated (YMI), as the program is known, will prove that switching from curriculum enforcement to the much more coercive power of wisdom and teachable moments is the right way to reinvent prisoner reentry methodology.

Hitting your release date and getting out is a trip. Individual results may vary, but when it comes to civilian employees, frontline custody personnel, and prison administrators, soon-to-parole inmates often face disparagement and placating attitudes. The way some Badges see it, you’re still a criminal, soon to be protected by rights that weren’t there a couple of weeks ago. More than a few are just waitin’ for you to act special, by which I mean individual. (more…)

Life in a Prison Classroom

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Pre-Release Classrooms are the Future of Prison Reform_Where Excuses Go to DieI know life in a prison classroom, and the learning environment you may or may not find once you’ve taken a seat.

A brief click-through of “5 Projects to Watch in 2016” from Correctional News leaves me wondering how much prison officials really know about the obstacles inmates face just getting through a detention facility’s classroom door. What does it matter, you ask? Well, in an era where words like “reform,” “rehabilitation,” and “recidivism” are on everyone’s lips, it’s important to know when a component as critical as education is simply being given lip service.

Correctional News covers prison operations, design, and construction. It celebrates grand openings and groundbreakings because imminent completion dates tend to matter to rubber mattress merchants, vendors of detection products, and shower flooring suppliers.

Currently showcased are the East County Detention Center near Palm Springs, for example, which is set to open in 2017, the Kern County justice facility in Bakersfield, and the new Utah State Prison, among others. California being where I paid my debt to society, I tend to monitor its prison system more closely than I do others. But all of these entries have something in common, and that’s my point: they feature anemic descriptions of the education facilities also under construction. Rehabilitation-as-footnote here, will eventually make corrections administrators and state officials look as though they’re simply hanging wreaths of rehabilitation on freshly painted classroom doors and leaving it at that. (more…)

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…)

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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Let’s Talk about Package Thieves

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

WHITE TRASH CHILD LABOR__Where Excuses Go to Die

Abandoning skanky mattresses and furniture are hate crimes, and package thieves are cut from the same cloth.
These rats need skewering.

Few things get under my skin as much as abandoned, humped-on furniture, but package thieves come pretty close. And, ’tis the season for these losers to come out of their pain med stupors long enough to use what semblance of societal normalcy they possess as a cloak for their cowardice. Like this guy, who literally takes his toddler out of its stroller to make the kid grab someone’s package.

But guess what, dummies? Here’s where your excuses go to die, ’cause what the hell will you have to say for yourselves when you get caught? (more…)

Obama’s Prison Visit

Friday, July 17th, 2015

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GOES THE PRESIDENT_Where Excuses Go to DieNever mind that President Obama’s prison visit was a public relations handshake event on par with a disaster relief stop by:
I’ll take it. 

The man did, after all, pull off a first-ever presidential prison tour without a GOP push-back accusing him of somehow assisting Mexican druglord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s recent escape. With adversaries like Obama’s, it’s a downright miracle he hasn’t been vilified for cozying up to his convict martyr buddies. (more…)

Trump to Produce Prison TV?

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

YOU'RE ISOLATED_Where Excuses Go to DieC’mon, don’t tell me
Trump couldn’t sell
“Naked and Afraid: Lockdown”
or
“Teardrops ‘n Tuckjobs.”

The first of Donald Trump’s programs this convicted felon would DVR is the inevitable cell house chef show, which would feature some of my personal favorites like Brodo Libero Linguine with Cilantro and Walnut Sweepings (a.k.a. Top Ramen drained of its powdery broth-water and sprinkled with “green,” plus a bag of Corn Nuts). Ooh, then there’s Dill-infused Retired Sashimi and Chocolat Petits Fours (canned tuna on toothpicks with yesterday’s pickle slices, and the other half of that 3 Musketeers bar). Many inmates pride themselves on concocting this fine “corridor cuisine,” especially long-termer foodies who use bunk-side braising and contraband meats to keep themselves from making a suicide dash for the electric fence.

Iron Chef: Shackles & Shortbread. Trump could make millions exploiting this untapped goldmine.

And who better? Riding a widening blast radius from publicly acknowledging the existence of a few good Mexicans among the Satanic death horde of sodomites and cartel assassins, Donald Trump has again demonstrated just how disconnected he is from the current national dialogue on criminal justice reform. Explaining to the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board what he’d do about that city’s street crime, he led off with, “You’re not going to stop it by being nice.” Hence The Donald’s strategy of praising lockdown absolutism and shortsightedness despite the successful passage of sentencing reform in 35 states.

Because prison reform appeals to fiscal conservatives as much as social cause lefties, alternatives to “more prison” are on the table everywhere front-line custody personnel collect a paycheck. Across the country, Americans are finding value in redirecting criminal offenders rather than recycling them. (more…)

Upselling Prison Pt. 3

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

JPAY_Appropriating Copyrights_Where Excuses Go to DieA former inmate sizes up detention products, #3 in a casual series.

Upselling Prison: accessories, upgrades, add-ons, telecoms, and salespersons of the detention supply industry.

Prison Monetization Solutions_Where Excuses Go to DieAccording to the Pew Public Safety Performance Project and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 35 adult residents of the US are currently either incarcerated or under correctional supervision (parole or probation). In 1990, that number was 1 in 77. Nationally, America spends billions on corrections, and the money being made by detention profiteers is astronomical. One particularly golden calf has been inmate telecommunications, especially now that the corrections industry is undergoing a “technological renaissance.”
(Prison Voice Biometrics anyone?)

This is a Rehabilitation Measurement Device_Where Excuses Go to DieMuch has been written about the contempt the prison telecom industry routinely demonstrates for families of the incarcerated by charging crushingly inflated rates for collect calls home. Still, in California, for example, the Public Utilities Commission lacks oversight of jail and prison phone contracts and nationwide the FCC is only now taking notice of high rates charged for calls originating in state and federal facilities. According to Prison Phone Justice.org, inmate phone contracts in all but 9 states are still based on a “commission” model where the service provider pays a portion of its profits to the contracting facility as a kickback for accepting their bid (this chart shows some of the worst offenders). I don’t even want to think about private and corporate-owned detention centers, where the profits extracted from those in need of human contact is obscene. (more…)

“Rape, Riots, and Rotten Food”

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Inmate Cardboard Standup_Where-Excuses-Go-to-DieRape, Riots, and Rotten Food – Relearning Life Behind Bars

The sooner the public learns that it’s been chumped by the media into thinking it knows what offenders look like, the sooner the heart and humanity that also exist behind bars can be tapped in an effort to redirect –not recycle– offenders. And whether it’s the people themselves that matter to you or the countless billions of taxpayer dollars we can save by fixing this problem, it’s about time we get started.

And what do I propose? As a former inmate of the California Department of Corrections myself, my mission is to help change the public’s misperception that all inmates are illiterate, tattooed, Nazi-worshiping, meth-mouthed man-rapists. This is what Where Excuses Go to Die is all about, defying the caricatures and stereotypes that make it easier for us to believe that incarcerating our way out of crime is viable. (more…)