Posts Tagged ‘private prisons’

What, CCPOA, no opposition?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

California prison guard union’s silence on Prop 47 smells funky…

Apocalypse Hoosegow 9_CCPOA EDITION_Where Excuses Go to DieIn 2011, the CCPOA claimed it had “played a decisive role” in electing Governor Jerry Brown after dropping $2 million on his campaign alone. The characteristic boast came in the form of a video called “The Winners,” griped about at the time by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.

That year, the union endorsed candidates it favored to the tune of $7 million and received plenty in exchange. Of 107 candidates it backed in California, 104 were elected.

It’s no secret that the CCPOA is one of the most influential unions in American history: it’s been building that power in earnest since the ‘80s, when CCPOA-sponsored legislation began to be successful about 80% of the time. Not surprisingly, this period includes some of California’s most intractable laws, such as 1984’s infamous Three Strikes legislation. “The formula is simple,” writes Joan Petersilia in Volume 37 of Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. “More prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.” Naturally, the CCPOA has a vested interest in keeping incarceration and recidivism rates high. (more…)

“A fact that needs to be spoken”

Monday, July 21st, 2014

His limitlessly enthusiastic facial expressions just kill me_HBOJohn Oliver joins the national dialogue on prison reform – vividly.

I’m sure it will surprise no readers of this blog to know I’m a radicalized John Oliver fan.

From Net Neutrality to the World Cup, I’m thrilled at the breath of fresh air HBO has allowed Oliver to blow our way on the topics of the day. As I watched this piece last night, I was pleased to see that just about every prison reform and private prison-related topic I’ve covered here – he nails. But, of course, the best part of the segment is the musical number. By singing about prison reform with Sesame Street muppets he sends it all over the top, simplifying the issue, making us laugh, educating and surprising us.

It’s a fact that needs to be spoken

America’s prisons are broken

It’s a hard truth about incarceration

prisons are needed for our civilization

But mandatory minimums for heroin and crack

stack the system against Hispanics and Blacks

Our prison population is bigger than Slovenia

‘Cause we put people in jail instead of treating schizophrenia!

Oliver and his writing team are hilarious. For me, they created a valuable tool I can use to snow plow through an otherwise complex issue. Helping to widen people’s understanding of incarceration in America and those behind bars just became a little easier. Thank you John Oliver.

 

The Writer’s Discipline in the Digital Wilderness

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

The wilderness of self-publishing is where my excuses went to die

Foret Allemagne by Michael LangeAll digital photography by Michael Lange

 

The digital revolution has forced traditional publishers to look a lot like Dick Cheney. It did the same thing to the music industry, too, before the record labels went out like the inflexible, teeth-gnashing dinosaurs they were. I do respect old-school publishing’s heritage of absolutism, but in the same way I’d defer to the Cigarette Smoking Man from “The X-Files” if he tapped me on the shoulder.

What I no longer fear is the stigma of bringing my book to market on my own. I’m way past the point of no return financially and self-assuredly. No, I had no idea how difficult this was going to be, nor did I know how to avoid making it harder. But then my starting point was, “Hi, I’m an ex-felon and here’s my 480-page manuscript about my prison sentence. Will you read a chapter and…”

Yeesh. I wouldn’t wish that opener on my worst enemy!

But seriously, if my journey could begin at a maximum security facility where I traded soap with murderers with open sores for pencils and paper, you, friends, have no excuse not to put your stories out there, satisfy your creative obsessions, and realize your dreams and goals. (more…)