Tag Archives: prison

Want to help stop racism? End the failed war on drugs!

If we’re tired of arguing over pieces of cloth, how about we do something about one of the main tools of racist oppression in the U.S.? Legalize drugs, thus stopping paying for 75% of the U.S. prison population, which is far more black than white, and is often rented out for literally pennies. Remember, slavery is not illegal in the U.S., as long as it is punishment for some crime. Second clause, 13th Amendment:

except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted

More black men are in jail, prison, probation, or parole now than were enslaved in 1850, as Michelle Alexander has noted. Anyone who says Continue reading

Prohibition will bring both law, legislature and executive into open contempt –The Economist 22 September 1923

Alcohol Prohibition didn’t work. Prohibition of marijuana and other drugs actually failed in much worse ways than alcohol prohibition did. I don’t always agree with The Economist, but about this I do: it’s time to end the failed War on Drugs and ramp down the expensively bloated U.S. prison system.

Uncle Sam Will Enforce Prohibition, Our September 22nd 1923 issue examined the impact of America’s experiment with alcohol prohibition. The newspaper encourages a similarly liberal approach to drug control today.

We wrote: “A law is not necessarily a good or wise law because it aims at doing something which is desirable. If it is impossible of strict administration, it will not only fail in its object, but, what is far more serious will bring both law, legislature and executive into open contempt.”

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Video released of guards beating prisoner with hammer in 2010

GBI finally released video of prisoners being beaten with hammers by guards after the 2010 prisoner strikes for wages instead of working for free for things like call centers and building weapons. Two guards pled guilty in 2012 to conspiracy, assault with injury, and coverup. But GBI mysteriously hasn’t been able to identify the guard seen in this video beating handcuffed prisoner Kelvin Stevenson with a hammer.

Mary Ratcliff 29 August 2013, Video released of Georgia guards beating prisoners with hammer,

At the beginning of this video, you hear a prison guard shouting, “”Get down! Just get down! Get down! Get down!” presumably to the other prisoners. That exclamation is followed by, “Oh (inaudible) guy over there with his hands hitting him … and a damn hammer!”

The deplorable beatings you’re witnessing occurred Continue reading

Sterlizing female inmates without approval: California prisons

As recently as 2010. Has anybody checked Georgia prisons recently?

Corey G. Johnson wrote for Center for Investigative Reporting 7 July 2013, Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval,

Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years — and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison.

How did this happen?

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Prison gang violence

This is what eventually happens in a country with 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners, in a state that has 1 in 13 adults in the prison system (jail, prison, probation, or parole): prison violence the prisons can’t deal with, possibly including the mysterious violence at Valdosta State Prison. When we stop locking up so many people by ending the war on drugs, we’ll have plenty of money to adequately secure the few remaining real violent offenders.

Rhonda Cook wrote for the AJC Saturday, Gang violence in prison is increasingly deadly,

In a little more than 10 months, 12 inmates and a guard have been stabbed to death in Georgia prisons, a dramatic uptick in violence that law enforcement officials and human rights advocates agree points to increased gang activity.

“We cannot remember a time like this when we were getting this volume and severity of violence,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which monitors prison violence.

People who go into such prisons, if they aren’t already violent, are likely to be taught to be violent, and some just don’t come back out. Yet those that do get out can be bad for the rest of us:

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U.S. has “moral responsibility to reduce the flow of [drug] money towards Mexico” —Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico

The Mexican president who put the Mexican Army onto the streets to stop the drug war, resulting in 40,000+ deaths, many collateral damage like the son of writer Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican president who a year ago started hinting that that didn’t work and something else should be done, is already following the path of his predecessors Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, in calling for the U.S. to end the war on drugs. Georgia can’t afford to continue spending a billion dollars a year to lock people up, especially while cutting education. If we listen to the Mexican presidents, we can save much of that billion and spend much of the savings on education.

T.W. wrote for the Economist 23 November 2012, “Impossible” to end drug trade, says Calderón,

In an interview recorded last month for this week’s special report Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico on Mexico, Mr Calderón said: “Are there still drugs in Juárez [a violent northern border city]? Well of course, but it has never been the objective…of the public-security strategy to end something that it is impossible to end, namely the consumption of drugs or their trafficking…

“[E]ither the United States and its society, its government and its congress decide to drastically reduce their consumption of drugs, or if they are not going to reduce it they at least have the moral responsibility to reduce the flow of money towards Mexico, which goes into the hands of criminals. They have to explore even market mechanisms to see if that can allow the flow of money to reduce.

“If they want to take all the drugs they want, as far as I’m concerned let them take them. I don’t agree with it but it’s their decision, as consumers and as a society. What I do not accept is that they continue passing their money to the hands of killers.”

The Economist article spelled out what Calderón still doesn’t quite say:

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Second prison guard pled guilty for assaulting strikers

Conspiracy, assault with injury, coverup: another Georgia prison guard pled guilty, all in response to a strike by prisoners for decent pay. And remember, private prisons have fewer guards per prisoner and less training.

WTXL wrote yesterday, Ex-prison officer pleads guilty in inmate beatings

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday Darren Douglass-Griffin pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of inmates and falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Douglass-Griffin admitted he and other correctional officers at Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe assaulted and injured inmates in a series of incidents in 2010. He told prosecutors correctional officers beat three inmates in separate incidents to punish them. One inmate was beaten so badly he had to be taken from the prison in an ambulance.

Douglass-Griffin also said he and other officers tried to cover up the officers’ involvement by writing false reports and lying to investigators.

I say “another” because the federal Department of Justice entitled its PR of yesterday Second Former Georgia Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Other Officers to Assault and Injure Inmates. DOJ didn’t say who the first to plead guilty was, but it did add:

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Cook County schools furloughing teachers

Cook county schools have a budget shortfall problem, and they think they can solve it only by furloughing teachers. Remind me again why we're wasting $1 billion a year on prisons, including private prisons for the profit of private prison shareholders and executives (like CCA CEO Damon Hininger's $3 million a year) and we're furloughing teachers instead?

Greg Gullberg wrote for WCTV 10 May 2012, Teachers in Cook County Face Furloughs,

The Cook County School System is facing a $472,352 deficit. Superintendent Lance Heard tells Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg that the only way out may be to initiate system-wide furlough days and cutting jobs.

"We've done everything we can to maintain the level of education for the students that we've always had and we think we've been able to do that," said Superintendent Heard.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but 488 teachers, staff and administrators, may be facing furlough days next school year. Superintendent Heard hopes to limit them to three to five per employee.

"I would like to say also that when we do take furlough days, they are always none instructional days. The students do not miss any school," said Superintendent Heard.

Yet. Keep on in this direction and the students will be missing school. As it is, they just get less-prepared teachers, for less-effective teaching. But this is not Supt. Heard's fault.

Do we in Georgia want to prepare students for jail, or to succeed in life? Prisons cost we the taxpayers lots of money. Successful young people help pay for everything. Maybe we should choose successful young people, starting with education.

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Let’s Be Blunt: It’s Time to End the Drug War

Don’t believe Latin American presidents (former and current) or a global commission including captains of industry or historic statesmen such as Jimmy Carter or major newspapers or Judge Napolitano or law enforcement professionals like Frank Serpico? Ask an economist who spells it out: the War on Drugs is an economic, public safety, and civil rights disaster, and legalization is needed right now.

Economist Art Carden wrote for Forbes yesterday, Let’s Be Blunt: It’s Time to End the Drug War,

April 20 is the counter-culture “holiday” on which lots and lots of people come together to advocate marijuana legalization (or just get high). Should drugs—especially marijuana—be legal? The answer is “yes.” Immediately. Without hesitation. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200 seized in a civil asset forfeiture. The war on drugs has been a dismal failure. It’s high time to end prohibition. Even if you aren’t willing to go whole-hog and legalize all drugs, at the very least we should legalize marijuana.

OK, why?

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Good thing we didn’t buy a “jail to nowhere”

Still more evidence that private prisons are bad business. If the Industrial Authority won't do due diligence before buying into boondoggles like biomass and private prisons, we'll have to do it for them.

Kirsten Bokenkamp wrote for ACLU Texas 4 April 2012, Nobody wants a “Jail to Nowhere”,

…a number of Texas counties and towns ( the article points to Anson, Littlefield, and Angelina, Newton, Dickens and Falls Counties as a few examples) were sold on the idea that mass incarceration was in Texas to stay. According to the article, most of the privately operated county jails sit less than half full, and guess who is left holding the bill? (Hint – it is not the for-profit prison company).

Meanwhile, we can look askance at anything else that is pushed by ALEC, like private prisons and charter schools are.

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