Who we are is obviously quite different than what the public believes. At least it’s obvious to most anyone who enters the prison system—whatever their moral/political framework.
More than a game...
Like Vietnam veterans, felons/prisoners are attaining a self and social identification that is increasingly integrated with their other relationships.
Given the reality of the current American criminal justice system, a fewer percentage every day are social predators, as is increasingly the condition of those who rule and enforce.
People will not long live in fear before that emotion turns to action. Felons will not always identify themselves as “criminals,” at least not the sort that is politically imposed upon them. more…
The State of Virginia executed Teresa Lewis last Thursday, September 23rd, by lethal injection. Her life at 41 and her prison sentence is thus concluded.
She was convicted of hiring two young men to kill her husband and his son for the insurance money. All three pled guilty to the crime. Only Teresa got the death penalty. Like the rest of the public, prisoners are conflicted on the question of the death penalty.
Those who opposed her execution included novelist John Grisham, political activist Bianca Jagger, and a petition of the European Union. They cited her IQ of 72 among other factors for leniency.
A score of 70 would have exempted her from execution in Virginia. As a doctor of psychology (PsyD), I can assure this readership that the methodology to determine such a score is problematical enough that a few points one way or the other is totally subjective. The final score is purely an artifact of the person making the determination. more…
During and after my conviction and sentence to 25 yrs in federal prison, one of the mantras I heard incessantly from those in lawful authority concerned the rule and sanctity of the law. Would that they follow their own “principles.”
Justice...only half blind...
Every society considers the crimes of its own actors under a very different set of guidelines. Despite its ideals, America is no different.
If you’re interested in what many of these authoritarian hypocrites really believe about their own system of justice, then simply listen and watch what they say and do when one of their own is in the dock.
We’ve all witnessed situations where police, for instance, were excused from prison because their imprisonment with the rest of us would be cruel or a hardship on them, given their years of “service.”
Really? Well who created that system in the first place? And how often do we hear these criminals with badges threaten suspects with a hard row to hoe in prison, with rape, with cruel punishment? Clearly they perceive it for “others,” not themselves—otherwise they would not make such threats. more…
“Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent Steve Wakefield. How may I help you?”
“Listen, Steve, how’d you like to move outta that backwater and get an office in DC with a view of the White House?”
“Who is this?”
If there was justice...
“It’s Karl. Don’t you recognize my voice?”
“Hey! Mr. Rove. How are you? Are you here in Minneapolis?”
“No. And I won’t be. Listen, we appreciate all you’ve done for us in the past. We got some ideas that you might find interesting. It’s five more weeks to the election, and we got a few ‘October Surprises,’ for those jackanapes currently occupying the White House, if you know what I mean…” more…
My usual prison routine included catching the early morning news on TV before work call. I’d catch it again in the early evening.
Generally, I tended to agree with JFK’s Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Newton Minow, who described TV back in 1963 as “a vast wasteland.”
In prison—at least in the dozen I was in over the past 20+ yrs—in order to listen to the TVs, a prisoner has to purchase a radio with earbuds at the commissary. Each TV has its own broadcast frequency. The TVs are usually located in the common areas of the housing units and a part of the leisure library area.
The radios currently cost $42.90. The salaries of inmates who work for the prison stands at 12¢/hr. That comes to about $17/mo. UNICOR workers average 92¢/hr., if you can get one of the available jobs…count on a two-yr waiting list. more…
Some 55% of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drugs. About 13% of the 2.5 million prisoners across the US—including all of the states—are convicted of marijuana “crimes” alone.
Having served 20+ years in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), I thought I pretty much knew most of what there was to know about reefer and reefer cases. I was wrong.
Jack Herer published the book shown here back in 1985. Since then, it has gone into 11 editions and is easily considered the bible of the marijuana industry. (Herer died last April 2010.)
Herer documents the usual information on marijuana, its history and benign if temporal criminal cultivation and use, but so much more… more…
This discussion is a continuing one relative to Justice and Reconciliation.
With almost 3 million souls in the American prison system (if one counts the 400,000+ prisoners of the Immigration police, ICE) it seems incredible to contemplate the reality that an estimated 67% of those who are eventually released will return to prison within 3 yrs.
If any fact speaks louder to the bankruptcy of the on-going prison regimen as an utter failure, I’m not aware of it.
One of the wardens I served under was Dennis M. Luther, at FCI McKean, PA. Luther had the notion of treating inmates with respect and dignity, and made it clear that they’re sentenced to a prison term as punishment, not for punishment. more…
On one occasion I was invited to speak to an assembly at the prison chapel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Apparently, I was the only prisoner in a camp of over 800 souls who had actually marched with Dr. King.
Almost all of the campers present were black. The majority had not been born when Dr. King was assassinated (1968). As Dr. King would say, “Longevity has its uses…”
I’d like to be able to write that that my short speech included how “acting black” is one of the greatest tricks perpetrated on the African-American.
Despite the intervention of perceptive black leadership, many inmates continue to employ the “nigger” and “monkey ass” vernacular incessantly.
It’s difficult to even get to lunchtime without hearing the epithets–both in casual conversation and as invective–constantly. Jim Crow is quite alive and well even in the black culture. more…
I have done my best to keep the prison gulag number to the left as up-to-date as possible. One item that goes into that count that has skyrocketed is the number of detainees being held by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service (ICE).
ICE police have achieved the dubious status of a full-fledged, proto-fascist organization within the Department of Homeland Security. It’s difficult to describe them as anything else.
Detainees, the vast majority of them undocumented workers from Mexico, are being increasingly criminalized, and held for longer and longer periods of time. Private prisons CCA and the GEO Group are earning fortunes for their investers, such as the two main assistants to the governor of Arizona. ICE now holds over 400,000 of these souls.
All toll, the current American prison system thus now holds a total of 2,893,198 prisoners. more…
A few thoughts while we’re standing on the prison chow line:
- All the mad Gods…
It was a hot June weekend, 1945. The war was almost over. I was taking care of some serious business under the scrabble tree in the front yard—a stretch of sandy soil. I was 3 years old…my first memory.
Somewhere I must have got it in my head that all the evil in the world came from the Devil who lived under the ground. I was digging him up with my toy beach pail and shovel.
When my father came home and asked, I proudly told him I was gonna find and kill the Devil. Then there’d be no more bad in the world. He wasn’t amused. First, he whipped me. Then he beat my mother, for whatever reasons he had. more…