PrisonWatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Prison stories - May-June/2001
[Commentary] ©2001 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
6/22/2001 1 prison story -
6/20/2001 2 prison stories -
- Rouse seeks state probe of his jails - In shift, asks Swift to name panel of experts, by Francie Latour, Boston Globe, front page.
Three weeks after he called on his peers in corrections to lead a review of his troubled department, Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse changed course yesterday, asking Acting Governor Jane M. Swift to appoint an independent commission to investigate reports of abuse and mismanagement and downgrading the review by a national corrections group to an "inspection."...
6/17/2001 1 weekend prison item -
- California: Violent inmates, by Evelyn Nieves, NYT, A15.
The Dept. of Corrections wants to put its most violent inmates in a 2-yr behavior modification program that would strip them of all privileges.
[Ah, isn't that why they got violent in the first place?]
The plan, which will be submitted to the Legislature after July 1, would use a carrot and stick approach with up to 380 prisoners....
[So with no priviliges, where's the "carrot"?]
Privileges like phone calls would be restored, depending on the inmate's participation in a violence prevention program.
[And just how humiliating are they going to make this program?]
Steve Fama, an advocate for prisoners, said the proposal was too punitive, raising the risk that it would backfire.
[Prisons don't need to be punitive. They just need to make impossible a repetition of the crime, and get the inmates working to support themselves - without clobbering outside jobs. And you guessed it, the only way to do that is to implement a general nationwide safety net that ensures market-demanded employment is spread around to provide everyone a good share of wages, however much work is taken over by technological advance. That requires flexible adjustment of the workweek - making maximum working hours per person vary inversely and automatically with un(der)employment, and implementing automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion at the top of the workweek.]
- Texas: Easing reins on prisons, by Jim Yardley, NYT, A15.
A federal district judge who has monitored the state's prisons for nearly 30 years has eased his control over the system. The judge, William Wayne Justice, released the [Texas] prison system from federal oversight on issues including crowding, staffing, discipline, health care, and death row. But he ordered prison officials to address some problems further, including abusive guards, inmate-on-inmate violence and the treatment of mentally ill inmates. Judge Justice's oversight stems from a 1972 lawsuit.
["Judge Justice" - great monicker! Better even than "Judge Judy."]
6/15/2001 2 prison items -
- [And now, the other side of the story -]
Jail guards aren't tyrants, letter to editor by Officer Michael Hubert of Boston and signed by 282 other members of the uniformed staff at Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay MA, Boston Globe, F6.
...The vast majority of officers are family-oriented people [but so is Patrick McMullen, BG, B1 - ed.] performing an undesirable job with dignity and professionalism. We condone neither unethical nor criminal behavior.
But the Globe's recent chronicle of Sheriff Richard Rouse and his department has given the public a skewed perception of life at South Bay, allowing the reader to believe we are all tyrants. We are not. In fact, our officers have been decorated for reviving dying inmates, apprehending child abductors [how does a jail guard do that??] and elderly attackers.
Officers accused of wrongdoing will [appear] in court. We simply ask that the Globe stop convicting all officers in its kangaroo court.
6/14/2001 Alabama: Plan to ease jail crowding, by Lino Rodriguez, NYT, A22.
- Louisiana: Crowding leads to sentencing changes, by Lino Rodriguez, NYT, A25.
The House approved legislation reducing sentences for drug convictions and eliminating mandatory sentences for many nonviolent crimes. The bill, approved in a 65-to-35 vote, was a response to crowding in state prisons. The measure allows judges to sentence nonviolent offenders to jail or probation. Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican, has said he supported the bill as a means of saving $60m a year in prison costs and rehabilitating nonviolent offenders.
[So taxpayer parsimony, not principle, makes the difference for sentencing reform in Louisiana but hey, whatever works and gets the job done. Look at the contrast with a neighboring state -]
- Alabama governor offers plan to ease crowding in the jails, NYT Regional Newspapers via NYT, A21.
MONTGOMERY, Ala...- Gov. Donald Siegelman outlined a $6.8m plan today to alleviate jail crowding by removing state inmates and creatingi more prison cells within a year. The proposal, which comes in response to a court order to improve conditions in county jails, seeks to free up 2,866 prison beds for violent offenders.
The plan calls for restarting work camps, diverting some drug offenders to alternative programs, paroling more inmates and possibly renting prison space in other states. Gov. Siegelman said that at least one prison to house up to 2,000 might have to be built, but that would be five or six years from now....
The Associated Press reported that the president of the Alabama Sheriffs Assoc., Sheriff Herbie Johnson of Autauga County, said the governor's plan did not appear to provide the immediate help that some counties needed.
[Seems like Louisiana and Alabama have contrasting philosophies. Louisiana wants to cut the demand for jail beds, sort of like the people who want to conserve energy instead of just drilling for more oil. Alabama, on the other hand, wants to keep finding or building more jail beds, like the people who want to keep drilling for more oil or stripmining for more coal, and forget about lightening up on sentences.]
Gov. Donald Siegelman said the state would not meet a court-ordered Monday deadline to remove more than 2,800 state inmates from county jails. Instead Mr. Siegelman said he intended to outline a plan today to ease the crowding.
[Don't believe it. 'Trow the bum in dere wid'em and he'll act on deadline soon enough.]
Under state law, prisoners must be removed from county jails within 30 days of sentencing. The number of state inmates remaining in county jails after sentencing jumped from 1,964 when the deadline was imposed to 2,819 on Tuesday.
6/11/2001 1 weekend prison item -
6/09/2001 US figures show prison population is now stabilizing - Effect of drop in crime - Leveling off of inmates and a boom in prison building start to ease crowding, by David Firestone, NYT, front page.
- Working in prison, letter to editor by policy analyst Jenni Gainsborough of the Sentencing Project, NYT, A18.
Your commendable June 6 Business Day article "Behind bars and on the clock" [see below] reports that 85,000 prisoners are working in prison industries. However -
Likewise, a May 20 front-page article about work programs in Oregon described some prisoners working in jobs that seemed to offer more of a future - but again -
- this represents only 6% of the more than 1.3m Americans in [federal & state] prison. [There are an additional 0.7m in county and city jails, bringing the proportion down to 4% if the latter don't have work programs.]
- Also, the director of the program your article features said that if he weren't using prison labor, these sewing jobs would go overseas. Thus the prisoners are being trained for jobs that will not be available to them when the go back into the world.
With more than 600,000 men and women leaving prison every year, we must do more to provide education, substance-abuse treatment and training for real jobs.
- the numbers involved are tiny and
- the Oregon Legislature is proposing to reduce prison education.
[Good letter, Jenni. Amen.]
[So we're supposed to congratulate ourselves for that, in the face of this? -]
after growing explosively for three decades....
[and this? -]
For the first time in years, the overcrowding that has plagued state prisons and local jails alike is beginning to ease, due to...a decade of new construction..\..and..\..
[And under the circumstances, the only reason we're seeing this -]
due to falling crime rates....
[- may well be because we've locked up such a substantial proportion of our total population - 2,000,000 people out of 280m = .7%. Stalag/Gulag USA, "land of the free," with only Russia ahead of us in proportion of incarcerated citizens. We have become indistinguishable from our old enemy. We have become our own worst enemy.]
6/07/2001 1 prison story -
6/6/2001 1 prison item -
- Boston [Mass.] to stop holding women suspects in Suffolk jail, by Francie Latour, Boston Globe, A21.
...more than two years after a federal class-action lawsuit was filed by women saying they were illegally strip-searched at Suffolk County's Nashua Street Jail....
6/05/2001 1 prison item -
- Behind bars and on the clock - Despite low pay, felons show up motivated, by Edward Wong, NYT, C1.
[Barchart caption -] Inmates at work - An increasing number of the 1.3m inmates in federal and state prisons [guess that just leaves out the 0.7m inmates in county & city jails] are employed making everything from blue jeans to computer cables. Sales of products made by inmates reached nearly $1.7B in 1999.
[Barchart figures (est.) -] inmates employed - 1990 66,000; 1997 76,000; 1998 80,000; 1999 84,000.
...John Borchert...is the general manager of the Array Corp., a private company with $2m in annual revenue that employs [more than 200] inmates primarily to make garments. The factory churns out 50,000 pieces of clothing a year, most of them jeans and work shirts. Half are bought by the state to clothe prisoners. The rest are sold in retail stores under the brand Prison Blues and using the slogan, "Made on the inside to be worn on the outside."
[Michael Moore, take note. How long is it going to take them to tell us the "low pay" mentioned in the headline to see how close we come to Michael's vision for America - (1) shut down factories and downsize employees with little or no severance, and while they are getting desperate and turning to crime, convert the factory to a prison. Perfect! 1000 employees averaging $15/hr transformed into 1000 employees averaging 10¢/hr. Think of the profits! (Until you've transformed all but the "growing number of millionaires" and find - No Markets.)]
Mr. Borchert and his floor managers, Tom Wise and Nick Hiatt, walk around the bright 40,000-sq-ft factory [inside the razor-wire fence of the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton] as they would in any plant. There are no guards, even though workers are serving time for the entire range of felonies, from stabbing friends to raping children to burning down houses. Many even wield [factory] razor knives and electric drills.
"We try to run it as much like a business as possible," Mr. Borchert...said.... "That's important for the mental environment of the workers. It becomes an escape for them. I guess escape is a bad word. It becomes a release for them."
["Release" isn't that great either.]
...[Inmate labor is] one of the fastest growing \workforces\ in America.... About 85,000 of this country's 1.3m inmates in federal and state prisons hold a job, including 3,500 in a federal program where they make products for private companies for interstate sale. That is up from [an overall total of] 1,000 five years ago.
Oregon is a leader in the trend, as a result of a 1994 law that requires all able-bodied prisoners to put in a 40-hour week. 80% now do, one of the highest rates in the nation....
[OK, now we're inside on p. C9 of the Business section and there's another photo caption, "One headache for supervisors like Nick Hiatt...is the high turnover. He catches up with an inmate who had missed a few days' work." (That's absenteeism, not turnover.) There's also another subheading, "Supervisors keep a sharp eye on tools and inventory." Coming up is the eighth of the rather long paragraphs in the article, tucked away from the front page of the business section in on page 9 and we're finally getting to "pay dirt" -]
For the managers of Prison Blues, overseeing felons has a built-in advantage: they are incredibly motivated. No matter that the work is menial and the pay paltry (the state allows them to keep only a fifth of the average $6.80 an hour that they make, with the rest going to taxes, victim restitution and other expenses)....
[Hmm, a parenthesized disclosure. Let's see, one fifth of $6.80 is $1.36/hr. See Mr. Smartypants Michael Moore, you were wrong! The government is generously paying these these poor men a whole $1.36/hr! And not just a dime. And what's more, these slaves are happy, and what more charming American vision than the peaceful sourthern plantation speckled with happy slaves singing at their work -]
"They treat you like people here," said Robert Staunton...a convicted kidnapper who had never held down a job.... Mr. Staunton...has saved $4,000 and sends money to his two children. Workers also spend their savings on new shoes, toiletries and tuition..\.. The program has a waiting list of 200, and employees are even eager to work holidays. "These jobs mean a lot to them," Mr. Borchert said. "You'll get guys who can be fairly emotional about whether or not they're able to do the job...." One inmate who had failed at several jobs last year almost cried when a manager told him he was not working out, Mr. Borchert said.... Sewing clothes beats the dreariness and danger of prison life, and making $1.36 an hour is better than earning nothing.
[So's a dime, for that matter.]
The workers learn skills they can use on the outside....
[Yeah, just when American manufacturing is really going into the toilet, we're training our bloated prison population for the vanishing manufacturing jobs. Brilliant.]
They are paid by the piece.
[Just like Lincoln Electric, which has the highest paid manufacturing workers in the world.]
The more they make, the more they earn, although a federal law requires Array to pay at least the prevailing wage. And if the percentage of defects falls below the industry average of 3%, the workers are given credit to buy Prison Blues products.... In the first quarter of 2000, when the percentage of defects first fell below the industry average, Mr. Borchert bought pizza for the entire floor. Many workers had not tasted a slice in five years. "They loved it," Mr. Wise said. "Not long after that happened, there was an issue that came up where several pairs of jeans were put together wrong, and some guys actually spent time on their breaks correcting these just so the percentage wouldn't rise."
[Also just like Lincoln Electric, where you're responsible for your own quality products and you correct your errors on your own time.]
Prison labor has come under fire from human-rights advocates who view it as exploitation, and from labor officials who complain it takes jobs away from law-abiding Americans....
[Actually, Timesizing.com agrees with the concept of universal self-support, incarceration notwithstanding. But the Timesizing vision for America requires an aggregate system where the vanishing employment, vanishing because of constantly progressing automation, is automatically shared and spread throughout the entire population via workweek adjustment combined with overtime-to-training conversion. Obviously America 2001 is at a much more primitive stage in economic evolution and so, of course cheap prison labor is yet another factor that is vanishing manufacturing jobs = one more mechanism by which America aids and abets its own demise. But a character in our story here has an interesting rationalization for it -]
But Mr. Borchert said none of his workers were forced into their jobs. And as for stealing jobs, he said it was not an issue in his company's case because "all the sewing would be going overseas if it weren't here [in prison]."
[Well here, then, is another palpable entry point for the spread of the Third World in America. Nogales, Arizona, move over! But it ain't all beer and skittles for the managers either -]
"I was nervous," Mr. Borchert said. "You're around guys who've committed serious crimes. You don't understand the environment they live in. You don't know whether you'll be threatened with violence from day to day."...
[Then why in the world do they do it?]
Mr. Hiatt has a wife and four children, and took the job a year and a half ago after the shutdown of the wood-fiber mill where he had worked for 23 years....
[There it is again. Our primitive management philosophy today in the Dark Ages of early-Third-Millennium America. No effective safety net. No automatic aggregate adjustment to rising levels of efficient technology. "And, gee, look how smart I am for shutting down "inefficient" mills and doing mass layoffs! Watch my stock!" No continuous training targeted, triggered, sized, paced, and funded by the incidence of overtime itself. Oh Lord, we were born too soon. Our self-important arrogant brain-dead top executives and business schools have no idea of the devastation they are causing with their primitive "ugh, me grab you by hair" so-called corporate strategies. And they never connect what they're doing to their workforce to what's happening to domestic demand. Partitioned brains! No connection between workforce and markets. CEOs playing the float between when they downsize their staff and when that boomerangs back on them as downsized markets. Dumb dumb, dumdumba dumbdumb....]
6/02/2001 1 prison item -
- ["your tax dollars at work" -]
Suffolk guards stumble on promotion exams - Failing grades for 69%, by Francie Latour, Boston Globe, front page.
After [Massachusetts] Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse implemented written promotional exams for [jail] guards for the first time last year...of 260 officers who took exams to become sergeants or lieutenants, 69% failed the tests, according to scores released to the Boston Globe under the Freedom of Information Act. Lieutenants had to correctly answer 70 of 100 questions to pass; sergeants needed 65 of 100 correct answers to pass.
In comparison, scores from similar exams in Essex County show nearly three-quarters of officers seeking sergeant and lieutenant ranks passed, passed 73% scoring 70 or higher last year. In 1997, the first year Essex officers took the test, 77% of officers passed.
According to Community Resources for Justice, a private, non-profit criminal justice group that created the tests for both counties, the exams were designed to test basic knowledge of the employee policy manual given to guards when they are hired. The tests were written at a high-school reading comprehension level.
According to several Suffolk officers, a sample question asked which division to contact when reporting routine inmate counts - a question many guards missed because the procedure Suffolk supervisors use is not the procedure outlined in the manual....
6/01/2001 2 prison items -
- [dis here saga is gonna drag on&on, so let's juss keepit shoaht...& shoaht -]
Rouse's choices for review criticized, by Farragher & Latour, Boston Globe, B1.
Within hours of [Massachusetts'] Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse's call for a review of his troubled department, the review itself was thrown into confusion yesterday as one of its two leaders questioned the impartiality of the other, and...community leaders criticized Rouse's choice of both men....
A day after he signed on to Rouse's plan to be co-chairman of the investigatory panel, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III said he had "serious questions" about whether...James Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association..\..can credibly serve as the panel's chief administrator.... Gondles's organization gave glowing reviews to the Nashua Street Jail, one of two facilities Rouse oversees, as part of a voluntary accreditation review [just] months before seven officers were indicted on charges of beating jail detainees, and a sergeant was suspended for physical contact with a female detainee. The department paid the Association a $10,000 fee for the review....
Meanwhile, Rivers [himself] fended off questions about whether [$4000 a year] financial ties [of] his organization [Ella Baker House] to the sheriff's department should disqualify him as an objective arbiter of Rouse's administration [as well]....
[A verstunkene morass.]
5/30/2001 1 prison item -
- Texas retooling criminal justice in wake of furor - Executions could slow - Bush's successor as governor expected to sign most bills passed in broad change, by Jim Yardley, NYT, front page.
HOUSTON...- Texas, which leads the nation in executions and endured withering criticism of its death penalty system during the presidential campaign last year, is poised to make significant changes in its criminal justice laws and so, supporters of the overhaul say, create a fairer system of capital punishment....
- [Massachusetts' Suffolk County "retooling criminal justice in wake of furor" -]
Rouse enlists group to review department, by Farragher & Latour, Boston Globe, front page.
Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Louse [oops, that's] Rouse, confronted with growing criticism that he tolerates low standards and systemic abuses, said yesterday that the chief of a national corrections group...James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association..\..has agreed to lead a review of his department....
[For "furor," see numerous stories below starting on 5/26 and continuing downward.]
5/26/2001 1 prison item -
- [stranger than fiction -]
Spreading Zen on the prison grapevine - National support network grows for inmates' Buddhist practice, by Gustav Niebuhr (any relation to the famed theologian, Reinhold?), NYT, C17.
STORMVILLE, NY - ...The Lotus Flower Sangha, as \a group of\ 14 men sit[ting] in facing rows...legs folded...is called, is meeting deep inside the Green Haven Correcitonal Facility, a maximum-security prison that houses 2,000 men convicted of serious crimes like armed robbery and murder. Every Wednesday morning, this group gathers with the monk, Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, who arrives from Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskill town of Mount Tremper, to lead them in zazen, the sitting meditation that underlies a practice emphasizing emptiness, the insubstantiality of the self and the interdependence of all things. The men who participate say it is transforming.
[Hey, whatever works - and this seems to work for some -]
"Through this practice," said Bob Gashin Burgess...a tall man with a goatee who keeps a small altar in his cell, "I've learned a lot of compassion and respect for others."
[Hey, this is starting to make sense. It can transform your prison cell into a monastic cell. A cell by another name can smell sweet!]
And Milton Pratt...said there were times when he could not get enough of meditative sitting. "It really helps," he said, "because when things are really wrong, it seems I come out renewed."
[One of the key functions of religion (our etymology for this word = it's from Latin religere meaning rereading), besides incentivating the world's first mass literacy campaign, is to provide, in the words of Carlos Castaneda and his mentor, don Juan Mateus, "a separate reality." And if your head is full of "bad tapes" of things the slimeballs you used to hang out with always blurted, it would be very healing to just "empty" that all out, realize that nothing really matters much anyway in the Great Scheme of Things, and we're all awesomely interdependent indeed.]
Buddhist meditative practices have...begun to take root inside the nation's prison system....
Buddhism's foundational principles, the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago, seem well suited to prison life [oops, the article doesn't list them, so turning to our crusty old Collier's Encyclopedia -]
- The Prison Dharma Network in Boulder, Colo., for example, has developed contacts with 250 prisoners across the country, with whom volunteers correspond about Buddhism and to whom it sends donated books. It will shortly publish a book about Buddhist practices for prisoners, said Kate Crisp, the associate director.
- The Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, Calif., has worked with the San Francisco Zen Center to sponsor meditation groups in eight Northern California prisons and jails. "More and more people are being incarcerated, and conditions are brutal in many cases," said Diana Lion, director of the fellowship's prison project. "People are looking for some way to find peace and solace and meaning in the midst of tremendous suffering."
[Plus, as did Black Islam for Afro-Americans in the 1970s, this provides an alternative to (maybe even a protest against) the dominant "Christianity" of America, which has, in many cases, become a savage, brutal, and angry disgrace to its crucified Founder two millennia ago.]
[Back to the NYT -]
- Existence is suffering, because it is bound in the chain of births and deaths.
[Well, that's like the sensible path of starting with modest expectations. As Jesus said (paraphrase of Luke 14:7-11 from memory), "When you go to a feast, don't sit in the highest seat lest you be displaced. Take the lowest seat. You may be moved up. And ifso, you'll look real good." And this is the part that ends with those resounding words, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased. But he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Another angle on this - substitute teachers advise one another, "Start strict. You can always ease up. But it's tough to go in the other direction."]
- The cause of suffering is craving [alias passion or desire].
- The cessation of suffering is...the extinction of passions, and...the state of bliss \or\ Nirvana [translation: "nerves? naa"].
- The way to reomve suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.
The teachings, in brief, declare that life is characterized by suffering and that suffering has a cause (which is desire), but an individual can be freed from suffering, and th[e] way is to follow Buddhism's eightfold path, which includes precepts like right speech and right living....
Buddhist meditative practices, [Shugen] said, hold particular value within prisons at the time when most prisons offer little but punishment.
[So much for Christian forgiveness and rehabilitation aka Christ's habit of restoring people to here&now health or "wholeness," or "hale-ness" as in "hale and hearty" - which, when the "h" evolved into an "s" as in "salve" began to look suspiciously like the word "salv-ation."]
"It's abundantly clear to these guys that if anything's going to change, they're going to have to make it happen," he said.
[Hey, that doesn't sound much like losing your craving or desire, but we're all for it. (It sounds almost like the Christian fundamentalists who give up on system redesign and focus on individual transformation. But let's face it, in this brutal country's prisons, you got a lot more immediate control over yourself than over the system.)]
James B. Flateau, a spokesman for the State Dept. of Correctional Services, said it felt an obligation to support inmates in their religious practices.... Gov. George Pataki...has said the department should support religious practice because it can...provide [inmates] with a support system upon release.
Organized Zen practice at the Green Haven prison dates to the mid-1980's, when John Daido Loori, a scientist who is Zen Mountain's founder and abbot, received a letter from an inmate seeking help with his meditative practice. The abbot [visited and] believed that his presence made a difference to the inmate he visited. Eventually, the monastery began meditation sessions at Green Haven.
Not long thereafter, word spread far beyond that prison. "I don't know how the prison grapevine works," Daido...said. "[But] we started to hear from inmates from around the country." As many as 5,000 prisoners seeking information about Zen practice have contacted the monastery.... In recent years, Zen Mountain has established a computer database with the names of 1,000 male and female inmates, linking each to a volunteer committed to at least three years of corresponding about Zen practices, answering questions, offering advice, and lending encouragement....
[There you have it. If Jesus was here today, He wouldn't be yelling at the "scribes and Pharisees" (Matt.23: 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29) - He'd be yelling at our tyrannical puritanical conservatives . He'd be shouting, "Christians, fundamentalists - hypocrites! The Buddhists are doing God's will more than you. They are entering God's Kingdom before you." Why? Because zero-tolerance, minimum-sentencing, "Christian" America is more interested in throwing people into prison for victimless "crimes" than visiting those who are in there and helping them out. "I was...sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." Matt.25:43. Let's hear it for those who walk the walk and don't just talk the talk. Let's beat our swords into plowshares instead of prison bats. Let's transform our prison cells into monks' cells and our prisons into monasteries.]
5/25/2001 Rouse often an absentee sheriff, Third of three parts, by Murphy & Rezendes, Boston Globe, front page.
- [Globe investigative reporting is having some effect -]
Officials urge probe of Suffolk jail guards, by Farragher and Latour, Boston Globe, front page.
Citing urgent concern about reports of sexual and physical abuse by Suffolk County correction officers, officials from Beacon Hill to City Hall yesterday called for an examination into how the guards are supervised.
[And what does the villain in the drama have to say?]
- Boston City Council President Charles C. Yancey, reacting to a Globe series [see below] about low standards and systemic abuses at the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, said he may convene hearings about them after he meets next week with Rouse.
[Go, Yancey! Phil Hyde often met Yancey at debates when he ran against Yancey and nine other Democrats prior to the primaries in the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's open congressional seat.]
- City Councilor at Large Stephen J. Murphy called for an independent commission....
- And after the Globe reported yesterday that Rouse alternately uses a blue police license plate and a confidential civilian one, a senior Registry of Motor Vehicles official said the sheriff will be asked to choose one and return the other. It is against the law to use different license plates on a car interchangeably..\..
Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse said he would support a review if it is conducted by corrections specialists.
[Ah, youse ain't really in a position to lay down conditions, Rousey.]
At 12:05 p.m. on a Friday, the black Ford minivan backed into an illegal parking space on Dorchester Avenue, and out stepped Richard J. Rouse, the $104,000-a-year sheriff of Suffolk County. His four-hour workday complete, Rouse looked relaxed, standing on the sidewalk in the neighborhood where he got his start in Boston politics, smiling and shaking hands.... Based on six days of surveillance by The Boston Globe from May 11 to May 18, it was a typical day for Rouse: a late start, a few hours of work, and home before 5 p.m.
[Much as we support shortening the workweek, given the disaster in this guy's prisons (see story below), and his taxpayer-paid salary for a 40-hour week, we call for his resignation.]
What's more, Rouse often used the minivan to ferry his children to school and sporting events - removing the police plate and using an untraceable civilian plate that the Registry of Motor Vehicles issued after being assured it was needed for undercover work....
[Photo caption -] 2:44 on a Friday afternoon - Sheriff Richard J. Rouse carrying party platters into his home.
5/24/2001 Guard brutality called rampant - Crimes of punishment - Assault changes mount against Suffolk County guards, Second of three parts, by Farragher & Latour, Boston Globe, front page.
...On a mid-October day in 1999...Leonard Gibson...then an 18-year-old detainee at the Nashua Street Jail awaiting trial in a stolen car case, was in a medical unit because he has Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements and uncontrollable outbursts [such as swearing and obscenity].
[Hooboy, it had to happen sooner or later - the juxtaposition of Tourette's and ignorant, poorly trained, loutish American prison guards. And it finally happened (or finally got reported on) in the "enlightened" Commonwealth of Massachusetts -]
That October day, those outbursts allegedly enraged two guards on the 3-to-11 shift, Lieut. Eric J. Donnelly and Officer William R. Benson. ..\..Said Rene Rosario in a recent interview [who was in a neighboring cell that day], "Donnelly came in and Lenny starts having his problem and the officer yells, 'Shut up!'... And Lenny said, 'I'm sorry. I can't help it. This is a disease.' Then they promised to slap the Tourette's out of him."
Rosario [who] was told to keep quiet about what he saw..\..recalled watching in horror directly across from Gibson's cell as Benson and Donnelly moved in on the teenager. "He was screaming," Rosario said. "He was pleading, 'Please don't hit me! Stop! I can't help it!' But all you could hear was the pounding. He was really hurt."
Donnelly and Benson, as well as a third guard and a male "nurse" [our quotes - ed.], were fired or banned from the Nashua Street Jail in connection with Gibson's alleged beating.
And last year, another officer, Daniel Hickey, was fired after DNA tests and other evidence showed that he beat an inmage and spit on him inside a transport van.
[Ah, wouldn't it be easier to do a little psychological testing and a lot of TRAINING of these guards up front before giving them absolute power over other human beings?]
Gibson's alleged beating [if it wasn't actual, a lot of people got fired for nothing!] is among the most prominent pieces of evidence of what critics call a Suffolk County correction system in disarray - a department dogged by charges that some of its officers not only carried out vicious beatings of male detainees, but coerced sex from female prisoners.
In addition to the mounting criminal and civil suit charges alleging brutality by officers, questions linger about an inmate [Alexander Cintron] who died while in custody, allegedly after guards gave him drugs laced with poison, according to a lawsuit.
The revelations, spanning three years, have unfolded under the stewardship of Suffolk County sheriff Richard J. Rouse, whose response to the scandals has been assailed by critics as largely cosmetic....
Brutality became so routine, the indictment [by a federal grand jury last week] says, that prison officers developed their own lexicon around it. When one officer declared that a detainee needed a "tickle," others knew...what it meant..\.. Officers...rather than showing restraint when inmates taunted or disobeyed them - meted out beatings to handcuffed prisoners, conspired to cover up the assaults, and lied to investigators..\.. "Ninety-five percent of the time it was because a guard didn't like an inmate," not because there was a problem with the inmate, said Bruce Baron, who resigned from the department as a deputy sheriff and now lives in New Hampshire.... "It was a macho thing."
In June 1998, prosecutors say detainee Reginald Roscoe paid dearly for refusing to have his bag searched. After struggling with an officer over the order..\..a SERT (Sheriff's Emergency Response Team)...led by Lieut. Randall R. Sutherland responded and handcuffed Roscoe behind his back. As they led Roscoe to another unit, Sutherland talked about "taking him the hard way." Moments later, according to the indictment, Deputy Sheriff Thomas M. Bethune Jr. shoved Roscoe's head into a wall, splitting the skin on his forehead. Roscoe needed five stitches to close the wound....
[It takes a lot of non-violence training to show restraint when inmates taunt or disobey you. What kind of training are these men getting? Just turn on your TV and watch the movies offered many evenings on commercial networks in the "civilized" Boston area, movies with Sy Stallone, Bruce Willis, and a barroom-load of other violent role models. "Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind."]
5/23/2001 2 prison items -
5/17/2001 Alabama: Little relief for overcrowded prisons, by David Firestone, NYT, A14.
- Alabama: Prison crowding crisis, by David Firestone, NYT, A12.
Gov. Donald Siegelman said the state might have to build a new prison and consider alternative sentencing programs to ease a prison overcrowding crisis....
[No kidding! Better hurry, Donald. Your state is already the laughing stock of the world and the disgrace of the nation.]
He said he did not know how the state would respond to a court order last week requiring the prison system to accept nearly 2,000 prisoners backed up into county jails in a month...
[The dumbing of America rolls on, and the stupidest are in the president's and governors' offices.]
...but he said a first step would quickly create 300 new beds in the prisons.
[Where ya gonna put'em, on the roof?]
- Sexual abuse in Suffolk [Mass.] prison - Pattern of misconduct raises questions about sheriff's leadership, First of three parts, by Francie Latour & Thomas Farragher, Boston Globe, front page.
[The Boston Globe starts another of its investigative reportings. Some of these have won Pulitzers in the past.]
[Photo caption -] Karen Passanisi said she engaged in sexual activity with corrections guards in exchange for favors.
At night, she scrubbed floors, an inmate at the nearly new prison [Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay] just yards from Boston's busiest highway.
He worked the day shift, 7 to 3, in a uniform and a badge that she says became a license to abuse her. Over time, she endured the guard's advances for coveted prison luxuries: cigarettes, or precious minutes outside the cell.
Early one morning, without warning, the woman who lay sleeping after finishing her graveyard shift felt the man's weight over her cell bed. "I woke up to him pulling his hands out of my pants," said Karen Passanisi, speaking publicly for the first time. "He stuck his fingers up inside of me.... I said 'You (expletive) pervert. Get out of here.'" The officer, whom she identified as Robert Parise, is one of eight employees fired or suspended since 1999 for alleged sexual misconduct at the Suffolk County Sheriff's Dept.... But a two-month Boston Globe examination of the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay suggests that the cancer of sexual misconduct and other wrongdoing is deeply entrenched....
Further, the newspaper's examination of [Sheriff Richard J.] Rouse's five-year stewardship found that he presides over an insular hierarchy that tolerates low standards and systemic abuses, and that the sheriff himself takes a decidedly lackadaisical approach to his position....
The Legislature approved a $1.2B general-fund budget that leaves the state far short of its goals in hiring new corrections officers or building new prisons. Prison crowding has reached a crisis, but the budget did not provide for new prisons or hiring more than about 50 new guards.
5/09/2001 1 prison story in NYT or BG -
5/08/2001 Flaws in chemist's findings free man at center of inquiry, by Jim Yardley, NYT, front page.
- Inmates moved to Alabama's crowded prisons, AP via NYT, A26.
MONTGOMERY, Ala...- Alabama's troubled corrections system was thrown into crisis today when two sheriffs sent more than 200 inmates from their overcrowded jails to state prisons where cellblocks were already packed. Armed with a court ruling, sheriffs in Jefferson and Houston Counties delivered inmates who were supposed to be in state lockups, not in crowded county jails where prisoners have little choice but to sleep on floors and tables.
[Looks like Judge Clemon from our May 1 story below has more work cut out for him. He ordered the state prisoners to be removed from the Morgan County Jail and put back in the state prisons where they belong. But the state prisons are no better than the country jails. This whole situation will correct itself as more and more violent and angry released inmates start beating and shooting some sense into the ignorant voters of Alabama - or maybe the irresponsible population of that whole stupid state will just kill itself off and make room for some smarter people.]
The transfer is the latest wave in Alabama's decades-old struggle with too many inmates in often squalid jails and prisons.
[Another holdover from the "refined" age of slave plantations?]
The state has one of the nation's highest rates of incarceration but no plans to build more prisons. More than 26,000 people are incarcerated in Alabama, or 571 per 100,000 residents. Only four states and D.C. have higher rates.
[The nation's capital? And this country has the nerve to preach to other nations?]
"State prisons are full, country jails are full and the probation officers are loaded with cases," said Allen Tapley, executive director of the Sentencing Institute, a private research group. ...Three years ago, the state agreed to accept inmates who had been in country jails more than 30 days after being sentenced to state prison. But backlogs have built up. In Jefferson County, a jail built for 620 inmates holds about 1,000. In Houston County, a 200-bed jail has 300 prisoners.
[And 'here come de judge' from our 5/01 story -]
A federal judge, U.W. Clemon, last month described jail conditions in Morgan County as "medieval," with inmates squeezed into quarters so cramped they resembled a "slave ship."
[There it is, the connection with slavery. Truly the "iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" per Exodus 20:5. But since 1865 when slavery was supposedly abolished in the South, it's been 141 years to today. And four generations at 30 years each is only 120 years. So we're now into our fifth generation of costs from treating people like property for centuries at the beginning of this country's history. And it wasn't just the Euro Americans. Many of the native American tribes did it too among themselves.]
Judge Clemon ordered 104 inmates moved to state prisons, a job completed on Monday.
Alabama, while more inclined than other states to lock up offenders, has been slow to build prisons to hold them.
[They probably can't think more than one move ahead in chess, either. "Duh, wut's chess?"]
A prison system spokesman, John Hamm, said an old canning plant at a prison in Elmore County was being turned into a dormitory with 300 beds.
Corrections officials have also told legislators of a critical shortage of guards. Six inmates, including three murderers, escaped from a prison in January, partly because no one was watching a large section of the fence.
[This casts a more serious light on tomorrow's (May 10's) Dilbert cartoon from Scott Adams -
Even as the situation worsens, the biggest corrections issue in the Legislature is the governor's push to make violent criminals serve 85% of their sentences..\..
- Frame 1 - Dilbert to Dogbert: "Wally's in jail. Can you help him out?"
- Frame 2 - Dogbert: "Tell him to try the door. The guards only pretend to lock them."
- Frame 3 - Wally to Dilbert and The Pyramid-Haired Woman at lunch the next day: "But I'd have to say it was the lifers who were the most embarrassed."]
["Alabama Arrives in 1989" and discovers mandatory sentencing. Honest to G*d, the whole state must have a collective IQ of 39.]
Gov. Donald Siegelman, a Democrat, said state prisons would absorb the transferred inmates. But with little extra bed space, Mr. Siegelman said state lawyers had asked a judge to halt the influx....
[Oh great, they're soon going to have "Blazing Judges" issuing conflicting injunctions. They'll probably "solve" their overcrowding by having half their prisoners on the move all the time between country and state lockups. And note the delicious show of "respect" - the NYT calls this birdbrain "Mr." instead of "Gov." in the second mention.]
Corrections experts and prison officials say the solution includes more community corrections programs, drug courts and parole for inmates with convictions for nonviolent offenses. But those alternatives are a tough sell in a political environment that favors jail time for even nonviolent crimes.
[Guess parts of the great USA have already entered the Third World.]
OKLAHOMA CITY...- When Jeffrey Pierce [a landscaper who happened to be working near the crime scene] was convicted of rape in 1986, he lost his freedom and his family. He and his wife decided to divorce and she left Oklahoma to raise their twin infant sons as if he did not exist.... But today, after maintaining his innocence throughout 15 years he spent behind bars, Mr. Pierce was freed because DNA testing refuted the crucial testimony against him from an Oklahoma City police chemist [Joyce Gilchrist,] long accused of shoddy work and now the focus of one of the most wide-ranging investigations into a police laboratory....
Mr. Pierce's lawyers argued from the outset that Ms. Gilchrist had overstated the certainty with which [scalp and pubic] hair comparisons could be used to identify a single person. Also, she violated a court order by failing to forward any of the hair evidence to a private laboratory hired by the defense, meaning that the defense could not fully analyze her work before trial. The evidence she did send [semen samples?] leaked out of the package and could not be analyzed, defense lawyers said. The state appeals court said her action "absolutely violated the terms of a court order" but nonetheless upheld the conviction, saying Ms. Gilchrist's failure to turn over the evidence was not enough to overturn the conviction....
Mr. Pierce['s then-wife's] birthday was the same day that the rape occurred, and Mr. Pierce bought her diamond earrings on a shopping trip that day with two co-workers. This was his alibi in the trial, but the jury was not swayed....
Inside the state prison that had now become his home, Mr. Pierce met an inmate who gave him plain advice on how to survive in a world inhabited by convicted killers: get strong and keep to yourself. He went to the weight room. "He has told me stories about a guy who got stabbed, a guy who got gang raped, a guy who died in the cell," [his brother,] Gary Pierce said.
The key break in the case came late last year when, under a new state law, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System won approval to submit the forensic evidence in the case for independent DNA testing, something Mr. Pierce's lawyers had sought for years.
Last month, the preliminary results showed that the DNA taken from the rapist's hair did not match Mr. Pierce. In addition, an FBI analysis of the hair samples contradicted Ms. Gilchrist's original hair testimony. In March, Ms. Gilchrist was placed on administrative leave. ...Officials in..\..the office of the Oklahoma County district attorney, Robert H. Macy...have denied accusations that they encouraged Ms. Gilchrist to sharpen her testimony to win convictions. "Everybody asks me, 'Why did they keep her?'" Gary Pierce said. "She got convictions. They didn't care about the methods she used."
..\..[The] twin sons seemed to know not to ask about their father. They were never told that he was in prison.... Three weeks ago, after [his ex-wife] learned that the preliminary DNA report had pointed to Mr. Pierce's innocence, she told her sons about their father.... "They are excited but sad to think this could have happened to Jeff and them," she said. "They've been robbed for 15 years of a wonderful person."
5/01/2001 Alabama's packed jails draw ire of courts, again, by David Firestone, NYT, front page.
DECATUR, Ala...- A few weeks ago, a federal judge walked through the doors of the Morgan County Jail in this tidy riverfront city...stepped around scores of inmates that the state prisons had refused to take..\..and observed firsthand [the chaos t]hat happens when 256 inmates aare crammed into a jail built for 96.... After he finished...Judge U. W. Clemon wrote a blistering ruling...ordering the state prisoners removed by mid-May and the jail cleaned. Judge Clemon's strong language has shaken up one of the country's most overburdened corrections systems....
[Doncha love how they slip into "the villain is actually a poor victim" language, as if The System is overburdened by outside forces.]
For earlier prison stories, click on the desired date -Jan-Apr/2001.
Sept/99 and before.
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