PrisonWatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Prison stories - September/1999 and previous
[Commentary] ©1998-99 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE

9/26/99 The rise of Prison Inc. - US seeks to expand inmate work plan; backers hail boost in competition, foes fear loss of jobs, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, G1.
Lisa Watson [solders] circuit boards all day [and] spends her nights behind bars at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn. Watson is one of 21,000 inmates nationwide earning 23c-$1.15/hr as part of a federal prison work program that is reigniting debate around the country. At issue: the proposed exansion of Federal Prison Industries Inc., a unit of the US Justice Dept. Its inmates make electronic components, furniture, clothing, and other items while serving sentences in 94 federal prisons. Last year, FRP reported nearly $540 million in sales. Its only customers: federal agencies....
[We endorse prisoner self-support rather than taxpayer support of prisoners, same as we endorse everybody self-support. However, we require that prison inmates be included in labor standards of the surrounding economy, rather than being turned into a virtual Third World of low pay & working conditions in our midst. And we require that they be included in surrounding markets and not have a captive government market - all too vulnerable to corruption. And, of course, if we include inmates in the general economy without thawing out our frozen 40-hr maximum national workweek (not to mention redesigning it for universal enforcibility in the first place, eg: upon those now "exempt" from overtime laws) and adjusting it according to a much more inclusive unemployment rate (and providing for workoholics via direct automatic reinvestment of overtime earnings in training and hiring), we will further sicken and split our economy, polity, and society.]

9/17 Prison under fire - Climate called volatile at high-tech Shirley, Mass. facility - '...This place is being run more like a day-care center than a level-6 prison.' (Corrections officer who did not want to be named), by Francie Latour, Bos Globe, B1.
Prison concerns - Only a year old, the Souza-Baranowski maximum-security prison in Shirley is out of control, sources say, wracked with security issues that make it a disaster waiting to happen. Some of the issues raised by critics of the prison:

9/07 Prisons as mental hospitals, editorial, NYT, A22.
Rikers Island [prison] handles some 25,000 mentally ill prisoners inm New York City each year. While in jail...they can get treatment and are housed in special units if their problems are severe.  But afterward is a different story. Many have neither homes nor families, and carry histories of repeated arrests....  For many of them the city's post-incarceration plan is brutally simple:  They are put on a bus and dropped off at Queens Plaza before dawn, with $1.50 and a two-fare Metrocard....
[And we call ourselves an "intelligent" species.]
Advocates for the mentally ill recently filed a lawsuit asking that the city be required to plan for the continuing treatment of these prisoners after release.  [But] court mandates are often a costly and cumbersome result of government's failure to do something obvious....
[A quick review of the relevance to the job market here. Despite media spin on this job market as "tight," no one is denying that it's a hostile job market with continued wage stagnation, spoiled-employer meanness, little or no training, candidates themselves desperately scanning for and financing the most relevant training, and older American candidates routinely being rejected in favor of younger foreign candidates (who will just add to our poverty here when they turn 50 - or is it 45 now?). The more hostile the job market, the higher the stress and the crime rate and the mental illness in society. And even if you want to deny cause-and-effect, you can't deny the ongoing "coincidences" in the data.]

7/23 San Francisco's "Delancey Street" restaurant/prison facility a model for the nation, seen as part of TV program (NPR?).
[Headed by a woman, Delancey Street costs taxpayers nothing.]
...The latte pays the bills....

7/20 State inmates' labor valued at $362,363, AP via Boston Globe, B4.
CONCORD, New Hampshire - State prison inmates did work valued at $362,363 for charities and government agencies during the past fiscal year, part of their rehabilitation effort.
[Is this on top of paying the costs of their own incarceration? Probably not.]
The 6,588 inmates did 70,362 hours of work in the year ended June 30, the Corrections Department said. They helped renovate a soup kitchen in Concord, helped build a home in Hopkinton for Habitat for Humanity and did work for the Salvation Army.... They also helped parts and recreation departments in Concord and Goffstown, NH Tech and the National Guard.
[The WPA lives - in prison.]

7/12 Prisons brim with mentally ill, study finds - Strong support for a belief that prisons have become the new mental hospitals, by Fox Butterfield, NYT, A10 (NE).
The first comprehensive study...released yesterday by the Justice Dept..\..of the rapidly growing number of emotionally disturbed people in the nation's jails and prisons has found that there are 283,800 inmates with mental illness, about 16% of the jail population.... The study [details] how mentally ill inmates tend to follow a revolving door from homelessness to incarceration and then back to the streets with little treatment, many of them arrested for crimes that grow out of their illnesses....
With the wholesale closing of public mental hospitals in the 1960's, and the prison boom of the last two decades, jails are often the only institutions open 24 hours a day and required to take the emotionally disturbed.... From a high of 559,000 in 1955, the number of patients in state hospitals dropped to 69,000 in 1995.... To compound the problem, for-profit hospitals began turning away the psychotic, who tend to be more expensive and stay longer than other patients, and are often without health insurance.... The number ofof jail and prison beds has quadrupled in the last 25 years, with 1.8 million Americans now behind bars....
[Oh no, this couldn't be. This is America the Beautiful. This is an economic boom. Everyone is happy. Everyone is rich. Aren't they? We are the best country in the world. We have the highest standard of living. Don't we?]
Linda Teplin [of] Northwestern University...said that the Justice Dept. count...may actually be too low..\..because the study relied on reports by the inmates themselves.... People with emotional disorders often are not aware of them or do not want to report them, she said....

4/26 Crime is down, but demand for security systems is way up, by Michael Cohen, Bos Globe, A11.
[Well we know crime is down because we're paying 25-30 thousand dollars a year per inmate to support our record prison population (1.8m). Plus the most crime-prone gender&age cohort is aging out of range (15-25? year old males). Can we therefore conclude from the rising fear of crime that nonetheless, our society is more efficient than ever before at producing new criminals as fast as we can lock 'em up?]

[Partial explanation - ]
4/12 A third of women inmates report abuse as children, by Michael Sniffen, AP via Bos Globe, A3.
WASHINGTON - More than 36% of women in state prisons and jails surveyed in 1996-97 said they had been abused sexually or phsyically at age 17 or younger. By comparison, 16 studies of child abuse in the general population found that 12-17% of women were abused as children. Among male inmates of state prisons, 14% said they suffered child abuse, compared with 5-8% of the general male population, the Bureau [of Justice Statistics said yesterday]....
Abused state prisoners were more likely than those not abused to have served time for violent crimes. Among males, 76% of abused inmates but only 61% of those not abused had a current or past sentence for a violent offense. Among women, 45% of those abused but only 29% of those not abused had served a sentence for violence.
The study found little difference in the percentage of abused inmates growing up with one parent or those with two parents.

[Executive Crime dept. - justice or joke?]
4/07 Keating pleads guilty to fraud - US judge sentences ex-savings and loan boss to time [already] served, Globe Wire Services via Boston Globe, p. E6.
LOS ANGELES - Charles Keating Jr., whose failed Lincoln Savings and Loan symbolized the thrift industry's crash in the 1980s...under a plea deal with federal prosecutors...won't be fined or forced to pay restitution, and he will not be put on probation....
[So Keating gets his wrists slapped.]
Lincoln's 1989 bankruptcy had a domino effect of the US thrift industry, sending scores of other savings and loans into bankruptcy as well. Lincoln's failure ultimately cost US taxpayers $2.6 billion, making it the costliest thrift crash in US history.
[So let's see, how many million bucks did he make for going to jail for 4-5 years? And where do we apply?!]

4/01 Chilling look at inmates' hell - Review of documentary movie "The Farm: Angola, USA" produced by Jonathan Stack and Liz Garbus, by Renee Graham, Bos Globe, E1.
...is one of the best and most uncompromising films of recent years...both horrifying and heartbreaking....

3/22 Criminal justice system is out of control, by Roswitha Winsor, Chair, Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, letter in Bos Globe, A18.
...It used to be that the school and families would handle a student taking $2 from a classmate at lunch but [recently] a 15-year-old retarded boy in Florida...spent 2 months locked up [for] "strong arm robbery, battery and extortion" for such behavior before the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.... And...two Harvard students who drank too much and went to bed together - one is guilty of sending mixed messages; the other...of "indecent assault and battery," a crime that in this state would put him on the sex offender registry for 20 years.... Politicians are on an anti-crime spree. The United States criminalizes more behavior than any other nation.
Voters, beware of the candidate with a bigger...crime bill. It is your money - and maybe your freedom - that is at stake.

3/15 US cites record number in jail, by Anne Gearan, AP via Bos Globe, A4.
WASHINGTON - The number of adults imprisoned has more than doubled in the past 12 years, and reached its highest level last year... At mid-1998, an estimated 1.8 million people were in jails and prisons, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report [issued yesterday]. At the end of 1985, the figure was 744,208.
According to these statistics, there were 668 inmates for every 100,000 US residents as of June 1998. This compared with 313...in 1985 [and] 685 [in 1998 in Russia] according to The Sentencing Project, a US group critical of the trend toward harsher US sentencing. An amnesty of 100,000 prisoners in Russia, and the expectation of continued increases in the US inmate population, means the United States probably will have the world's most inmates "in a year or two," said Jenni Gainsborough, a Sentencing Project spokeswoman.
...The inmate population [topped] 1 million in 1990.... Prisons generally hold convicted criminals sentenced to terms longer than one year, while jails typically keep those awaiting trial and those sentenced to 12 months or less. In the June 1998 Justice Dept. survey, 1.2 million people were held in prisons, while local jails held about 600,000 men and women. Local jails also supervised more than 72,000 people under various outside work, treatment or home detention programs....
From the end of 1990 to the middle of 1998, the incarcerated population grew an average of 6.2% annually, said the report's author, Darrell Gilliard, a statistician.... "The numbers have been pretty steady throughout the 1990s, with a pretty steady increase every year," he said....

3/07 Less Crime, More Criminals, by Timothy Egan, NY Times, 4-1.
...Nearly 1 of every 150 people in this country is in prison or jail, the Justice Department will announce [later this month], a figure no other democracy comes close to matching. Soon, the total number of people locked up in Federal and state prisons and local jails will likely double the number a decade ago.... For an American born this year, the chance of living some part of life in a correction facility is 1 in 20; for black Americans, it is 1 in 4. Most experts failed to predict that the inmate population would triple from 1980, and now nobody seems to know how to stop the buildup.
[Wrong. Sure they know - just decriminalize drugs.]
...In the Federal system, nearly 60% of all people behind bars are doing time for drug violations.... The United States, virtually alone among Western democracies, has chosen a path of incarceration for drug offenders.... "America's internal gulag," is what Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the nation's drug czar, calls the expanding mass of drug inmates....
[Cry, the beloved country!]
The one thing that may finally slow prison growth, said [Dr. Allen Beck, the Justice Dept.'s lead statistician on criminal justice trends], are budget concerns. It costs taxpayers $20,000 [our 11/08/98 article below says $23,000] to house and feed every new inmate - and that does not include the cost of building new prisons and jails....

2/28 Number of blacks in prison soars - Some blame poverty, police for widening racial disparity behind bars, by Louise Palmer, Bos Globe, A14.
WASHINGTON - Come the new millenium, the number of African-American adults behind bars will hit the million mark for the first time, according to an analysis of Justice Dept. statistics. That represents nearly an eight-fold [800%!] increase from three decades ago, when there were 133,226 blacks in prison.... Blacks constitute about half of all prison inmates when they are only 13% of the US population..\.. By the year 2000, roughly one in 10 black men will be in prison - a statistic with major social implications because prisoners don't have jobs, pay taxes, or care for their children at home.
[Apartheid in America. And at $23,000 per year per prisoner, this is even more expensive than the walled-off inner-city "sanctuaries" predicted for 2025 AD in Deep Space Nine's 2-part "Past Tense" episode.]
And because many states bar felons from voting, at least one in seven African-American men will have lost the right to vote....
[Re-instituting slavery in America. Which minority will be next? - oh it's right here on the Justice Dept. chart - Hispanic - and then? - we're all part of some minority.]
"We're incarcerating an entire generation of people"..\..said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and associate dean of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.... "The bottom line is that crime policy has become a substitute for public policy," said Jerome Miller, president of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, an Arlington-Va. legal reform group that analyzed the Justice Dept. data.... In 1950, whites made up about 65% of all state and federal inmates, while minorities made up 35%. Today, the opposite is true.... "There are so many people in the community going to prison you start to have the welfare effect, where it becomes acceptable - a right of passage - for African-American men to go to prison," said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau.... Some sociologists says the explanation lies in high rates of poverty....
[No kidding! What about our "robust economy" and "record low unemployment" (and conspiracy of happytalk)?]
Lack of opportunity plays a role as well, they say, pointing out that the vast majority of inmates are functionally illiterate, which means they can't even fill out a job application....
[Take your pick, CEOs of America - get off your butts and either declare another world war, as you always have in the past to "solve" this problem, or start step-by-stepping toward work sharing as the easy, initial form of spreading both skills and wealth. In other words, timesizing, not downsizing. There's big BIG markets in it for you and a helluva lot more personal security!]

2/16 Panel criticizes US crime laws - Congress seen as too hasty - "There is an understandable pressure on Congress not to vote against crime legislation even if it is misguided." Task Force Report, by Richard Carelli, AP via Bos Globe, A3.
...More than 40% of all federal criminal laws enacted since the Civil War were passed since 1970.

2/15 Indians victimized by violence, US says - High crime rates cited, by Philip Brasher, AP via Bos Globe, A3.
WASHINGTON - American Indians are more than twice as likely as others to become victims of violent crime, the Justice Department reported yesterday in its first comprehensive analysis of Indians and crime.... Indians suffer 124 violent crimes...for every 100,000 population. That is double the...rate for blacks and 2 1/2 times the national average of 50.... The murder rate among Indians is no higher than for whites, and only a fifth as high as among blacks. But Indians are...three times more likely than whites [twice than blacks] to be victims of rape or aggravated assault....Reports of child abuse and neglect among Indians jumped 18% between 1992 and 1995 as the national rate was falling by 8%..\..
The study...also found that on any given day, one in 25 Indian adults is either incarcerated or on parole or probation.... An estimated 63,000 Indians, or 4% of the adult population, are jailed or otherwise under control of the criminal justice system on an average day. That compares with 2% of whites and 10% of blacks..\.. American Indians were imprisoned at a rate 38% higher than the national average..\.. Seven of 10 American Indians in local jails for violent crimes had been drinking when they committed the offense, nearly double the rate for the general population....
Tom LeClaire, a...Mohawk...who is director of the US Justice Department's Office of Tribal Justice...pointed to a number of possible explanations, including the recent proliferation of gangs on reservations.... Law enforcement officials said it could be due to better reporting [considering that this is Justice's "first comprehensive analysis of Indians and crime"]....
[Could the Mashantucket Pequots help more with their $1m/day from Foxwoods? Native Americans would be a good population for a working model of the gentle, sharing bootstrapping solution represented by Timesizing. Phil offered talks with Hopi tribal leader Ferrell Sekakaku last time he was out on Second Mesa but they never connected. Maybe a combo of Pequot cashflow and Timesizing. Certainly no outside bandaids are needed. Native Americans can take care of this all on their own - whenever they're ready. And whenever they're ready, Phil is ready to help - 617-623-8080 (Boston).]

[Of course, sometimes we do need lockup - ]
1/26 Child rape case prompts outcry on handling of repeat offenders, by T. Farragher and L. de Jong, Bos Globe, frontpage.
NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. - They knew where he lived. They knew the awful things he had done. his name had been typed into [Massachusetts'] registry of sexual offenders. Still, police say, David S. Kelley, a twice-convicted sex offender whom the state considered among those most likely to strike again, is accused of raping a 4-year-old boy last week - an allegation that seems to confirm his neighbors' worst fears and further stokes a fierce debate about the length society can go to curb deviant conduct....
[Society can go to any lengths it agrees upon, most efficiently by referendum (not "representatives") when it's this controversial. This is the type of person we should be filling our prisons with, not the small fry of the drug trade. Maybe we should give child rapists the choice of life imprisonment or castration. The point, with Buckminster Fuller, is not to punish but to render a repetition absolutely impossible.]

1/24 In court, youths losing their innocence - Demands for stricter punishment send more juveniles to adult jails, by Louise Palmer, Bos Globe, A10.
...In the past six years alone, 40 states have passed laws making it easier to prosecute children in adult criminal courts. Many have also passed laws excluding minors from juvenile courts and increasing the power of prosecutors, while diminishing the discretion of juvenile court judges....

1/20 Court allows 3-strike law, for time being, by Richard Carelli, AP via Bos Globe, A3.
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court left intact California's three-strikes law, the nation's toughest on repeat offenders, even though four of the nine justices voiced concerns yesterday about its constitutionality. The justices rejected the appeal of a man sentenced to 25 years...in prison after he stole a bottle of vitamins from a supermarket.
[Our supreme court is putting itself in contempt. For 25 years we taxpayers have to pay $23,000/yr to support this guy just because he stole $10 worth of vitamins from a supermarket? Let's see, we get to pay 25x$23,000= $575,000 because this guy stole maybe $10? This should come out of the supreme court justices inflated salaries!]
A California court called the crime "a petty theft motivated by homelessness and hunger." Michael Riggs, in an appeal he wrote himself, attacked the three-strikes law as cruel and unusual punishment....
[Yeah, for taxpayers as well as the homeless!]
About half the states have adopted three-strikes laws, but the laws generally have not been invoked often. California has been the major exception. The state has used its 1994 law to put away more than 40,000 people for second and thrid strikes, a quarter of the state's prison population. About 4,400 of them were sentenced to 25 years to life. Another exception is Georgia, which has sentenced almost 2,000 people under its three-strikes law.
[That suggests a theory for America's recent reversal in social progress the last few decades - California has joined the most backward-brained part of the country - the South. Remember, the American South was one of the last places in the world to have slavery abolished (and abolished from without, not within).]
Washington state was the first to enact such a law, in 1993 [but has used it to imprison only] about 120 people without chance of parole.... Riggs was convicted of shoplifting a bottle of vitamins from a store in Banning, Calif. in 1995. When arrested, he had a hypodermic syringe in one of his socks. He had previously been convicted...for four nonviolent crimes and four robberies.
[How would this be handled in a democratic technocracy with timesizing and regular binding public referendums, like Switzerland's? The referendums would probably outlaw capital punishment but provide a "Kevorkian kit" in all cells on "lifers' row" (formerly "death row") for the use of prisoners who wish to "cheat" their life sentence. If they do take the painless suicide option, we can assume they were trying to commit suicide slowly anyway and this offered them a way of doing it more honestly. As long as they don't take the option, we have something to work together with them in their rehabilitation - their will to live (or at least their fear of death).
[How do we avoid burdening taxpayers with prisoner support? We stop externalizing prisoners from our economy. We start including them in the unemployment rate and in the job market. How do we avoid exploiting them - à la Michael Moore's scenario of closing a plant, refitting it as a prison while the downsized employees are getting so desperate they're turning to crime and getting arrested, and then locking them back in their now-prison factory and working them for 10 cents an hour? How do we avoid their use in further depressing wages on the outside? Here's where the timesizing comes in. Remember, timesizing shares the available work rather than straining to create work. It doesn't matter how little work there is, timesizing prevents a wage-depressing surplus of jobseekers by adjusting the workweek down to an appropriately lower level to guarantee that everyone can be easily self-supporting at good wages. Why would CEOs go for this? Because they want big healthy markets, and if they keep freezing the workweek at a high-hours, low-tech level, they will keep splitting the population into those with money and no time and those with time and no money. Result? Markets at a tiny fraction of their potential size - because a growing majority of people have little or no money. Another result? Gyrating financial markets, because CEOs and their pals are suctioning spending activity (and spending power) away from the productivity underlying their own investments. Conclusion. They don't have any choice in the longer term, and since the pace of change is rising, the longer term is getting here faster every day.]

1/12 A look at drug law inequities, by Jim Sullivan, Bos Globe, D8.
"Snitch," tonight's "Frontline" offering [on WGBH-Ch.2], is a distressing and depressing 90-minute program about the nation's so-called war on drugs. It's about the pressure to convict.... It's about the mandatory sentencing laws hastily enacted [in the politics of hysteria] during the crack cocaine wave of the late 1980s. It's about the overwhelming power [to convict] that...anyone's word, truthful or not, has if the government has placed a target on your chest. It's about how the screws are turned [on the convicted to snitch. It's about whole towns destroyed by epidemic snitching. It's about how jail construction became America's biggest growth industry.]

1/11 Offenders doing more prison time, study shows - State laws helping to curb early release, AP via Bos Globe, A5.
WASHINGTON - ...For all types of offenders, the average time served by released prisoners increased from 22 months in prison...in 1990 to 25 months in prison...in 1996.... Fourteen states have abolished parole boad releases for all offenders.... Mandatory minimum sentences, which require offenders to be sentenced for a specified prison term [and remove a judge's flexibility]...contributed to...more time in prison.... Twenty-seven states [require] prisoners to serve at least 85% of their sentences....

[Bad prosecutors - ]
1/11 Court record analysis exposes misconduct among prosecutors, AP via Bos Globe, A5.
CHICAGO - Prosecutors throughout the country have hidden evidence, leading to the wrongful convictions, retrials, and appeals that cost taxpayers millions of dollars, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis of thousands of court records in homicide cases. The records show prosecutors have won convictions against black men, hiding evidence that the real killers were white. The also have prosecuted a wife, hiding evidence that her husband committed suicide. And they have prosecuted parents, hiding evidence that their daughter was killed by wild dogs.
"Winning has become more important than doing justice...," said Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, a long-time critic of prosecutors.... Since 1963 Supreme Court ruling designed to curb misconduct by prosecutors, at least 381 defendants nationally have had a homicide conviction throw out because prosecutors concealed evidence or presented evidence they knew to be false, the newspaper said. Of the 381 defendants, 67 had been sentenced to death.... Although 28 of those 67 death row inmates were freed, almost all spent at least five years in prison....

[Bad police - ]
1/11 Somerville [Mass.] image faces trial - Case against police recalls grim reputation, by Ellen O'Brien, Bos Globe, frontpage.
[...false arrest...beating two Hispanic college students...name-calling , threatening, slapping, choking
allegations of witness intimidation and perjury, coverup by superior officers - for the gory details, dig out this issue of the Globe.]

[Great prison article in December Atlantic Monthly. You've heard of the military-industrial complex where there's vast group of American employees motivated to encourage wars to keep their jobs? Well, now we bring you a new group of American employees motivated to encourage incarceration to keep their jobs - to be known as -]
Dec/98 The Prison-Industrial Complex, by Eric Schlosser, Atlantic Monthly, p. 51.
[Eric was also on NPR's Talk of the Nation on approx. 12/2/98.]

  • The United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world - perhaps half a million more than Communist China [although China has roughly four times our population]
  • Today the United States has approximately 1.8 million people behind bars: about 100,000 in federal custody, 1.1 million in State custody, and 600,000 in local jails
  • [Those numbers continue to] grow, even as violent crimes fall.
  • The nearly two million Americans behind bars - the majority of them non-violent offenders - mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers
  • The economies of whole regions have been skewed toward incarceration, and the job of incarceration is increasingly being handed over to private companies
  • America's prison-industrial complex...is rapidly corrupting [America's] criminal justice system
  • ...The California prison system...now operates at roughly double its intended capacity
  • For more than a century, Folsom and San Quentin...were the state's only maximum-security penitentiaries.... From 1984 to 1994 California build eight new [ones]
  • Over the past 20 years the State of California has built twenty-one new prisons, added thousands of cells to existing facilities, and increased its inmate population [800%]
  • The number of drug offenders imprisoned in the state today is more than twice the number of inmates who were imprisoned for all crimes in 1978
  • [The State of] California now has the biggest prison system in the Western industrialized world, a system 40% bigger than the [entire] Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • [California alone] holds more inmate in its jails and prisons than do France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined
  • Simply to remain at double capacity the state will need to open at least one new prison a year, every year, for the foreseeable future
  • [The "Land of the Free" has become the first society in human history to imprison] so many of its own citizens for the purpose of crime control
    (Perhaps if we made it easier to earn an honest living than a dishonest one...? And what good is technology if it can't make it easier to earn a generous and honest living?)

    12/09/98 Counties differ on inmate labor - Suffolk County bars nonprofits, by Daniel Vasquez, Boston Globe, B1.
    While some Massachusetts counties routinely send inmates to perform menial cleanup jobs for private, nonprofit organizations, officials from the Suffolk County sheriff's office believe the practice violates state law...[against any prisoner being] "employed outside the place of his imprisonment doing work of any kind for private persons."
    [Well, if we don't start enforcing that one, we'll have another big group of people getting more and more motivated to have a big prison population - nonprofit companies!]

    12/02 New York State is starving schools to build prisons, by Derrick Jackson, Bos Globe, 27.
    [Here it is in New York, after high school students in Calif. protested the transfer of revenue in the state budget from education to prisons - see story below 10/2.]
    Since 1988, state funding for colleges has plummetted by $615 million. Spending for prisons has gone up by $761 million [- nearly a dollar-for-dollar tradeoff].
    ["Pay me now or pay me later!"
    [Could we be destroying America faster if we were doing it on purpose?]

    11/08 A big-time bust - Finally, there is hard evidence that mandatory minimum sentencing clogs prisons with first-time offenders [84%], by Matthew Brelis, Bos Globe, D1.
    [This, demographics and zero-tolerance enforcement in community policing have been the voodoo behind our lower crime rates as the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Our bulging prisons are just another way of hiding the rot below our economic "boom." See also the story below on 8/5 "The prison population is rising."]
    Mandatory minimums, designed for big-time drug dealers...mean that 8 out of every 10 drug offenders are doing an average of about five years in their first prison sentence - about a year longer than the average state sentence for a violent crime. For the most part, these are drug users who are [not big-time dealers but] at the bottom of the supply chain. They are also overwhelmingly Hispanic and black. Meanwhile, the big-time dealers are avoiding the lengthy sentences that come with mandatory minimums because they have information to trade with prosecutors, or money that is forfeited upon their arrest - which makes law enforcement look upon them more kindly.
    The federal system...is similarly filled with small-time offenders. A 1992 analysis, the most recent available, found that 55% of all drug offenders were classified as "low level" either street dealers or mules, and only 11% were high-level dealers.... Eric Sterling, a former congressional lawyer who wrote the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws in 1986, is among those who acknowledge that the law was a mistake [as in "unintended consequences"].
    Says Sterling..."Thousands of men and women are serving many years in prisons unjustly as a consequence of these laws." One such woman is Sylvia Foster, a former corrections officer [and according to court records, a caring mother of two children, with no prior record and a good work history, was sentenced to 24 years in] the federal prison in Danbury, Conn...for one count of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.... Her boyfriend used her home to cook and store crack cocaine. Foster testified that she did not know about his manufacturing and dealing until she found some crack in her house, confronted her boyfriend, told him to get it out of her house, and broke up with him....
    Drugs are still plentiful and cheap despite a massive prison building boom [in Massachusetts] (some 2,250 beds have been added since 1991) and around the country....
    Says Judge Robert Barton of Massachusetts Supreme Court..."You get someone with a 15-year mandatory sentence for drugs, [while] a second-degree murderer is eligible for parole in 15 years"....
    Justice Stephen Breyer...when...an appelate judge in Boston...warned, "We will have tens of thousands of men 20 years from now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and the expense of warehousing these old men will be enormous." It is already staggering. In Massachusetts, the cost is an average of $30,000 per prisoner per year. In the federal system, that cost is $23,000.
    [Wake up, America. We are transferring millions of dollars and thousands of people from schools to prisons.]
    And the number of inmates...keeps growing.... In 1983, one in 10 federal inmates was in prison for a drug offense. Today it is one out of two. In Massachusetts, the prison population in 1980 was 3,066. This year, it is over 10,000, with more than 18% of those detained for drugs.... About 645 of every 100,000 Americans is behind bars, and African-American men have a nearly 1-in-3 chance of being jailed at some point in their lives.
    The United States' rate of incarceration is higher than any other country's but Russia's.
    [Great, we won the Cold War against Russia and then declared war on our own poor Blacks. We turned into our enemy. We have become the second biggest problem nation in the world. Why not be honest with ourselves and just bring back slavery? Or be humane to all the lives we're wasting for 24-30 years for "conspiring to distribute crack cocaine" and raise the penalty to death? We have seen the Enemy and it is...US.]
    A 1997 Rand Corp. report...found that...mandatory minimum sentences were less effective in reducing cocaine consumption than previous sentencing structures. And neither was as effective as putting heavy users through treatment programs. [And dollar for taxpayer dollar,] mandatory minimums are less cost-effective for reducing cocaine-related crime than either of those other alternatives. US District Senior Judge A. David Mazzone, a member of the US Sentencing Commission...said..."In the federal system, 50-60% of inmates are drug-related and a great deal of them are first-time offenders and most were sentenced under mandatory sentences."... Massachusetts prisons are so crowded that in 1995 [many prisoners] were sent to a Texas jail for a year.
    [What's the difference between this and Apartheid? "Cry the beloved country!"]

    10/02 High School Students in California Protest Spending on Prisons, AP via NYT, 17.
    SAN LEANDRO, Calif., Oct. 1 - Thousands of high school students left their classrooms here today to protest what they said was too much state spending on prisons and too little on schools.... The protest, mostly by minority students, came in the wake of a study that cited a growing gap in the growth of state spending on prisons and higher education.... The Justice Policy Institute, a study group in San Francisco, recently made public a study showing that California's budget for higher education had shrunk by 3% while spending for prisons and other jail units had jumped by 60% under Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, who was elected in 1990.
    The study also found that five black males are in prison for every black male in a state university, while three Hispanic males are added to California's prison population for every one enrolling at a four-year public university.
    [So here you have it, folks, one of biggest makework campaigns, education, has failed so bad that we're now transferring government spending by the millions from schools to prisons - and not just in California.]

    9/30 New jail barely eases crunch - Shirley [Mass.] facility to fill up quickly, by Zachary Dowdy, Bos Globe, B1.
    Three years since 299 inmates were sipped to Texas to ease pressure on a prison system crowded to a near-bursting point, the state today is set to unveil the crown jewel of its correctional system. a state-of-the-art 1,000-bed [nearly $1 billion] prison in Shirley. But almost as soon as the ribbon is cut, that [nearly $1 billion maximum-security] facility...will be filled to capacity....
    The green light for building the prison came in 1996 as Gov. Wm. F. Weld declared that "new cells are the wedge that will stop"...revolving-door justice - the court-mandated release of prisoners due to lack of space. At the time, Massachusetts prisons were operating at 153% capacity. Today, they're at 142%....
    [Whoopee doodoo. Weld was such a far-sighted genius. Modified rapture.]

    8/05/98 Boston Globe, p. A23, by David Nyhan - The prison population is rising - politicians must be very proud
    The prison and jail population will probably top 2 million in time for 2000. Sure, crime rates are falling, but prison and jail populations are rising. How so? Longer sentences....
    You thought our hottest growth industry was something in the computer line? Try prison construction. All through the '90s, our prison population expanded by ab out 64,000 per year. That means every month, we need new cells for 5,350 men - they are overwhelmingly men. That's a roof, a bed, a barred door, a toilet, three squares and medical care, plus the custodial charges, for a net increase of 175 men per day.
    You are paying for all this. You are hiring, as taxpayers, on average. every day of the year, weekends and holidays included, a fresh crew of 175 prisoners....
    But why do we have so many more prisoners per capita than any other industrial nation, save Russia? That is the only country with more inmates per head than we have. Our rate of incarcerating 645 out of every 100,000 citizens is six to 10 times higher than the rest of the so-called civilized world.


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