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View Diary: Why I oppose the Death Penalty. (102 comments)

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  •  I know several people who have (0+ / 0-)

    And their experiences mirror what I've written.

    FWIW, I don't think your brother should have been sent to prison. Screwing up your own body chemistry isn't a crime. And rightfully he's never been the same. Prison changes people. Some for the better, most for the worse.

    I'm conservative when it comes to prisons because I don't think people who have been convicted of violent crimes should be given things like cable TV and health club grade gym equipment. Inmates are too free to interact with each other. Are you aware that most organized crime is planned in our prisons?

    Until they stop this stupid war on drugs and stop incarcerating people for small petty or victimless vice crimes, the prison system will never get any better and the rapes and abuse will continue.

    I'm not advocating it, I'm saying it's a fact of life, just like taxes and death. It happens and unless something changes drastically it's not going to get any better. Getting raped in prison is one of the consequences for ending up in one, deservedly or not.

    So many impeachable offenses, so little time...

    by Cali Techie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 03:58:34 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Cable TV and gym equipment... (0+ / 0-)

      are not provided for the benefit of the inmates -- these things are provided for the benefit of the guards. Every prison administrator and guard knows that they cannot control a prison population by force. American prison administrators opted long ago for a carrot-and-stick approach to managing prison populations. In most prisons cable TV is a privilege that is awarded to an inmate for good behavior, and providing that good behavior continues, the inmate gets to keep his TV. If the inmate screws up, the sticks come out and he/she is punished. It rankles me that offenders get these kind of perks, but that is the way it is.

      Overly punative prison regimes lead to riots, such as the Attica prison riots in 1971. According to the Wikipedia article on this subject, conditions at New York's Attica Correctional Facility were harsh:

      The prisoners had demanded better living conditions, showers, education, and vocational training, as well as less censorship of their mail and visitors. At the time, inmates were given one bucket of water a week as a "shower" and one roll of toilet paper a month.

      Inmates quickly gained control of a large portion of the prison, assaulting guards with pipes, chains and baseball bats. One officer would later die from injuries received at the hands of the inmates.

      Inmates took forty-two officers and civilians hostage and aired a list of grievances, demanding their needs be met before their surrender. In a facility designed to hold 1,200 inmates and actually housing 2,225, theirs was a substantial list.

      At 9:46 A.M. on Monday, September 13, 1971 tear gas was dropped into the yard and State Troopers opened fire. By the time the facility was retaken, ten hostages and twenty-nine inmates had been killed by the Troopers. The final death toll from the riot also included the officer fatally injured at the start of the riot and four inmates killed when "inmate justice" was administered.

      •  Which proves my point (0+ / 0-)

        Prisons are brutal environments (even with cable TV and health club style gym equipment). I still don't think they need cable TV. Regular broadcast TV should be sufficient, and giving them gym equipment is downright stupid because they can build up strength to easily overpower the guards.

        If they can't interact with each other, they can't plan and coordinate a riot. We have the most violent prison system in the world and they have more perks than prisoners anywhere else.

        Prisoners have basic human rights. They have the right to be fed, the right to be sheltered, the right to proper hygeine, the right to health care (something not every American on the other side of the prison wall gets), and the right to a bed. That's it. They're in prison because they were found guilty of breaking the law. I'll repeat, cable TV and health club quality gym equipment are not civil rights.

        Rape, abuse, murder, and riots have been going on in prisons from the time the first one was ever built. The current situation shows that giving them perks and rewards for good behavior doesn't work any better than not giving them. Prisoners still riot, they still kill and rape each other, and abusive prison guards are still working the joint.

        So many impeachable offenses, so little time...

        by Cali Techie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:37:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Attica, BTW (0+ / 0-)

        The way it was before the riot is not what I'm advocating. A bucket of water a week for a shower and a roll of toilet paper per month is a violation of basic human rights and it was grossly overcrowded. If that's not a powder keg, I don't know what is.

        So many impeachable offenses, so little time...

        by Cali Techie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:42:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Check this out... (0+ / 0-)

        Sports Illustrated Prison Recreation Article

        It's an article promoting more athletic equipment in prisons, but I find parts of it disturbing.

        Like many prisoners who play sports, Longnecker started out lifting weights. "If I hadn't been able to lift, I wouldn't have had any way to relieve my tensions," he says.

        And if he couldn't relieve his tensions?

        "Somebody would get hurt." He shrugs at the logical simplicity of what he has said. "It's not just me," he continues, "I was in a riot at Chino that started because there weren't enough weights to go around. There was a waiting line, and tension built up over waiting to get to the weight pile so you could lose that tension by lifting weights.

        That could be an argument for putting more health club quality gym equipment in, but the real problem is that these people don't know how to "relieve their tensions" in a manner acceptable to society, which is why they're in there to begin with.

        It was a paradoxical situation. What every prison needs is more equipment, like they have at El Reno. That's what McIntosh did. That place has tons of weight. I mean, literally, you measure it in tons."

        McIntosh stands gazing proudly out at the 10-acre athletic complex n the vast El Reno yard. This is the largest and probably best-organized prison rec facility in the country. Nearly a thousand inmates engage in everything from basketball to soccer, with scarcely a guard visible. This is where Longnecker frolicked and inmates still remember him fondly. Red Dog pushes his pony tail aside and reflects on his biker buddy. "I don't think he would have stayed here longer just to play - but he'd have thought about it."

        El Reno is the federal prison where my father and grandfather worked. They have access to a gym we're paying for out of our taxes that you and I would have to pay hundreds of dollars a year to access, and we'd still have to wait in line for the free weights. Check out the last passage in the previous blockquote:

        This is where Longnecker frolicked and inmates still remember him fondly. Red Dog pushes his pony tail aside and reflects on his biker buddy. "I don't think he would have stayed here longer just to play - but he'd have thought about it."

        They like it in prison almost enough to give serious thought to staying! How's that a deterrent to crime?

        McIntosh strides into the immaculate El Reno gym and points out the glass backboards, the snap-back rims, the bleachers, and the electric scoreboard. "Beautiful, isn't it?" he says. He's the king here, and given his size, that role suits him well.

        And he can probably kick most of the guards' asses if he wanted.

        So many impeachable offenses, so little time...

        by Cali Techie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 11:15:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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