I know it's sacrilege to mess with this song, but the days of Johnny Cash playing concerts in California prisons are over, replaced by Governor Jerry Brown whining about federal judges sticking their noses in our prisons. Never mind the deaths, sterilizations and lack of clean water, among other things.
Prisoners are continuing the biggest inmate hunger strike in California history, sparked by the state's excessive use of solitary confinement. Some pretty nasty things are being done in our name, so it's time we paid more attention before the pressure cooker blows.
For those of you who are just itching to say "lock 'em up and throw away the key" in the comments, just remember, we can't give all prisoners life sentences in solitary confinement. The dysfunction and lack of rehabilitation in our prisons comes back to haunt us when inmates are released. So if the human compassion argument doesn't win you over, think about how we're all better off if prisoners return to the outside without being completely traumatized and dehumanized on the inside.
I hear the judge a-comin' sayin' what he meant,
Tellin' us about, that Eighth Amend-a-ment.
The one that says we can't, be unusual and cruel.
In my prisons out here, man, legal stuff's for fools.
We put 'em in the hole, take away their sun,
Call 'em gang associates, don't matter what they've done.
But now they're hunger-strikin', I can't figure out just why,
When I hear that judge a-rulin', I like to spit in his eye.
Sure they call it torture, fifteen days at tops,
Out here we do it decades, just can't seem to stop.
Well they musta had it comin', it's what the warden tells me,
I'll keep a-fightin' those judges, why don't they let us be?
Our prison crisis is over, don't worry your mind,
We'll get 'em clean water, a little farther down the line.
A little valley fever, and tiny cages okay.
Cause my cruel and unusual, blues are here to stay.