Archive for prison

Overnight: Orange is the new black - Piper and Alex


Orange Is The New Black

I'm watching Season 2 of 'Orange is the New Black' and am, unfortunately, at the end of Season 2, so if the last year is any indication, it will be another year until Season 3 is up to watch on Netflix.

I'll be waiting.

It's excellent drama in every way - writing, producing, acting.

Here's the Wiki on it if you don't know the basic story.

The embed below is just the scenes of Piper and Alex, arranged chronologically. I just watched their last scene together.


Prison Guard Beats Inmate And Illinois Must Pay


prison violence

The headline in HuffPo reads:

James Degorski, Man Who Killed 7 At Brown's Chicken Restaurant, Awarded $451,000 In Civil Suit

So I was interested to see how a convicted killer was awarded money. Could it be related to his murdering 7 innocent people? I didn't think so but I had to read on.

CHICAGO (AP) — A former handyman serving life in prison for the 1993 murder of seven people at a suburban Chicago restaurant has been awarded nearly a half-million dollars in a civil lawsuit in which he alleged a jail guard punched him in the face.

Degorski, now 41, accused a Cook County Jail guard of punching him and breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in 2002.

As it turns out, this was really not about the inmate's crime, but about the inmate's treatment. His abuse. His being deprived of his civil rights.  Degorski's attorney put it this way:

"I think it's a beautiful day for civil rights when a jury can put aside emotions and say we are all entitled to our civil rights," she said. "It's about protecting the constitutional rights of the least among us."

Well, I'm not so sure that it's a beautiful day, but I do feel strongly that we have constitutional rights which, contrary to popular opinion, are not relinquished when someone's sentenced to prison.

Why should we care, or more importantly why should a jury care to the tune of nearly half a million bucks?

Simple. We have the eighth amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The jury heard the facts, the details of this brutal attack on a brutal man who was in his care. Yet a prison sentence doesn't give the guards the right to dispatch their own kind of justice. Guards are there to serve the justice system, not create their own. And this guard evidently thought he could. Now the state must pay, which means the people of Illinois have to cough up half a mil for this crime.

If it seems like I'm taking the side of a killer, you're wrong. I'm taking the side of justice. We can't allow people behind bars to become animals, pets, treated unkindly by brutal guards. If we do, there's no chance at rehabilitation. I don't think prison should become a vacation spot, but basic human rights shouldn't be denied, either.

This prisoner who was beaten could just as easily been incarcerated for fixing the books at a financial institution or possession of a controlled substance. His crime got him put there for just punishment, not to become a guard's punching bag. But this guard took justice into his own hands, abused it and a jury found him guilty. Hopefully he will lose his job for this. But most certainly, the good and innocent people of Illinois will be covering the tab. Perhaps that's the real injustice in this case.


Education for Prisoners Is A Breaking Bad Thing For New York GOP

Prisoners Education

Breaking Bad

Yikes. With all the people in our prisons, it seems a shame that we don't try to educate them so when they're released, they have a fighting chance to  make it in the world and not slip into recidivism. Isn't that a good thing? We pay millions, if not billions a year in the States to house, feed and restrain prisoners. Should we make it more likely that we'll be safe when they are released?

Let's ask NY Republican Congressman, Jim Tedesco:

via HuffPo:

"This is definitely ‘Breaking Bad’ by potentially turning a bunch of Jesse Pinkmans into Walter Whites -– all on the taxpayer’s dime,” Tedisco said. “Soon we will be the only state where honesty and hard work are trumped by being a bad criminal. Only in New York. When can New Yorkers wake up from this nightmare?”

I think the Congressman's been spending too much time watching TV. Maybe a little more time reading pending bills and acting upon them for the best interest of his constituents might be in order.

Sadly Tedesco isn't alone in this. He has other Republican allies:

Tedisco's opposition resonated with several other lawmakers, including Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson).

"In a world of finite resources, where we are struggling to find funding for education for our kids, the last thing New York state should be funding is college tuition for convicts," Ball said in a statement.

It seems doing nothing to protect the public when inmates are returned to society is the Republican stance. Hell with education. Let's just give the inmates nothing constructive to do, dim all hopes for a future when they get out and let them discuss how they can become Walter Whites and Jesse Pinkmans because they won't be studying math, English, history, science, law or anything else constructive. The purpose of prison is supposed to include rehabilitation, noy just provide a shelter and free food. Let's get something for our money.

Inmates were once eligible for college tuition assistance, but the program was halted by former Republican Gov. George Pataki. That's now hopefully going to be reversed with the program the Republicans hate but the current Democratic Governor, Mario Cuomo is pushing.

According to Cuomo, the initiative would actually bring down inmate costs. He pointed to state data showing New York already spending $60,000 on every individual inmate and $3.6 billion in total costs to operate prisons annually.

"However, it costs approximately $5,000 per year to provide one year of college education for one inmate," Cuomo said Sunday. "Current studies have shown that by earning college degrees, inmates are far less likely to return to prison."

Here's wishing him luck -- which translates to more safety and productivity for our society. When will Republicans ever learn?


Rise of Private Prisons in the United States


This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for She welcomes your comments at her email id:

Private Prisons Barbed Wire

Credit: Daniel Kalinski (via Flickr)

While the number of people wanting to go prison has most certainly not increased in recent years, the numbers for people who want to build prisons has. According to Global Research, “Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.” Something happened in the last decade to spark such a rise in private prisons, but what was it?

Simply put, there is money to be made in the private prison industry. Just as Starbucks and Wal-Mart build stores to sell their products and drive revenue, private prisons operate the same way. Since the private prison industry in the U.S. began in the 1980s, companies like Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut have built prisons and run them as publically traded companies. Like any other profit-seeking business, the more “customers” these prisons get, the more money they make.

Global Research points out that “private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one.” Because U.S. prisons are continually overcrowded—there were 1,571,013 prisoners in the U.S. in 2012, a whopping 25% of the world’s inmates—the population in private prisons has only increased. In other words, when justice gets outsourced, companies like CCA and their stock holders benefit. Prisoners, on the other hand, probably don’t benefit regardless of where they do time, but comfort is not the point of a prison sentence.

The key word for private prisons is “business.” In their own words, CCA stated “our primary business strategy is to provide quality corrections services, offer a compelling value, and increase occupancy and revenue.”As such, they design prisons to run as efficiently as possible by holding as many prisoners as they can, but with the fewest numbers of guards on the payroll as possible. Just as Starbucks wants to sell more cups of coffee, CCA wants to sell more orange jumpsuits, jail cells, and fewer personal liberties. Boasting an increase of 500% in their profits over the last 2 decades, CCA has clearly found a business model that works.

Although the number of prisoners held in the US penal system is slowly decreasing, private jails continue to see a rise in “customers” overall. Although it is difficult to tell exactly where private prisons are headed in the future, one might assume that, with Federal and State Governments striving to cut costs, private prisons will probably become even more popular. As long as private prisons continue to offer financially viable alternatives, penal administrators will likely continue to "buy-in" to the for-profit incarceration model.