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Producer’s Perspective: What I Learned In Prison

Editor's Note: The producer inadvertently wrote that prisoners can make "up to $100 per day." She meant to write "up to $100 per month."

The blandly named Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility is huge, squatting over some 700 acres of Otay Mesa about twenty minutes south and east of KPBS and a stone’s throw from the colonias and maquilidoras of Tijuana.

Audio

Aired 2/1/10

KPBS goes inside R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa for a two-hour broadcast to talk with the prisoners and staff about what life in prison is like. The broadcast marks the first time any radio program has been allowed to tape a program inside prison walls in California. KPBS also sent a photographer to capture images of life inside Donovan.

These Days

Read the transcript of the These Days segment

Watch Video

Watch the "Life in Prison" documentary

Three of us from KPBS are there to meet the administration and see if we can come to an agreement to tape a These Days show there. This sort of thing has not been done before, and the staff seems both reluctant and intrigued by our request, two adjectives which also apply to These Days executive producer Natalie Walsh, director Kurt Kohnen and me. A prisoner driving a shuttle picks us up in the immense and distant parking lot and hauls us to the administration wing, which could be any aging state building. A guard riding along in the shuttle notes approvingly that we will be able to go in because none of us is wearing blue jeans. We don’t tell him that this is a lucky accident.

Our tour guide, Patti Colston, who has the enigmatic title of community partnership manager, stops first at the front door to cheerfully show us two expressive and colorful murals and a tall polished wooden cabinet, both crafted decades ago by prisoners. As we head outside, the three of us don’t know what to expect, but we’ve all seen prison movies. We’re nervous, and our imaginations are on overload. Will they yell at us? Take us hostage? Ask us to smuggle out notes? Will it be filthy? Smelly? Dangerous?

None of that, of course. At least not today. Donovan is not Club Med, but neither is it Midnight Express. It is a well-run prison whose staff manages nearly 5,000 prisoners -- from non-violent parole violators to garden variety gang members to hyper-violent psychopaths. And they do it in a facility built for 2,500.

We show our driver’s licenses on entering and leaving every door of every building, every yard, every locked gate, and there are many. Our first stop is a large yard with grass in the center – beginning to green-up from the recent rains – and a dirt walkway around the perimeter. Prisoners are standing, sitting or walking slowly around in small groups. They are quiet, ignoring us. Some in this area may be on drugs to keep whatever demons pursue them at bay. In this part of the prison the men can be outside from breakfast to dinner if they want. All -- some young, some middle-aged, some with canes -- are dressed in blue pants and shirts. And now the reason we can’t wear jeans suddenly becomes clear. Patti tells us the blue outfits mean they have been accepted into Donovan as inmates. The hundreds of guys in orange we will see later are in transit – or limbo, whichever you prefer.

Because there is so much idle time-passing going on, we ask if prisoners at Donovan work. Yes they do. Jobs start at $.50 per hour; half goes to a restitution fund and half goes to the inmate, and it’s possible for an inmate to earn up to $100 a month. And what is there to do? Not so much as a few years ago, apparently.

For many years Donovan inmates produced thousands of eyeglasses for Medi-cal patients in the optical shop. But this year, California cut glasses out of its Medi-cal budget -- perhaps to prevent people from reading about budget cuts. Also kaput are the art program and the carpentry workshop. All substance abuse and educational programs are gone. The program for prisoners about to re-enter society – San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’s initiative which reduced the recidivism rate among participants from Donovan from 70% to under 20% -- was cut dramatically last year to save money.

Daniel Ayala is serving a three year sentence. He monitors a machine that slices up loaves of bread for use in the inmate lunches.
Enlarge this image

Above: Daniel Ayala is serving a three year sentence. He monitors a machine that slices up loaves of bread for use in the inmate lunches.

What’s left for the prisoners to do? Donovan’s bakery is still turning out bread for several California prisons, and the sweet aroma of baking adds a surreal touch to an already foreign scene. Patti tells us prisoners also make tennis shoes – blue ones -- for themselves, and they can work in the laundry, offices and grounds.

We cross the yard to the Level 1 housing unit. It’s dim inside, but we can see that cells line the walls of two stories and face a gray open area where round tables with metal seats attached like spokes are fixed permanently to the floor. A second-floor perch with darkened windows has one officer inside, the one with the gun. The two guards on the floor are unarmed and very obviously outnumbered. Patti shows us inside one of the cells – empty, thankfully – and it’s about five feet wide and maybe 9 feet long. These were originally built for one man, but now two share this tiny space with bunks, lockers, a sink, toilet and a forest of sharp metal corners.

The deeper into the prison we go, the stranger it gets. Prisoners like pedophiles and gang dropouts with “special needs” – such as not being killed by fellow prisoners – are allowed outside, too, but must be isolated in largish outdoor cells. The men waiting to see a doctor are lined up outside the medical building in four cages, three to a cage. (The medical facilities at all California prisons are in the hands of a federal receiver, and the medical care, which was sub-standard in the extreme, has improved to the point where law-abiding, uninsured Californians would be envious.)

The last two places Patti takes us spook us the most. The first used to be a gymnasium, but it’s now a Reception Center dormitory for prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses. 150 of them are wearing orange and are packed in bunks stacked three high with perhaps two feet between each stack. These orange-clad, long-haired, tattooed mostly young men are waiting -- officially for assignment or release, but perhaps for some action, someone to start something, which in these conditions appears inevitable.

Our final stop – an unpleasant surprise -- is Administrative Segregation, prisoners too violent, too psychotic to be allowed in the general population. Standing outside as a guard lowers a metal clip on a string from a second-story window, we send up our IDs, and eventually someone opens the heavy doors. Here are the familiar two stories of cells around the walls, but these have 8X10 sheets of paper taped around the doors, notices that the prisoner is likely to spit, kick or something worse. They cannot leave their cells without being handcuffed and/or dressed in a mask or some kind of special suit, depending on their aberrant behavior. Most bizarre, instead of tables in the center of the room, there are eight or so tall white cages in two semi-circles. Three or four guards and several staff members hover nearby as Chris Beletsis, a staff psychologist, explains to us that the cages are for group therapy participants who otherwise would tear each other limb from limb. Some prisoners here can be helped, he says, but some are so sick that even anti-psychotic drugs can’t reach them. It’s a fitting end to a very weird day.

At KPBS, we’ve been working on exploring and explaining California’s dysfunctional state prison system since October of last year. We’ve spent some seven and a half hours of air time looking into why there are so many prisoners incarcerated for so long, how much each one costs taxpayers, why the recidivism rate is so high, and what ideas there are for reform.

But the thing that struck me the most during my visit is that not only is prison a fundamentally sad and scary place, but in California it is also deeply counterproductive. Sure there are people who are actually pernicious and evil, and we all should be grateful to those who keep them away from the rest of us. But I believe that most of those in Donovan or San Quentin or Las Colinas are not really like that. I believe that if taught to read, or taught a trade, or discover that hope and parole are not empty words, that good behavior and self-improvement can mean redemption and that rehabilitation is a reality, then most of them -- some of them -- will become what we all want to be -- constructive and productive Americans. As it is, most prisoners produce nothing and cost us more than $40,000 a year. Each.

That’s what I learned.

That, and prison guards deserve whatever they want. No questions asked.

Comments

Avatar for user 'FrankCourser'

FrankCourser | February 2, 2010 at 10:56 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Sadly these KPBS reporters never asked the hard questions about prison, they assume every answer given is correct. Why were they too afraid to just ask the inmates? Example of this “Our final stop – an unpleasant surprise -- is Administrative Segregation, prisoners too violent, too psychotic to be allowed in the general population.” In truth inmates found to break any of the prison rules such as possession of contriband such as tobacco or getting 115’s will be placed in Ad-Seg. It does not mean they were violent or psychotic. Facts is very few are violent. In many prisons those in reciving overflow will be placed in Ad-Seg because of overcrowding. Then this remark “That, and prison guards deserve whatever they want. No questions asked.” Really? The 37% pay raise given to them by Gray Davis was not good enough? Being the highest paid jailers on the planet is not good enough? Being able to retire at age 50 with 90% of their salary is not good enough? The fact 1 out of 10 will earn over $100,000 with only a GED? They get what they want through campagain contributions to the legislature and other elected officals. This article had all the same truth found at FOX news.Compare this report to Laura Sullivans PBS on Folsom Prison. http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=111843426&m=111851651

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Avatar for user 'floravictor'

floravictor | February 2, 2010 at 2:39 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I have to agree with Frankcourser and chastize this reporter. This prison is at double capacity and most education and rehabilitation has ended directly due to the influence of the prison guard union. They use the huge sums of money generated by the union dues of the highest paid prison guards in the world to influence political votes and get ballot measures passed by paying for TV ads that scare the public and twist the truth about the California prisons. These are facts, read them in the LA Times, Sacramento Bee and San Jose Mercury, as well as dozens of other papers throughout California. Yes, our prisons are counterproductive,as is most of our criminal justice system at this time. And overlooking the huge role of the CCPOA, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, is one of the major impediments to reforming our inhumane, unconstitutional, immoral system that continues to incarcerate the poor, people of color, mentally ill and substance abusers at the highest cost of any prison in the country. Laura Sullivan's report on Folsom Prison states that 75% our our prison costs go to CCPOA salaries.

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Avatar for user 'Jeepman'

Jeepman | February 2, 2010 at 3:58 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Frank & flora, you lie. Ad-Seg is not used as an overflow, nor is just any inmate who breaks "any prison rule" sent to Ad-Seg. If that were the case 75% of the population at any given time would be there. California prison guards are not the highest paid. As a matter of fact they are the 3rd or 4th highest paid in the nation. You pull facts out of the air like a child grasping at soap bubbles; almost like Sullivans report. Half truth, lies and rumors. 75% of prison costs go to union salaries? Seriously? Come here, I got this bridge I wanna sell you. The only part you got right is that the rehabilitation and educational opprotunites for inmates needs to be brought back. So your'e either liars, parolee's or you work for the Prison Law Office. Which is it?

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Avatar for user 'susanbactivist'

susanbactivist | February 2, 2010 at 4:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I'd like to know where this reporter got the figure that an inmate can earn up to $100 each day. This article reads: "Jobs start at $.50 per hour; half goes to a restitution fund and half goes to the inmate, and it’s possible for an inmate to earn up to $100 a day." The first two parts of the sentence go together, but I'm unable to see how earning 25 cents each HOUR will accrue much money. If you worked 24 hours a day, you'd only make $6 at 25 cents an hour. I realize that a few - very few - inmates are able to earn higher wages, but I highly doubt the $100/day figure --- especially when contrasted with this statement from the accompanying story: some inmates "work at a prison job where they make very little money every month, ranging anywhere from $7.00 to maybe $130 if you work in a really good job like inmate day labor or PIA as a lead man." -- Note, that's $130 per MONTH, not DAY. Such careless reporting perpetuates the myth that prisoners are no-good scumbags living it easy off of taxpayers. Also, the majority of inmates in CA prisons DON'T work for pay. In fact, the majority don't even take a single rehabilitation, substance abuse, or vocational education class (despite 80% having a need for substance abuse treatment alone). Don't believe me? Read Joan Petersilia's comprehensive review: http://ucicorrections.seweb.uci.edu/pdf/PetersiliaUnderstandingCACorrectionsJune2006.pdf

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Avatar for user 'casue66'

casue66 | February 2, 2010 at 4:18 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

While I am always happy to see attention drawn towards the counter productivity and lack of actual rehabilitation at our state's prisons, I must make a few corrections based on first-hand knowledge.

Yes, inmates can work...but just as out here, there aren't enough jobs for everyone. Nor, at this point, are there any real opportunities for them to do much programing in the form of higher education or substance abuse programs. Yes...this means just hanging around and either trying to avoid or becoming involved in yard politics. If you want someone to get off drugs or out of gangs...don't send them to prison.

For those that do get a job, the wages actually start at about 15cents an hour and go up from there. Most clerk jobs can pay at the most 32cents an hour. The higher paying jobs are usually PIA (bakery, etc) or IDL (higher level of skills such as electrical, plumbing, etc.) They can make upwards of $1.00 an hour with time at the job and usually need to have or be working on a GED/HSD. I honestly don't know of any inmate job that pays $100 a day. (FYI...that's what a substitute teacher makes in Chula Vista.)

Most re-entry programs, while well meaning, only target a very small group of individuals. Other inmates that request re-entry information are given packets of information. Some need a bit more guidance than that I would say. While revamping parole criteria is a step in the right direction...with sentencing the way it is, the prisons will continue to overcrowd (3 strikes, tough on crime/war on drugs). How about those 3-strikers who have been in now for 15 years? Those who had non-violent crimes? Or perhaps those who might have had an assualt, but didn't rape, kill, or molest a child like we were told we were being protected from? Betcha if you let them out you would never see them in the system.

Otherwise..kudos to KPBS for keeping this topic in the light of day.

* Hello Frank!!

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Avatar for user '1union1'

1union1 | February 2, 2010 at 10:56 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago


The reporter saw only what they wanted her to see. The prisons are so overcrowded that they have been using ad seg as permanent housing, a very cruel practice since these are half-sized cells.

If an inmate is attacked by someone else, he is put into ad seg. Or if one of the guards beat him, or he witnesses them committing a crime on an inmate, they will also be put into ad seg. Of course, the reporter didn't actually see an ad seg cell, but these are often smeared with feces, smelling of urine, and a number of "suicides" have occurred in ad segs.

The families travel for hundreds of miles and are often turned away from visiting. If their loved one gets sick and needs to be hospitalized, they may not visit them at all, often even in their final hours. The medical care is not something of which anyone would be envious. Sorry, but that's not a verified fact.

Take it from someone who knows. There is still a death toll in the prisons and it doesn't help to have anyone parroting what the prison guards tell them about health care. A prisoner dies everyday within the 33 prison system and preventable deaths are actually up, even with the receivership.

There are 80,000 prisoners in for minor parole violations, very few of the inmates are violent and of those who are, most are mentally ill and shouldn't be locked in a cage. No one comes out a better person from the bloodhouses. Make a few more visits before you decide the worth of prison guards.

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Avatar for user 'FrankCourser'

FrankCourser | February 3, 2010 at 9:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Jeepman // I never write anything unless I know it is Fact! At CIW reciving overflow are housed in AD-SEG. CIW was built for 800 women, it now houses over 2600! And now C over C inmates are sent to AD-SEG. You can be sent to AD-SEG without any charge at all under the guise of an ongoing investigation. Check with ISU! I have been through it and know the drill! As far as the highest paid jailers on the planet , that also is a Fact! Post your evidence of higher prison guard pay in any other states here or any place in the world for that matter. I have never been convicted of anything ever! And I don’t work for the Prison Law office. Have you ever even been in a state prison? Or are you just a shill for the CCPOA? If so give my best to Chuck Alexander and Mike Jiminez. They can tell you I am not a liar!

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Avatar for user 'norweb'

norweb | February 3, 2010 at 9:46 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

If the truth were really know, any one of those prisoners could be your relative, or worse yet your own son or daughter. Think again, and ask again for admission into the prison system. Try to see the "real living conditions", not just a covered up version of the housing conditions.

There is no rehabilitation in the California prisons. The prisoners are treated worse than an animal. They are crowded into cells like sardines. They are held in wire cages outside in cold or extremely hot weather for hours on end, some even left sitting in those wire cages in wheelchairs. Not allowed to go to the bathroom, until they can get the attention or beg the mercy of a guard, who then may or may not let them out of the wire cage to use the bathroom. False charges and written 115's for punishment.
All of this while they are simply waiting to see a doctor.

If this sort of punishment is going to produce a normal person or a rehabilitated person, then I would like to see the proof. As a matter of fact, I think something would be wrong with the person, if they were normal, after all of this sort of punishment.

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Avatar for user 'Pat Finn'

Pat Finn, KPBS Staff | February 3, 2010 at 11:34 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Susanbactivist and casue66 are correct. Prisoners at Donovan may -- if they have the highest-paying jobs -- earn up to $100 a month, not $100 a day. I apologize for the error.

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Avatar for user 'susanbactivist'

susanbactivist | February 3, 2010 at 11:36 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Thank you, Pat, for the correction.

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Avatar for user 'RMM'

RMM | February 4, 2010 at 10:53 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

95% of them cannot be rehabilitated. Believe it.

http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2511990.html

Once they hit prison (after years and years of crimes, not just one!) it's too late.

Better to get the colleges and universities out of controlling what is taught in high school and middle school. Get rid of art and foreign language requirements, get back to the three R's and bring back trade classes, have more computer and technical classes, and teach kids to be productive adults, not to be college students. If you chart it out, probably parallel are the expectations of all kids to go to college with the rise in the number of people incarcerated in California. Fix education and the rest will follow.

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Avatar for user 'Centurion'

Centurion | February 5, 2010 at 3:47 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Great article producer. Reminds me of a similar experience.

I once spent 7 hours discussing the animals in the San Diego Zoo, and I happen to own two cats, which makes me somewhat of an expert on the subject.

More recently, I actually toured the zoo. It is situated on 500 acres of land within the City of San Diego. It ain't the wilds of Africa, but it ain't the Roman Colliseum either.

I observed the animals interacting with each other and theri keepers.

I am firmly convinced that most of these animals....if given potty training....some socialization skills...maybe just a little more affection....would make excellent house pets, especially for families with young children.

I mean....it's like....real expensive to keep them in the zoo and all.

Oh yeah. Those zoo keepers. They deserve every penny they earn.

_____________
Frank, if you say that inmates are placed in ad seg at CIW as for overflow housing, I won't argue. I do have to say however, that after 20 years and 5 California prisons, I never saw anything like that. In my experience, ad seg placement was always for disciplinary reasons, protective custody, or, as you stated....."pending and investigation."

_____________
1union1 (aka Ms Bird), Well of course a prisoner dies in a California prison every day. With a population of over 170,000, individuales, many of whom abused drugs and/or alcohol for most of their lives, one would naturally expect this to be the case.

Don't get me wrong. Prisons are not nice places. Abuses do occour at times. But the fact is, inmates have far more to fear from each other than by abuse or indifference by staff.

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Avatar for user '1union1'

1union1 | February 5, 2010 at 9:50 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago


Many books are in print right now with empirical evidence that prisons aren't working Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse (Studies in Crime and Public Policy by Todd R. Clear =Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration by David F. Weiman------ -- Prison State: The Challenge of Mass Incarceration (Cambridge Studies in Criminology) ---------Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration by Michael Jacobson

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Avatar for user 'Centurion'

Centurion | February 5, 2010 at 11:16 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh Contrare.

Prisons work because they incapacatate criminals. Criminals can't prey on the general populace while they are in prison. They prey on each other, sure. They prey on staff members at times as well.

But not on the public at large.

As for rehabilitation. That concept is all well and good, but true rehabilitation must come from within. It begins with acknowledging one's actions, accepting responsibility for them, and then with working to change one's thought process and one's behaviour.

Our system is not conducive to that. The plea bargaining, the court process, and the endless appeals (many based on frivelous claims not relevant to guilt or innocence), are not conducive to rehabilitation, because they are at odds with the acceptance of responsibility. You can't accept responsibility while at the same time you are copping to a lesser charge and/or actively fighting your conviction.

The mindset that so many of these guys have..."nobody saw me do it....you can't prove it...my rights was violated".....these concepts have to change before the individual can change.

I don't like prisons either. They are expensive to operate and dehumanizing, both for those incarcerated and for those who choose to work in them.

There just doesn't seem to be any reasonable alternative.

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Avatar for user '1union1'

1union1 | February 6, 2010 at 5:48 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Centurion

You are a prison guard so you are out fighting to maintain the human bondage industry. I recall when there were only 20,000 people in prison in Calif, before Pete Wilson decided to increase that number to 150,000 in a few short years so he could attempt a run for President on a "tough-on-crime" platform.

I also recall when the Repub politicians, fueled with dollars and votes from CCPOA and other law enforcement labor unions, passed a number of harsh sentencing laws such as 3 Strikes, Jessica's Law, Prop 9 for the sole purpose of keeping the prisons stocked with fresh humans. They lied then, and they're still lying about the value of these laws which have destroyed far more people than they have benefitted. Worse, there were no funding sources for these laws, which means that the money to pay for them is coming out of education and human services dollars.

There ARE reasonable alternatives which have worked in Calif. before, including an investment in our youth. Back in the day when crime was much lower, after school activities were free. It didn't cost $900 for a kid to play football. Stealing a watermelon out of a field was not a felony and almost all high school kids also had a job.

Before Reagan cut all the funding, the mentally ill were not cast to the street or criminalized and thrown in prisons to the extent that they are today. There must be 50,000 or more severely mentally ill people in prison who are being punished for being sick and unable to follow the rules of society. This is wrongheaded thinking, especially when mental illness can be prevented. Substance abuse can be prevented too if education about it begins in grammar school. We need to shift the power from the punishers and invest in prevention and healing, change the ridiculous sentencing laws, and take the 80,000 people who are incarcerated for minor parole violations out of prison.

The mentally ill cannot be healed in prisons, which are primitive, puritanical places that break people in mind, body and spirit. The legislature runs off the human bondage industry and the lawmakers have almost all taken money from law enforcement labor unions. It is a reasonable solution for we, the people, not to elect ANYONE who is clearly being financed and supported by law enforcement labor unions.

Should I continue with reasonable alternatives to prisons?

The topic of supported research on the success of restorative justice as opposed to retributive justice is broad, but a system that makes far more sense.

No credible criminologist or sociologist believes that prisons are doing one thing to reduce crime. Prisons are simply criminal colleges where people are dying preventable deaths,and being driven mad from inhumane conditions, overcrowding, out of control disease epidemics and a violent, hateful environment. It is UNREASONABLE to spend billions punishing sick people for crimes that aren't really crimes, instead of changing the sentencing laws.

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Avatar for user '1union1'

1union1 | February 6, 2010 at 5:56 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

State and federal laws are being broken by lawmakers who are puppets for law enforcement labor unions and state prison employees. I believe there will be reform when there is accountability of those criminals sitting in elected office and wearing badges. The system is corrupt arrest through parole and nobody who really knows what's going on has any respect for it.

There should be consequences for the preventable deaths (murders) that state employees are causing through deliberate indifference. These crimes are far worse than those committed by the 80,000 plus prisoners who are in for minor technical parole violations.

How can you, Centurion, justify these events?

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Prison_Predators_Los_Angeles.html



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Avatar for user 'Centurion'

Centurion | February 6, 2010 at 9:21 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I am a RETIRED prison guard, Ms Bird. I no longer have a dog in the hunt. You could close all the prisons tomorrow and I would still receive my pension.

The bottom line is and has always been, public safety. None of the books you cite, none of the studies you cite, and none of the rehabilitation programs you are so fond of can guarantee the public that they will be safe from people who are not incarcerated.

As for slave labor.....inmates work on an average of 6 hours in a day, for the most part don't work very hard, and receive free room and board and a very small wage for their efforts. They also get reduced sentences for their labor, so they comparing them to slaves is a pretty dishonest argument.

On one point you and I agree. Prisons are extremely expensive. There is a whole lot of corruption and ineptitude at the top. Just like any other large bureauocracy.

The medical system is pretty bad as well. CDCR doctors are, by and large, afraid to treat inmates for fear of being sued later, so they are currently sending hundreds of them a day statewide to outside hospitals, often in ambulances, which costs a whole lot of money.

Parole is in lieu of confinement, and was instituted to save the state money by releasing inmates before completing their sentences. If thse guys would report to their parole officers as required, stay off the drugs, and stop beating their wives and girlfriends when they get out, there wouldn't be so many "technical" parold violations.

Again, for me....for most of us, it is about Public Safety. The responsibility to defend the public from people who steal and rob and maim and rape and kill, for most of us, outweighs the perceived notion you and your friends have that these guys are being horribly mistreated.

But Hey. We're about to release a bunch of em even earlier than originally planned. That should make you pretty happy.

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Avatar for user '1union1'

1union1 | February 6, 2010 at 3:42 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

There are no statistics anywhere that prisons, jails and harsh laws do one thing to insure "the public safety." There is plenty of evidence to support that restorative justice techniques actually work and that investments in prevention of mental illness and support of our youth really pay off.

The public outcry over the wrongful deaths, the numerous lawsuits that have been filed over inhumane conditions, all these are valid reasons to release as many of the 80,000 people in on minor technical violations as soon as possible. Crimes are being broken by lawmakers and state officials to operate in this manner. No one is coming back to their communities a better citizen. I happen to think that the daily death toll and immeasurable maimings due to careless double celling of prisoners is VERY important.

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Avatar for user 'Centurion'

Centurion | February 6, 2010 at 6:59 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Prisons insure the public safety by taking those that harm others out of society and isolating them where they can no longer threaten the public. To state that prisons don't insure public safety is nonsensical. If you're in a prison, you cannot possibly commit crimes out in the public.

My bias, which I freely admit, is that I spent 20 years as a California prison guard.

Your bias, which you rarely reveal, is that your kid is doing time in a California prison.

We're just not gonna find common ground Cyanne, so I am I'm done here.

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