Speaking Out About Prison Conditions Is Risky. Incarcerated People Do It Anyway.
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In April, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report on conditions in Alabama state prisons, detailing the findings of a more than two year investigation. The DOJ found “overcrowding, dismal conditions, a lack of staff, and deliberate indifference from prison officials contributed to rampant unchecked violence, sexual abuse, and extortion,” reported Raven Rakia for The Appeal. The DOJ report elaborated on what had come to national attention that month, when more than 2,000 photographs were smuggled out of one notorious Alabama prison and published in various outlets, including the New York Times and Splinter. The pictures, believed to have been shared by a corrections officer at the St. Clair Correctional Facility, showed rampant violence and bloodshed, abysmal medical care, and untreated mental health issues.
The revelations were not new to people in Alabama’s prisons who, Rakia wrote, “have tried to expose this reality for years.”
But as Melissa Brown of the Montgomery Advertiser points out in an article this week, incarcerated people’s own accounts of life inside these places has rarely been sought out or heard in a way that matches their importance. “All too often,” she wrote, “the voices of the people directly affected by the Alabama prison system are not heard.” In fact, “Nearly every day, accounts released by state officials are reported without verification, despite the fact multiple federal institutions have found that [the Alabama Department of Corrections’] own employees have lied in their record-keeping and under-counted violent incidents as severe as murder.”
Brown shares the accounts of multiple men incarcerated in Alabama prisons who spoke up about the degrading, violent conditions in prison. “I have found myself living in hell,” said Wendell Roberts. Another man described the elderly men incarcerated decades after their convictions. “What threat are they to society? I’m talking about people in their 80s. Some of them in here are blind. They have to put their hand on another person’s shoulder to go to the chow hall or the store.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
November 18, 2019 at 11:24 AM #227001JonLPParticipant
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Conditions in prisons are deplorable.
November 18, 2019 at 2:36 PM #227045retired liberalParticipant
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In this country, prisons are for punishment, not for rehabilitation. It is believed that the harsher the conditions, the better the lessons to behave yourself after you serve your sentence. However reality does not work that way. Harsh conditions only make for hardened criminals. Why, because becoming hardened is the only way to survive. This works with animals, as well as with humans.
We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
Both major political parties are special interest groups enabling each other for power and money, at the expense of the people they no longer properly serve…
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