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What does the prison system of America say about Americans?

HenroidHenroid NobodyNowhere fastRegistered User regular
edited October 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
I'm not exactly sure what I can say about the topic that this video doesn't. But I'll try to summarize below for people who are unable to see the video (if you're unwilling, you're a putz).



In a nutshell, the Los Angeles jail system is a pretty corrupt piece of shit where prisoners are beaten without provocation. There's been various stories over the past couple decades of how inmates in prisons are mistreated by the guards / wardens. I even remember a story in the 90's where one prison was discovered to have a fighting ring established where inmates would fight to the death. One of the more recent retellings of prison conditions comes from the producer of The Hangover 2, who volunteers to teach reading (and writing?) classes in prisons.

THE PRODUCER OF HANGOVER 2. (edit - whoops, not the director)

This past week things have finally come to a head when a man, visiting his brother, was beaten by the guards within. The fucked up thing is I'm having trouble Googling this up which tells me there isn't a lot of awareness on the issue. You can see the story, via Rachel Maddow, in the video above.

I've started this thread for a few reasons. First, to discuss the specific events the video talks about. Second, to generally discuss the prison system and how screwed up it is (beyond prisoners being beaten). More importantly though, I want to get some awareness of this situation spread around. It's a pretty disgusting thing to have happen, and this is a good, strong chance to take steps in overhauling the incarceration system in the country. But at the very least, prisoners should not be beaten.

If you post in this thread and suggest, or flatly state, that the prisoners deserve to be beaten or generally shouldn't have any remorse in all this, feel free to NOT post in this thread. Even if you're trying to build an argument using that sentiment. I don't want you posting in here. I'm considering it off topic. I am outlawing a shitty opinion, I'll report you to the mods. Because that's the most inhuman goddamn thing you could do and I'm not taking this issue lightly.

Edit - I almost forgot, here's a link to the petition the ACLU has started.
https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageNavigator/CS_stop_jails.html

Edit Edit - Now I have an article on the beaten visitor, Gabriel Carrillo.
http://www.laweekly.com/content/printVersion/1280958/

Henroid on
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  • RedTideRedTide Registered User regular
    I think the most basic criticism that I could level about our prison system is that it reflects just how shortsighted we are as a society

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    It says we're a brutal people. It says we're cruel. Unforgiving. Mostly it's further evidence that the idea of this society being "post-racial" is utter bullshit.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    It says we're a brutal people. It says we're cruel. Unforgiving. Mostly it's further evidence that the idea of this society being "post-racial" is utter bullshit.

    Pretty much the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. I don't doubt the visitor who was beaten was beaten precisely because of that.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    It says we're a brutal people. It says we're cruel. Unforgiving. Mostly it's further evidence that the idea of this society being "post-racial" is utter bullshit.

    It says society loves it's pound of flesh and that stirring up populist rhetoric against a change to a sensible prison system is far too easy because of that.

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    It says we're a brutal people. It says we're cruel. Unforgiving. Mostly it's further evidence that the idea of this society being "post-racial" is utter bullshit.

    It says society loves it's pound of flesh and that stirring up populist rhetoric against a change to a sensible prison system is far too easy because of that.

    Also true.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    People are obsessed with punishment, I can understand wanting to punish someone for a violent crime but putting someone away for 10 years for drug dealing is stupid.

    Prisons in America are for punishment, not reform.

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    dbrock270 wrote:
    People are obsessed with punishment, I can understand wanting to punish someone for a violent crime but putting someone away for 10 years for drug dealing is stupid.

    Prisons in America are for punishment, not reform.

    See, before I understood how deep the abuse in the prison system ran, I use to say that prisoners need to go back to doing work like fixing roads and shit, like in chain-gangs, monitored by security.

    But like I started that sentence out (and someone will probably ignore this anyway), that was BEFORE I knew how deep the abuse ran. So fuck that idea. It'd be great too because it would be a literal paying-back to society. We need our roads maintained and built somehow, shit.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    The really crazy thing is crime rates are dropping across the board and the globe (thus, one would think, necessitating less harsh measures) and that there is tons and tons of evidence from other countries showing a more sane and less brutal prison system is actually more effective.


    Oh, and fun fact while we are on this: Something like 40% of all prison rapes in the US are committed by guards. Great system.

  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    Also the death penalty is a national embarrassment that shows the world how far behind America is and it need to be abolished now.

  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    The really crazy thing is crime rates are dropping across the board and the globe (thus, one would think, necessitating less harsh measures) and that there is tons and tons of evidence from other countries showing a more sane and less brutal prison system is actually more effective.


    Oh, and fun fact while we are on this: Something like 40% of all prison rapes in the US are committed by guards. Great system.

    Despite the attack in July, Norway has had a relatively low crime rate yet their maximum sentence is 21 and the prison cells (more like rooms) have many luxuries in them like TV and internet.

  • r4dr3zr4dr3z Registered User regular
    Land of the free and home of the brave. It frightens me that these people subjected to 5-15 years of this crap are turned loose on the public. How repeated butt rape prepares you to be an honest member of society I'll never understand.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    dbrock270 wrote:
    Also the death penalty is a national embarrassment that shows the world how far behind America is and it need to be abolished now.

    Hey now! Y'all are in good company: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment#Contemporary_use

  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    dbrock270 wrote:
    Also the death penalty is a national embarrassment that shows the world how far behind America is and it need to be abolished now.

    Hey now! Y'all are in good company: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment#Contemporary_use

    Holy shit China.

  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    The War On Drugs and the privatization of prisons in the US basically cements the fact that none of this will ever change.

  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    The War On Drugs and the privatization of prisons in the US basically cements the fact that none of this will ever change.

  • Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
    I say we just make another Australia. That worked out well in the long run.

  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    Magus` wrote:
    I say we just make another Australia. That worked out well in the long run.

    Soooo, should we use New York or LA?
    Spoiler:

  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    A full 1% of our population is in jail. That's just mind boggling.

  • ShivahnShivahn Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    Henroid wrote:
    It says we're a brutal people. It says we're cruel. Unforgiving. Mostly it's further evidence that the idea of this society being "post-racial" is utter bullshit.

    Pretty much the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. I don't doubt the visitor who was beaten was beaten precisely because of that.

    It also says, given the prison conditions and lower recidivism in other countries, and our refusal as a society to even consider that we should change in the slightest, that we aren't just cruel but we prefer being cruel to preventing victimization. Which is just about the fucked updest thing ever.

    Basically we'd rather see a drug dealer get raped than prevent a murder, or a rape, or any of the other things other systems work better for. Which is terrible.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    Is it true there is some kind of warped honor code among prisoners and inmates who are child molesters, rapists, and ex-police are beaten regularly or is that a Hollywood myth?

    easybossfight_zps4752c132.gif
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Pi-r8 wrote:
    A full 1% of our population is in jail. That's just mind boggling.

    Yep, and they're disproportionately black: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Ethnicity
    According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009.[39] According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 12.6% of the US population.[40][41][42]

    Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009.[39] Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census.[40]

    In 2009 black non-Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 4,749 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents of the same race and gender. White males were incarcerated at the rate of 708 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents. Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 1,822 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents.[39][43] For female rates see the table above.

    Census data for 2000, which included a count of the number and race of all individuals incarcerated in the United States, showed for each state that the proportion of blacks in prison populations exceeded the proportion of whites among state residents in every state.[44] In twenty states, the percent of blacks incarcerated was at least five times greater than their share of resident population.[44]

    In some regions, that disparity is almost cartoonish: In 1995, the Georgia Supreme Court found that 98.4% of the people incarcerated under the state's two-strikes law for drug offenses were black.

    That is fucking ridiculous.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • BigJoeMBigJoeM Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    No its entirely true if you're a tree-jumper or chester you are considered scum and easy prey.

    They're on the list of things you don't want to be (or believed to be) in prison.

    Some others are gay, a snitch, or trans.

    edit: this is in response em's question.

    BigJoeM on
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    So let's see here. We disproportionately convict blacks of felonies and sentence them to prison. What happens when you're in prison? Well, you can't vote. In most states, you can't vote after you get out, either.

    Yet, they're counted as representable population for the census - in the counties in which they're imprisoned. Prisons tend to be located in rural areas.

    This means that we're taking young black men out of urban population centers, stripping them of the right to vote, and moving them out to rural areas... this diminishes the representation of their home urban counties and increases the representation of rural counties.

    It's basically double disenfranchisement.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    America is nearing some form of dystopia as a society, and it's things like this that should be raising loud alarm bells for every intelligent and rational person. So, either the country is depressingly composed of mostly ignorant people, or they're being duped into thinking stuff like the prison system are a good thing. Or both. It's not very pleasant to ruminate over. I believe that the steady rate of increased societal arrogance American culture has developed post world war II(though these sentiments likely have roots farther back) is a significant factor involved in the problems currently being faced.

    No museum needs another upside-down toilet bowl once it has one.
  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    A lot of Americans are so woefully ignorant of their government and the world going on outside of where they live.

    We are still incredibly racist too.

    dbrock270 on
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    If you're not sick to your stomach yet (I am), let me take this a little further: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289
    According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

    That's just federal prison labor. That doesn't count state prison labor.
    . In Florida, where the budget was cut by $4.6 billion this year, analysts say inmate farming could save $2.4 million a year. That is relatively small potatoes, but enough for the new governor, Rick Scott, to call for an expansion of prison farming. The state already uses 550 inmates to grow 4.8 million pounds of produce a year, and the governor has pledged $2.5 million to have more inmates grow their own food.

    So we take black people from their homes, strip them of the right to vote (but count them towards the Congressional representation of the counties in which they're held against their will) and put them to work doing, among other things, growing crops.

    What does this look like to you? I know what it looks like to me.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    It's not ignorance, it's that "You can't fight city hall", which is why you need a riot these days to get your point across.

  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    It's not ignorance, it's that "You can't fight city hall", which is why you need a riot these days to get your point across.

    You don't a riot. You just need to educate people and encourage them that it is their duty as American citizens to be actively involved in politics and your community, not just sitting on your couch every night watching Fox News and bitching about how Obama is starting a communist revolution.

    I worry for America's youth today especially though.

    dbrock270 on
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    So we take black people from their homes, strip them of the right to vote (but count them towards the Congressional representation of the counties in which they're held against their will) and put them to work doing, among other things, growing crops.

    What does this look like to you? I know what it looks like to me.
    but Feral, these people are making a choice when they decide to deal drugs. It's their fault they're in prison and not rich. Who cares if a lot of them are minors when they commit their first crime, and then it's their parent's fault, who are also not rich which is also their fault.

    No museum needs another upside-down toilet bowl once it has one.
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    Yeah, I forgot that all Americans are fat, stupid, and watch Fox News.

    America's youth are doing just fine. Quite a few young people are on Wall Street right now trying to change a societal wrong and all they are getting is the shit kicked out of them by cops.

  • DiannaoChongDiannaoChong Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    I have only second hand knowledge from 2 sources who had family in prison, but basically its a honor code among those who arent those things that you dont do those things, and dont associate with those who do, and generally those who do have a much much worse time.

    I dont have evidence of the following though. I was told once a good way to stay safe was to immediately join up in a narcotics anonymous meeting, break down in your introduction and say you got hiv from a dirty needle. this pretty much makes you bullet proof and left alone. prison is a gossip farm, the word will get out and it cant be confirmed because the medical records are pretty confidential still. I havent been able to confirm that and I would like to hear if anyone knows.


    I used to be for "lets put them back on chain gains and get them doing something productive for the population like cleanup". It actually is usually win-win. From the prisoners perspective, they love the shit out of this, because they dont ever get to get out. and prison is boring as shit and it gives them something to do, and sometimes they get special treatment, and are given burgers from fast food. they also volunteer for it and have to maintain a good history while being inside to be considered for it.

    We had a series of meetings with someone in the process of being reformed who was in jail for accidentally killing his friend while driving high and drunk. he fell asleep at the wheel and was in for a few years(my source just fyi). But the other side of this is it is easy to abuse and turn it into slave labor, and its not even a slippery slope but vertical edge when you start hardening laws to beef up the "free" labor.

    DiannaoChong on
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  • dbrock270dbrock270 Registered User regular
    Are you required to do anything in prison other than to sit in your cell?

  • UrcbubUrcbub Registered User
    As things go, I am all for having prison inmates do productive work, such as farming. I prefer that to basically wasting time in a prison. Provided of course that inmates work under humane conditions.

    And no, I don't think the prison system is anything but FUBAR right now.

  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    Urcbub wrote:
    As things go, I am all for having prison inmates do productive work, such as farming. I prefer that to basically wasting time in a prison. Provided of course that inmates work under humane conditions.

    And no, I don't think the prison system is anything but FUBAR right now.
    I'm not really agreeable to any sort of forced labour.

    No museum needs another upside-down toilet bowl once it has one.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    Lucid wrote:
    Urcbub wrote:
    As things go, I am all for having prison inmates do productive work, such as farming. I prefer that to basically wasting time in a prison. Provided of course that inmates work under humane conditions.

    And no, I don't think the prison system is anything but FUBAR right now.
    I'm not really agreeable to any sort of forced labour.

    Would that cover job training? Job training would entail some work for the public benefit. Because I think that might be something positive to put into place for prisons, if it were possible. Give job skills so that inmates being released have the chance to get a halfway decent job instead of having essentially nothing once they get out.

    All in all, I'm not entirely against the notion of forced labor, on principle. However, I doubt that such a thing has ever or perhaps will ever be implemented in a way that is satisfactory.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    Job training is more agreeable if it's beneficial to the prisoner reintegrating into society. Farming and manufacturing not so much, as it's done more for the benefit of corporations or society. I think that benefit to prisoner rehabilitation(which job training could fall under) and society is the optimal situation. Forced labour in general seems more likely to lead to dehumanizing mentality or conditions, which doesn't help with correcting a lot of the issues going on for prisoners and society.

    No museum needs another upside-down toilet bowl once it has one.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Arguments about "job training" would make more sense if a felony conviction didn't destroy your ability to get a job after release.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    "If you can read this sign, you are overqualified."

    easybossfight_zps4752c132.gif
  • gtrmpgtrmp Registered User regular
    The United States has 5% of the world's population, but holds more than a quarter of the world's total prison population: in 2008, there were 2.3 million people in prison in America, and another 3 million who had previously been in prison at some point in their lives. Compare with China, which makes up a quarter of the world's population, and had a current prison population of around 1.6 million people at that time. The United States has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world: 0.74% of the population is in prison, with second place being Russia at 0.57%; China's prison population is around 0.12% of their total population. That's not including the people in jail awaiting trial or on parole, which brings the total numbers up to 7.2 million Americans living under the oversight of the corrections system - around 2.3% of the population. That's out of the total population; whites an Asians are disproportionately underrepresented in the prison system, whereas one in three black men born since 2001 can expect to end up in prison at some point in their lives.

  • EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    as someone who as experienced the prison system from the inside, albeit at a minimum sec. work camp for 90% of my time, I can tell you a few things:

    The reformative/rehabilitative aspects are complete bullshit, if you didn't know that already. Upon arriving, and I suspect this a nation-wide thing, you take must answer (if you don't, you are essentially put on 24-lockdown for your entire sentence) a series of questions that determines what your rehabilitative 'needs' are. These questions are incredibly incisive, such as 'have you ever felt angry?' Yes, no, I don't know. Answer yes or I don't know, and it is likely that you will score high on risk for violence, and will be required to complete anger management, etc and may also be classified a higher security risk.

    I can't remember all the questions (might be able to get a copy of them though), but they are essentially all like this. All incoming prisoners are classified and given 'case plans' according to these questions. I actually must have given the 'wrong' answers to at least some of these questions, because initially I scored high on things like 'risk for violence' and recidivism, despite the fact that I had nothing at all (like, not even a speeding ticket) on my criminal record before all this (I've got a felony drug conviction now).

    I can't say anything about violence or brutality really, as the place I was at was pretty easy in that regard. I didn't see even a single fight.

    The work aspect is a different story: I can definitely tell you that it is exploitative as fuck. Where I was at, prisoners (who were allowed to leave the gates) worked cutting trees for lumber, peeling posts, clearing brush/fuels reduction, wildland firefighting (flood fighting too), etc. Labor was pretty fucking intense at times (40 hours/week minimum too), and they might act otherwise, but the facility staff really don't give a fuck about you. So, try not to get hurt wrestling fucking tree trunks around out in the woods with your bare hands (and sometimes there was literally heavy equipment right there).

    Pay was something like $50 a month, out which you must also pay for things like soap, toothpaste, etc and food if you don't feel like eating the filth at the chow hall (admittedly, sometimes it was decent considering the circumstances, but often it was pretty fucking bad). So you might keep like 20 bucks of that a month, if you budget right. Oh, and you also have to buy some medication if you require it, ibuprofen for instance. And guess what the medical staff's response to 99% of any complaint was? Right, go take some ibuprofen.

    There is definitely a code for people in there for drugs/theft/violence/etc to stay away from people who were sex offenders or rapists, and other horrible shit (again I didn't see anything done to those kinds of inmates, but that's more because of where I was). I really don't want to talk about those people though, as the shit some of them have done will make you physically ill to even hear about.

    can't think of anything else to say right now, but I can easily imagine everything anyone's heard about the prison system/industry being true...

    edit: oh, and what do our prisons say about America? That we have an incredibly just and socially beneficial criminal justice system, obviously

    Eupfhoria on
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