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The Fire This Time: Aryan Prison Syndicates, For-Profit Prisons, Government-Sponsored Drug Trafficking and “Austerity”

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: We’ve done a num­ber of posts about some recent mur­ders which may or may not have been com­mit­ted by white suprema­cist prison syn­di­cates, which, as we have seen, work with var­i­ous other groups. Some of the (occa­sion­ally) col­lab­o­rat­ing ele­ments include prison guards and peo­ple with links to the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

Some of America’s bur­geon­ing for-profit pris­ons appear to be using them as enforcers.

Prison-based Islamists may also be work­ing with some of them. (Some of the Islamist prison chap­lains have been trained by the Saudi-financed Oper­a­tion Green Quest.)

An arti­cle that is as fright­en­ing as it is pre­scient was penned by a for­mer inmate in the cor­rec­tions sys­tem who wrote anonymously.

Not­ing the ante­dilu­vian nature of con­tem­po­rary cor­rec­tional sys­tems in this coun­try, a for­mer inmate who had inter­acted with some of the Aryan prison syn­di­cates has noted not only their large num­bers, but the fact that our pris­ons do not reha­bil­i­tate, tend­ing to exac­er­bate rather than ame­lio­rate the inmates’ difficulties.

In addi­tion, we should note a num­ber of con­sid­er­a­tions brought up here:

  • Ele­ments of the white suprema­cist move­ment appear to have achieved a degree of geo­graph­i­cal and func­tional auton­omy, as indi­cated by the ref­er­ence to Moun­tain Home, Idaho.
  • One should note the explo­sion in the U.S. prison pop­u­la­tion since 1980. That was when Ronald Rea­gan assumed office. His admin­is­tra­tion was, essen­tially, a front for the Under­ground Reich.
  • Note also that Aryan Broth­er­hood ele­ments quoted here dis­cuss hav­ing been impris­oned for drug offenses. The Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion was deeply com­plicit in the drug trade, at the same time as it intro­duced dra­con­ian sen­tenc­ing for first time offenders.
  • The Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion also dra­mat­i­cally accel­er­ated the ship­ping of jobs off­shore, increas­ing the pres­sure on work­ing peo­ple to sup­ple­ment their incomes by sell­ing drugs–not unlike what hap­pened dur­ing the Great Depres­sion with boot­leg alco­hol in the pro­hi­bi­tion era.
  • We have also seen a dra­matic increase in “for-profit pris­ons,” giv­ing the pow­ers that be added incen­tive to “lock ‘em up and throw away the key.”
  • It is sear­ingly ironic that many of the mem­bers of the Aryan prison syn­di­cates hate black folks. The for-profit pris­ons are not all that unlike the slav­ery that was imposed on Africans in the U.S.
  • The cocaine epi­demic caused by the mas­sive impor­ta­tion of drugs dur­ing the Rea­gan years also vic­tim­ized the very African-Americans so despised by these Aryan syn­di­cate members.
  • As bud­getary strains brought about by the “aus­ter­ity” dogma and related phe­nom­ena like “sequester” increase, the pres­sure to release bru­tal­ized inmates will increase. This bodes very poorly for the future. 

“Why I Fear the Aryan Brotherhood—and You Should, Too” by Anony­mous; The Daily Beast; 4/1/2013.

EXCERPT: Law enforce­ment offi­cers may have a real prob­lem on their hands. They’re being tight-lipped about it, but it’s some­thing they should have been aware of for decades. They had to see it coming.

Four peo­ple have been killed since the begin­ning of the year in a series of shoot­ings that appear to be con­nected to the home­grown jihadists of the Aryan Broth­er­hood. Mike McLel­land, the dis­trict attor­ney of Texas’s Kauf­man County, and his wife, Cyn­thia Wood­ward, became the lat­est vic­tims this past week­end. Before that, McLelland’s for­mer col­league Mark Hasse was shot in Jan­u­ary. Col­orado pris­ons chief Tom Clements was gunned down in mid-March.

The Broth­er­hood, also known as The Brand, AB, and One-Two, was formed dur­ing the 1960s by a group of white con­victs serv­ing time at San Quentin. They allegedly were fed up with white pris­on­ers being vic­tim­ized by the two pre­dom­i­nant gangs, the Black Gorilla Fam­ily (BGF) and the Mex­i­can Mafia and decided to form a gang of their own for self-protection. While ini­tially closely asso­ci­ated with Nazism ide­o­log­i­cally, many adher­ents belong to the group for the iden­tity and pur­pose it pro­vides. The iron­clad rule for entrée into the Broth­er­hood is sim­ple: kill a black or a His­panic pris­oner. The other rule, which is just as iron­clad, gave rise to their motto: “Blood In/Blood Out.”

Quit­ting isn’t an option. There’s only death. . . .

. . . . It was from Luke that I first heard of Moun­tain Home, Idaho, when he said, “If I coulda just made it back to Moun­tain Home, I’da been OK.” The trou­ble he was refer­ring to was his last bank rob­bery for which he was now await­ing sen­tenc­ing, where he and his crew had kid­napped a bank-branch man­ager and strapped 10 sticks of dyna­mite around her chest and wired it to a remote det­o­na­tor. He was not some lit­tle des­per­ate punk-assed note passer; the crew he worked with would, after months of plan­ning, take over the whole bank and, in his words, “take all of the god­damn money.” They felt it was unpro­fes­sional to leave one dol­lar bill behind.

He was the only one of the four cap­tured and flat out told the FBI that he “didn’t know shit.” When they threat­ened him with a longer sen­tence, accord­ing to him his response was “rush it and you won’t owe it.” I believed him, since these were among the most standup dudes I’d ever encountered.

I grad­u­ally learned (from men who had no need to embell­ish their deeds as some arm­chair neo-Nazi pseudo-tough guys are prone to do) of Moun­tain Home and other pock­ets of armed resis­tance sit­u­ated in rural areas of three or four west­ern states where fed­eral author­i­ties are reluc­tant to enter to enforce the law.

“They know we’re up in there,” I remem­ber Luke say­ing, “but it ain’t worth riskin’ get­ting their asses blown off to come in and try to take us out. They want to go home too, and they know we ain’t fuck­ing around. We ain’t try­ing to over­throw the gov­ern­ment or noth­ing. We’re just fight­ing to pro­tect our wives, kids and our way of life, and them cow­ard moth­er­fuck­ers know it. All we’re ask­ing is to be left alone.” He con­ve­niently for­got about all the banks he’d robbed to be able to afford all of the expen­sive, high-end toys he once possessed.

Unlike David Koresh and his sheep­like fol­low­ers (and other sects based on reli­gious fanati­cism), these are battle-hardened and death-tested men (many of them, like Big Red, with exten­sive mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence) who are not set on dying for some kind of reli­gious cause; their thing is that, when the sit­u­a­tion calls for it, they’re killers. They’re not into dying—except to pro­tect the honor of the Brotherhood.

And they’re also sin­cere in their belief that many mem­bers of law enforce­ment are kin­dred spir­its, right-wingers who under­stand their hatreds, loss of hege­mony, and rabid deter­mi­na­tion to pro­tect what­ever power the white man has left in Amer­ica. And those who don’t buy into their hate­ful rhetoric they per­ceive as being weak-kneed sob sis­ters who will will­ingly mon­gre­lize and sell out their proud white her­itage. Truly, every­one who is not with them is against them.

I never spoke to this dude again for the next 18 months, until the Alfred P. Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing was bombed in down­town Okla­homa City about a week before I was slated to exit prison for the last time. Stand­ing in front of the TV in the day room he turned to me and said, “This ain’t shit, just wait until we get started. They done took me from my fam­ily for over 30 years because of some of punk-assed drug-conspiracy bull­shit, and even­tu­ally they’re going to have to pay … We’re going to make them pay.”

If these recent killings rep­re­sent the Brotherhood’s twisted form of ret­ri­bu­tion, the fact that it has taken so long to begin is all the more chill­ing. To me this would demon­strate a hard-nosed deter­mi­na­tion that all cit­i­zens should find fright­en­ing. We shouldn’t be whistling past the grave­yard on these killings.

These are men with a huge ax to grind. While few of them would argue they deserve no time behind bars for their crimes, vir­tu­ally all of them feel the amount of time handed out under fed­eral sen­tenc­ing guide­lines is far, far too puni­tive … way out of pro­por­tion; that pun­ish­ments don’t fit the crimes, and some legal schol­ars actu­ally agree.

America’s harsh judi­cial sys­tem, cou­pled with a grow­ing national affin­ity for uti­liz­ing com­plete iso­la­tion at super-max pris­ons as a cor­rec­tions tac­tic of first choice, in many cases turns men into mon­sters. And, truth be told, there is no such thing as truly lock­ing away the gang lead­ers so they can no longer call the shots on the prison yard … or even on the streets.

Some­one has to feed these case-hardened con­victs three times a day, and who might you think car­ries this duty out? If you’re think­ing it’s the guards, you’re wrong. They’re not about to be turned into wait­ers for men they often view as the scum of the earth no mat­ter what. Instead, that duty falls to other pris­on­ers known as “trustees.” And these trustees smug­gle all of the mes­sages the guards are not bribed (or threat­ened) into car­ry­ing back and forth. Hey, everyone’s got fam­i­lies, you know.

The true ter­ror­ist wins because of his or her will­ing­ness to die for what they believe in—history has taught us that over and over again. Many of the first men locked up when our nation embarked on a pol­icy of for-profit mass incar­cer­a­tion near the end of the last cen­tury are now return­ing into soci­ety. And, as pre­dicted by numer­ous pro­fes­sion­als, they are sicker and more dan­ger­ous than when they went behind bars.

While the U.S. pop­u­la­tion grew 2.8 times since 1920, the U.S. prison pop­u­la­tion grew more than 20 times, and most dra­mat­i­cally since 1980. The fear among law enforce­ment is (or at least should be) is that now we have dozens upon dozens—if not hun­dreds (who knows, maybe even thousands)—of mur­der­ous chick­ens finally com­ing home to roost.

Discussion

6 comments for “The Fire This Time: Aryan Prison Syndicates, For-Profit Prisons, Government-Sponsored Drug Trafficking and “Austerity””

  1. Thanks Dave. Now it is up to each of us to get this infor­ma­tion out to as many peo­ple as possible.

    Posted by David | May 6, 2013, 4:54 pm
  2. Just FYI, if you’re a con­ser­v­a­tive Sen­a­tor try­ing to live down your prostitution-scandalrelated shenani­gans and you want to rebrand your­self as a tough, noble cham­pion of virtue, propos­ing amend­ments that make you look like a cal­lous sadis­tic mon­ster prob­a­bly isn’t the rebrand­ing “theme” you want to go for.

    On sec­ond thought, it looks like look­ing like a cal­lous sadis­tic mon­ster is the pop­u­lar thing to do:

    Salon
    Fri­day, May 24, 2013 11:16 AM CST
    David Vitter’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal, puni­tive, hor­ri­ble new amend­ment
    Senator’s new mea­sure denies food stamps for life to cer­tain classes of ex-convicts (solic­i­ta­tion not included)

    By David Dayen

    In a sleepy moment on the Sen­ate floor Wednes­day, Sen­ate Democ­rats accepted an amend­ment to the long-delayed farm bill that, if passed in its cur­rent form, would rep­re­sent another step in turn­ing pre­vi­ously incar­cer­ated Amer­i­cans into a per­ma­nent under­class. Cer­tain classes of ex-convicts would be denied food stamp ben­e­fits for life, under the amend­ment offered by Sen. David Vit­ter (can­nily, the crime of solic­it­ing pros­ti­tutes is exempted from this ban). While the amend­ment may sound like com­mon sense, it’s actu­ally a harshly puni­tive, coun­ter­pro­duc­tive pol­icy that will only increase crime and trap peo­ple in the crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

    The amend­ment was clearly cre­ated as a wedge issue, a peren­nial Repub­li­can effort to get Demo­c­ra­tic sen­a­tors to vote for some­thing that can get used against them later in attack ads. Tom Coburn is a mas­ter of this; dur­ing the health­care bill he offered an amend­ment ban­ning sex offend­ers from receiv­ing health insur­ance ben­e­fits for Viagra.

    Vit­ter pre­sented the bill as pro­hibit­ing “con­victed mur­der­ers, rapists, and pedophiles” from food stamp ben­e­fits. And in gen­eral those are the cat­e­gories – mur­der, rape, aggra­vated sex­ual assault, domes­tic vio­lence where sex­ual assault is involved, child molesta­tion, and so on. No sen­a­tor would vote to “give” vio­lent offend­ers fed­eral ben­e­fits, and in this case they didn’t have to. Rather than put the amend­ment up for a vote, the man­ager of the farm bill, Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee Chair­woman Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow, merely accepted the amend­ment into the base bill. The amend­ment was agreed to by unan­i­mous con­sent, which is to say that nobody objected to it on the floor. In real­ity, it’s unlikely that most sen­a­tors even knew the amendment’s contents.

    “Some peo­ple say these are unsa­vory crimes, and I agree,” said Bob Green­stein, founder and pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties, one of the first to notice the amendment’s pas­sage. “But there’s a broader prin­ci­ple here. Sup­pose you did some­thing ter­ri­ble when you were 19, and you were straight the rest of your life, you paid your debt to soci­ety, now you’re 82 and liv­ing in poverty, should you be stripped of food stamps? Is this the right thing to do?”

    47.8 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are enrolled in the food stamp pro­gram, and some sub­set of them may have a crim­i­nal past, even a vio­lent crim­i­nal past. By mak­ing the life­time food stamp ban retroac­tive, you just cut an inde­ter­mi­nate num­ber of ex-convicts off from what has become a pri­mary safety net ben­e­fit. In addi­tion, under the amend­ment, any depen­dent chil­dren or fam­ily mem­bers would also lose ben­e­fits. Because the stan­dard is merely “con­vic­tion,” you’re going to get peo­ple con­victed of a vio­lent crime who may have been inno­cent – per­haps African-Americans from the south con­victed decades ago by seg­re­gated juries, Green­stein sug­gested – caught up in this ban. Given crime sta­tis­tics, we know that minori­ties would be dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected. And once you estab­lish this prin­ci­ple in law, Green­stein adds, “the inevitable ques­tion would be, should you add other crimes?”

    Actu­ally, we have expe­ri­ence with this, and the data show that ban­ning con­victed crim­i­nals from fed­eral ben­e­fits has tremen­dously neg­a­tive effects for soci­ety. The 1996 wel­fare reform law imposes a life­time ban from food stamps, as well as wel­fare ben­e­fits, on any­one con­victed of a drug-related felony, allegedly to pre­vent the trade of food stamps for drugs. The law included an opt-out for the states, which co-manage the pro­gram. And many states have taken advan­tage of that, alter­ing the law to exempt those who have com­pleted pro­ba­tion or parole or enrolled in a drug treat­ment pro­gram. Other states end the ban a cer­tain num­ber of years after the com­ple­tion of the sen­tence. And 16 states, along with the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, opted out of the ban entirely. In 10 states – Alabama, Alaska, Geor­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri, South Car­olina, Texas, West Vir­ginia, Wyoming – the full ban remains in effect. So we have a nat­ural exper­i­ment, where we can see the effects of deny­ing ben­e­fits to ex-convicts, who already are stig­ma­tized in ways that make it hard to find steady work and adapt back into society.

    The results are really awful. One study shows that con­victed felons denied food assis­tance have higher rates of HIV than their coun­ter­parts; the ban pushes peo­ple into the sex trade to make a liv­ing. Those denied ben­e­fits also, as you might expect, have higher rates of return to drug use and crime, lead­ing to higher rates of recidi­vism. Far from reduc­ing costs for states, the law just shifts those costs from the food stamp pro­gram to prison man­age­ment programs.

    Puni­tive post-sentencing laws like this cre­ate a per­ma­nent under­class out of the largely minor­ity ex-convict pop­u­la­tion, a sit­u­a­tion that attor­ney Michelle Alexan­der described in her 2012 book “The New Jim Crow.” Ben­e­fits like food stamps are cru­cial in the early stages of tran­si­tion­ing ex-felons into com­mu­nity liv­ing. With­out pub­lic assis­tance in this crit­i­cal stage, drug offend­ers tend to remain trapped in the crim­i­nal jus­tice cycle, which dis­ad­van­tages both their lives and the broader soci­ety. It also dimin­ishes the cit­i­zen­ship rights of an entire group of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. As Celia Cole of the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties in Austin, Texas, puts it, “Who are we to say, ‘You made a mis­take. You paid your debt to soci­ety. We’re let­ting you reen­ter soci­ety, but you can’t eat?’”

    And states have begun to under­stand this. New Jer­sey, Delaware and South Dakota recently soft­ened their bans on deny­ing pub­lic assis­tance to drug offend­ers. With strained state bud­gets and the explo­sion of spend­ing on pris­ons, state leg­is­la­tors are mov­ing in the direc­tion of ques­tion­ing the value of the ban. Law­mak­ers in Mis­souri and West Vir­ginia have pro­posed lift­ing it.

    So just as the states start to rec­og­nize how coun­ter­pro­duc­tive this all is, here comes the fed­eral gov­ern­ment with another ban. Per­haps deny­ing ben­e­fits to vio­lent crime offend­ers sounds more log­i­cal than deny­ing them to non­vi­o­lent drug offend­ers (though when you con­sider that crim­i­nals are fed through pub­lic resources in prison, the logic starts to col­lapse). But the dynamic is the same – these ex-felons will end up with­out enough sup­port to sur­vive out­side prison, and in many cases return to a life of crime. So in the name of moral preen­ing, bans like this only endan­ger soci­ety more, to say noth­ing of the social and eco­nomic costs. “The prin­ci­ple should be, if you were con­victed, did you pay your debt, serve your sen­tence, com­ply with pro­ba­tion?” said Bob Green­stein of CBPP. “If you’ve done every­thing right, it doesn’t seem to me years later that we ought to be doing this.”

    ...

    You have to won­der if we’ll ever fig­ure out that the whole “turn­ing the other cheek”/Golden Rule approach to pub­lic pol­icy actu­ally cre­ate bet­ter poli­cies with bet­ter results for every­one. For­give­ness isn’t just a nifty slo­gan. It actu­ally works. There’s really no excuse for being a monster.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 26, 2013, 7:33 pm
  3. The new “King Alfred” plan

    I tried to post this under the Misc. archive “King Alfred” post sec­tion, but I don’t think there was a writ­ten post area for it at the time it was produced.

    Sen­a­tor Mark Kirk (R,IL.) has called for a “King Alfred” solu­tion to “the black problem”:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/30/rep-rush-blasts-rep-kirks-elitist-white-boy-plan-to-jail-18000-black-men/

    Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) on Wednes­day accused Illi­nois Sen. Mark Kirk ® of propos­ing an “elit­ist white boy solu­tion” to gang vio­lence with his plan for the mass arrests of 18,000 gang mem­bers in Chicago.

    Ear­lier on Wednes­day, Kirk had joined with fel­low Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in call­ing on Illi­nois attor­ney gen­eral nom­i­nee Zachary Far­don to focus on street gangs and gun vio­lence. But in an inter­view ear­lier this month, Kirk had gone even fur­ther with a plan to tar­get mem­bers of the Gang­ster Disciples.

    “My top pri­or­ity is to arrest the Gang­ster Dis­ci­ple gang, which is 18,000 peo­ple,” Kirk told WFLD. “I would like to a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thom­son Cor­rec­tional Facility.”

    The sen­a­tor pro­posed that fed­eral agen­cies — like the ATF, DEA and FBI — work together to charge mem­bers of the gang with “drug deal­ing” and “mur­der­ing peo­ple, which is what they do.”

    Rush reacted to that plan on Wednes­day by insist­ing it was a “sen­sa­tional, headline-grabbing, empty, sim­plis­tic, unwork­able approach.”

    Rush told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kirk needed to “see the big­ger pic­ture” instead of propos­ing an “upper-middle-class, elit­ist white boy solu­tion to a prob­lem he knows noth­ing about.”

    “I am really very upset with Mark,” he said.

    In a follow-up state­ment, Rush explained that his colleague’s “cur­rent plan does not include the option to cre­ate jobs, pro­vide afford­able and safe hous­ing, qual­ity health care and improve schools in urban areas, BUT cer­tainly a plan to incar­cer­ate 18,000 black men is elitist.”

    —————–

    REX-84 anybody...anybody? Kirk?

    Posted by Swamp | May 30, 2013, 7:28 pm
  4. The more guns the mer­rier when you’re talk­ing about a secret neo-nazi under­ground bunker with a 25 yard fir­ing range:

    NBC Los Ange­les
    Secret Stash of Ille­gal Weapons, White Suprema­cist Para­pher­nelia Found in Palm­dale
    “I wasn’t quite expect­ing what we dis­cov­ered,” Deputy James Moser said.
    By Samia Khan and John Cádiz Klemack
    | Thurs­day, Jan 9, 2014 | Updated 7:35 AM PST

    Three men have been arrested after author­i­ties in Palm­dale dis­cov­ered a secret bunker hid­ing ille­gal guns, ammu­ni­tion, and White Suprema­cist para­pher­na­lia, accord­ing to the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

    “It’s not some­thing that any­body we’ve ever worked with has seen in their careers in law enforce­ment,” Deputy Julia Vez­ina said.

    NBC4 got an exclu­sive look into the home that housed the secret bunker Wednes­day, which is located on the 10000 block of East Avenue S-4, in the Lit­tle­rock area just out­side of Palmdale.

    “When you open up the hatch, you look down and about 10 feet down, all con­crete rein­forced walls, sound­proof with bars,” Vez­ina said of the bunker, which was home to a 25 yard under­ground fir­ing range.

    Deputies began the inves­ti­ga­tion last month after four guns were stolen from a stor­age unit in Palm­dale. The infor­ma­tion gath­ered allowed them to issue a search war­rant early Tues­day morn­ing, which is what led them to the discovery.

    “Some of the weapons were ille­gal just on their face because of what they were, like machine guns. And then other guns were con­firmed stolen,” Vez­ina said.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors found six pis­tols, 11 rifles, a WWII machine gun, more than 1,000 rounds of ammu­ni­tion, more than 100 mag­a­zines, and sev­eral items of White Suprema­cist paraphernalia.

    “He had some Nazi flags and rebel flag, some other pho­tos of him­self wear­ing Nazi attire and giv­ing the straight arm salute, stuff like that,” Vez­ina said.

    Deputies arrested 54-year-old Todd Hunt, 33-year-old Royce Gre­sham, and 62-year-old Larry Finnell, all res­i­dents of Littlerock.

    “Larry was a sur­vival­ist, he’s con­cerned about the direc­tion our gov­ern­ment is going now,” neigh­bor Dale Snide said of one of the sus­pects. “He was a good neigh­bor, never caused any­one any trou­ble out here as far as I know.”

    ...

    It’s worth point­ing out that the youngest of the three men arrested, 33-year-old Royce Gre­sham, appears to have been quoted in a 2007 arti­cle about the neg­a­tive long-term con­se­quences of the “lock ‘em up!” men­tal­ity. Gre­sham is char­ac­ter­ized at the time as “a 26-year-old car thief who had the mis­for­tune to be ran­domly stopped at a sobri­ety check­point while on parole” and describes the ter­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tion non-violent pris­on­ers expe­ri­ence. It’s an anec­dote that raises the ques­tion: Was Gre­sham already a white-supremacist before he went to prison or is that one of the use­ful life skills he acquired on the inside:

    The Weekly Stan­dard
    Cal­i­for­nia Behind Bars
    Over­crowd­ing, union­iza­tion and other prison prob­lems.
    Apr 9, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 29 • By DAVID DEVOSS

    Lan­caster, Calif.

    Sur­rounded by sub­di­vi­sions with names like Almond Val­ley and Sierra Vista, the Cal­i­for­nia State Prison in Lan­caster looks more like an indus­trial park than a maximum-security facil­ity. But the lethal throb of high volt­age elec­tric­ity cours­ing through its double-perimeter fence leaves no doubt that this is a place one enters with trepidation.

    “This prison opened in 1993 with a capac­ity of 2,200, but today we have 4,300 pris­on­ers, 468 of which are in tem­po­rary beds,” says war­den William Sul­li­van as we stroll across a com­mon mon­i­tored by marks­men in loom­ing guard tow­ers. “I get 200 new inmates a week and 8,000 more are wait­ing in L.A. County jails for room to move in here.”

    The extent of the crowd­ing becomes appar­ent when we enter a gym­na­sium filled with rows of bunks stacked three high. More than 120 pris­on­ers wan­der through the maze of beds wait­ing assign­ment to other pris­ons. That they live in rel­a­tive peace is due to the small pla­toon of grim-faced guards arrayed about the room like Sta­tions of the Cross.

    “Right now everybody’s get­ting along, but things could turn in a minute,” con­fides Royce Gre­sham, a 26-year-old car thief who had the mis­for­tune to be ran­domly stopped at a sobri­ety check­point while on parole. “It’s scary,” he whis­pers. “Peo­ple with light sen­tences are mixed with lif­ers com­ing through here with noth­ing to lose.”

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 9, 2014, 10:25 pm
  5. Birds of a feather flock together. It makes crap­ping on every­one else so much eas­ier:

    TPM Livewire
    Rick Scott Fundraiser Founded Drug Clinic Closed Due To Abuse Reports

    Daniel Strauss – April 1, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT858

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott ® is host­ing a fundrais­ing event on Thurs­day in which the host com­mit­tee includes the founder of a sub­stance abuse boot camp that closed because of charges of seri­ous abuse, Mother Jones reported on Tuesday.

    The fundraiser in ques­tion is Mel Sem­bler, who founded Straight Inc. in 1976. Over 17 years the Straight Inc. drug treat­ment facil­i­ties were repeat­edly accused of abuse. As Mother Jones notes, there was at least one Straight Inc. staffer accused of kid­nap­ping adult patients and abus­ing them in men­tal, phys­i­cal, and sex­ual ways. There were two state inves­ti­ga­tions that backed up that charge.

    Mother Jones reported in 2006 that “hun­dreds” of patients said they had been abused at Straight Inc. facil­i­ties. Saman­tha Mon­roe said she had been raped and starved and locked in a closet.

    Mon­roe also said that after she escaped from the pro­gram Straight Inc. staff put her in a “time­out room” and “hog-tied her,” accord­ing to Mother Jones.

    Straight Inc., offi­cials said those accu­sa­tions were not true.

    The Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices in 1990 ordered one of Straight Inc.‘s facil­i­ties, in Yorba Linda to close after inves­ti­ga­tors con­firmed alle­ga­tions of abuse. A year later, state offi­cials in Vir­ginia took away the Straight Inc. facility’s license there, caus­ing it to move to Maryland.

    Thus far Sem­bler has donated $25,000 to the Florida governor’s re-election efforts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 2, 2014, 7:54 am
  6. With Cal­i­for­nia on track to go up in flames from drought-induced wild­fires it’s no sur­prise that state offi­cials might be plac­ing a high pri­or­ity on main­tain­ing the state’s fire­fight­ing capa­bil­i­ties. Still, there’s a bit of a “the ends don’t jus­tify the means” issue with the state’s approach since the means involves inten­tion­ally keep peo­ple in prison in order to pro­vide a large sup­ply of cheap labor to fight wild­fires:

    Think Progress
    Cal­i­for­nia Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

    by Nicole Fla­tow Posted on Novem­ber 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm Updated: Novem­ber 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Out of California’s years-long lit­i­ga­tion over reduc­ing the pop­u­la­tion of pris­ons deemed uncon­sti­tu­tion­ally over­crowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obsta­cle to address­ing the U.S. epi­demic of mass incar­cer­a­tion has emerged: The util­ity of cheap prison labor.

    In recent fil­ings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole pro­grams, rea­son­ing not that releas­ing inmates early is logis­ti­cally impos­si­ble or would threaten pub­lic safety, but instead that pris­ons won’t have enough min­i­mum secu­rity inmates left to per­form inmate jobs.

    The dis­pute cul­mi­nated Fri­day, when a three-judge fed­eral panel ordered Cal­i­for­nia to expand an early parole pro­gram. Cal­i­for­nia now has no choice but to broaden a pro­gram known as 2-for-1 cred­its that gives inmates who meet cer­tain mile­stones the oppor­tu­nity to have their sen­tences reduced. But California’s objec­tions raise trou­bling ques­tions about whether prison labor cre­ates per­verse incen­tives to keep inmates in prison even when they don’t need to be there.

    The debate cen­ters around an expan­sive state pro­gram to have inmates fight wild­fires. Cal­i­for­nia is one of sev­eral states that employs prison labor to fight wild­fires. And it has the largest such pro­gram, as the state’s wild­fire prob­lem rapidly expands arguably because of cli­mate change. By employ­ing prison inmates who are paid less than $2 per day, the state saves some $1 bil­lion, accord­ing to a recent Buz­zFeed fea­ture of the prac­tice. Cal­i­for­nia relies upon that labor source, and only cer­tain classes of non­vi­o­lent inmates charged with lower level offenses are eli­gi­ble for the selec­tive pro­gram. They must then meet phys­i­cal and other criteria.

    In exchange, they get the oppor­tu­nity for early release, by earn­ing twice as many cred­its toward early release as inmates in other pro­grams would oth­er­wise earn, known as 2-for-1 cred­its. In Feb­ru­ary, the fed­eral court over­see­ing California’s prison lit­i­ga­tion ordered the state to expand this 2-for-1 pro­gram to some other reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams so that other inmates who exhibit good behav­ior and per­form cer­tain work suc­cess­fully would also be eli­gi­ble for even ear­lier release.

    As has been California’s prac­tice in this lit­i­ga­tion, Cal­i­for­nia didn’t ini­tially take the order that seri­ously. It con­tin­ued to work toward reduc­ing its prison pop­u­la­tion. In fact, the bal­lot ini­tia­tive passed by vot­ers in Novem­ber to reclas­sify sev­eral non­vi­o­lent felonies as mis­de­meanors will go a long way toward achiev­ing that goal. But it insisted that it didn’t have to do it the way the court wanted it to, because doing so could deplete the state’s source of inmate firefighters.

    The incen­tives of this wild­fire and other labor pro­grams are seem­ingly in con­flict with the goal of reduc­ing U.S. reliance on mass incar­cer­a­tion. But the fed­eral judges over­see­ing this lit­i­ga­tion were nonethe­less sen­si­tive to the state’s need for inmate fire­fight­ers. That’s why they ordered the state to offer 2-for-1 cred­its only to those many inmates who weren’t eli­gi­ble for the wild­fire pro­gram. This way, inmates who were eli­gi­ble would still be incen­tivized to choose fight­ing wild­fires, while those that weren’t could choose other reha­bil­i­ta­tive work pro­grams to reduce their sentence.

    The Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions didn’t like this idea, either. It argued that offer­ing 2-for-1 cred­its to any inmates who per­form other prison labor would mean more min­i­mum secu­rity inmates would be released ear­lier, and they wouldn’t have as large of a labor pool. They would still need to fill those jobs by draw­ing can­di­dates who could oth­er­wise work fight­ing wild­fires, and would be “forced to draw down its fire camp pop­u­la­tion to fill these vital MSF [Min­i­mum Sup­port Facil­ity] posi­tions.” In other words, they didn’t want to have to hire full-time employ­ees to per­form any of the work that inmates are now performing.

    The plain­tiffs had this to say in response: “Defen­dants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage, and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp pop­u­la­tion to fill these vital MSF posi­tions.’ That is a red her­ring; Defen­dants would not be ‘forced’ to do any­thing. They could hire pub­lic employ­ees to per­form tasks like garbage col­lec­tion, garage work and recy­cling … ”

    In a short order Fri­day, the fed­eral court seem­ingly agreed with this argu­ment, order­ing Cal­i­for­nia to expand its 2-for-1 cred­its program.

    California’s resis­tance to the ini­tial fed­eral court order is not sur­pris­ing. Despite mak­ing some real strides in reduc­ing its prison pop­u­la­tion rel­a­tive to other states, the state has fought court orders every step of the way, as Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that the pris­ons were on the verge of being “gold plated.” But its newest line of argu­ment reveals another obsta­cle to prison reform that may affect many other states with­out a court order for reform.

    ...

    While this is obvi­ously quite cruel to California’s pris­on­ers, note that, should this soci­ety ever actu­ally start send­ing frack­ing CEOs to prison for casu­ally poi­son­ing California’s water sup­ply with frack­ing pol­lu­tants and those CEOs end up fight­ing fires for the state of Cal­i­for­nia, we could see a jus­tice sys­tem that’s not only cruel but unusu­ally ironic too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2014, 1:04 pm

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