Tag Archive: prison industrial complex

The Uncomfortable, Taboo Reality Facing Many Female Prisoners

Female inmates interact in their cell at the Timpanogos Women's Correctional Unit during a media tour Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Draper, Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he's opposed to the idea of allowing a state commission to pick a location to build a new prison instead of leaving the decision with the Legislature. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

From ATTN/ By Laura Donovan

Earlier this year, ATTN: reported on an overlooked issue for homeless women: lack of accessibility to feminine products on the streets. Some of the women interviewed said they had stopped menstruating, which can be caused by extreme stress and poor nutrition, among other things. Female inmates also have trouble accessing these personal hygiene products, and the prison guards are often not much help.

Chandra Bozelko, who spent more than six years at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, writes that she experienced this problem firsthand while serving time, and the experience posed sanitary risks to her and the other prisoners. According to Bozelko, she and her fellow inmates were given about 10 menstrual pads each per week. This might seem sufficient for a four to seven day cycle, but it is important to remember that many women outside prison go through several pads a day, especially on heavier menstruation days, so the limited number of pads distributed to prisoners can result in female inmates using one pad far longer than they should.

“[The situation allowed] for only one change a day in an average five-day monthly cycle,” she writes. “The lack of sanitary supplies is so bad in women’s prisons that I have seen pads fly right out of an inmate’s pants: prison maxi pads don’t have wings and they have only average adhesive so, when a woman wears the same pad for several days because she can’t find a fresh one, that pad often fails to stick to her underwear and the pad falls out. It’s disgusting but it’s true.” (more…)

Understanding the Human Cost of Imprisonment

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The problem is not just that “prison conditions” are abusive, but that the cumulative effects of imprisonment itself constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

From Truth Out/ By Lacino Hamilton

No one who spends time in prison leaves unscathed. I have been incarcerated for more than 20 years in Michigan state prisons, where I remain today. I know from experience that prison is so much more than confinement to a cell.

Prison disposes of and makes invisible a growing underclass, prison’s majority clientele. It also incapacitates those who have shown – through their imagination, audacity and defiance – that they possess what it takes to push and pull something bigger than themselves, such as a social justice movement. Prison functions to expel self-determination, exacerbate weaknesses, exhaust strength and suppress expressions of intelligence, in an aim to produce a robot-like mass that will follow the rules of prison.

It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have been subordinated to the will of others; reduced to dependence on these authorities for the most basic services; isolated from the rest of the world’s population; confined to a fixed habitat; coerced to work for little or no compensation; and subjected to a prison culture that breeds a profound sense of psychological depression, personal worthlessness and social despair – all in the name of justice, law and order, or whatever justification is fashionable at the time. (more…)

The Death Penalty Is Cruel. But So Is Life Without Parole.

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From The New Republic / By Stephen Lurie

Prison cells don’t attract many spectators, but executions have always drawn crowds. Paradoxically, the names and identities of death row inmates only come to matter when their execution had been scheduled: from impending death we take a sudden interest in life.

Despite the incongruity, this isn’t all that surprising. Twenty-first century America is still susceptible to the time-honored spectacle of state-sanctioned death, even if much of the attention now scrutinizes, rather than cheers, the practice. Recently, there have been many stories typical of the current fascination with American capital punishment, most notably Ben Crair’s piece in this magazine and Jeffrey Stern’s in The Atlantic. Like other recent examinations of the death penalty, both accounts focus specifically on the act of execution by lethal injection; each covers botched executions and the question of cruel and unusual punishment in the death chamber itself. Stern’s story centers on the act and ramifications of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett’s execution: A paramedic—and later, a physician—fail to find a vein in a dozen stabs into Lockett’s flesh so the execution can proceed. (Which it does, equally gruesomely.) Crair’s investigation deals with the national execution drug shortage—including Lockett’s experience along with many others—and highlights Ohio prisoner Joseph Wood’s story; his execution was so mishandled that he “gasped and snorted for one hour and 57 minutes… the longest execution in modern history.”

For Stern and Crair, as well as many human rights-minded activists and advocates, the death chamber is a potent and useful example of inhumanity. Other, newer abolitionists—like the legislators in Nebraska that voted to abolish the death penalty there last month—focus on the act of execution as well. While the death chamber is itself horrific, abolitionists would be remiss to ignore the more common punishment: the immense cruelty of a prisoner’s long wait for execution. The “death row phenomenon” and associated prison conditions cause significant psychological and physical harm; a so-called “death before dying” is both internationally condemned and domestically pervasive. If the end to capital punishment in the U.S. is based on concern for human beings—whether in a religious or moral sense—the reform movement must be concerned with the prison conditions left when death is not on the table. (more…)

Stop Poisoning Millions in Prison

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From Nation Inside

Summary of pending HRDC comment to the EPA on the inclusion of prisoner populations in environmental justice demographic statistics and regulatory input for permitting

Later this week, the Human Rights Defense Center’s (HRDC) Prison Ecology Project will be providing input on the EPA’s EJ 2020 Action Agenda Framework. While it is encouraging to see the EPA attempting to increase the effectiveness of protecting vulnerable communities that have been overburdened by industrial pollution, we also find that there is a significant component to in the dialogue thus far: recognition of impacts on the vast number of prisoners and their families.

The need for something like EJ 2020 comes from the unfortunate reality that many of the environmental permit approvals that have taken place in recent decades, and continue today, fall into a category of Jim Crow-era policy. Few industrial sectors exemplify this more clearly than the prison industry.

If we can recognize the problem with forcing people to live in close proximity to toxic and hazardous operations, then why are we missing the people who are forced to live on the inside of such facilities? (more…)

Will Hillary Clinton Abolish the Prison State Her Husband Created? Don’t Count on It.

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From Truth Out / By Robert Saleem Holbrook

As the front-runner for the democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has been saying all the right things and making all the right moves. At an April 28 Columbia University forum on Criminal Justice, Hillary Clinton gave a passionate speech calling for the reform of the criminal justice system, intoning that, “We don’t want to create another incarceration generation,” in reference to the present generation of youth impacted by mass incarceration.

Clinton called for the reform of mandatory minimums and ending the marginalization of formerly incarcerated citizens. It was a very “politically correct” speech; Clinton hit all the talking points on mass incarceration. The question is: Can Hillary Clinton be trusted to dismantle the prison state her husband built? Don’t count on it; and, if history is our guide, we can expect more of the same under Clinton if she is elected president.

Former President Bill Clinton is best remembered for presiding over one of the longest periods of economic prosperity in US history. However, the gem in Clinton’s presidential legacy is an unprecedented era of prison expansion and the mass incarceration of the nation’s citizens, with the overwhelming majority of those incarcerated under Clinton being Black and Brown. (more…)

Why Environmentalists Should Celebrate 25 Years of Prison Legal News

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An interview with Paul Wright, editor of PLN and director of the Human Rights Defense Center, by a former Earth First! Journal collective member.

From Earth First! Newswire / By Panagioti

Prison Legal News was born the same year that the Earth First! was figuring out what it meant to support incarcerated warriors of the eco-defense movement, resulting from the Arizona 5 busts. Environmentalism and the prison industrial complex would be intertwined for Earth First! from that point on. The prison support pages of the Earth First! Journal would be a constant presence in the publication—going from a brief sidebar to a full-blown spread in the magazine with the spike in prisoners following the first Green Scare indictments in 2005.

As a resulting of EF! activists doing time in county, state and federal facilities across the US, the numbers of prisoner subscribers also began to rise steadily. Today there are now thousands of prisoners who have an Earth First! Journal pass through their hands. There are also many supporters on the outside who make donations explicitly for the purpose of keeping these prisoner subscriptions possible—being that very few prisoners are able to make enough on slave wages to pay full price for a subscription.
(more…)

AUDIO: The Ecology of a Police State: 2015 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference panel

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Listen to this recording of Panagioti Tsolkas moderating this panel, which explores the intersections between the epidemic of mass incarceration and the environmental degradation which occurs, directly and indirectly, as a result of it, including: the immediate impacts of pollution from these often-overpopulated human warehouses; the environmental racism of where prisons are built and how they operate; the re-branding of prisons as part of a “green” economy; and the use of prison as a tool for repressing ecological movements aimed at changing the current political/economic system.

From KBOO Community Radio

Over 100 Private Prison Protestors Converge at GEO Group’s Shareholder Meeting

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Company denies hunger strike at Texas family detention facility

From Prison Legal News

Boca Raton, FL – Today, over 100 people from across the country joined a protest outside the GEO Group’s annual shareholder meeting at the Boca Resort and Club. GEO, a private company, bills itself as the “largest provider of correctional services in the world.” Groups participating in the protest included the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) from Lake Worth, Florida and the Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership.

HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann, an activist shareholder who owns a small number of shares of GEO Group stock, attended the meeting. When he asked about recent reports of hunger strikes by immigrant women held at the GEO Group-operated Karnes County Family Detention Center in Texas, he was informed by GEO Senior Vice President John J. Bulfin that there was no hunger strike; rather, he said it was a “boycott of dining facilities” at the detention facility.

GEO Group founder and CEO George C. Zoley further remarked that the women detained at Karnes awaiting asylum hearings “have a higher standard of living” than they had elsewhere, implying that they should be grateful for being incarcerated – along with their children – at the company’s for-profit detention center. (more…)

We must disband the police: Body cameras aren’t enough — only radical change will stop cops who kill

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The courts, the media, and the political system are designed to back killer cops. Only radical change will work

From Salon/ By GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER

After Michael Slager gunned down Walter Scott in a North Charleston park, a deafening chorus of voices has emerged, insisting that “the system worked.” And they are right. The system did work, just not in the way that they mean.

The system didn’t only begin to work when the video of the shooting emerged days later: it went into motion immediately. The system began to work when Slager cuffed a dying man and then ran (ran!) back to grab his alibi, the Taser he would then plant near Scott’s failing body (as some have noticed, Slager did so in an eminently practiced way).

The machinery continued to whirr smoothly as the second officer on the scene—Clarence Habersham, who is Black—ignored the planted evidence, raised no questions, and did not administer CPR. Habersham insisted that he immediately applied pressure to Scott’s wounds, but recently synched audio suggests that he was instead counting the bullet holes in a still-dying man. Multiracial policing, after all, is still just policing. (more…)

GEO Group’s Gulags Grasping for Green Approval

Greenwashing-the-Gulags-meme-UPDATEFrom EF! Newswire/ by Panagioti

All the LEED certifications in the world can’t cover up the constant flow of atrocities associated with prisons-for-profit, but that’s not going to stop them from trying.

Last month GEO Group garnered attention from the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) #GreenwashingTheGulags campaign for announcing that they had taken advantage of a publically-funded grant program to promote water conservation by installing a native landscape plan at the Desert View Modified Community Correctional which they run in drought-stricken Adelanto, California. Of course, the labor for the project was completed by prisoners, and now, where there was once just some dirt, there are well-arranged rocks. The landscape even includes rocks that were painted blue to spell out “GEO.”

Despite the new rocks, GEO still draws over 140,000 gallons every day to operate that 700-person facility alone. Never mind the nearby 1,300-bed Adelanto Detention Facility they also operate to house immigrant prisoners.

You can do the water math yourself, it’s not too complicated. The average prisoner requires about 200 gallons of water per day (well, a recent Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed federal prison actually put it at 214 gallons, but I’m trying to keep the calculations simple here.) (more…)