Rehabilitation Prisons

For Spoilers, jump to the end ūüôā

For-profit prison. The very name of it sounds like something to be heavily regulated at the very least, and probably be nonexistent. At least in a society that claims to be for its people. The history of profiteering prisons is long, there is a great article about it¬†here. The numbers are staggering. The opportunism and covering of it are even more so, The refusal of expensive prisoners? Why is that even an option? Most telling is the fact that it is never calculated in the cost-benefit analyses of the companies that run them. There is no cost-benefit analysis that can price a human being’s potential. The single most important fact is this: the private prisons are not held to the same constitutional standards as government-run facilities. When did we sell our constitutional rights? For all the bluster of any politician or business(man) that claims to stand behind the inalienable rights granted to every citizen in this country, and support private prisons, you are a hypocrite of such grand endeavor as to be criminal.

The evidence for any benefit to the public good is lacking, Any report or study that says there is benefit doesn’t¬†contain all data, misrepresents it, and/or is often a study that is industry funded so they can put statistics in the hands of paid lobbyists. Even the Justice Department can’t seem to agree on its own investigations (Nat’l Inst. of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics found¬†here). There is no incentive to curb inmate violence, as it just adds to their sentence and provides 3rd-world labor in a 1st world country, and conditions have repeatedly been found to be below that required under constitutional¬†rights. Remember, cruel and unusual? at 6%, and 16%, for State and Federal inmates respectively, that is UNUSUAL. to put them in a prison that can say no, is unusual. I mean, after all, what determines for that inmate where they go? Is it race? Criminal offense? Personal history? Who they pissed off when they came through Intake? None of those factors should be at play. Continual incarceration until the inmate is no longer viable as a worker, then released onto a general public with few skills, no viable working life, and a cost burden to taxpayers is the end result. This is no way to run a prison system, even a small amount. This should be a direct violation of the basic human rights the founding fathers of this country deemed to belong to all humans. The taking of the voting right even further alienates the inmates: they lose their voice, even if rehabilitated, and so their power with constituency politicians. Unless other people stand up for them as a voice, a thing quite difficult to do in any capacity other than abstract, such as I am doing here. Constitutional rights are deemed “inalienable” by the document itself. Strangely enough, that is the very first thing we seem to do when someone makes an error that runs afoul of the justice system and they, by happenstance, live too close to a private prison, or in a state that harbors them.

I’m not saying that some inmates aren’t scum, or¬†there aren’t vicious and callous beings masquerading as humans within the system. What I am saying is that those prisoners aren’t profitable. The private system gets to “Just Say NO” to any unprofitable prisoners, and then turn around and claim how much more profitable they are, and do a better job, while farming out its population for labor that is neither regulated, nor labeled on any companies products. I mean, wouldn’t you want to know if what you buy was made with slave labor from a private prison camp?¬†I would, and I bet many others would too. Not only that, I want to know which¬†companies use that labor, and if they hire the same people when they get out of prison. I get to use my money to support who and what I want, and social issues matter. You can’t claim to support a “free” market that and say that you only want the consumer to look at your product, and no other factors, that isn’t free. That is a controlled market, falsification of source, and a slippery slope towards a society that has all of its citizens either in prison working, or invested in those same endeavors. The previous systems that did that was Slavery, Indentured Servitude, and Sharecropping, to name 3.

The crimes people are in jail for that land them into the private prison system are even more laughable. The worst is the¬†Kids for Cash¬†scandal that Michael Moore featured in a documentary. The fact is this: most are not supremely bad offenders. The breakdown featured in the¬†Prison Policy Initiative’s¬†website shows this. In fact, almost every single reasonable study, data analysis, Cost-benefit breakdown, and civil rights investigation has turned up either substandard conditions, no cost benefit, and a greater threat to society¬†once having gone through this system.

This isn’t a deterrent. Calling this a deterrent assumes that prison¬†itself isn’t one. The very act of calling a privately run prison a deterrent over normal prison, while the worst offenders are kept in the governmental system, is a blatant lie, and undermines the very system the private industry is parasitical to. There is no valid argument a private system that incarcerates its own citizens, then allows other citizens to maintain profit from that jailing. None. Cost benefit? tell me the value of a human life, and make the figure public. We all know that assassinations can happen, but that isn’t what I mean. I mean the kind of reasoning that goes into why there’s an ejection seat on a $35 million aircraft. Or we have regulations on trains, or traffic laws that add cost to people if they even slightly endanger even 1 other person with their actions. NO, if we are to have a government that incarcerates its people, then our government needs to shoulder the cost. Laws that do not recuperate cost from activity must be strictly analyzed. If we are to have a war on drugs to protect the health of our people, then why not universal healthcare? I am quite sure that the “War” on drugs money could save several thousand lives each year directly, not line the pockets of investors and lobbyists and legislators who push for an unjust justice system. In case you didn’t click the link, it’s $40¬†billion plus. About half of the drug incarcerations are for marijuana possession. While the legality of Marijuana is another post entirely (coming soon), the inequality of that figure is most telling. The highest sentences are for the harder drugs yet all of them¬†combined are about the same as just one whose criminality is in serious question. CHerry Picking the inmates isn’t a deterrent, it’s profiteering that is second in its evil only to war profiteering. That isn’t well-spent tax dollars.

To close this out, I want to provide some alternative. As it comes onto 2016, and Bernie Sanders (#FeelTheBern) runs on a political ticket to dismantle the private system, I want to take up the challenge to provide an alternative, one that keeps some jobs as well as some labor savings. Since Bill Clinton did some damage of his own regarding the private prison industry in 1996 (Federal Workforce Reduction and Court Oversight removal) I would not be expecting Hillary to do much different. Here it is: Pay them to keep those same low-risk, low-cost inmates,¬†out of jail. That’s right. Take that labor, give each inmate more wage, invest each worker’s wage’s in interest bearing accounts (a portion of which can be kept as part of contractual agreements), and some in their personal bank at prison, for their toiletries and such. And if an inmate is successfully retrained, can land a job, and stays out of prison for some set times, use the money saved in tax dollars, and earned in partial interest to pay the companies on a per annum basis for¬†keeping rehabilitated inmates out of jail.

This is just a quick summation of a larger plan, but since rehabilitation is supposed to be the goal of prison, as a means of rejoinder in society…

Why aren’t we paying the private sector to keep people out of jail?

*one last resource on the nastiness of the private prison industry

An Abortion Prayer

Catchy title, eh? First, a disclaimer. I have been neither an active nor believing member of the Lutheran Church for many years. I could be an Atheist in the strictest of sense, in that I worship no god. I do not self identify with that, however. I believe in the abstract term “all” and that I am not it. I will often say I believe in something more than myself, which is absolutely true, and, in fact, I believe I am a tiny little speck in a great and vast cosmos that is almost incomprehensible. And if you are going to say, “Well, that’s God, All, everything, the Universe…” and at the same time start telling me about dogma, and the gender of it, I will tell you that if All is God, and it has a gender, then the only gender we know of that harbors other life inside of it is a woman, and if you tell me that God is All, then God is a woman. You are walking and talking proof, you are life harbored inside of All, and that makes you a fetus in¬†the physical¬†plane. Chew on that awhile.

That being said, I was not always unaffiliated, and was raised Lutheran by my mother. I do still keep a little Reformationist in my heart, as the personal nature of the divine, and the individual’s journey in pursuing it through study and life is something I respect, and try to uphold, failing in that oftentimes, sometimes minorly, and sometimes quite epicly. I have prayed. Before I was old and educated enough to know anything else (one of my biggest problems with religions is their insistence on capturing children and telling them everything else is a lie), I prayed to a jewish god, and the salvation promised me. I no longer do this, I have recited a couple versions of the lord’s prayer when I was younger, and I will just say that there are some other sects and orders that I have my own issues with, especially regarding some supposedly “magic” things.

Now, onto the main part of this post, as the disclaimer is likely longer than the post itself. I was speaking with a friend not too long ago, discussing abortion, and the emotional insecurity and ambiguity around it, religiously speaking. I am not religious, but since the subject was about religious beliefs, and their relation to events, and not directly about my personal beliefs, or what is true, I granted the premise. That premise being this: If a woman/girl is going in to have an abortion, what should she pray to her god for?

I was interested, as to me it seems a little obvious, but understanding that not only do I have no monopoly on personal beliefs, they’re like assholes, everybody has one. I do prefer provable beliefs, they usually have the cute little distinction of being TRUE, but that is another post entirely. You see, this intrigued me. To not have an idea of what to ask God for may very well prevent a woman from exercising good judgement, simply out of exasperation. Or lacking good guidance, either from family, friends, the baby’s daddy, or a host of other things, and not knowing what to ask her god for, could very well prevent her from gaining an answer. This bothered me, and still does. In a world of excess information, “Big Data” and an internet of all things, true and decidedly untrue, being able to ask the right question is a life skill that will become more and more important for all of technological society. So I told her a prayer, and I will post it here, for all to read, and maybe, even give someone hope or strength to ask the right question during a difficult time. There is a little bit of setting the premise, but after that is just a prayer, and hopefully it will adapt to many different sects of Judeo-Christianity.

Starting off, a couple of things, as a raised Reformationist, I assume that all who pray are asking god, in Jesus’ name, and are praying internally, in their own voice, not at confessional. I also assume that forgiveness for mistakes is part of the reasoning, I do NOT, however, assume that all believe that ensoulment begins at conception, and I, in fact, put purposely indistinct wording regarding the ensoulment timing because of that lack of assumption. What I do assume is that you will substitute any of the vague language regarding that part, with some that more distinctly represents your personal beliefs. I will enquote the prayer for clarity.

Dear God, I <your name here>, your humble servant on Earth, ask you for your help. Through your grace, you gave the ability to make choices, and through your mercy you gave your son so that I do not have to perish if I am wrong in those choices, so I ask you for help in this decision. If you have put a divine soul within me, I am not ready. I am using your grace to know this, and I accept it. I am not prepared for this child, and I am giving it back to you Lord, to your mercy, to your grace, to your love. The only thing I ask in return is not for myself, but for the soul you may have given; give it a better passage. I do not ask this for me, ask it for the child. There are many who wish for your blessing in this, give it to them. Your Grace allows me this choice, I beg of your mercy to make it right. Forgive me for returning this gift, but I am not ready, and this is not the time. Please graciously grant me this gift when I am more ready, and grant this child another passage, one of happiness and abundance, of love and compassion, a journey with others. I ask that You grant any soul you may have presented to me another path,¬†give it the passage I could not. I beg this of your eternal and unending mercy, your grace and faith, My faith in you, and your enduring faith in me. Through your mercy and forgiveness I ask this, and with the gifts you have given me, I shall continue on the path you have laid before me. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

May any who read this and need it, use it.

from a spiritual Atheist. May it all work in mysterious ways

your Spiritual Dose of Andrew. Beware the side effects…