Michael Clay

Thoughts Of An Incarcerated Brotha: Fools Paradise by Michael Clay

The director of Ohio’s prisons Gary Morh, (soon to be former director) gave an interview regarding Ohio prisons; specifically concerning the infamous Lucusville prison riot back in 1994. What vexed me about the interview was Mohr’s comments, or rather his foolish perspective of the current state of Ohio’s prisons. Mohr states: “we as a community (the outside world), and as staff of DRC need to smile more, and need to have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.” He also claims the that the prison system has come a long way since the Lucasville riot; that the system today is better than it was then. Mutha%$# Please! Mohr is seriously disconnected from the reality of what is actually occuring in Ohio’s prisons, but in fairness Mohr isn’t the only one disconnected from the reality of prison living condictions.

First, prison is nothing to smile at, it is a world of destitution exacerbated by the nurturing and encouragement of arbitrary actons, mental, and physcial abuse, and complete disregard for human life. Prison is nothing more than a warehouse of men, and women piled on top of each other sitting ideally to wollow in misery. Misery being the mundane, the nothingness, the waste of a day. There’s no corrections and rehabiliation, there’s only the “Department.” The name Department of Rehabiliation and Correction is a farse; there’s no truth to the name instead it is a deception to the people that this is what the money from their paychecks are paying for. The conditions which incarcerated citizens are forced to exist doesn’t produce smiles, if anything it produces more of the same, that is, deprevation, depression, anger, and desperation etc., which spawns further criminalistic behavior; a byproduct of this dilapidated thinking. Now, in what world can true hope come from such conditions and treatment?

Furthermore, it is said that hope is faith in action, but when looking at the actions of DRC, and it’s prisons it becomes quite apparent that the only belief of DRC is to maintain the status quo. Not only that which I stated above, but also, the destruction, and extortion of families, worshiping of the prison industrial complex, i.e. corporations which seek to make major profits from warehousing people, and demanding longer prison sentences so they can fill bed space. Conspiring with major corporations to rob the poor, and give to the rich, by forcing families to purchase overpriced goods that their loved one need; not want, but needs for their wellbeing, e.g. shoes, clothing, underware etc. The faith of DRC is not a better tomorrow, but a broken, and poorer one.

As for the prison system being better now than it was at the time of the Lucasville riot, Mohr is right, but the question is better for who? When reviewing the numbers it seems as though its only better for them. DRC has received 1.82 billion dollars this year from Ohio’s General Revenue Fund, and is on track to receive over 1.84 Billion dollars for 2019; an increase of 8.2 percent. DRC takes a bigger slice of the General Revenue Fund than any of Ohio’s other expenditures. The entire GRF grows just 2.1 percent, but DRC gets a 7.2 percent increase from the GRF alone. In a Veras study on state prison spending, in their analysis it was revealed that employee spending is the primary driver of prison spending. Personnel cost including salaries, overtime, and benefits comprised the lions share of the 1.82 billion dollars used by DRC; making up more than two-thirds (68 percent) of total spending. Another seventeen percent is spent on catchall categories such as, facility maintenance, some programing cost, debt service, and legal judgments. Veras finding reveals that the average cost per inmate is in fact principally driven by the number of correction officers per incarcerated person, and their average salaries.

So what does all this mean? It means that the money taken from your paycheck- the so-called investment being made – isn’t actually being used to rehabilitate the incarcerated citizen, but instead is used to pay undeserving, abusive babysitters. Correction officers make any where from fifteen dollars per hr and up, and nonuniform employees, e.g. case managers, deputy wardens etc. make upwards of $60,000 to 100,000 per year. And for what, to return to the community a person even more worst off than they were prior to going to prison. To put it in perspective, imagine placing a dog into a cage, and kicking the cage everyday, shouting obscenities, physically assaulting the dog, and feeding it food not recommended for consumption. This is what Ohioans are paying for, and if your position on this is well they shouldn’t have done what they did to get put in there. I say to you then don’t cry when the dog bites your hand off, because you are just as much responsible for the abuse as the people actually doing the abusing. The only people the prison system has improved for is the employees of DRC, not the incarcerated citizens. Billions of dollars are being wasted to simply employee criminals, to produce criminals. Incarcerated citizens have no access to resources of any kind to do anything, this includes reentry. The programs, with the exception of a few, are inmate base, and is afforded no real credit by those who can release a citizen back to society early. The strict restrictions placed on the limited educational opportunities, operate as a deterrent rather than an encourager. The food is always terrible, it’s either under cooked, overcooked, spoiled, or something crawling in it; it’s the poorest quality of food one can imagine, and they have the audacity to call it heart healthy. Just because something isn’t fried; doesn’t mean it’s good for you, and then they further have the gumption to short the citizens on proper portions of the goop.

Needless-to-say, nothing has improved for the incarcerated citizens; conditions are just as bad if not worst. But the public simply doesn’t care, out of sight, out of mind. Under these current conditions there’s nothing to smile about, the only smiles are the sadistic ones coming from staff, as they commit crimes of all sorts everyday, and get paid swell to do so. There is no hope for a better tomorrow, because no one is working towards one. The prisons system is exactly the same as it was then. Please understand that I’m not advocating for pessimism, or negativity of any kind. What I’m seeking to accomplish with this piece is for people to wake up, and not be lulled to sleep by a bureaucrat that promises you a safety, and safer community with false claims of rehabilitating, and correcting people who have made mistakes — only to take your money, and return something even worst than what you gave him. For a better tomorrow, we all have to demand more from the people made responsible for ushering in that tomorrow; instead of settling for the fools paradise.

Thoughts Of An Incarcerated Brotha: Fools Paradise

Michael Clay
DOC A533-044

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