I suspect this is not an unusual topic for an inmate blog site as there is no shortage whatsoever of wrong doings by the state and federal prison systems and staff and no shortage of inmates willing to publicize said blameable actions in hopes for a better existence.
Some in society, politicians even, condemn a better existence for prisoners and yet expect the recidivism rates to somehow magically decline. You cannot however treat people like animals and expect them upon release to be genteel citizens. Some outwardly, through strength of will, present themselves as ”rehabilitated” though time tells us that the return rate is, in most places, far above fifty percent. The cost on taxpayers is astronomical. The cost on society through absentee parents is incalculable.
So why is it that America, the land of the free, incarcerates more of its citizenry, 2.2 million souls, than ANY OTHER country in the world- Russia and S. Korea included? Simple. It’s a money maker for bureaucrats. It’s a wonderful excuse to tax people out of their socks. (You don’t want dangerous felons running around your neighborhood, do you?) And money is forfeited a myriad of other ways by squeezing it out of those least able to afford it- inmates and their families. But that’s the American way, right?
In Ohio it used to be that the farms which inmates worked provided good quality beef, chicken, eggs, and milk for which to feed the inmate population. It was self-sustaining until some bureaucrat decided it was better for them (though certainly not for taxpayers) to sell for a profit the good quality food the farms produced and buy back inferior, ultra-processed meats to feed the inmates. This seemed to be a backlash against the successful Fussell v. ODRC lawsuit for ‘heart healthy’ diets which had just lapsed. A few years later food provision for Ohio prisons was then contracted to the private Aramark company amidst much political maneuvering (the company is said to have money connections to Ohio governor John Kasich) and a torrid of complaints since. (Including that maggots were found in beans at several institutions.)
Then, amazingly, last year Ohio prisons director Gary Mohr sold all of the prison farms (some had just been updated with tens of thousands of dollars) and then just a few months ago inexplicably resigned the director’s post.
It used to be that inmates’ families could send them a box filled with groceries to supplement their diets. Obviously there was no money to be made for the DRC that way so now that nurturance too has been farmed out to the highest bidders. Food boxes for Ohio inmates are now only permitted through one of just three ODRC-approved vendors at exorbitant prices along with clothes boxes and shoes which hawk company ”seconds”: mistake ridden designs and overstocks -all at high-end retail prices plus s&h of course. You can bet the DRC is getting a cut one way or the other.
The money raised from fifty-some-thousand inmates in Ohio’s thirty-plus prisons is too good to let slip through the fingers of Ohio’s bureaucratic machine so you can bet the DRC including the parole board are stingy with releases. A few years ago Ohio politicians passed a bill presumptively to help relieve prison overcrowding by putting lower level offenders’ releases into the hands of the DRC. (Like the cat setting the canary loose!) Inmates are eligible for release after serving 80% of their time. Case managers are to vet and ratify candidates and forward names to the warden for presumptive release. It’s rarely done. Less than 3% of those eligible have been released under this bill that, no doubt, cost taxpayers thousands to enact. More hollow exploits coming from our civil ”servants” from the statehouse to prison unit management.
There’s an even more personal and insidious way to deny release to inmates who should otherwise attain it: the writing of conduct reports that are outright fabrications or for supposed infractions that aren’t even on the books. Indeed there really is a violation code for any contrived foible that isn’t covered by the myriad of other rules designated by the ODRC. I personally have been ticketed for possession of handballs on the rec yard coming off the handball court because I could not provide a receipt. And another time for possession of an ”altered” pillow because I had sewn up a 3″ seam tear. I do not lie. Immediately the punishment wasn’t much – a verbal warning. But the real castigation comes from the courts and the parole board. The slightest infraction, legitimate or not, can cause a judge to deny a judicial release and even more likely to cause a potential parolee a minimum three year ”flop”- a denial of release and another trip to the parole board three years down the road. So, very realistically (as it often happens), a very petty ticket causes an otherwise releasable inmate- an American, a child, a parent, a sibling- extended confinement in the boughs of a cold prison.
END OF PART ONE.
Categories: Devven Beaver