Prison Talk

We firmly believe that even though a prisoner's body is locked up, their mind can always be free to travel the world and learn about anything they are interested through the magic or books.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities and the Poor

Dr. Boyce Watkins cites some troubling statistics on the War on Drugs over at The Huffington Post:

African-Americans are 62 percent of drug offenders sent to state prisons, yet they represent only 12 percent of the U. S. population.
Black men are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of White men.

Drug transactions among Blacks are easier for police to target because they more often happen in public than do drug transactions between Whites.

The disparities are particularly tragic in individual states where Black men are sent to federal prison on drug charges at a rate 57 times greater than White men, according to Human Rights Watch.

More than 25.4 million Americans have been arrested on drug charges since 1980; about one third of them were Black.

The Black populations in state prisons are majorly disproportionate:

In Georgia, the Black population is 29 percent, the Black prison population is 54 percent; Arkansas 16 percent -52 percent; Louisiana 33 percent-76 percent; Mississippi 36 percent-75 percent; Alabama 26 percent -65 percent; Tennessee 16 percent -63 percent; Kentucky 7 percent-36 percent; South Carolina 30 percent-69 percent; North Carolina 22 percent-64 percent; and Virginia 20 percent-68 percent.

According to the Global Commission on Drug Policy arresting and incarcerating people fills prisons and destroys lives but does not reduce the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations.

The average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the U.S. is $67.55.

State prisons held 253,300 inmates for drug offenses in 2007. That means states spent approximately $17 million per day to imprison drug offenders, or more than $6.2 billion per year.

This war disproportionately targets blacks and other minorities and the poor across all racial demographics.

But massive incarceration, a depressed economy, and the widespread violence is something that should give all of us pause, even those of us who have never been the target of a midnight no knock raid or a life shattered by drug violence, police abuse, or the myriad other tragedies this war has brought upon our society.

Dr. Watkins calls it apartheid, and in many ways he’s correct. But it’s more than that, too. The impact of the drug war is global, and the global poor pay the highest price.

Thank goodness the tide appears to be turning:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” a recent report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy concludes. “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.

” Each year that we fail to face this reality, the report says, “billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective programs,” “millions of citizens are sent to prison unnecessarily,” and “hundreds of thousands of people die from preventable overdoses and diseases.”

Visit for books to inmates

Monday, June 27, 2011

Facebook closes account for SC inmate

Michael Jason Maxwell maintained two pages and appeared to have made his posts from his mobile phone.
By PrisonTalk2k Staff

BISHOPVILLE, S.C. — Facebook officials closed down the account of an inmate in a maximum security prision in South Carolina on Wednesday. The man had been maintaining not one but two Facebook profiles that boasted hundreds of friends, including a Playboy pinup.

Michael Jason Maxwell appeared to have made his posts from his mobile phone. He even included photos of his cell in some of his postings.

In one post, he asked a friend about his new gun, and on another he wrote he needed money "ASAP" according to The Post and Courier.

The social media site pulled down Maxwell's page Wednesday after the paper alerted them to his activities. The victims family was the first to find out about Maxwell's online presence.

He in incarcerated at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C.

Clark Newsom, the communications director for the state Department of Corrections said prison officials searched Maxwell's cell, but the mobile phone still hasn't been found.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inmate's Need Education Programs

The U.S. has 2.2 million inmates behind bars more than any other country. While our population is only 5 percent of the world, we have 25 percent of world's total incarceration -- and the situation is very complicated.

Half of all state and federal prisons are more than 100 percent full. At the Ohio state prison at Lebanon, 30 percent of the inmates are killers, rapists and juvenile sex offenders. They live in 6-foot-by-10-foot cells originally designed for one, but now holding two using bunk beds, a stainless steel toilet, a small writing desk and an equally small personal cabinet. They are allowed a small TV, provided they have the cash to buy one; most do not.

The former head of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections recently said, "We don't rehabilitate anybody; we just create the conditions where prisoners can rehabilitate themselves." Most don't.

Nationwide, 700,000 prisoners are released every year about one third of the prison population. Of those, two thirds will be back in three years. One third of drug addicts will be back in less than one year, and 70 percent of those returning are felons.

The California Prison system is at more than 200 percent of capacity. The California Salinas Valley Prison has 220 inmates sleeping in triple-decker bunks on the floor of a basketball court. No bars, no steel doors, no nothing. It is called "warehousing."

In prisons that warehouse inmates, inmates are likely to be worse off when they leave than when they entered. They will have lived out their sentences with violent criminals. When they leave, they have no money, no job prospects, no plans and very little hope.

This groupie method always leads to gang formation, and there are frequently three gangs blacks, whites and Latino. Since the blacks outnumber the others, most of the violence is between the whites and Latinos. At the Ironwood State Prison in California's Mojave Desert, there were 35,000 inmate attacks in the past year. Homicides have increased more than 50 percent in the past five years.

Drugs are everywhere inside the prison walls heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and crystal meth. Almost all the gang killings are drug-related. Drug addiction claims 35 percent of the inmates. It is a bone-fide business grossing $300 million per year and a growth market. The profits are huge because the prices are extreme. One gram of heroin has a street price of $100. In a prison, it's $1,000 the same for a half-ounce of crystal meth.

Guards are virtually unable to control the outbreak of violence until dozens of guards are assembled, which takes enough time for some to kill others. At Ironwood, the ratio of inmates to guards is 100:1.

After a gang war, hundreds of inmates are put into total segregation, known as solitary confinement. It is being utilized much more often 80,000 now are being held that way. While only 4 percent of the total might seem like a small number, the effects of solitary almost always are devastating. Solitary one hour each day of physical exercise, by themselves, heavily guarded and 23 hours per day alone. No TV, no speaking, even to guards, no nothing! The majority of those held in solitary for extended periods come out crazed paranoid, schizophrenic or manic-depressive. Those that were crazed when they went in, come out even more so.

Those who are placed in solitary find that the single event they can control is injuring themselves this will get them some personal attention, perhaps a stay in a bed in a prison hospital ward. Those in solitary for three or more years have a 70 percent suicide rate.

The basic problems in our prison system have existed for decades. These have been studied by prison officials, social scientists, politicians and inmates. A few experiments proved successful, but most of the problems continue and are exacerbated by overcrowding.

As a result, after arguments before a California Federal District Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, there was a definitive ruling on May 23.

The state of California has been ordered to reduce inmates to a level of 135.7 percent of design capacity. This requires the release of lease 37,000 prisoners. It was another damnable 5-4 decision, which might be changed after a new president or two.

In the meantime, California and likely several more states in the next year or two must figure out what to do with thousands of felons.