What do you think would be the ideal prison system?

That's the topic today in my Writing Class. I think the worst punishment would be to send them to Korea and force them to attend class after class after class and then give them lots of homework, no sleep, and tell them they have to pass the Su-nun (the Korean SAT's) or suffer the wrath of a disappointed Korean mother. Yes, it's a run-on, but I like the rambling sense of it all...

Here's some research I found on the web:

April 28, 2007
"Self-Pay" Luxury Jails
posted by Frank Pasquale

The tiering of American society has reached one more venerable institution: prisons. California's self-pay jail system is profiled in the NYT today:

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts — who are known in the self-pay parlance as “clients” — get a small cell behind a regular door, distance of some amplitude from violent offenders and, in some cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.

I'm all for making prisons more humane; as the article notes, "The California prison system, severely overcrowded, teeming with violence and infectious diseases and so dysfunctional that much of it is under court supervision, is one that anyone with the slightest means would most likely pay to avoid." But I have a feeling such differential treatment may ultimately do more harm than good. By allowing the wealthiest to "exit" the normal jail system, we lose an important "voice" for making it decent.

I'm not saying that these relatively minor offenders should always be thrown in with hardened recidivists. However, I think we could make the system fairer by keying the "self-pay" amount to the income/wealth of the offender. Consider this approach to fines in Finland:

The officer pulled over [a wealthy entrepreneur's] car and issued him a speeding ticket for driving 43 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone. The fine: $71,400. . . . The staggering sum was no mistake. In Finland, traffic fines generally are based on two factors: the severity of the offense and the driver's income. The concept has been embedded in Finnish law for decades: When it comes to crime, the wealthy should suffer as much as the poor. Indeed, sliding-scale financial penalties are also imposed for offenses ranging from shoplifting to securities-law violations.

If the punitive dimension of a prison term is to be diminished for those opting into self-pay jails, perhaps the payment should be reconceived as a fine, capable of inflicting something like the same amount of deterrence as the risk of infection and violence that they are buying their way out of.

Posted by Frank Pasquale at April 28, 2007 02:57 PM

Luxury jail units for young women
Independent, The (London), Jun 21, 1999 by Ian Burrell Home Affairs Correspondent

KELLY BAILEY sits in a room painted pink and white, surrounded by photos of her friends and family, doing her cookery homework. In her designer sportswear and trainers, she looks like any other 18-year- old studying for exams. But she is in the depths of Holloway prison undergoing a revolutionary treatment programme for convicted teenagers.

The Independent was given an exclusive insight into the new unit, blueprint for a multi-million pound project to move more than 400 young female prisoners out of adult jails.

The Prison Service is being forced to respond to a legal challenge by a young female inmate who successfully argued it was unlawful to keep women under 21 in adult jail conditions. Ten units are being set up across England and Wales to allow girls as young as 15 an environment to give them a greater chance of turning from crime. At Holloway in north London, a multi-disciplinary team of 20 staff in an annexe on the ground floor give intensive support to 40 girls aged 15 to 20. The girls have single cells - referred to as "rooms" - and wear the regulatory teenage uniform of designer sportswear and trainers. They have access to computers, art and pottery classes, a modern gymnasium and a swimming pool. Bailey admits that she finds the surroundings "luxurious" compared with what she was expecting. "Before I came to prison I was told my head would be pushed down the toilet and brooms would be shoved here and there," she said. "I was really scared." Her life has been hard. Bailey has suffered child abuse and rape, been addicted to amphetamines and solvents and worked as a prostitute. She has a five-year-old son she will see for the first time in 18 months this weekend when her mother brings him on a visit. The recent scars on her wrists from a broken razor indicate how her cheeriness and optimism are vulnerable and can switch to chronic depressions, compounded by the recent deaths of her grandmother and her 17-year-old best friend, who overdosed on heroin. Bailey is serving a 30-month sentence for an attempted robbery that she says she is deeply ashamed of, and hopes to take a catering course in Cardiff after release. One-third of the women on the unit are mothers. Amy, 19, is due to go into labour in four days, when she will be moved into Holloway's specialist mother and baby unit. She says the new programme has taught her little, and she would prefer to be with older women who have more experience of motherhood. After her arrest, Amy phoned her mother in the West Midlands to say that she was in London and tell her she had taken a secret holiday to Jamaica and was now on her way to prison. She was sentenced to three years for smuggling cannabis. She was also six weeks pregnant. Cut off by family and friends, she plans to move into a London housing association flat with her baby when she is released next year. At 16, Sarah is one of the youngest in the unit. She has only 13 days to serve of her month-long sentence for threatening behaviour, and giggles excitedly at the prospect of returning to her flat and two-year-old son. She would have been "very worried" by the prospect of serving time with adult prisoners but confesses that she cannot be sure the experience of the new unit will keep her out of trouble. The unit manager, principal officer Phil Richardson, said: "We are not saying none of them will reoffend. We are giving them the chance to make a judgement of whether they want to come back inside or change their lifestyle." He said that 48 per cent of the girls believed the experience had improved their chances on release. The girls are offered a wide-ranging programme of education classes, anger and stress management courses, and advice on contraception, healthy diets and improving sleep patterns disrupted by late nights, drugs and alcohol abuse. The programme was drawn up after Lord Justice Flood ruled in 1997 that a teenage inmate at Risley, Cheshire, was being unlawfully held. The ruling, which applied only to sentenced prisoners, is extended to all young women, including those on remand, on trial, or awaiting sentence.

Copyright 1999 Newspaper Publishing PLC
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

A search on Unconstitutional Prison conditions pulled up this...

View Current Signatures - Sign the Petition

To: Concerned Individuals Worldwide

We at Fdrag have received the following letter from inmates at Q wing at Florida State Prison. They are going on a hunger strike to protest and hopefully change the conditions that exist on Q wing. The men are hungry and deprived contact with the outside world for years at a time, which is not in accordance with the rules. Please read the words from the inmates yourself, before you sign the petition.


Maximum Management Hunger Strike Alert

On February 1, 2004, the inmates housed on Q-wing at Florida State Prison will begin a hunger strike in protest of the erroneous and unconstitutional conditions that we are being forced to endure. These conditions are violating federally protected constitutional rights. Those that are not participating are either mentally ill or in fear of retaliation from this administration. We are protesting our confinement to Maximum Management without justification.


1. We inmates are confined to a 9 x 7 ft. cell (63 ft2), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 30 days a month. Once a month, and only once a month, we receive recreation.

2. There are no TV s, no radios, newspapers, magazines, or books. There is nothing to occupy the human mind, and no way of knowing what s going on in society.

3. We are denied visitation and phone calls from family and friends, which could last not weeks or months, but for years at a time.

4. We are denied canteen / commissary rights, and nightly we go to sleep hungry on what this State Department of Corrections contractor, Aramark, feeds us

5. We are not allowed shampoo, mouthwash, or deodorant to kill body odor. We are forced to put non-scented state soap or toothpaste under our arms.

6. These erroneous conditions are maliciously forced upon us, without any penological justification.

7. The highest security prison in this nation, Marion Federal Correctional Institution located in Marion, IL, does not treat its inmates to this degree.

8. These are arbitrary and capricious conditions that are unjustifiable and totally without penological justification.

The rule we’re being held under is Chapter 33-601.820, Maximum Management. Florida Administrative Codes state in the rules that Maximum Management is a temporary status for an inmate, who through a current / recent incident, requires an immediate level of control. Most of the inmates under this rule have been disciplinary-report-free for months and in some cases years. Yet we are deprived of our property, privileges, and rights. The rule states in section (4)(c) that upon positive adjustment the inmate s conditions will be adjusted to that of Close Management 1; yet no matter how long we go discipline-report-free, we are denied Close Management 1 privileges, which is further proof that this is an arbitrary and capricious rule.


1. A directive for a release to be added to Chapter 33-601.820 Maximum Management, which is noticeably absent from the directive, and that is how this administration is able to manipulate this rule and use it as a continuous form of punitive isolation.

2. The right to weekly recreation, which is provided in a secure 10 x 20 ft dog run

3. The right to adequate clothing in the winter months.

4. The right to receive books, magazines, and newspapers.

5. The radios be returned to the inmates.

6. The canteen / commissary rights to be restored to that of Close Management 1 or Death Row, according to status.

7. Return of phone calls and visitation.

8. There will be no denial of any of the above rights, privileges, and property without procedural due process being afforded.

The relief sought is not overly demanding and in fact will bring Maximum Management under constitutional standards, which I ve attempted to do in the past six months by notifying the following individuals of the constitutional violations taking place under Maximum Management: Governor Jeb Bush, Attorney General Charlie Crist, Inspector General Gerald Abdul-Wasi, the Florida Legislature, and Secretary of the FDOC, James V. Crosby, Jr., all to no avail.

This hunger strike is being forced upon us as being the last resort to bring attention to these erroneous and unconstitutional conditions that exceed those of Disciplinary Confinement. Therefore, we are pleading for support and for someone to step in and correct these constitutional violations and bring Florida State Prison and Chapter 33-601.820 Maximum Management under constitutional standards. Thank you for your help and support.

Inmates of Maximum Management Q-Wing
Florida State Prison
7819 N.W. 228th St.
Raiford, Florida 32026-1160

But Judge Harold Baer Jr. of Federal District Court in Manhattan declined to dismiss supervision of about half of the oversight measures related to basic environmental conditions in more than a dozen jails, on Rikers Island and elsewhere.

He said the constitutional rights of inmates in these areas were still being violated.

At nine city jails, the ruling said, there were flaws in the ventilation systems, which are meant to prevent transmission of airborne diseases and limit complications among the many inmates with asthma.

In parts of several jails, the judge found, inmates had been forced at times to live in cells or dormitories without adequate heat. One inmate at the North Infirmary Command on Rikers Island, for example, testified last year that water and snow came through broken windows, freezing on the windowsills.

Inmates at two jails also were housed next to diesel generators that run around the clock, emitting intense noise, the ruling found.

Citing ''mildewed and decrepit bathroom and shower areas, clogged toilets,'' unsanitary mattresses, dirty cells and other cleanliness problems, Judge Baer also cited the city jails for violation of general sanitation standards.

Rape Crisis in U.S. Prisons
First-Ever National Survey Finds Widespread Abuse, Official Indifference

(New York, April 19, 2001) — A ground-breaking new report by Human Rights Watch, No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons, charges that state authorities are responsible for widespread prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse in U.S. men's prisons. The 378-page report is based on more than three years of research and is the first national survey of prisoner-on-prisoner rape. There are some two million inmates in U.S. prisons and jails.
" Rape is in no way an inevitable consequence of incarceration. But it is a predictable one if prison and prosecutorial authorities do little to prevent and punish it. "
Joanne Mariner, Deputy Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch

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No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons

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"Rape is in no way an inevitable consequence of incarceration," said Joanne Mariner, deputy director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, and author of the report. "But it is a predictable one if prison and prosecutorial authorities do little to prevent and punish it."

Human Rights Watch warned that by failing to implement reasonable measures to prevent and punish rape—and, indeed, in many cases, taking actions that make sexual victimization likely—state authorities permit this physically and psychologically devastating abuse to occur. The group's findings are based on correspondence with more than 200 prisoners spread among thirty-four states, inmate interviews, and a comprehensive survey of state correctional authorities.

Certain prisoners are targeted for sexual exploitation the moment they enter a penal facility: their age, looks, sexual orientation, and other characteristics mark them as candidates for abuse. Human Rights Watch's research revealed a broad range of factors that correlate with increased vulnerability to rape. These include youth, small size, and physical weakness; being white, gay, or a first offender; possessing "feminine" characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or "passive"; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor.

Sexual Slavery
In the most extreme cases, Human Rights Watch found that prisoners unable to escape a situation of sexual abuse may find themselves the "slaves" of their rapists. Forced to satisfy another man's sexual appetites whenever he demands, they may also be responsible for washing his clothes, massaging his back, cooking his food, cleaning his cell, and a range of other chores. They are frequently "rented out" for sex, sold, or even auctioned off to other inmates.

No conclusive national data exist regarding the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape in the United States. But the most recent statistical survey, published in the Prison Journal, showed that 21 percent of inmates in seven Midwestern prisons had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sex since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facility. And an internal departmental survey of corrections officers in one southern state found that line officers ?those charged with the direct supervision of inmates ?estimated that roughly one-fifth of all prisoners were being coerced into participation in inmate-on-inmate sex.

"These rapes are unimaginably vicious and brutal," said Mariner. "Gang assaults are not uncommon, and victims may be left beaten, bloody and, in the most extreme cases, dead."

One of the most tragic and violent cases the report documents is that of Randy Payne, a twenty-three-year-old incarcerated in Texas. Within a week of entering prison, Payne was attacked by a group of some twenty inmates. The inmates demanded sex and money, but Payne refused. He was beaten for almost two hours, and died of head injuries a few days later.

Victims of rape often suffer extreme psychological stress, a condition identified as "rape trauma syndrome." Many inmate victims with whom Human Rights Watch has been in contact have reported nightmares, deep depression, shame, loss of self-esteem, self-hatred, and considering or attempting suicide.

"Deliberate Indifference"
Correctional authorities generally deny that prisoner-on-prisoner rape is a serious problem. Human Rights Watch surveyed correctional authorities in all 50 states on the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse. In that multi-year survey, not one state reported abuse rates even faintly approaching those found by academic researchers. For example, New Mexico prison officials said, regarding "the ‘problem' of male inmate-on-inmate rape and sexual abuse" (internal quotation marks are theirs), that they had "no recorded incidents over the past few years." Nearly half of all states do not even compile separate statistics on sexual assault.

The authorities' reluctance to acknowledge the problem of prisoner-on-prisoner rape is reflected not only in misleading official statistics, but also in a glaringly inadequate response to incidents of rape. "U.S. state prisons have failed to take even obvious, basic steps necessary to tackle prison rape," Mariner said. "This deliberate indifference has had tragic consequences."

A central problem is the deficient ?and, in many instances, callous and irresponsible ?response of correctional staff to complaints of rape. When an inmate informs an officer he has been threatened with rape or, worse, actually assaulted, it is crucial that his complaint be investigated and that he be protected from further abuse. Yet Human Rights Watch found that correctional staff frequently ignore or even react hostilely to inmates' complaints of rape.

"Another important contributing factor to the prison rape crisis is the failure of the criminal justice system to address these crimes," said Mariner. "Perpetrators of prison rape rarely face criminal charges, even when rape is accompanied by extreme physical violence."

The case of M.R., a Texas inmate, is illustrative. M.R. was violently raped and beaten several times over a period of several months by the same prisoner. Fearful for his life, he reported the abuse to the prison authorities, but found no protection. In fact one investigator dismissed the problem as a "lovers' quarrel." Finally one day the rapist showed up in M.R.'s housing area and attacked M.R. again. The rapist hit M.R. so hard with a combination lock that when M.R. regained consciousness he could read the word "Master" ?the lockmaker ?on his forehead. In all, during the rape, M.R. suffered a broken neck, jaw, left collarbone, and finger; a dislocated left shoulder; two major concussions, and lacerations to his scalp that caused bleeding on the brain. Notwithstanding the extreme violence of the attack, and despite M.R.'s best efforts to press charges, the rapist was never criminally prosecuted.

Another devastating consequence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape discussed in the report is the transmission of the HIV virus. Several prisoners with whom Human Rights Watch is in contact believe that they have contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through forced sexual intercourse in prison.

The book-length Human Rights Watch report explains:

* why and how prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse occurs;

* who commits it and who falls victim to it;

* prison rape's long-term effects, both physical and psychological;

* how are prison authorities coping with it; and

* what reforms must be instituted to better prevent rape from occurring.

"Prison rape is part of the mythology of prison life. But in reality, it is devastating human rights abuse that can and should be prevented," said Mariner. The report includes extensive recommendations to federal and state authorities, urging them to step up their efforts to address this gross violation of human dignity.

What have I learned? I'm not going to jail because I would like to protect my haha.


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