DO WE NEED REFORM OR A COMPLETE SYSTEM REDO? D.L.Blewitti, J/D., July, 2021
Years ago, before I became too old to be relevant, I wrote the following, calling attention to one of the most frustrating problems facing arrestees. As the police state creeped on and the public were brainwashed into thinking that private enterprise was better at governing than government, privatization ran rampant with the complicity or even encouragement of greedy, stupid, or lazy judges, or young prosecutors put on the bench without any ideological or moral compass, industry started to displace government in the criminal justice system. universities offering advanced degrees in criminology and corrections closed or reduced their programs. The public became convinced that minimum wage employees in the justice could dispense better service to the public than trained employees. Justice became systematized and privatized to benefit business and not the public. The public and the products of privatization became the prey of a corporate society, cheered on by the indoctrination public.
President Reagan set the tone by saying the Government is not the solution, but the problem, negating President Kennedy’s plea to ask what people can do to improve government. We became a nation of pigeons, ripe for the plucking. If a person is inconvenienced, it is the fault of the Government. If he can’t cheat or gyp others, it is the fault of the Government. If we are over-fun with disease, it is the fault of the Government. Nothing is our fault. We don’t have to govern. We leave that to the corporations, who can exploit without conscience or remorse. Not only that, corporations do not have to be responsible to the public for their failures in policy or harm done to others or society. They are efficient and their only responsibilities is to the shareholders. Government entities were and are formed for the benefit of the people, Corporations are formed and exist for the benefit of the shareholders. If there is a profit to be made, the behavior is justified as are the consequences. People owe fealty to government in an exchange of duties and benefits. Not so a corporation. So, the privileged, who want for nothing, can swarm over the people like locusts, and when nothing is left to take, swarm onto the next territory.
So, when a judge or a prosecutor enforces a payment due to the private analyst or private prison program, He is an agent of the corporate mind as defined by Benito Mussolini et al. Such a system is no longer for the benefit of the People, but for the businessmen, bankers and industrialists. This was carried to extremes in 1940’s Germany decided to kill its slave labor, rather than feed them when they were too weak or sick to labor.
We mask the general concept as a business-government partnership. As long as the [prisoners are warehoused efficiently, it doesn’t matter. If no one sane wants to hire a prisoner, it is the prisoner’s fault in the first place for being there in the first place. The judges and prosecutors are blameless because they are following the law (orders.)
Since these recommendations are made by youths with little experience outside of college and the Country Clubs, and most recruitment is from this class, it is easy to see why we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. We are run by privileged idiots, too naïve and arrogant to conceive of policy consequences.
So, when the prisoner on work release can’t get relevant employment, it is the prisoner’s fault. There is research to the contrary, but our officials chose to ignore it because the press is too greedy or ignorant to explain things adequately. Think about the idea of a collect call from a penal institution and think of why this exists. Government has defaulted to corporate policy. I wrote for following several years ago and it still applies.
“You Have a Collect Call”
The phone rang today, as it often does. However, a recording started with “You have a collect call from a correctional institution. The phone service you have is not set up to accept calls from our system. You may set up an account to accept such calls if you have a Visa or Master charge account. If you want to set up an account, press one.” Then the listener has to follow instructions entering credit card numbers, dates, security code and waist size.
After this is done, you get to talk to the party calling you collect. I did this today from a call originating in another state. After I set up the account, I was disconnected. When the party called back, ten dollars had already been deducted from my account deposit for the privilege of setting up the account. I had heard complaints from clients in the past, but, because of the social position of my clients, they are generally out of the slam in a few hours, and I don’t receive too many of such calls. However, it got me remembering how it started.
Initially, TV shows always mentioned the arrestee’s free phone call. Every jail in the country had a “prisoners” or “inmate” phone(s) in the cell block and prisoners had good access to them. That changed with privatization of the correctional system. Predatory business practices became the norm, and the prisoner or arrestee became the pigeons. (Stool pigeons still were treated differently) Some families called the set up a “love tax.” Others called it an outrage. I fall into the latter. I do not believe civility should end at the jail-house door. Nor do I believe in exploitation of the poor or disadvantage. However, I appear to be in a minority again. The exploitation fits in perfectly with hard on crime attitude that has existed for the last thirty years.
I find this very puzzling and disturbing. First, as a lifelong student of crime and criminology, and in that field as a lawyer and instructor, I feel like a failure. I have known
the past decades have helped train some and have tried to keep up with the literature. In addition to criminology, which was a product of my era, a new emphasis or major has evolved called criminal justice. This field seems to be the engineering equivalent to the theoreticians. Many a police officer and law enforcement agent have degrees in such a subject. It has captured a large interest because that is where the research money seems to be. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in the causes of crime that is studied by criminologists, but in what to do with the criminals after they are produced. In other words, how do we manage crime in a prison-industrial-banking system as a non-government or private profit enterprise?
What is totally frustrating is that I know that both study areas are clear that poverty is one of the main causes of crime. Most people arrested and put in the slammer are poor. They tend to be young, minorities, undereducated, and otherwise disadvantaged. Chambliss teaches the class difference in defining crime, emphasizing the class-consciousness and social status. Most graduates who have either degree in crime studies know this. So, my question is this. How does someone who studies basic criminology or criminal justice justify exploiting prisoners with private collect phone calls? What were these students doing while in class? Did they even read a book? Or did they pick up the major only for credentials and pay enhancement, not paying any attention whatsoever to the research or presentations of instructors and professors. How did they pass exams? Who won the world series or World Cup in 2010?
Now I am not too much of a fossil to remember the proper student priorities. That is getting drunk, getting laid and getting fed, not necessarily in that order. However, when I was in school (I promised never to do this after listening to the same line from my parents), I had to study and learn in order to stay in school. Otherwise, adios school, hello Viet Nam, or worse yet, move back in with my parents.
Now, ideology trumps about anything else. Criminologists know lots of things, which the rulers chose to ignore. The rulers ignore simple knowledge and fact because they have to stay elected and one gets elected because of image, not substance. Students don’t want to be educated; they want to be trained. Training provides job skills to apply in the workforce. Education can be a handicap, because it doesn’t provide a particular job skill, it is a process. I got it figured out, having been in both types of institutions. I was trained to be a barber. I was licensed and had a skill that could be used in the workplace. Then I studied criminology. I sure as hell wasn’t trained. I remember one whole semester seminar where we struggled with the definition of crime. I figured at that rate; it would take at least 50 years to be a criminologist. Then I went to law school. That was a little of both. Most today are training institution. When I was in law school, I was taught that there was no law (Postmodern law?). We were taught that it was a process, not a body of knowledge. Now lawyers are trained in subject matter to better serve their corporate masters with their billable hours. But I digress.
What, one might wonder, does all this have with privatized phones in jails? Consider this. A person is sentenced to jail. He is told that he can be on work release. However, he is unemployed. Can you imagine a potential employer receiving a call that starts out, “you have a collect call from a correctional institution?” Would you hire someone making such call? Of course not. The person is set up for failure and officials can proudly say that the person was given a chance to work.
The practice also turns jailers into privateers. Money, not compassion runs this kind of system. The persons in the system are looked at as objects that can yield a profit. They can further be punished for being poor. I believe that it is outright wrong to give any agency the right to raise its own funds. That is the job of the elected representatives of the people, not of jailers, police or other occupation forces. Not only that, but it also makes it extremely difficult for a prisoner or arrestee to contact his lawyer, employer or family.
The real disturbing thing about all of this is that the people running this system and the legislators see nothing wrong with this. God is punishing them by making them poor. They are unworthy. Since I am better than they are, I should punish them too. This seems to be the attitude of officials. My question is do we really want people like this running things? When did we, as a society change where kicking someone when he is down is acceptable or even rewarded? Maybe these people never had friends when they grew up. They never learned the rules of the playground. They probably didn’t learn to play or were micromanaged by adults that nothing was learned. They were never hurt and have no notion of what hurt is. They are comfortable. Anyone not comfortable is a bad guy and it is his own fault for not being comfortable.
I suggest all moneys collected by any form of government be paid to the general fund and allocated by our elected representatives. The phone revenue should be distributed to the families of the poor whose supporters are in jail so that the family members don’t have to steal, deal or hook to survive. In any event, Government should absolutely not be engaged in enterprise.
Someone should clue the overseers of the burden and hardship it creates for the unfortunate. A system can not be reformed if there are no fresh ideas and it is ruled by elitists afraid of the people.
I didn’t get around to posting this when written and put the transcript of Green Tongue’s hearing instead. So, I have an addendum I put twenty-five dollars on the account. The client called again, and the message said I had five dollars credit left. This is the first time I got to talk. In other words, I was charged twenty dollars to set up the account.
I put fifty dollars on the account this time and talked one time. The client called back, and the message said I had one-minute left. This is the third conversation I have had for my seventy-five dollars. I was obtaining instructions on the extradition when the phone went blank. The minute had run up. It is bad enough that they scalp the phone costs, listen in on attorney-client privileged calls, sometimes recording them, but when you cut the lawyer off in the middle of a conversation, this is hard core prisoner harassment and exploitation. It should stop. The system is too corrupt to continue. Just vote no on everyone. Make the jailers and the privatized phone systems personally liable for any civil rights damages as a result of denial of counsel. Make every jailer have to spend a day at least in his own facility as an inmate, paying for his phone calls on the same basis as the inmates.
This is beyond wrong. It is unconscionable. It is scandalous.
- Posted in: 2d Amendment