GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia’s notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other. PRESS RELEASE BELOW THE FOLD
The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia’s more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities.  We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.  
Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression.  So calls to the warden’s office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.
Press Release
BIGGEST PRISONER STRIKE IN U.S. HISTORY
Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest
December 8, 2010…Atlanta, Georgia
ContactsElaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046, reshelias@yahoo.com
           
 Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights.  The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.
            These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights.  They have set forth the following demands:
·         A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
·         EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:  For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
·         DECENT HEALTH CARE:  In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
·         AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS:  In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
·         DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS:  Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
·         NUTRITIONAL MEALS:  Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
·         VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
·         ACCESS TO FAMILIES:  The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
·         JUST PAROLE DECISIONS:  The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery.  Injustice in one place is injustice to all.  Inform your family to support our cause.  Lock down for liberty!”
—————————————————————————————————————– 
See also: New York Times
December 12, 2010

Prisoners Strike in Georgia

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said. 
Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate. 
“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer. 
Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.
The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
“We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone. 
Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.
“This is a pretty much organic effort on their part,” said Ms. Brown, a longtime prisoner advocate, who distilled the inmates’ complaints into a list of demands. “They did it, and then they reached out to me.” Ms. Brown, the founder of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform in Locust Grove, Ga., said she has spoken to more than 200 prisoners over the past two days. 
The Corrections Department placed several of the facilities where inmates planned to strike under indefinite lockdown on Thursday, according to local reports. 
“We’re hearing in the news they’re putting it down as we’re starting a riot, so they locked all the prison down,” said a 20-year-old inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, who also refused to give his name. But, he said, “We locked ourselves down.” 
Even if the Corrections Department did want to sit down at the table with the inmates, the spontaneous nature of the strike has left the prisoners without a representative to serve as negotiator, Ms. Brown said.
Ms. Brown, who lives in Oakland, Calif., said she planned to gather legal and advocacy groups on Monday to help coordinate a strategy for the inmates. 
Chief among the prisoners’ demands is that they be compensated for jailhouse labor. They are also demanding better educational opportunities, nutrition, and access to their families. 

“We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said the Hays inmate. “But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”



Will Nevada´s prisons become one of the 10 U.S. Prisons With Impressive Libraries?

10 U.S. Prisons With Impressive Libraries
(from: Onlineuniversities.com/blog)

December 5th, 2010

Prison is not a fun place to be: it’s turned hardened criminals into scared submission, and the daily grind of just sitting in a cell — either by yourself or with a “roommate” you can’t stand — can play tricks on your mind that no nightmare can touch. But a lot of prisoners around the country are allowed very small indulgences, and with the participation of gracious volunteers and many public library systems, getting access to books, computers and legal resources is possible, even for those sitting behind bars. Prison libraries range from institutions that are open every day to books-by-mail programs, but these 10 U.S. prisons are well-known for their contributions to literacy, education, and rehabilitation. Or at least they should be.

1. Racine Correctional Institution: This Wisconsin correctional facility and reformatory school focuses on using education and positive influences to rehabilitate young people, and encouraging the inmates to experiment with the arts is part of that mission. In 2006, the Racine Correctional Institution Library hosted a poetry slam and competition, and a blog was kept to track the progress of the institution’s Shakespeare Project. Fifteen to twenty inmates studied and rehearsed Shakespeare plays for nine months, working with theater artists and preparing to perform for the other prisoners and for the community.

2. Maryland Pre-Release Prisons: Prisoners awaiting release in Maryland can now access well-equipped libraries full of career-planning resources to help them transition into a responsible, productive life in the real world. In 2007, the Maryland Correctional Education Libraries acquired two bookmobile units that travel to each pre-release library, providing prisoners with access to forty-inch smart screens, computers, wireless access, as well as databases and books.

3. Folsom State Prison Library: This legendary prison also has an impressive library overseen by the the California Department of Corrections. Boasting a law library and library focused on educating inmates, the Folsom State Prison Library also offers a vocational-intern program to prepare certain inmates for the working world outside of jail. The law library has a Paralegal Studies Program which trains inmates in research skills and helps them find forms and legal resources around the library.

4. Colorado Correctional Libraries: The Colorado State Library’s Institutional Library Services unit oversees twenty-three libraries in its Department of Corrections, and the librarians stationed at each prison can feel pretty isolated, overwhelmed, and even abandoned. But in 2006, a unit-wide intranet was created to unite the librarians and offer them support and resources, making it easier for them to share ideas and create helpful tutorials and other materials to their inmates and patrons.

5. National Institute of Corrections Online Library: The correctional agencies and librarians of the National Institute of Corrections have created a user-friendly, highly educational e-library here. It’s a resource center for corrections agencies at all levels who want to find tutorials, training, technical assistance, program development assistance, and research studies to improve their facilities.

6. Main Prison Library, Angola: Angola, also called “The Farm,” is the country’s largest maximum-security prison, and many of the prison staff and their families live and play on the premises, too. The Main Library was dedicated in 1968, but there are actually four other branches that serve Angola inmates as well, called Outcamp libraries. Cooperating with the State Library of Louisiana, the Angola libraries participate in an inter-library loan program. In addition to the library system, certain inmates who don’t have a GED or high school diploma, as well as inmates scoring low on the Test of Adult Basic Education are allowed to take classes in vocational subjects like automotive technology.

7. Illinois State Prisons: The Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners project aims to educate the inmate population of local state prisons by providing them with as many books as possible, mostly lent out by individual libraries and regular volunteers from around Illinois. As an avenue for also educating Illinois residents about the state prison system, prisoners and volunteers interact regularly, and many of the inmates’ own writings and art pieces are published. Lending libraries have been set up in the two local jails, and the program also offers books by mail to all Illinois inmates.

8. Norfolk County prison: This Massachusetts prison once inspired Malcolm X to turn himself into a voracious reader and research everything he could about the Muslim religion and Nation of Islam. He wrote articles for the inmates’ newsletter, participated in weekly debates at the prison, and holed up in the prison library, copying an entire dictionary to learn new words. Today, the prison still provides education programs to inmates in the culinary arts, computer technology, HVAC, college transition, ESL, reading enrichment, and getting a GED.

9. Bucks County Prison Library: Pennsylvania’s Bucks County Correctional Facility works with the local Lions Club to produce reading material for the blind. In fact, the inmates are the ones who actually “translate” the books and reading material into Braille.

10. The “standing library” at Rikers: This sprawling New York City jail houses around 14,000 inmates at any given time, ten different jails, schools, gyms, a track, barbershops, grocery stores, and a car wash, among other amenities. The New York Public Library provides all kinds of library services and volunteer projects in conjunction with the Department of Corrections, but a new weekly program — called “the standing library” — operates a bit like a book fair, hosted in one of Rikers’ gyms. Inmates are taken down to the gym in groups and are allowed to pick books off the shelves and sit and read for a while. Books are also taken around to prisoners in solitary confinement, who are allowed one extra book to read.

When, after reading this, you think: ´Let´s make Ely State Prison the nr 1 prison library in the country!´Or even in the State, well here is your chance:

The Ely State Prison Bookdrive is happening now! Any book that you think would be uplifting, educational, or inspirational to prisoners, please send them to:

White Pine County School District
Mountain High School
1135 Avenue C
Ely, Nevada 89301
Attention: Ms. Thiel / E.S.P. Library Donations

Please make sure to go through all of your books, removing money, papers or anything that you may have left inside of your books, because the officers will thoroughly inspect each book before they are inducted into the E.S.P. Library.

Please talk to your friends, family, co-workers and classmates, ask them if they have any old books that they don’t want or need any more. We really want you to help us turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. Help us bring meaning and positive change to these prisoner’s lives.

There is no rehabilitation, no programs, no real educational/vocational opportunities for these guys incarcerated at Ely State Prison. We want you to help us give them that opportunity, we want you to help us help them. We want you to help us liberate these prisoners’ minds and transform their lives through knowledge, education and higher learning. Please get involved in this life-changing project. There’s nothing more empowering than knowledge! Thank you for your time and concern.

Check here for a list of the type of books most wanted. Thank you! Even one book may change someone for the better and give them a new chance…

Ely State Prison (NV) Book Drive

You can help change someone’s life! There is nothing more invigorating, nothing more liberating than knowledge! Books can definitely change people’s lives, and who needs help with changing their lives more than the people in prison? It has already been proven that education is the most powerful tool against recidivism, yet prisoners sit in their cells going mentally numb, getting more aggressive and deteriorating intellectually, spiritually and physically, just wasting away behind steel and stone, until the day they are released and returned back into our communities!

This is a chance to make a difference; to have an impact on someone’s life. This is a chance for people out there to really get involved in something significant. We need you to help us bring meaning and productivity to these prisoners lives! Please, help us do something positive; something that will definitely make a difference. Help us give these prisoners something important to think about, help us raise their level of consciousness and break them from the shackles of the gangster, pimp and criminal mentalities that confine them to self-destruction and perpetual misery.

Help us get books together for these men who sit in their cells staring at the walls all day. People throw books away every day. We need those books. We want you to help us donate those books to the Ely State Prison library; we want you to help us help these people who will be returning back to society. We want you to help us help these people who deserve a second chance. Help them realize they deserve a second chance! We can do that by bringing hope, meaning, and knowledge into their lives through books. we need you to help us with this possible life-changing project!

Any book you can donate will be appreciated, and put to good use, no matter what kind of book it is. Our mission here, however, is to turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. The E.S.P. library already has lots and lots of horror novels, sci-fi novels, fantasy and romance, but lacks anything of real educational value. So, we want you to help us provide any type of book that will allow prisoners to think and comprehend things on a higher, or deeper level.

We want educational books; anything that has some type of educational value, or that will provide real intellectual stimulation. All books will be accepted and appreciated, and books that we are particularly looking for are basically any type of books on:

• History
• Any type of self-help book
• Dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedias, almanacs, vocabulary builders, etc.
• Philosophy
• Psychology and/or sociology
• Anthropology
• Text books of all kinds
• Non-fictional books, true stories, current events, etc.
• Books on business, economics, law, etc.
• Poetry, classics, literature, etc.
• Autobiographies, memoirs and biographies
• Books on science (any branch of science, from astronomy to palaeontology, whatever)
• Good fiction novels that could possibly have a life-changing impact on a prisoner’s mind
• Books about prison, or written by prisoners, who have changed their lives while in prison (these stories are always inspirational and helpful for those incarcerated)
• Any books on politics, revolutionary science, prominent figures and leaders
• Cultural studies: Latino, African American, Native American, Asian, The Celts, The Romans, The Greeks, The Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans, etc.
• Political books (on anarchism, communism, socialism, etc.)
• Theology, Theosophy, etc.
• Books on different languages
• Geography
• Best sellers, Pulitzer prize winners, etc.
• Esoteric studies, masonic literature, symbolism, etc.
• Health, medical encyclopedia, physical fitness, etc.

Any book that you have, that you don’t want, or need any more, any book that you think would be uplifting, educational, or inspirational to prisoners, please send them to:

White Pine County School District
Mountain High School
1135 Avenue C
Ely, Nevada 89301
Attention: Ms. Thiel / E.S.P. Library Donations

Please make sure to go through all of your books, removing money, papers or anything that you may have left inside of your books, because the officers will thoroughly inspect each book before they are inducted into the E.S.P. Library.

Please talk to your friends, family, co-workers and classmates, ask them if they have any old books that they don’t want or need any more. We really want you to help us turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. Help us bring meaning and positive change to these prisoner’s lives.

There is no rehabilitation, no programs, no real educational/vocational opportunities for these guys incarcerated at Ely State Prison. We want you to help us give them that opportunity, we want you to help us help them. We want you to help us liberated these prisoners’ minds and transform their lives through knowledge, education and higher learning. Please get involved in this life-changing project. There’s nothing more empowering than knowledge! Thank you for your time and concern.

Solidarity and Respects
From Someone Who Cares

ps if you plan to send in any books, please if possible let us know via email (Nevadaprisonwatch at gmail.com) which books you donated, because the person who organized this would like to know if all the books are indeed going to the library.

E.S.P. Book Drive

You can help change someone’s life! There is nothing more invigorating, nothing more liberating than knowledge! Books can definitely change people’s lives, and who needs help with changing their lives more than the people in prison? It has already been proven that education is the most powerful tool against recidivism, yet prisoners sit in their cells going mentally numb, getting more aggressive and deteriorating intellectually, spiritually and physically, just wasting away behind steel and stone, until the day they are released and returned back into our communities!

This is a chance to make a difference; to have an impact on someone’s life. This is a chance for people out there to really get involved in something significant. We need you to help us bring meaning and productivity to these prisoners lives! Please, help us do something positive; something that will definitely make a difference. Help us give these prisoners something important to think about, help us raise their level of consciousness and break them from the shackles of the gangster, pimp and criminal mentalities that confine them to self-destruction and perpetual misery.

Help us get books together for these men who sit in their cells staring at the walls all day. People throw books away every day. We need those books. We want you to help us donate those books to the Ely State Prison library; we want you to help us help these people who will be returning back to society. We want you to help us help these people who deserve a second chance. Help them realize they deserve a second chance! We can do that by bringing hope, meaning, and knowledge into their lives through books. we need you to help us with this possible life-changing project!

Any book you can donate will be appreciated, and put to good use, no matter what kind of book it is. Our mission here, however, is to turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. The E.S.P. library already has lots and lots of horror novels, sci-fi novels, fantasy and romance, but lacks anything of real educational value. So, we want you to help us provide any type of book that will allow prisoners to think and comprehend things on a higher, or deeper level.

We want educational books; anything that has some type of educational value, or that will provide real intellectual stimulation. All books will be accepted and appreciated, and books that we are particularly looking for are basically any type of books on:

• History
• Any type of self-help book
• Dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedias, almanacs, vocabulary builders, etc.
• Philosophy
• Psychology and/or sociology
• Anthropology
• Text books of all kinds
• Non-fictional books, true stories, current events, etc.
• Books on business, economics, law, etc.
• Poetry, classics, literature, etc.
• Autobiographies, memoirs and biographies
• Books on science (any branch of science, from astronomy to palaeontology, whatever)
• Good fiction novels that could possibly have a life-changing impact on a prisoner’s mind
• Books about prison, or written by prisoners, who have changed their lives while in prison (these stories are always inspirational and helpful for those incarcerated)
• Any books on politics, revolutionary science, prominent figures and leaders
• Cultural studies: Latino, African American, Native American, Asian, The Celts, The Romans, The Greeks, The Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans, etc.
• Political books (on anarchism, communism, socialism, etc.)
• Theology, Theosophy, etc.
• Books on different languages
• Geography
• Best sellers, Pulitzer prize winners, etc.
• Esoteric studies, masonic literature, symbolism, etc.
• Health, medical encyclopedia, physical fitness, etc.

Any book that you have, that you don’t want, or need any more, any book that you think would be uplifting, educational, or inspirational to prisoners, please send them to:

White Pine County School District
Mountain High School
1135 Avenue C
Ely, Nevada 89301
Attention: Ms. Thiel / E.S.P. Library Donations

Please make sure to go through all of your books, removing money, papers or anything that you may have left inside of your books, because the officers will thoroughly inspect each book before they are inducted into the E.S.P. Library.

Please talk to your friends, family, co-workers and classmates, ask them if they have any old books that they don’t want or need any more. We really want you to help us turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. Help us bring meaning and positive change to these prisoner’s lives.

There is no rehabilitation, no programs, no real educational/vocational opportunities for these guys incarcerated at Ely State Prison. We want you to help us give them that opportunity, we want you to help us help them. We want you to help us liberated these prisoners’ minds and transform their lives through knowledge, education and higher learning. Please get involved in this life-changing project. There’s nothing more empowering than knowledge! Thank you for your time and concern.

Solidarity and Respects
From Someone Who Cares

ps if you plan to send in any books, please if possible let us know via email (Nevadaprisonwatch at gmail.com) which books you donated, because the person who organized this would like to know if all the books are indeed going to the library.

Let them read! or Thou Shalt Read?

October 08, 2010
“Throw the books at inmates”: HICKS: Throw the books at inmates
By Brian Hicks
Friday, October 8, 2010
Post and Courier

OK, there are probably a few things you don’t want inmates in your jail reading.

For instance, the J. Campbell Bruce classic “Escape From Alcatraz” or other how-to tomes like “How To Bake a Cake With a File In It … And Not Get Caught.” And don’t ever let them get their hands on “Rioting for Dummies.”

Come to think of it, it’s probably not a good idea to let ’em have Harlequin romance novels either.

But Berkeley County may have gone too far.

According to a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, Berkeley jail officials will allow prisoners to read only soft-bound copies of the Bible. The suit was filed on behalf of Prison Legal News, which according to the lawsuit is an inmate-subscriber magazine.

As a result of this ban, a Moncks Corner man named Thomas Dalton was denied access to such articles as “Appalling Prison and Jail Food Leaves Prisoners Hungry for Justice” and “Judges Benched for Personal Misconduct.” That’s just criminal.

Of course, the real losers here are Berkeley County taxpayers. They’ve got to pay to defend this Draconian rule.

Reading is good

Everybody is all about the Constitution, until it comes to prisoner rights. But fact is, South Carolina prisons have entire libraries — yeah, just like in “The Shawshank Redemption,” but without the guy with the bird.

The Department of Corrections’ policy is to “provide library materials and services that provide inmates with the opportunity to increase their academic skills, allow for personal development, and engage in recreational reading.”

See, that’s the idea behind supplying reading material to prisoners, and most places share that philosophy. The Charleston County Detention Center has books to loan, and allows inmates to buy newspapers and magazines if they want them. Reasonable enough.

But Dalton, on his extended vacation from society, could not keep up with news he could use or study to learn a skill that might be a more honest way to earn a living than, say, credit card fraud (which he did time for in 1998).

And since the Bible says nothing specifically about Thou Shalt Not Defraud the IRS, Berkeley County left Dalton woefully unprepared to learn from his current 10-year mistake.

Instead, all he got was an idea to smote Berkeley County.

TV, not so much

It seems that one of the biggest problems in this country is that folks don’t read enough. They let talk show hosts do their thinking for them and get their morality off TV and movies.

Read the rest here.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/oct/08/throw-the-books-at-inmates/

Borrowed via: Real Cost of Prisons

Education: College Guild discontinues…

In our newsletter to the prisoners, we featured the College Guild as one of the small organizations that makes free non-traditional correspondence courses for prisoner students. Unfortunately, although this was not written on their website (visited again today, July 15 2010), they are not sending out courses anymore at this moment.
We are sorry to hear that!
Here is the email we received:

To the Nevada Prison Watch:

College Guild provides free non-traditional correspondence courses to prisoners throughout the United States and feature on your web site. We are getting many inquiries from prisoners in the State of Nevada. Unfortunately at the present time we are unable to accept any more students into our program and would be grateful if you could publish a note stating this. We hope the position might change in the new year.

Thank you.

CG Admin.

We received a very good explanation about this discontinuement later on:

“We are running out of funds. Everything we do is dependent on fund raising. We have a long wait list and hope to be able to accommodate those already on it. Maybe in the new year we will be able to take on more students.

We would love to be able to expand College Guild to cover everyone who would like to participate. We are looking for some major funding and have a few contacts out there. Any help or ideas you can offer would be gratefully received.”

So if you have ideas, money, etc, please contact the College Guild!

Mass Incarceration in Nevada Is a Failed Strategy/SB398

This was read out at the April 2010 Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners:

Nevada Prison Commissioners Meeting, April 20, 2010

Dahn Shaulis, Ph.D.

Mass Incarceration in Nevada Is a Failed Strategy/SB398

My name is Dahn Shaulis. I am an instructor at the College of Southern Nevada, a former Nevada correctional employee, and an attender of the Las Vegas Friends Worship Group—the Quakers.

My purpose for being here again is to discuss Nevada’s justice options for the future. In discussing these options, we need to examine where we are and were we have come from in terms of justice and prisons. When I speak of justice it’s about a justice much broader than many people perceive.

The State of Nevada is in crisis, socially, economically, and spiritually. Unemployment in Nevada has been in the double digits for months and has approached 14%. For people of color and the working-class, their struggles for opportunities, including decent and humane housing, education, employment and justice have taken longer. Nevada’s unemployment rate for African Americans is estimated at 20%, but that does not even include discouraged workers and those part-time workers who are seeking full-time work. Unemployment rates for Latinos are not much better and I suspect rates for indigenous peoples are also above the average.

As I mentioned at the January 2010 Prison Board meeting, Nevada has heavily invested in a Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC) for more than four decades. Prison expansion began in the mid-1960s and has continued into the 21st century. Since the 1970s, the State has also chosen to mass incarcerate youth, giving NDOC more potential recruits for prison. Even as index crime rates began to drop in this State in the early 1980s, Nevada continued on the path of mass incarceration. Conditions were so deplorable in Elko that the youth facility required federal oversight. Nevada has also chosen to jail and imprison many women, rather than find alternatives to incarceration or to remedy the situation by understanding the etiology of crime.

Tough on crime legislation has been tough on society, as Nevada leaders chose for decades to disregard human needs: underfunding education, mental health treatment, drug treatment, and decent affordable housing. The State chose to increase sentence structures and to punish probation and parole violators, at the expense of long-term social and economic costs. Prisons in Nevada were supposedly constructed to save rural economies, but they also provided low-wage convict labor–reminiscent of the racist South after the Civil War. Prisons may bring work for some, but the work is often inhumane—it bleeds into all those who are near it.

From the 1980s to the present, Nevada followed the most dysfunctional aspects of the California prison system, and built Golden Gulags, facilities that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct, staff, and maintain. Limited efforts were made to rehabilitate prisoners despite increasing knowledge about what works in correctional treatment. Recent attempts to privatize prisons and prison services at Summit View, the women’s prison in Southern Nevada, and the medical services at Ely State Prison (ESP) have been huge failures—yet Governor Gibbons continues to push for more privatization.

In 2007, Governor Gibbons proposed $1.7 billion in new prison construction to include a new death chamber—because he saw no other alternatives. Only a budget crisis and unforeseen drops in crime prevented the Governor and Director Howard Skolnik from continuing this mass incarceration master plan.

So here’s the picture in 2010. According to the US Census, Nevada ranks 2nd in prison spending per capita and 48th in education spending. The State has chosen a path of mass incarceration and a system that promotes violence and ignorance rather than a path of education and innovation. In April 2010, Nevada has been labeled as the most place dangerous state in the US. But this is a pyrrhic defeat for the Nevada prison system, which profits from crime and the fear of crime.

Prisons today function inadequately as drug treatment and mental health facilities, as “the new asylums.” They also serve inadequately as high schools, work houses, and as high-cost warehousing of throw-away people. Nevada’s prisons, frankly, serve as graduate schools and network hubs for organized interstate crime and White Supremacist hate groups.

Little effort is made to help prepare prisoners for work and independent living after they leave the facilities. One of Governor Gibbon’s recent strategies to cut the budget included closing Casa Grande, the state’s transition facility; Mr. Skolnik did not protest the plan to cut Casa Grande. This plan to close Casa Grande should be understood in the context that the Nevada Department of Corrections wins when it receives “repeat customers.” NDOC is an agency that grows in proportion to its failures.

When I publicly made statements two years ago, that NDOC officials were morally corrupt, and reported my experiences in the Justice Policy Journal, prison officials told the media I was fabricating information. They refused to comment on the record, however, because they knew I was telling the truth about prison conditions and the state of justice in Nevada. As a payback perhaps, Mr. Skolnik denied me access into NDOC facilities to teach college courses or to volunteer.

As UNLV criminal justice Professor Randall Shelden will tell you, our prison system is a failed system. Mass incarceration is a drain on society and it’s a dysfunctional strategy to improve public safety. In terms of economic opportunity costs, money spent on prisons means less resources for education, drug treatment, mental health care, and community redevelopment.

So what are our options?

Privatizing prisons does not work. They are not even an adequate short-term fix. No other civilized nations use this failed strategy of punitive justice to this extreme. Our only reasonable option is to think long-term and to think holistically. We need to recognize that resources are limited and that there are opportunity costs. Even US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, questioned this approach as early as 2004.

One of the most obvious short-term solutions would be to pass Senate Bill (SB) 398. This program would divert hundreds of nonviolent offenders from prison and into treatment. The SAGE Commission has estimated a savings of $280 million over a 5-year period—savings that could be used to invest in people rather than in concrete shrines to man’s ignorance and greed.

The ideal situation would be to take the savings from this diversion program to reinvest in communities hardest hit by mass incarceration, “million-dollar blocks,” to be spent on prevention and reentry. Good Pre-K programs, for example, reduce crime in the long run. The Rand Corporation and others have ideas of what programs would be most effective.

I would like to have your support today and am asking that you promise to promote SB 398 immediately–with the courage to promote it publicly. I would also ask you to encourage educators and working-class communities to support this bill.

In my January 2010 statement to the Board I explained several sources to safely plan for the downsizing of prisons—and for long-term community investment that reduces crime. These sources include legitimate authorities: Michael Jacobson and the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. We also need to train and retrain workers so they don’t have to resort to prison work, as I did, for a decent paycheck. In the long-term, we need to mature as a State, divest ourselves from prisons and sources of crime such as casino gambling, while investing in the People.

In Nevada, “mandatory” parole release is really just a suggestion

Lock ’em up and throw away the key
by AMY KINGSLEY
In: Las Vegas City Life
May 13, 2010

The southern half of the Nevada Parole Board meets in a conference room in east Las Vegas — where they sit behind a long table, addressing a high definition flat screen.

Video technology and the Internet allow them to order up cases from across the state. Today, the television is tuned to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in Carson City.

Gerald Hudson shuffles to a chair in the center of the screen. The 40-year-old inmate holds a jumbo envelope containing the last two years’ accomplishments. He recites its contents: GED, high school diploma, another diploma from a substance abuse program and a completion certificate from victim awareness. He pauses and addresses his crime. “I’ve lost so many years for this,” Hudson says. “Alcohol caused me to act on impulse. I’ve had time to think about the consequences and the people I hurt.”

Hudson is appearing before the board for his second and final time, after serving more than three years for his first felony offense — endangerment and inflicting mental harm on a child. This is his mandatory parole release hearing, which is required by state law.

The goal is to give offenders with sentences of three years or longer one final shot at supervised release. Inmates are supposed to go before the board four months before the final year of their sentence. Good time credits for education and substance abuse treatment usually move the release date closer to six months before the end of the sentence. It’s part of an effort to get more prisoners out of prison and into some kind of community supervision. Ideally, these inmates will have used their time behind bars to better themselves and reflect on their crimes. Parole gives them the opportunity to prove they’ve learned their lesson, with consequences for failure.

Otherwise, inmates finish their sentences inside. They get “dumped,” in prison parlance. When their sentences end, they leave with $21 and a bus ticket. They go back to the streets, with no supervision and no structure. Hudson seems like a model candidate for parole release. After he was denied in his first parole hearing, the inmate turned over a new leaf. His release plan is so detailed it even includes the specific psychiatric center where he plans to continue counseling.

But it’s not necessarily a slam dunk. The parole commissioners determine that Hudson is a moderate risk to re-offend due to the nature of his crime. And they’re charged with making sure he doesn’t — at least not on their watch. Whatever decision these three commissioners make will be sent to the full board for ratification. At least four votes are required for parole.

“Regardless of what we do here today, you are going to get out,” says Commissioner Michael Keeler. “And our primary concern is public safety.”

Hard case

Nevada has always been a tough place for felons. The state has some of the stiffest sentences in the country, and one of the lowest rates of granting parole. The combination fueled explosive growth in the prison population during the late ’90s and early ’00s, a period when the violent crime rate actually dropped.

Even when the state had money, it couldn’t keep up with the demand for prison beds. So legislators decided to do something about it. They created an expert panel on sentencing, and concocted a few solutions. One of them, Assembly Bill 510 in the 2007 Legislature, increased the amount of credit inmates received for completing education and other programs. Before the bill, the parole board had a lot of leeway to count credits — and could take them away if parole was denied. That caused a great deal of angst among inmates, who never knew whether the board would honor their efforts to improve.

“There was a certain degree of morale factor with inmates who had gotten diplomas or GEDs,” said state Sen. David Parks, who was an assemblyman in 2007 and chairman of the committee that introduced AB 510. “They wouldn’t get their good time credits. We wanted to make it so once you earn them, you don’t get to lose them.”

Legislators like Parks wanted to encourage inmates to get an education. And they also wanted to ease the strain on prisons. The law had its intended effect. After its passage, the prison population leveled off, and even began to shrink. Members of the parole board said it hasn’t had any effect on recidivism. Most of the inmates paroled under the new guidelines fare as well as those released under the old, subjective system.

Read the rest here.

See also: The Crime Report (May 26, 2010)

Offender Reeducation Program

We received this interesting plan for starting up a reeducation program for prisoners based on a low budget and with a lot of good ideas:

Offender Reeducation Program

Mission Statement:

The reeducation of offenders, would-be offenders, and Security Threat Group (STG) members on how to best serve time, rehabilitate and successfully transition back into society as productive citizens.

1. To curtail STG recruitment and activities in the Department of Corrections.

2. To substantially reduce disciplinary rule violations by those who successfully
complete the program.

3 To reeducate offenders on the importance of participating in educational and
vocational programs.

4. To initiate volunteer style exercises for young offenders to instill a civic duty of volunteerism prior to release.

5. To teach those social skills most offenders lack, i.e.:

a.) How to interview successfully for gainful employment;
b.) How to manage finances such as balancing a checking or credit account,
paying monthly bills, planning a grocery budget and shopping; and a prioritization of living needs; and
c.) Dealing with confrontation and stress in socially acceptable ways,

6. Certified classroom and in-cel1 programs for abusive behavior and personality
disorders, i.e.:

a.) Drug and alcohol abuse/addiction;
b.) Domestic violence/abuse;
c.) Materialistic abuse/addiction;
d.) Self-destructive behaviors; and
e.) Nutrition and exercise for healthier living.

7. To establish and coordinate pre-release and parole planning, post release housing, and community resource availability.

8. Post-incarceration follow-ups to gauge success / failure rates, and offer support
counsel for those failing.

9. Post-incarceration volunteer programs to allow offenders to give back to their communities.

Staffing: Requirements:

l. Custody:

No more than one (1) correctional officer will be required to act as custody supervision during classroom sessions.

2. Free Staff:

It is the goal of the program coordinators to get volunteers from both mental health and education to assist in the drafting and input of the programs text and curriculum.
Conversations with these free staff concludes they find the program to be a worthy
endeavor and would volunteer time and knowledge.

The program coordinators further intend to obtain volunteers specialized and accredited in the subjects listed herein from educational and medical departments in society.

Program Participants:

It is the coordinators’ goal to enlist both direct and indirect participation from members of the state legislature, state and federal judiciary, Nevada parole and probation, adult and juvenile corrections, college students majoring in criminology, the Nevada State Bar-, and state and federal law enforcement.

Program Benefits:

Upon successful completion of this program offenders will receive the following:

1. Meritorious credits. Any offender who successfully completes the program will be awarded thirty (30) days meritorious time.

2. Certificate of completion shall be placed in the offenders I-File for consideration by institutional classification and the Board of Parole and Probation.

3. Security Threat Groups Due Process Consideration.

Program Coordinators:

Nicholas Neff # 54214
El y State Prison
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, Nevada 89301

Richard Carmichael # 27850
Ely State Prison
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, Nevada 89301

Educate, support, and unite!

Article received on May 3rd 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greetings families and friends of those incarcerated within the NDOC, as well as to those who may not have loved ones residing in the NDOC but are prison advocates and/or concerned citizens. I am an inmate that has been imprisoned at Ely State Prison for the past 10 years. Throughout this tenure, I have experienced and witnessed the demise of education, programs, inmate health, humanity, and integrity. Unfortunately inmates’ morale has abated as well, while the prison guards´ sadist acts have risen.

ESP is operating as a de facto (illegitimate but in effect) Super Max facility. ESP was not designed to be double celled nor to operate as a super max, but for the past six years it has been and only has one worker unit. Inmates have become so accustomed to this lockdown living that most don’t exit their call for shower or yard time. Now, during the Spring and Summer (warmer seasons) more inmates go to the outside miniature recreation yard but because only one cell per hour is allowed on this yard, not everyone can receive yard time daily during day light hours. We have no indoor out of the cell free time, meaning that during rain, snow and the freezing Ely weather you can either go outside or remain in your cell for 24 hours. I’m not on my soap box about prison living, per se (for there is another time for that) but I am bringing to your attention the repercussions of this 23/1 indefinite lockdown.

These Gestapo tactics have broken inmates down to debrief (lying about others and/or becoming prison informants which are used up by administration and discarded like a piece of gum after losing it’s flavor), they lose their social communication skills, develop paranoia, OCD, severe depression, lack of discipline, become obnoxious and lose touch with reality. These are the people (American citizens) who will be coming back to your communities.

What is the Nevada Department of Corrections correcting? Yes, ESP provides high school education via correspondence materials being delivered to an inmate’s cell where he does the assignments (if he can) but there is no classroom atmosphere and no teacher support. How much better would it be for inmates to get up in the morning, go to class, ask and discuss the assignments so to show an understanding and develop confidence? That sounds like a start to correction. ESP provides no post high school education; hence, if you already have a diploma you receive no education whatsoever. Inmates that are fortunate enough to pursue and obtain a college education and degree with their personal funds (via outside correspondence schools) receive no good time credits (as outlined per NRS 209.4465) nor recognition from the parole board. Instead they are considered a “non-programmer”. Inmates have no incentive to be good since good behavior is not lifting the lock down. Those inmates being rewarded are lying on other inmates.

Do Nevada tax payers know that they are paying a correctional officer’s salary of roughly $18/hour and up, to prepare and pass out food trays, sweep/mop the floor and clean the units? A job an inmate would do for free. ESP has been locked down for years but claims they need more staff. Did you know that more inmates have been killed and/or died since the lockdown AND more inmates have been assaulted by staff? I, a person of common intelligence, would believe that the objective to locking down a prison is to quell the problems, not to cause more. How much is enough?

You have probably read in the newspapers and/or know that the states have become dependent on prisons to provide employment and revenue to the counties and state. In addition to this, prisons contract other businesses to supply materials or provide services which turn a profit. Once prisons started turning a profit it became a business. A business solely exists to make money. I pay $16.90 to make a collect call to California for 15 minutes, 34 cents for a Top Ramen, $275 for a flat 13” screen TV, $6.80 for an 8oz bag of Keefe coffee and the list goes on. The state doesn’t provide inmates with deodorant, thermals, beanie, or gloves if they have money on their account. The inmate has to buy everything on canteen. Indigent inmates are not provided these items period. Those familiar with Ely know about the freezing weather months on end.

Correctional officers prepare the inmate trays on the unit failing to distribute adequate food proportions. 90% of our fruit is canned (we receive an occasional orange or an apple) and 75% of it is rotten! The most disturbing issue here is inmates giving up and accepting all of this. Guys are starting to take psychotropic medication and lay down in fear of losing their TV, canteen and phone privileges. I know you want your loved ones to not get into trouble and you worry for their safety. When a majority of these guys get released they are only going to want to lay around on the couch all day because that is all they know. What we need is your support. Inmates need to be encouraged to learn their prisoners rights, demand more educational programs, vocational training, fresh fruits and vegetables, affordable telephone rates and canteen, mental health and drug addiction resources, desegregating of inmates, better training of staff, programs to assist inmates upon release to name just a few.

You can help by contacting and/or petitioning to the Governor, Department of Corrections, Prison Commission and State Representatives. Inmates must do their part by filing grievances and stopping the knit-picking amongst themselves-that administration orchestrated in the first place. Please do not allow your loved ones morale to evaporate. Not only are they oppressed in prison but inmates´ families give up on them too and that is what the prison wants since it is designed to keep us from the public. DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO TAKE PLACE. Encourage your family and friends to keep in touch so that inmates can build and maintain relationships with their children, parents and spouses. Love is unconditional and your outside support is needed.

The recidivism rate is out of control and it is because of the failing prison system. America has the largest prison population in the world so it is evident that what they have been doing is not working. You pay taxes and are an American citizen, thus, you have the power to be heard and can bring about change. Let us on this inside and you on the outside unite our forces… for together we can achieve anything we set out to do!! Educate, support, and unite.

Respectfully,
Liberator

If you have coments about this article, you can email: contactliberator@yahoo.com