Today’s post is about prison conditions/prisoner abuse and why we need community oversight of correctional facilities. We start off with a very disturbing story from Santa Clara, California about 3 deputies who beat a person to death who was awaiting a slot in a treatment program. The next item is about why prisoner abuse is so common and overlooked and the last item is about phone calls from prison.
3 Santa Clara County deputies arrested in mentally ill inmate’s beating death
Three jail deputies were arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder in the beating death of a mentally ill inmate in Santa Clara County — an act that Sheriff Laurie Smith described as “heinous and cowardly.”
Prison Guard ‘Beat Up’ Squad Accused of Killing Inmate: Why Prison Abuse Is So Common and Overlooked
America is the only democracy in the world that doesn’t have independent oversight of prisons.
Terrell Jermaine Starr, Sept. 3, 2015, AlterNet
“Samuel Harrell’s death at the hands of a group of correctional officers at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon N.Y. known as the ‘beat-up squad’ is a tragic, but all too common instance of abuse taking place in America’s correctional facilities.
“According to the ACLU, America is the only democracy in the world that doesn’t have independent oversight of its prisons. While it is not uncommon for the Department of Justice to enforce oversight of a police department, it is rare for such intervention to take place at a prison or jail. In a rare case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just agreed to federal oversight of its jails after several of its deputies were convicted of abusing inmates.”
A Phone Call From Jail? Better Watch What You Say
A confession, a threat—it’s probably taped. And admissible.
Ken Armstrong, Sept. 4, 2015 The Marshall Project
“Although people do things against their own interest all the time, even the police can be amazed. Moe Greenberg, a Baltimore County police detective, is the author of Detective’s Notebook, an advice column for fellow investigators. One time he wrote: ‘Most facilities that record inmate’s calls or visitations play a preliminary recorded message informing the inmate that their call or visitation will be recorded. One would think that this would eliminate any references to criminal acts, actions, knowledge, or involvement. Despite this very clear warning to the inmate, they still talk!'”
States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions. -Noam Chomsky