Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Big House


In Jefferson City, Missouri (1836-2004) open now for tours.   Not quite escape proof:  in April  1967 James Earl Ray escaped in a leaving bread truck and went to Canada for a year.
Then in April 1968 made his way to Memphis to shoot and kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Caught in London shortly after ( for an escapee he seemed to have adequate traveling cash !)   Back to the Big House.

Turns out that 1/4 of the worlds prisoners are held in US jails, some 2.4 million --  38% black and 34% white.  Of course, blacks are overrepresented compared to their percentage in society.  Through the processes of  "drug wars", "tough on crime",  "three strikes and your out", and tough law directives the cells are filling up, many innocent of the crime or charged with minor drug offenses.  It used to be that rehabilitation was the goal, but  now just basic housing seems to be considered adequate especially with the privatization of  many facilities; with solitary isolation being  used on unruly or gang-suspected prisoners.  Some 25,000 are in isolated  (6ft X 9ft) cells most in super max prisons, many mentally ill.  Cruel and  unusual punishment?   The record for solitary isolation is a fellow in Louisiana (Angola prison) who has been held for some 43 years :  .
  It is hard to even imagine what effect this would have on a person . . .

Seems to me that a progressive society must attend to the needs of all of its citizens ,  even those who have gone wrong in the eyes of the courts. Fair play and dignity must lead ,otherwise it's just another ineffective and uncaring system bound for failure.