Free 28 Day Holiday Challenge

Free 28 Day Holiday Challenge
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

P is for Prison

 The letter is P... and I chose the word Prison.... I want to talk about a touchy subject... about The women inmate population... and How many times I believe... the system is flawed...

According to the Boston Globe,"nearly 265 of the nearly 2000 men and women crowding Massachusetts prisons for drug crimes are first-time offenders... Worse, nearly three out of four drug traffickers who do get charged in major cases, but agree to forfeit substantial drug money to prosecutors, bargain their way out of the long sentences... the result: those with no money or information to trade face the hard mandatory sentences."

The Today show had a women named Susan Lefevre on.. her name now is Maria S.Walsh..
She has a book about how she escaped prison... with help from her grandfather. ( she was driving a friend to a pizzeria.. when it turned out he was buying drugs... and she was arrested at 19 )... The book is entitled A tale of two lives

an exerpt

Chapter 1
Saginaw, Michigan, May 2004
The sun’s first dim rays light up the fluorescent pink walls — the eye-popping color I chose to have them painted when I was 16.
I am nearly 50 now. My husband, Alan, is sound asleep beside me, my children are safe back home in California, and my parents are in their bedroom downstairs. We are visiting my parents in what I know will be the last time I see my mother. I am certain she will die today.
The last 12 hours have been hectic and harried. My sister’s phone call, announcing that the priest has just given Mom last rites, set in motion a chain of events I seem to have walked through like a zombie. Somehow, Alan arranged the last-minute tickets. Somehow, I packed a bag and attended to the myriad details of dispatching the kids to friends’ houses, leaving instructions for the housecleaner, changing the message on the answering machine, and firing up the alarm system.
But all I could think of during the frantic drive to the San Diego airport was that if we missed the plane, I would never see my mother alive again. At the terminal, I handed my driver’s license to the TSA screener and held my breath. He checked the name — Marie Walsh — looked at the picture, looked back up at me, then handed me the license. I exhaled a sigh of relief. I wondered how many more years I would have to worry whenever I handed someone my ID. A moment later Alan and I were waved through the metal detector and we ran to our gate.

This story moves me... I believe in justice.. and I believe paying your dues... but some of these women.. pay more than there dues... they pay with their souls...

I learned by reading about Women and prison on the amnesty international site.. that," the imbalance of pwer between inmates and guards involves the use of direct physical force and indirect force based on the prisoners' total dependency on officers for basic necessities and the guards' ability to withhold privileges. Some women are coerced into sex for favors such as extra food or personal hygiene products, or to avoid punishment."

It also stated :the following :
* Powerlessness and Humiliation:
 There are 148,200 women in state and federal prisons.In federal women's correctional facilities, 70% of guards are male. Records show correctional officials have subjected female imates to rape, other sexual assault, sexual extortion and groping during body searches. Male correctional officials watch women undressing, in the shower or the toilet. If they tell there is often retaliation.. ( I am not stating this is all the guards... just stating the information I read)

* Retaliation and Fear: In many states guards have access to and are encouraged to review the inmates' personal history files ( this includes record of complaints against themselves or other prison authorities) Guards theaten the prisoner's children and visitation rights as a mean of silencing the women. Guards issue rule infraction tickets, which extend the woman's stay in prison if she speaks out.

* Impunity: Ineffective formal procedures, legislation and reporting capacity with US jails.. and prisons account for much of the ongoing sexual abuse of women.

The amnesty international site also touched upon the neglect... these women face
* failure to refer seriously ill inmates for treatment
*charges for medical attention
*Lack of qualified personnel and resources and use of non-medical staff
*Inadequate reproductive health care... mamograms and Pap smears..
*Lack of treatment for substance abuse
* lack of appropriate mental health services
* Pregnant mother's are shackled during pregnancy

The fastest growing segment of the prison population is not who you’d expect. A new report commissioned by the institute on women and criminal justice shows the numbers have significantly increased over the years, surpassing the male prison population growth in all states. In California, there are now over 11,000 women serving time in prison.
KPSP Local 2 got an inside look at the California Institution For Women in Corona, which until 1987, was the only prison in the State for female felons. Built in the 1950s, the green grass, flowers and red brick buildings stand in contrast to the prison gates.
There are now multiple facilities across the state, and CIW is home to around 2,300 women.
“It saved my life,” said Cynthia Wilson describing the prison, where she’s lived for the past 19 years. “It’s strange, kinda ironic that I needed a life sentence.”
Wilson is now 38-years-old, and admits she’s come a long way since when she arrived.

I read a book by Wally Lamb a few years back... called Couldn't keep it to myself

Any book that can give voice to the voiceless should be celebrated. No one feels this more strongly than Wally Lamb, editor of Couldn't Keep It to Myself, a collection of stories by 11 women imprisoned in the York Correctional Institution in Connecticut. Teacher and novelist Lamb was invited to head a writing workshop at York Correctional Institution in 1999. His somewhat reluctant acceptance soon turned into steadfast advocacy once the women in his charge began to tell their stories. Lamb maintains that there are things we need to know about prison and prisoners: "There are misconceptions to be abandoned, biases to be dropped." However, as heartfelt as his appeal is, nothing speaks more convincingly in this book than the stories themselves.

Those collected here are disturbing and horrific. They reveal, often in graphic detail, the worst kind of abuse: incest, drug addiction, spousal violence, parental neglect, or incompetence. They're also testimony to what social workers and health care professionals have confirmed for years--that those who populate our prisons are often victims first themselves. Thus, the telling of these stories serves as a form of therapy. They are also sad accounts of the brutalities many suffer, yet few discuss: "One day I figured out a dying little girl lived inside of me, so I threw her a lifeline in the form of paper and pen." Considering the degradation the contributors have experienced both in and outside prison, the courage, candor, and honesty with which they speak truly make these stories, as difficult as they are to read, "victories against voicelessness--miracles in print." --Silvana Tropea

 The next book I read was called I'll Fly Away.. further testimonies from the women of york prison


From Publishers Weekly

Lamb made sure that prison and state officials were notified about the book deal, hoping they would embrace this unlikely success story. But he didn't hear a word, until a few days before the books reached the stores.

Instead of embracing the women for their accomplishment, the state of Connecticut decided to go after them with a vengeance.

The attorney general invoked a vaguely worded law that allows the state to charge inmates for their own incarceration. And the state sued the women, not for the $5,600 that they had made on the book deal, but for $117 a day, for every day they would spend in prison.

One inmate had a lien placed against her assets for $913,000. Another for $473,000. And to make things worse, uniformed sheriff’s deputies served the papers.

“My first reaction when I see this guy with the badge is somebody's coming to take me back to jail,” says Cullen. “My bill was, I believe, $139,000.”

 I know a lot of people... don't care about people in prison... but I have read both of Wally Lamb's book... and always wanted to tell people about it... I hope you will pick on of them up in your library... and just
hear their side...

 * information came from.... the books.. named..and the following links
and Amnesty international


Marjorie said...

I have known one male who went to prison and one female. I can tell you that the different accounts of the experiences made me so angry. I am convinced that women are treated worse in prison than men. Thank you for bringing this important subject to light.

Hart Johnson said...

Wow. I am a social scientist by training, so I know a lot of these stats about people who are imprisoned--either victimized or mentally ill. But the idea of their stories is very moving. I happen to be reading a Wally Lamb novel at the moment--He seems very capable of choosing the stories and helping the women bring them to a sparkle. I'm glad they have an articulate and visible advocate.

Ella said...

I am so glad you chose to put it out there! People need to be more aware; I bet mentally illness comes into this dynamic a lot. So sad how we treat the human race~ Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Gregory said...

i didn't even think about this. thank you for bringing it to light.


Anonymous said...

Hi Wasabi Mommy
Difficult topic. Well done for tackling it! My dad was an advocate for prisoners - especially those who were incarcerated for drug possession.
P.S. Love Wasabi!

Talei said...

Wow, definitely a topic we rarely read about. Thank you! ;-)

TheyCallMeVarmit said...

Very informative post. All the jailbirds in my family seem to have no complaints, but I noticed with the juvenile system it was a lot of issue of male guards molesting teen female prisoners. But on the flipside, they'd beat the boys.

anyhow, this is one of those great "make you think" posts.

Arlee Bird said...

This post was epic and of an immense importance. There is a huge problem in regard to the so-call justice system and the lack of any real correction or rehabilitation. Drug possession and other questionable crimes bog things down and should not even be part of the penal system.

There needs to be some serious evaluation and restructuring of the system, but the greatest problem is the prisons are big business and organizations like the prison guard unions are blocking any real progress in the area.

Excellent post!

Hope you join us in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.

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