E-Mail Supports Boom in Prisons 

E-Mail Supports Boom in Prisons 
Posted by FoM on April 04, 2000 at 23:04:34 PT
By Thom Marshall
Source: Houston Chronicle
"Teary-eyed, panty-wearing liberals like you make me sick." The fellow who tossed that e-mail barb was upset about a recent discussion here regarding the growing number of people being warehoused in the growing number of prison facilities and the frustrations of the growing number of prisoners' families. 
"If you polled the taxpayers," wrote the upset fellow, "you would find that the majority, by far, would be in support of their tax dollars going to improvement and expansion of the prison system over many other things. The expansion will bring in thousands of new jobs for contractors, among many other people." No beating around the bush for this guy. He sees a prison boom as good for the economy and doesn't mind saying it. And I know many who agree with him. My old hometown up in the Texas Panhandle was one of the many a few years ago to welcome a new prison facility with open arms. Competition for them was fierce because of the boost to local economies from all those regular paychecks for guards and support staff. `Punishment Never Stops'Last time I visited a crew of prisoners was doing some restoration work on the brick main street. Parks in the town never looked better, thanks also to prisoners' efforts. In the hometown newspaper recently was a picture of the prisoners' choir that was to present a Sunday afternoon religious concert. "The public is invited to attend. Bring your lawn chairs and listen to our neighbors west of town." So when some people look at the penal system of so many units filled with prisoners, they see many advantages. "The candidates applying for those prison jobs are people that need work," said the upset fellow, " ... and it is damn sure we need to keep those violent criminals and drug addicts you speak so highly of behind bars." I got a call from a man who said he has been on parole for about a year after spending 16 months locked up -- about four in county jail and the rest in TDCJ in Huntsville. He said his crime was possession of about three ounces of marijuana, discovered in his car after he was stopped for a traffic violation. He said that he has smoked marijuana for about 30 years, but the only other time he had been in any trouble with the law was a DWI more than 20 years ago. This parolee said that once you've been in prison, "the punishment never stops." He said he and his girlfriend are being evicted from their apartment because the manager found out he has a record. Then there are the nightmares. About once a week he dreams he is back in the pen and trying to escape even though he knows it is stupid because he doesn't have that long to serve. He wakes up feeling depressed. His time in prison, he said, "affected me more than Vietnam." Families Can Get Involved:With only about seven months to go on his parole, he said he worries about getting caught in some minor technical violation and being returned to finish his sentence. That happened to many of the fellows he was in the pen with, he said. And it doesn't take much -- be late to a meeting with your parole officer, come up short of money when a payment is due. The list of possible violations is long. "They try to find some way to put you back in," the parolee said. "They didn't build them to keep them empty." He said several men he did time with were well-educated. Said they often discussed what it will take to change things. Talked about the importance of their families and friends getting involved, strength in numbers, political power. Many parents of prisoners have requested information about organizations or support groups. While I lack any firsthand knowledge, others have written to suggest the Texas Inmate Families Association, with chapters throughout the state, and a Web site location of just to set the record straight, regarding the upset fellow's comment, what I wear is Jockey brand cotton briefs. Thom Marshall's e-mail address is: thom.marshall Houston Chronicle Articles By Thom Marshall: April 4, 2000 Copyright 1998-2000, Houston Chronicle. Related Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Forum of Texas Articles On Prisons:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #5 posted by MMMM on April 05, 2000 at 22:58:20 PT
Not a racial issue
Let's not forget that the prison population is made up of a cross section of people, most who disobeyed serious laws. There are college kids, older medical marijuana users, people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels. The tragedy we need to address here is that they're many of them are imprisoned for using an illegal substance. Had they been in a more liberal country, they wouldn't be locked up. It's not a race issue at all because this problem has been in existence since jails first existed -- the unjust law in the U.S. is locking up innocent people. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on April 05, 2000 at 16:37:07 PT:
Always gotta keep the (fill in the blank) in line
In the 'bad ol' days', when we had slaves and indentured servants building the infrastructure, the worthies of the time no doubt looked upon it and saw it was good. It was an excellent means of societal control over those elements that might upset the status quo. People like the liberals, the libertarians (not necessarily the same thing, folks)the free thinkers, the just plain 'different'. The ones who were always yelling about ideas like living up to the spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ones who said slavery sucked, was an abomination, and demanded its' end. The ones who said it's nobody's business what consenting adults do behind closed doors. You know, 'those kind of people'.The elite of any country have always preferred to use the law rather than overt force to keep the disenfranchised elements of the population in line. Because the vast majority of those living at the poverty level have the least invested in their particular societies. Think about it; if you had nothing, would you give a damn if a rich man's house was ransacked? Would you obey laws that demand you continue to live in poverty? I suspect many would not - and *do not* - if they were that desperate. 'Those people' must be guarded against at all times by the elite; when you ride a hungry tiger, you best not ever get down. You have to have something that can pacify that tiger - and if possible, pull his teeth and claws at the same time. The DrugWar foots the bill very nicely. Nothing like an addicted underclass caught up in an activity which will result in incarceration. Pull their teeth and claws, then lock them up. Most of the welfare programs have been dismantled. Many destitute people have no salable skills, are a dime a dozen, and their situation is so dire that that in desperation many will tempt fate by dealing and wind up in prison. A *great many*. Which serves to reinforce the self-fulfilling prophecy of the elite that 'those people' cannot be trusted with any say in society.Of course, the problem is, what to do with them after they've served their time, become hardened professional rather than the amateurs they once were, and get out. Why, the very same thing of course. It never ends.. until Johnnie and Suzy have to face a stint in Federal prison. Then things change.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by fivepounder on April 05, 2000 at 09:27:58 PT
our prisons
Our prison an institutionalized form of rascism and assault on the poor and undereducated. The idea that building and running prisons create jobs and therefore is good for the economy is totally revolting. These people who get sucked into our prison system then wind up working in prison for prison industries, which results in lower wages for everyone. Hyprocrisy and rascism runs way deep in this country.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Rainbow on April 05, 2000 at 07:07:48 PT
BUT we can use progams like the Works Public Authority of the Roosevelt years. Prisons are one way but I kinda like the great buildings created shortly after the crash.Why does the prison industry have to be our legacy. I visited one of the new maximum security prisons in the Panhandle of Florida and it has no other use even if we decided later to change it.Build apartments, build museums, build ballparks.This is nonsensical.RainbowIt is about greed 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by dddd on April 05, 2000 at 00:17:49 PT
Several months ago,I was talking to my Dad about the prison industry that has been built upon the "War on drugs",and to my chagrin,he said;"thats good,it makes jobs". I think this sick and distorted view that people like my Dad,and the guy in this article have,is not uncommon. These people consider the national media to be a reliable an honest source for news.In reality ,they have been subtly brainwashed in the most insidious and devious way........dddd
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: