Incorrect Looks At Jail's Grim Realities 

Incorrect Looks At Jail's Grim Realities 
Posted by FoM on May 01, 2000 at 16:07:09 PT
Politically Incorrect airs from Prison on ABC
Source: USA Today
Maricopa County Jail is run by the self proclaimed ''toughest'' sheriff in the country, Joe Arpaio, who uses controversial rehabilitation techniques -- like forcing prisoners to eat green bologna and other near-rotten foods and live in tents (in the 110- and 120-degree summer climate of Phoenix) near a really smelly dog pound and waste dump. 
Prisoners in black-and-white uniforms and pink underwear bury the indigent as part of their repayment to society for their crimes.Heaven this is not.But when ABC's Politically Incorrect comes to the facility to tape six shows (which begin airing tonight, 12:05 a.m. ET/PT), suddenly the jail doesn't seem so bad after all. Limos are lined up at the entrance. A tent with sodas, ice cream and hot meals is set up for the celebrity guests (including comedians David Spade and D.L. Hughley and Providence's Mike Farrell), who were given fancy dressing-room trailers.''As bad as this place is, it's still not as bad as I thought it would be,'' says PI host Bill Maher, who once spent a night in the Beverly Hills jail on a DUI charge. ''I thought I'd never go back again.''While his audience is made up of drug abusers, embezzlers, credit-card cheats and burglars (minimum--risk types), Maher acknowledges it's not a tough crowd. Maher likens the visit to ''Bob Hope visiting North Korea, a welcome respite from total boredom.''Weren't the officers worried about a possible prison riot, about one of the inmates, say, grabbing Maher and trying to engineer a hostage escape?''Most of the guys in here haven't done that type of crime,'' says detention officer Kelly Sunday. ''They're already in enough trouble being in lockdown. They don't want to make it worse.''All the shows feature PI's typical mix of celebrities and newsmakers, including Spade (Just Shoot Me) Farrell, Daryl ''Chill'' Mitchell (Veronica's Closet), plus jail inmates and officials.Still, the issues are very tough, the sort ignored by most of the media. ''Much of what we talk about on the show are drug problems,'' says PI executive producer Marilyn Wilson. ''Coming to a place like this gives a different viewpoint.''Drugs and the penal system are a personal issue for Maher, who watched his friend Todd McCormick be sentenced to five years for using marijuana as medicine to ease his pain from cancer.''It's an issue that most people don't want to deal with,'' Maher says. ''People who don't think smoking marijuana should be a crime are still willing to sacrifice thousands of people (in mandatory drug-offense sentences) to keep drugs away from their children.''PI has left its Los Angeles studios before for trips to Washington, London, Las Vegas, Aspen and San Diego -- but this is the first time to a jail. Bringing PI to Maricopa County added about 10% to the normal production budget, with four cameras, lighting and sound equipment, plus 25 staffers who were flown in from Los Angeles.Media-savvy Arpaio was keen on having PI visit and was a guest on two of the shows. Says Maher: ''Frankly, this is the only jail that would have us. We're asking questions about the system -- who else would want that?''One inmate on the panel with Maher and Arpaio is Todd Stewart, serving a two-year sentence for racking up $2 million in phony-credit-card charges. Inside the jail, he also stole some food from the kitchen, which sent the 6-foot-4, 285-pound man to the 5-by-11 lockdown cell, shared by four men for 23 hours a day when they break the rules.Still, when preparing for his appearance, Arpaio tells Stewart to hold nothing back, to say how he really feels. So with cameras rolling, Stewart complains about being stuck in a cell with a ''homosexual, a midget and a dork,'' and the quality of the jail food.Still, fellow inmates say he was tame. ''Hey, Todd,'' one of them says off-camera. ''You've got something brown on your nose.''He took it good-naturedly, and says he had a ball appearing on the show. ''Beats sitting in a 5-by-11 cell doing nothing,'' he says.Between shows, Maher worked with the inmates, coaching them to scream out ''How tough is he?'' to help set up his ''Sheriff Joe is so tough'' jokes. He also ruminates on the current state of prison food. (''Forget Jenny Craig. If Monica Lewinsky wants to lose weight, she should commit a crime in Arizona.'')''Hey,'' Maher says at the end of one episode. ''Captive audiences are the best!''By Jefferson Graham, USA TodayPhoenix, Az.Published: May 1, 2000 Copyright 2000 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.  "Politically Incorrect" Tour McCormick in Prison for Perhaps Five Years
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 03, 2000 at 11:02:30 PT
Another Great Show!
dddd! I just loved the two nights so far! I won't missed it this whole week! God Bless everyone that is willing to take a stand for what is right and Bill Maher is great. I don't agree with him on every topic they discuss but when it comes to his views on drug policy I most certainly do!Peace, FoM!PS: So far I wouldn't mind being friends with the prisoners that they had on the show!
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on May 03, 2000 at 02:22:59 PT
Tuesday nite
Tonights show was good.I think PI,is quite unique in the world of network media,because it approaches issues that are normally taboo'd by sponsors and the "powers that be",etc.. You dont see anything else like PI in the national networks.Perhaps this is due to the fact that it sneaks in under the wire,because it is somehow classified as cynical comedy. My point is,that humor/comedy,can be an extremely powerful tool to bring things into perspective,and counteract the biased influence of "the powers that be"*.(*my apologies if this seems to be a nebulous term.) My old friend,Elliot Fleener  told me about all this.............dddd
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 01, 2000 at 21:57:18 PT
Good Show!
Wow observer! I'm sorry I can't think of the right words except wow. I really like the way you comment. It is most definitely good. I can comment that I really liked watching the program and am planning on watching every night this week. I hope the prisoner that was so outspoken doesn't get in trouble and you know when I saw him he didn't look like a life of drugs has hurt him that much. He looked fine and healthy and smart. Why is he there? Why are so many there?Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by observer on May 01, 2000 at 20:59:19 PT
Willing to Sacrifice People
Drugs and the penal system are a personal issue for Maher, who watched his friend Todd McCormick be sentenced to five years for using marijuana as medicine to ease his pain from cancer. ''It's an issue that most people don't want to deal with,'' Maher says. ''People who don't think smoking marijuana should be a crime are still willing to sacrifice thousands of people (in mandatory drug-offense sentences) to keep drugs away from their children.''scapegoat: one that bears the blame for others; one that is the object of irrational hostilitysacrifice: an act of offering to a deity something precious; esp. the killing of a victim on an altarThe word "sacrifice" might be a better choice of words than he realizes. Historian Richard Miller's recent study Drug Warriors & Their Prey emphasizes the many parallels between the Nazi's scapegoating of Jews and the U.S. Government's scapegoating of drug users. ``... drug war rhetoric transforms drugs users into scapegoats. ... For authoritarians a crucial benefit of scapegoating is that directing public anger toward scapegoats assures continuance of public anger, because problems creating fear and anger thereby remain unaddressed and will continue. In contrast to a confident and contented citizenry, a fearful and angry citizenry is more susceptible to authoritarian demands. Scapegoats are crucial for maintaining social turmoil by authoritarians.''(Richard L Miller, Drug Warriors and their Prey, 1996, pg.191-192) thats what we have here... the lighter (?) side of the incarceration of marijuana users. That is what the land of the free (I wince every time I hear that) has come to: a de facto concentration camp. America cheers and laughs and makes jokes about dropping the soap. ``I believe that the heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty's head will be dealt by this nation in the ultimate failure of its example to the earth.''-- Charles Dickens, on "America" 
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