Tag Archives | Prison

Inmate Eats the Jail Cell, Costing the State $1 Million in Medical Bills

Lamont Cathey

Lamont Cathey

A man arrested for breaking into a pizza parlor has habitually consumed pieces of metal such as screws, drawing pins, and even leather while in jail. His medical bills have cost the state $1.3 million. I suppose that’s one way to get back at the man…

Sumitra via Oddity Central:

17-year-old Lamont Cathey, who was jailed for breaking into a pizza parlour in Chicago, is proving to be a costly inmate to handle. For the past 16 months, mentally disturbed Cathey has been consuming metal objects – ranging from toe screws to needles, to drawing pins, and even strips of leather. He has been rushed to the prison’s hospital 24 different times to have these items removed, costing the State a whopping $1.3 million!

Cathey used to be a promising basketball player until he was accused of stealing money from a safe at a pizzeria over a year ago.

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You Watch Too Much TV- The Forensic “Sciences” Under Fire

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There have been a spate of scandals recently concerning forensic science: poor methodology, faulty protocols, and an absolute disregard for the chain of evidence.

These scandals don’t even include the mess that is rape kit testing, namely that they aren’t testing anything. Rape kits sit on shelves for years sometimes.

Forensic Magazine states:

Another crime lab scandal was announced over the weekend, and this time it’s the federal government that has the explaining to do.

The Department of Justice along with the FBI have identified 2,500 cases for review after finding that experts on its microscopic hair comparison unit overstated evidence concerning pattern-based forensic techniques in 95 percent of the 268 cases reviewed so far, reports the Washington PostThe cases involve 46 states and include 32 defendants that were sentenced to death, according to the article, of which, 14 have already been executed or died behind bars.

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Astounded by the Lack of Compassion for Men in Prison: Inside the Conversation at The Good Men Project

jmiller291 (CC BY 2.0)

jmiller291 (CC BY 2.0)

Via the Good Men Project:

Lisa Hickey: I’ve been thinking a lot about prison lately. It’s not something that, as a women, I am used to thinking about a lot, and the number of conversations I’ve had about the topic in my lifetime are far and few between. Perhaps men don’t think or talk about it much either, but we’ve been discussing it a lot on the The Good Men Project lately and I’d like to share with you the complexity of the issues and the insights I’ve seen unfolding.

One thing we’ve discussed recently in an article is the difference in sentencing between men and women for similar crimes. I think the sentencing disparity is part of a cultural narrative that goes like this: Men are assumed to be guilty more often, and they are also assumed to cause more harm when they do commit crimes.

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Inmates Drink Ayahuasca As Therapy In Brazilian Prison

Imagine this: a prison system that actually wants to turn its inmates into better people. As unlikely as that might seem in a world where the prison-industrial complex is spreading its dark shadow worldwide, in Brazil one prison is actually trying to send back prisoners to society as improved people by treating them with ayahuasca (for more information on ayahuasca review our archive). The New York Times reports from:

JI-PARANÁ, Brazil — As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

Peruvian Ayahuasca, Photo by Sascha Grabow.jpg

The foul brew: Ayahuasca. Photo by Sascha Grabow (CC)

 

Such rituals are a fixture across the Amazon, where ayahuasca has been consumed for centuries and entire religions have coalesced around the psychedelic concoction.

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Guerrilla Radio: How some prison inmates hack, rewire, and retool their radios to create walkie-talkies

Take notes from this Marshall Project post: you’ll want to retool your radio too come the Apocalypse:

Prisoners face numerous restrictions when communicating with one another or the outside world. But where there is a rule, there is often a workaround. At Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California, inmates have yelled to one another through drainpipes under their cells; inmates in Texas talk through cans connected with twine; and in facilities throughout the country, little paper notes — known as “kites” — are literally handed off. As technology has developed, so have the communication methods; cell phones and iPods are regularly smuggled to inmates by visitors and guards. And occasionally, the technology is already inside the prison. Some inmates have learned how to transform their radios into devices that allow them to talk to each other and even eavesdrop on guards.

Radionette kurer transi back.png

Once an inmate has purchased an analog radio from the prison commissary (they usually cost less than $30), he can open it up and pull apart a coil, which changes the range of frequency that the radio can access.

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States Predict Prison Inmates’ Future Crimes With Secret Surveys

I can’t decide if this is despicably Orwellian or actually quite sensible. Comments anyone? From AP:

States are trying to reduce prison populations with secretive, new psychological assessments to predict which inmates will commit future crimes and who might be safe to release, despite serious problems and high-profile failures, an Associated Press investigation found.

Tucker Unit - Maximum Security.jpg

“Tucker Unit – Maximum Security” by Richard Apple (CC)

 

These programs are part of a national, data-driven movement to drive down prison populations, reduce recidivism and save billions. They include questionnaires often with more than 100 questions about an offender’s education, family, income, job status, history of moving, parents’ arrest history — or whether he or she has a phone. A score is affixed to each answer and the result helps shape how the offender will be supervised in the system — or released from custody.

Used for crimes ranging from petty thievery to serial murders, these questionnaires come with their own set of risks, according to the AP’s examination.

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America Is Really Good At Putting People Behind Bars

It’s no secret that the United States’ incarceration rate has gone through the roof, but FiveThirtyEight has some statistics that prove the point, and then some:

There are 2.3 million Americans in prison or jail. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prisoners. One in three black men can expect to spend time in prison. There are 2.7 million minors with an incarcerated parent. The imprisonment rate has grown by more than 400 percent since 1970.

US federal prison population

Pick a stat, any stat. They all tell you the same thing: America is really good at putting people behind bars.

It’s supposed to help the country reduce crime in two ways: incapacitation — it’s hard to be a habitual offender while in prison — or deterrence — people scared of prison may do their best to not end up there.

But recent research suggests that incarceration has lost its potency. 

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The Prison State of America

miss_millions (CC BY 2.0)

miss_millions (CC BY 2.0)

Via Truthdig:

Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board.

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To Prison for Poverty – Part One

This season reminds us that there are a lot of things to be thankful for.

For instance, not having to go to jail for minor infractions like parking tickets.

But sadly, that’s not the reality for everyone. We live in a world where government and corporations continue to make money off of those who are poor, hungry and desperate.

To Prison for Poverty exposes two private probation companies who exploit and make million of dollars off of people who can’t afford small fines.

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A Real Story About Sex In Prison

Daniel Genis’s essay for Deadspin about his ten years in prison may surprise some people. If any of you have contrary experiences, let us know in the comments:

When I tell people that I recently finished serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery, mostly in maximum-security facilities, I often feel a question lingering in the air. The moment I sense it, I try to respond to the awkward silence in some offhanded way, though it is hard to be blithe and whimsical when you’re telling people you were never raped in prison.

I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the “softer” corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.

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