Tag Archives | Prisons

Margarita Island: Venezuela’s Party Prison

jp-04venez1-popupSuppose prison was fun? Venezuela’s San Antonio prison houses 2,000 convicts, including many foreigners from around the globe, mostly convicted on drug charges. They can do anything they want, except leave — there are pool halls, dance parties, swimming, drugs, guns, gender mixing and unlimited visitors. Crazy, yes, but is it any worse than what we have here? The New York Times reports:

Bikini-clad female visitors frolic under the Caribbean sun in an outdoor pool. Marijuana smoke flavors the air. Reggaetón booms from a club filled with grinding couples.

Prisoners barbecue meat while sipping whisky poolside. In some cells, equipped with air-conditioning and DirecTV satellite dishes, inmates relax with wives or girlfriends. (Venezuela, like other Latin American countries, allows conjugal visits.) The children of some inmates swim in one of the prison’s four pools.

Luis Gutiérrez, the warden at San Antonio prison, refused to discuss the prison he nominally oversees. Renowned on Margarita Island as a relatively tranquil place where even visitors can go for sinful weekend partying, is in a class of its own.

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Chinese Prisoners Forced To Play World Of Warcraft

china-prisonIronic — when I was a kid, being locked up in a Chinese prison and “forced” to stay up playing video games all night would have been my dream. The Telegraph reports:

A 54-year-old prisoner at the Jixi labor camp in the northern province of Heilongjiang said he was forced to play games on the internet in order to build up credit that was traded by his guards for real money, a practice known as “gold-farming”.

In an interview with the Guardian, the prisoner said online gaming was a far more lucrative activity for the managers of the labor camp than the physical labor the inmates were forced to do.  “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor,” he said. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb a day.

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Suboxone: The Hottest Drug In American Prisons

I have a feeling that very few people outside drug addiction recovery programs and prisons have ever heard of Suboxone, let alone the fact that it is sweeping through the U.S. prison system at epidemic rates. Abby Goodnough and Katie Zezima report for the New York Times:

WINDHAM, Me. — Mike Barrett, a corrections officer, ripped open an envelope in the mail room at the Maine Correctional Center here and eyed something suspicious: a Father’s Day card, sent a month early. He carefully felt the card and slit it open, looking for a substance that has made mail call here a different experience of late.

Mr. Barrett and other prison officials nationwide are searching their facilities, mail and visitors for Suboxone, a drug used as a treatment for opiate addiction that has become coveted as contraband.

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Innovative smugglers have turned crushed Suboxone pills into a paste and spread it under stamps or over children’s artwork, including pages from a princess coloring book found in a New Jersey jail.

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Do Students Eat Like Prisoners?

Good Magazine looks at the similarity between prison meals and children’s school cafeteria food — both rich in starch-y/milk-y goodness, and costing around $2.65 per day to provide. It should also be pointed out that both children and prisoners are daily confined to small spaces and given little opportunity to burn off these massive calorie counts. I suppose school is intended to be practice for where the kids will eventually end up?

transparency

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Immigrants For Sale

This powerful animated video exposes how our immigrant community is being sold to private prisons for obscene profits. Top three facts to know about private prisons (via immigrantsforsale.org):
  1. The victims: Private prisons don't care about who they lock up. At a rate of $200 per immigrant a night...
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“Invisible Beam” Weapon To Be Used In Prisons (Video)

Amy Dusto writes on Discovery News:
Prison guards could soon stop fights with a harmless tool that shoots a laser-like beam, video game-style, down into a room where trouble is brewing. The Assault Intervention Device (AID), funded by the National Institute of Justice, is still large and unrefined but will soon be installed for trial in at least one prison, the Pitchess Detention Center in Los Angeles County. The AID directs an energy beam, which is in the invisible millimeter wavelength, that penetrates just deep enough beneath the skin to make the target's pain receptors shout. The sensation is a burn like touching a hot stove or an iron. It only lasts up to 3 seconds — the AID controls automatically shut the beam off to prevent shooting for longer without resetting the trigger finger. The beam can hit a target about 100 feet away, and is about as wide as a CD. According to Raytheon, the device's manufacturers, it causes no actual damage to nerves or skin. This video shows the sharp reflex caused by an AID hit, and the unscathed hit receivers.
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Why Legalizing Drugs — All of Them — Is the Only Forward Path For Black America

Prohibition EndsInteresting article from John McWhorter in the New Republic:

This should change, as I have argued frequently over the past year (listen to part of a speech I did on this here). Of the countless reasons why this revival of this Prohibition that looks so quaint in Boardwalk Empire should be erased with all deliberate speed, one is that with no War on Drugs there would be, within one generation, no “black problem” in the United States. Poverty in general, yes. An education problem in general — probably. But the idea that black America had a particular crisis would rapidly become history, requiring explanation to young people. The end of the War on Drugs is, in fact, what all people genuinely concerned with black uplift should be focused on, which is why I am devoting my last TNR post of 2010 to the issue. The black malaise in the U.S.

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LA Prisons To Use Burning Heat Ray On Unruly Inmates

As if beatings from wardens and guards weren't bad enough... from Salon.com:
A device designed to control unruly inmates by blasting them with a beam of intense energy that causes a burning sensation is drawing heat from civil rights groups who fear it could cause serious injury and is "tantamount to torture." The mechanism, known as an "Assault Intervention Device," is a stripped-down version of a military gadget...
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The Modern Day Marshalsea

Marshalsea PrisonAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
In modern times, the poorhouse isn’t the same Dickensian debtor’s prison of the 19th century — such a thing, even in its worst and most inhumane forms, would be considered a socialist abomination in Fox News’ America. Today’s poorhouses and debtor’s prisons are individual cycles of one financial tragedy after another, where a lost job, bad decision or medical ailment follows us around for years or decades, creating new fiscal problems and perpetuating debt. Most of the time, this follows us — from early adulthood to death — in the form of our credit score.
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Stephen Fry And Friends Slam U.S. On Prison Population

British comedian/actor Stephen Fry and his pals ham it up on British TV show 'QI', making some very salient points about the ridiculously high levels of incarceration in the United States. You might think they are being anti-American, but listen more carefully: they are actually anti-human rights abuses.
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