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In July 2008, I read an article in the Denver Post about an inmate, Jonathan Kasper, at the Limon Correctional Facility – a convicted killer serving a life sentence – who had been on a hunger strike for 10 days to protest reduced prison activities for inmates after authorities took away his drums!  Can anyone believe this? 

 I have never been arrested in my life.  I may have had two moving violations and maybe one or two parking tickets in my entire life.  And here’s this guy, who killed someone, complaining that the prison cut back on organized sports, weight lifting, music and photograph programs and “recreation time on living pods” which I don’t even want to know about.

I also read an article in the Seattle Times in which eight sex predators at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island were facing charges for having, yeah, you guessed it, child pornography on their computers!  The center superintendent, Kelly Cunningham, was asking for a law to limit residents’ computer access.  According to the article, the inmates can have their own computers and their mail isn’t searched.  I don’t get it.

I not only have to pay for my own food, clothing, shelter, gas, electric, water, air conditioning (if I had it), satellite television, computer access, but I have to pay for my own gym membership! 

Two centuries ago, the Pennsylvania Quakers came up with a blueprint for modern prisons, abolishing whipping, flogging, the pillory and other forms of punishment deemed cruel and inhumane.

You’ve got to check out the list of the top 10 “luxury prisons” in America.  And, while you’re at it, check out the California State Hospital at Coalinga.  Now, before you jump up and down and start writing me that I shouldn’t be comparing prisons to hospitals, think again.  Coalinga State Hospital began treating forensically committed individuals – mostly sexually violent predators who were transferred from Atascadero State Hospital – in early September 2005.  I don’t know about you, but as a lawyer who’s been involved in the area of child abuse and neglect for over 20 years, I can tell you these predators should not see the light of day, let alone be afforded this type of environment.  If we can’t bring back the old ways (pre-Quaker reform), they should be living in hovels.  Check it out for yourself.

As far as I’m concerned, prison should be for punishment and should not be the equivalent of a 5 star hotel.  That’s why Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and dubbed “American’s Toughest Sheriff,” is one of my personal heroes.  He doesn’t provide any of these luxuries to the inmates in his care. Sheriff Arpaio banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines, and unrestricted TV in all jails. He has the cheapest meals in the U.S., the average meal costing about 15 cents, and inmates are fed only twice daily, to cut the labor costs of meal delivery. He even stopped serving them salt and pepper to save tax payers $20,000 a year. (Hmmm, saving taxpayers money?  Now isn’t that a novel idea.) 

Another program Sheriff Arpaio is very well known for is the pink under shorts he makes all inmates wear. Years ago, when the Sheriff learned that inmates were stealing jailhouse white boxers, he had all inmate underwear dyed pink for better inventory control. The same is true for the Sheriff’s handcuffs. When they started disappearing, he ordered pink handcuffs as a replacement. And later, when the Sheriff learned the calming, psychological effects of the color pink—sheets, towels, socks— everything inmates wear, except for the old-fashioned black and white striped uniform, were dyed pink.  He’s even selling pink underwear to the public with proceeds going to the Youth Assistance Foundation.  

Too bad the Limon Correctional Facility didn’t take a few tips from Sheriff Arpaio or send this hunger-stricken inmate to Arizona.  I haven’t been able to find an update on Mr. Kasper.  Back in 2008, according to the Denver Post, this low-life inmate, 6’1” and 225 lbs. before his so-called hunger strike, lost 32 pounds in the first week – yeah, right.  I guarantee he’s back to his old self at 225 and probably a lot more. 

I don’t get why law-abiding citizens, who pay for all these amenities for themselves, have to provide them to criminals and, if you do, God bless you. 



       

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