Week 13: Wrap-up

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/17/2008 by kemyers

While researching this topic I learned many things that I had no idea about before. It is something that I have always found interesting, I grew up watching cop shows, especially law and order, and not looking behind the scenes and seeing how prisoners themselves are treated has been a very interesting topic that I am glad I did.

When I started this project I was going to just focus on how women are treated in the prison system but after doing alot of research from different outlets I learned about people from other races and backgrounds and how they experience prison life, along with many other aspects such as diseases, medical care and marriage and relationships. Through these areas I learned that although it seems a though it should be that all are treated the same in prison this is not the case and actually it can be quite an unfair system.

People need to get involved and work together to bring equal rights and rights to those who are in prison, because they are still humans and they still deserve to be treated with respect that anyone else would deserve.  Writing you legislature is a great way to get involved and get your voice heard, along with the changing of laws and regulations.


Week 12: Private vs. Federal Prisons

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/08/2008 by kemyers

For this blog I decided to do some research on the difference between federal and private prisons and the difference breakdowns of races, genders, and social backgrounds within those prison systems. Also any information I could find pertaining to the treatment of prisoners in the different types.

Information of federal prisons was easy to find, through the U.S Department of Justice, I was able to find a breakdown of different statistics based on federal prisons around the United States. Federal prisons are broken down into different levels of security, thus also breaking down what kind of criminals are in those prisons. For example there is low security which has a lower staff to inmate ratio then a high security prison would have. The Bureau of Federal Prisons is responsible for over 200,000 inmates, and of those inmates 85% of them are confined to correctional facilities or detention centers.

Private prisons are a little bit harder to find information on. If you did not known, private prisons are prisons that are owned by a third party, that the government, whether it is state or federal uses to house criminals and pays that private prison an amount of money to hold that inmate. One of the largest companies that does this is the CCA or the Corrections Corporation of America, who just celebrated their 20th university. Unfortunatly the CCA has experienced many lawsuits over the past few years, put out by prisoners, and the government.

These include:

-failure to provide adequate medical care for prisoners

-failure to control violence

-poor conditions

-high level of escapes

In conclusion, while these are just an example of two different types of prisons, there is a lot to be said as to why federal prisons are better then that of private funding. When prisoners are sent to private prisons they are basically being sold to another location that is not always better then that of a federal prison.


Week 10: Prison Labor

Posted in Uncategorized on 11/30/2008 by kemyers

prison workersWhile doing research on the prison system in the United States I came across a website with an article posted recently in March of 2008. The Center for Research on Globalization has an article published on their website about the debate on whether or not the prison industry in the United States is considered “big business or a new form of slavery”.

The prison system is made up of millions of prisoners, and out of that the majority or African Americans or Hispanics. From what we learned in class, most prisoners in jail are there for non-violent crimes, and out of those, many are first time offenders. With the amount of prisoners being put into jail every year increasing and jails getting more and more overcrowded. These prisoners in some jails are being forced to work for larger companies for way less then minimum wage. Because of these rates, being forced to work as a prisoner could be considered a form of slavery to many people, and because they are being paid so little. Jails cost so much to keep operating, things that people buy that the prisoners make, help bring an income into the prison system. Prisons themselves take billions of dollars each year to run and maintain, and with the high number or prisoners being sentenced for all kinds of crimes this rate just keeps on going up.

In order to help this situation new laws need to be passed that helps to bring the rate of prisoners down, helping to reduce the amount of money that is spent by our tax dollars each year. A way of changing that, is to change minimum sentences for crimes that are nonviolent. This will help bring down the amount of prisoners, and also bring down cost, which will make it not mandatory to make them work for less then a dollar a day.


Week 9: Prison Populations Depending on Backgrounds

Posted in Uncategorized on 11/17/2008 by kemyers

The prison system in the United States is unlike many other countries around the world. In the United States each state has different rules and laws set up from prisoners and the prison system in that state as a whole. While in one state a crime that is committed might be a misdemeanor, and in another it could be a felony, because of this different states have different prison rates, and different types of prisoners. In the United States most of the prisoners in jail are those who are booked for misdemeanors, and no violent crimes. With this being the case those who are incarcerated are there for not necessarily a long time, but are taking up space in jail, causing the United States to have an increasingly high prison rate and be over crowded.

Certain regions of the United States have a higher percentage of prisoners of a certain race or ethnic background then another area. The type of prisoner that a jail has has many factors that depend on it. In the southern part of the United States in some areas there is a problem of a never ending cycle or parents and then their children going to jail. In some of the rural areas in the south, there is a problem with illiteracy. When children who either had parent that was incarcerated or is currently in jail, suffer from only one parent or no parental figure they themselves have a higher chance of heading down the same path as those before them. Unfortunately in that area Africa Americans are the ones that are mostly targeted and end up in jail based on illiteracy, education opportunities and location.

So as you can see, in America, the typical prisoner is not always so typical, and different stereotypes that have to do with race, gender, or class have a strong effect on the different prisons throughout the country.

Week 8: Hostage Controversy

Posted in Uncategorized on 11/11/2008 by kemyers

In the prison system there are always controversies that take place, that many times the media does not even know about. One specific incident that happened, was in the Maine State Prison located in Warren, Maine. It was a hostage situation where inmate Michael Chasse made a makeshift knife, taking a prison employee and another inmate hostage. Chasse then stabbed and bound both of the hostages. Prison guards handled the situation, and were able to control it and stabilize it. Prison officals said it was am isolated incident. One of the prison officals had this to say about the incident and how it was handled, “I don’t think there’s any facility in the country where you can have an episode like this that you do it 100% right. There’s always room for improvement. We’re looking at what we did right and enhancing that on what we can improve on”. One of the reasons that his incident took national attention was because there was a lawsuit filed, and is currently going through the court system.

However incidents like this are not unusual in most cases. While most of the cases are not as serious and do not get media attention such as this case, there are many times where prison guards and other inmates are in danger from violent situations. It is important that the safety of prison employees is secure at their workplace. Even though they work at a prison they deserve to have the personal safety secured. While employees need to be protected, other prison inmates need to be safe as well. They may be in there for many different things, but they deserve to not be attacked or taken advantage of, because they also need to have their rights protected.

These are all things, that with this article open up a world of questions involving prison safety for all those in the prison system.


Week 7: Prison Rape

Posted in Uncategorized on 11/03/2008 by kemyers

Life in prison is very difficult, but for some prisoners, it can be incredibly scary and life-threatening. Rape is unfortunately a very common problem in the prison system. It also seems to be a more common problem amongst male prisoners versus female prisoners. The video clip that I have attached is a clip from the documentary No Escape: Prison Rape which is a documentary by Gabriel Films, and is helping to bring funding to the Human Rights Watch. This organization is working hard to help prevent prison rape, along with the training of police officers and those who work in prisons to help with preventing rape.

This clip is about a young seventeen year old boy Rodney Hullin, who committed suicide in prison after being a victim of multiple cases of sexual abuse, along with mental and emotional distress. Along with being raped several times, he tried to get assistance from the prison itself, by applying for grievances to help give him protected custody, but unfortunately those were turned down twice. After suffering for so long, and not getting any help he eventually ended his life. This is the case of many inmates who are not given any assistance from prison guards or officials, because the prisoners feel as though they is no other hope and they will be killed anyway by their fellow inmates.

At the end of the clip there are some interesting statistics provided by the Human Rights Watch. Over 150,000 males inmates each year are raped in United States prisons, whether it be by other inmates or by guards or officials. Not only are these victims raped once, but on average they are raped at least nine more times. Like the video says in most prisons, there is a “pecking” order for the inmates, and unfortunately those who are lowest in the order can become easy victims for those that are higher up. That was the case in this video, where Rodney was too low, and was taken advantage of.

Week 6: Abuse of Prisoners

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/28/2008 by kemyers

Abuse in prisons is not a new idea, or something that has not been heard of before. In the news and media we hear about situations all the time that cause everyone to think and try and reevaluate what is actually going on in the prison systems. Unfortunately after that attention is paid to the abusive event, it often goes unnoticed or is not thing that is addressed. It is not only men though that are suffering from random abuses, but also women who are victims, and are taken advantage of.

A website I found that I thought related to my topic well was from the Human Rights Watch website, focusing on ending the abusive treatment of prisoners in prison. This website had many different features that would be considered helpful to those who are in prisons families, along with just overall knowledge of what some of the situations are that prison abuse becomes prevalent. This website shows prison abuse in different countries along with different abusive situations. One of the main things that this website does that is different then other ones that I looked at was that there were other countries shown and other prison systems that experience the same kinds of abuse that prisons all over the world.

This relates to my topic because how women and men are treated in prison may be different however they both can suffer and become a victim to abusive treatment in prison or by the prison system in general and be taken advantage of, but what the system brings to that individual.