Monday, May 01, 2006

far from the truth

A while back, Tocqueville and an associate of his Gustave de Beaumont obtained permission to travel to the United States to examine their newly developed prison system. In 1835, Tocqueville published his famous work Democracy in America, which a significant part spoke of the elucidation of his views on crime and punishment. From his observations, conditions have not altered much from the times of the mass storage of mostly males of color for industrial benefit and without some type of rehabilitation.

The prison system has become an industrial complex, but it still has remained the same way in which Tocqueville described what he saw in the America South when he wrote that by imprisonment Anobody thinks of rendering them better, but only taming their malice; they are put in chains like ferocious beasts; and instead of being corrected, they are rendered brutal.

This difference is evident in the caustic environment in which men at even younger ages are castigated and left without opportunity. There is nothing good about going to prison unless you are making money from cheap labor or you like becoming a more hardened criminal by learning from the masters in the game. Then there are other risk, death, rape and maybe even contracting infectious disease.

Of the over 2 million inmates in the United States, it has been estimated that about one in 10 has been raped. One study conducted in Nebraska reported that 22 percent of male inmates had sex against their will. The rates of infectious disease are well higher in prisons than the general public. It is estimated for example, that about 2.5 percent of al inmates in America have HIV nationally according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. In addition, the chances of contracting the virus are 5 to 6 timers higher for inmates than the general public.

Still many US prison systems do not attempt to protect inmates via condom distribution. In 1991, the World Health Organization reported that 23 of 52 prison systems surveyed around the globe allowed promoted condom distribution. Condoms have been available in Canadian federal prisons for 10 years. In the US, five jail systems, in Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, and two prison systems, in Vermont and Mississippi, make condoms available to their inmates. The excuses provided for why most don’t include condoms being used as weapons, to hide contraband and that it would suggest that sex is acceptable while incarcerated.


What makes this problem more insidious is that men can go into prison for three the five years and come out with problems ranging from mental illness to practicing homosexual acts, yet do not acknowledged the situational sex that occurs in prison as being. Some state prison systems attempt to avoid this by allowing conjugal visits. In Mississippi only legal marriages are acceptable for conjugal visit privileges. Inmates can qualify for conjugal visits are those that at minimum custody levels and display good behavior. Inmates that may transmit sexually transmitted disease are not eligible for conjugal visits. Visits are normally an hour long and come with soap, condoms, sheets, pillowcase and towels. The inmate and spouse are searched before and after each visit for security reasons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not permit conjugal visits.

Prison in America has not changed since the travels of Tocqueville and still have no benefit to the incarcerated, the community other than generating a criminal and uneducated segment of society that tend to be male and African American. Although many in the so-called hip-hop generation promote a culture that places incarceration on a pedestal, such is far from the truth.

13 comments:

Miz JJ said...

The prison industrial complex in the United States is nightmare. It's dangerous for everyone involved. The situational sex in prisons is just going to further spread HIV & AIDS in the black community. It's a sad that black men are locked up at such high rates and it's sad that when they come out they're worse then when they went in.

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recmonet said...

Prisons.....
I feel that prisons should not only be a place of punishment but should also be a place of rehabilitation.
For every crime committed their should be counsling, and some type of workshop to let the prisoners identify the seriousness of their crime, try to point out the cause to why they committed it and finally work thru those issues.
I also feel that the government should open some type of job program for the released prisoners so they have something to look forward too since the rest of the world will shun them because of their records.
I feel if the prison system has programs like these then while in prison the inmates will constantly become busy with reaching their goals. There would be less rapes and murders. What do the rest of you think of this?

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