|Comprehensive Incarcerated Persons Reform,
Rehabilitation, And Reentry Act
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Governor of The State of New York
The Honorable Lieutenant Governor, David Patterson, The Honorable Senate of The State of New York, The Honorable Assembly of The State of New York, The Honorable Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the State of New York, The Honorable Brian S. Fischer, Commissioner of The New York State Department of Correctional Services, The Honorable Martin Horn, Commissioner of The New York City Department of Corrections, The Honorable Chauncy Parker, Director of The Division of Criminal Justice Services of New York State, The Hon. Charles Hines, District Attorney of Kings County for The State and City of New York, The Honorable Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor of The City of New York, The Honorable New York City Council, The Honorable New York State Defenders Association, The Honorable Legal Aid Society of New York State, Prisoner’s Legal Services of New York State, The Bronx Defenders Association of New York State, The Center For Law and Justice of New York State, The New York State Commission of Corrections, The United Nations Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, The Arch Dioceses of New York, The Honorable Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, The Honorable Senator Michael Nozzolio, The Honorable Assemblyman Keith Wright, The Honorable Senator Dale Volker, The Esteemed Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (N.Y.C.), The Esteemed Rima Vesely-Flad, Executive Director and Founder of Interfaith Coalition of Advocates For Reentry and Employment, Progressive Faith Evangelical Ministries of Troy, New York, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, New York, The Esteemed Dr. Mark Chapman, The Esteemed Judith Brink, The Esteemed Willie Thomas, Justice Committee of The First Universalist Society of Albany, New York, The Esteemed Errol Louis of the New York Daily News, The Esteemed Karen Lewis, The Esteemed Chris Suellentrop of The New York Times Magazine, The Esteemed Eric Cadora of The Justice Mapping Center, The Esteemed Susan Tucker of The Open Society Institute, The Esteemed Julio Medina of Exodus Transitional Services of New York, The Esteemed Eddie Ellis of “On The Count” W.B.A.I. Radio Program of New York City, The Hon. Rev. Calvin Butts, The Hon. Rev. Al Sharpton, The Esteemed Dr. Susan Ross, The Esteemed Dr. Kimora of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of New York City,The Hon. Senator Eric Adams, The Esteemed and Hon. Senator and Director of Prison Fellowship, Mark Earley, and the Proud People of The Great State Of New York.
Presented By: Sheldon N. Messer, Chauncy Ramos, Manuel Mena, Incarcerated persons of the State of New York and their respective families praying for change, compassion, and help.
Comprehensive Incarcerated Persons Reform,
Rehabilitation, And Reentry Act
“…Young, unskilled, poorly educated, the typical offender has few marketable capabilities to offer potential employers. Unable to find or keep a job upon his release from prison, the offender often returns to crime---the only “business” he knows. Breaking the cycle of recidivism is a difficult task, involving many complex-contributing factors. One of these is employment potential. Effective programs for building relevant job skills do ease the offender’s reentry into society…”
Gerald M. Caplan, Former director, National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
Table of Contents
Early History of Crime and Punishment………………………………………………2-3
The Rise of Penal Labor, Involuntary Servitude, Mutilations, and imprisonment as forms
Religious Interventionism In Matters of Crime and Punishment……………………...4-7
The Rise of Public Punishment as a Deterrent To Crime…………………………….….7
The Beginnings of The Separation Between Church & State…………………………7-8
The Beginnings of The Concept of Imprisonment As Punishment…………………..8-14
The Penitentiary System---The Beginnings of Prisoner Rehabilitation Through
Humanitarian Treatment And Efforts/The Re-emergence of Religious Interventionism in
Crime and Punishment……………………………………………………………….14-16
The Pennsylvania & Auburn Systems of Penology---The Rise of Solitary Confinement &
Its Subsequent Use As Penal Punishment……………………………………………16-18
The Rise of The Prison Industrial Complex………………………………………….18-19
The Shifting Winds of Crime, Punishment, & Prison Policy In America From The Mid-
Twentieth Century To The Early Twenty-First Century……………………………..19-21
The Private Corp. Based Take-Over of American Prison Policy & The Era of the Economy Dependent Slave Labor Pool………………………………………………21-23
The Real Costs of Prisons & Their Environmental, Social, & Economical Impacts Upon The Community & Towns They are Sited & Built In………………………………..23-24
The Building of A Prison---“Siting” Absent Real Public Knowledge of The Environmental Impact………………………………………………………………..24-26
Supplying The Prison Market---Selling & Renting Cell/Bed Space & Prisoners/Prisons-R-Us---Government Obligation & Revenue Bonds---Where Does The Money Come From To Build Prisons, Who Pays The Cost And How Does It Escape Public Scrutiny……………………………………………………………………………….26-27
The Real Economic Impact On Prison Towns & Communities……………………...27-28
The Environmental Impact of Building Prisons In Rural Towns & Communities………28
The Overall Impact of Mass Incarceration & The Prison Industrial Complex on Predominately African-American & Latino Men, Their Respective Communities, Families, and Futures In America---New York State………………………………...28-29
“ It is important to recognize a crucial difference between positive and negative sanctions. When society applies a positive sanction, it is a sign that social controls are successful: The desired behavior has occurred and is being rewarded. When a negative sanction is applied, it is due to the failure of social controls: The undesired behavior has not been prevented. Therefore, a society that frequently must punish people is failing in its attempts to promote conformity. A school that must expel large numbers of students or a government that frequently must call out troops to quell protests and riots should begin to look for the weaknesses in its own system of internal means of social control to promote conformity…”
Henry L. Tischler, Sociologist
“…Conversely, a society that must frequently imprison millions of its citizens should begin to look for the weaknesses in its own system of internal means of social control to promote conformity…”
Sheldon N. Messer, Prisoner
As of November 30, 2006, a record 7 million people-one in every 32 Americans are either in prison, on probation or on parole. 2.3 million of the 7 million are in prisons or jails. The International Center For Prison Studies at Kings College in London, England reported that the United States has more people in prison than any other nation on earth. In fact, the United States has outranked the most populated nation in the world---China whom ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia with only 870,000. When you breakdown these numbers statistically the United States incarcerate 737 people per every 100,000, as opposed to the rest of the world whose incarceration rates are a mere 100 people per 100,000.
Further, though the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s total population, 25 percent of all persons incarcerated throughout the world are incarcerated in America. In addition, of the 7 million people incarcerated in the United States or on probation or parole 2 million of them are drug offenders. What this basically amounts to is that the United States of America sends more people to prison for numerous and various crimes than any other nation, despite being considered the paragon of freedom, humanity, moral correctness, and most ethical nation in the world!
This is not a laudable statistic, and signals that there are systemic failures in nearly every facet of American society. More sad and unfortunate is the fact that New York State, since the year 1819, has led the way to this deplorable watershed moment in American history when it took the lead in prison building, innovations in prison policies and practices, mass incarceration, punishment instead of rehabilitation policies, inhumane solitary confinement practices, and the creation of the deplorable institution known as the “Prison Industrial Complex”---turning the criminal justice system and the plight of the mostly impoverished minority people in the state into a multi-billion dollar business, which grows daily and inexorably, when they created, implemented, and introduced the world to the “Auburn System” of penology.
New York State can boast numerous laudable facts in its history, and since the beginning of the Republic has set the pace and standards for the other states and subsequently the world to follow. New York has many things to be proud of such as the extended and opened arms, which we embraced the humble immigrants whom first landed on our shores at Ellis Island, to the shining beacon of light, freedom and hope of the Statue of Liberty, which sits in New York Harbor. New York has led the world in the arts, science and technology, business and industry, sports and medicine, and most notably finance and politics. New York has always been the trailblazing state that the world was forced to follow, however, and unfortunately, we have also in the past 4 decades led the country down a path that has brought into question the level of our humanity, morals, ethics, compassion, understanding and empathy towards our less fortunate and often disenfranchised fellow citizens. New York State has emerged in world view and opinion as the “ Lock them up and throw away the key” state, under the regimes of former Governors George E. Pataki, and Nelson Rockefeller and if we are to regain our standing as a progressive, just and fair society, it is most important that we make significant and widespread changes in government, and offer wise solutions to our problems, instead of heavy-handed government sanctions that only exacerbate issues instead of resolving them.
Dostoyevsky based the viability, as well as the ethical and moral measure of a society on the basis of how that society administers its prisons and treat their prisoners. Wherefore, if we were held to account on the merits of Dostoyevsky’s premise New York and the rest of American society would fail miserably the test of a moral, humane, and ethical society.
Unfortunately, it has cost our nation 7 million lives, not counting the collateral damage wrought on the families of victims, victims and the perpetrators of crime, in order for us to see the errors of our ways. Though, the solutions we enacted to curtail the incidents of crime was borne out of frustration and anger, they were and are nonetheless, unwise and unethical answers for a nation, which considers itself and is viewed, however, condescendingly as the paragon of virtue. It appears that our state, country, and great society fell into a deep slumber at the controls of government and was only rudely awakened when numerous countries, and cognizant citizens in our great society learned that we surpassed even the most infamous countries, with numerous and documented human rights violations in the wholesale imprisonment of its citizens based upon a myriad of crimes---most notably due to drugs and poverty, and realized that our society and sense of ethics, virtue, and humanity has descended to a new all time low.
However, not all of America remained asleep at the controls of government, and states like Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana has shaken off the last vestiges of governmental narcolepsy and opened their eyes to the fact that crime is a serious social problem, which requires serious widespread governmental social solutions, instead of mere punishment that does nothing to deter or reduce crime, but in fact plays a significant role in it. Democrat and Republican members of both the House and Senate of the abovementioned states who previously supported and endorsed get tough on crime laws, mandatory minimums, and mass incarceration have now joined together to either outright abolish such laws or amend them. Senators and Congressmen have gone as far as openly confessing and repenting on the House and Senate floors the errors of their ways in regards to America’s prisoners and are now at the forefront of the fight for rehabilitation, reform and reentry.
Recently, Sen. Joe Biden, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (Ohio), Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.), Sen. Sam Brownback (Kansas), Rep. Bob Inglis (S.Car.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (Tex), and Rep. Chris Cannon and Arlen Specter (PA) came together to support the Second Chance Act, which calls for massive changes in the criminal justice and prison systems and provides for community and prison based rehabilitation and reentry initiatives, programs and funds to ensure that incarcerated persons and ex-offenders are provided with every necessary tool and resource to make a positive and successful reentry and transition back in to society. Unfortunately, New York is missing from the above roll call, and in numerous political and faith based/Christian circles, its absence has not gone unnoticed.
In the New York State Legislature, however, there are a few assembly members, Jeffrion Aubry, Keith Wright, and Velamanette Montgomery that has openly supported measures which changes New York’s stances on issues of reentry, rehabilitation, phone justice for the families of New York prisoners, and other issues. Aubry, Wright, and Montgomery appears to be the only trailblazers and fully cognizant members of the New York State Legislature.
Every year around 127,000 people are released from their terms of imprisonment at prisons, jails, reformatories, and correctional facility’s from throughout the state and within 3 years 2/3 of them are either rearrested or violate their parole and are returned to prison. The predominant factors for these incidents of high recidivism are state and societal barriers to viable employment, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty and education--- disenfranchising factors, which often leads ex-offenders back into the life of crime. Another major factor is the parole department’s practice of re-incarcerating parolees for technical violations of parole as opposed to violating them for actually committing additional crimes while on parole, which would warrant such severe sanctions. Each time a parolee is returned to prison whether for a technical violation or new crime, it costs the taxpayers $40,000---far less than it would cost to treat the behavior which led to the technical violation. Under the Pataki regime, parole officers and commissioners were forced to use the unethical practice of violating parolees for technical violations in order to justify and safeguard their jobs. Pataki endeavored to end parole and placed parole officials in the untenable position of choosing between further destroying and disrupting the lives of parolees and their respective families, or facing their own financial ruin as a result of losing their jobs with the abolishment of parole.
The parole dept. in response to Pataki’s call for the end of parole created illegal and unethical quota systems to violate a set number of parolees within a certain period of time, and apparently became overzealous and overindulgent in the practice until it reached the ears of the director of the Division of parole. In response, the director, Anthony G. Ellis, created a counter quota system, which limited the number of parolees that could be violated. The quota system was eventually leaked to the press and on July 31, 2005, The Albany Times Union printed the story and revealed the actions of the division of parole. In a successive article printed on August 11, 2005, Anthony G. Ellis was quoted as saying that a quota system did not exist, despite parole officials openly investigating the source of the leaked information used in the July 31, 2005, article. Juxtaposed with all of the above unethical, illegal and unwise policies of the New York State Correctional Services Department and Division of Parole, the numerous barriers and negative stigmas placed in front of and upon ex-offenders by the government and society, also plays a role in the high recidivism rate.
In New York State, 75% of the prisoners come from 7 African-American and Latino communities, where nearly all of the residents fall below the poverty line and has the lowest education rates in the state. 87% of those prisoners from these neighborhoods are housed in prisons located in Upstate New York, that are more than 2 hours away, which makes visiting and maintaining family and community ties virtually impossible. Another deplorable fact is that 87% of the New York Prison population, which currently stands at about 64,000 since the early 1970s is made up of people of color, which causes prisoners, activists, and the family members of prisoners to call New York a racist state, because these numbers indicate that people of color commit the lion’s share of crime in the state and are sent to prison more than their white counterparts. Whether this is the actual case or not is unknown, however, these statistics are reminiscent to some to the slave trade and “ Transportation”, which occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries when British subjects accused and convicted of crimes were exiled “Transported” to the Americas and Australia---thousands of miles away from home.
The New York Legislature and Department of Correctional Services, however, adds insult to injury when they penalize families of prisoners and their respective lawyers who pay extortionate telephone rates to stay in touch with and maintain family ties with incarcerated family members and clients. Under the Pataki regime, former Correctional Services Commissioner Glenn Goord signed a deal with MCI-WorldCom, a company rocked by corporate scandal, fraud and unethical, shady financial practices, which gave MCI-WorldCom complete control of all phone service in state correctional facilities, and charged the families of prisoners and their attorneys a whopping $3.00 initial phone charge, universal fees and taxes, and 16 cents per minute per call. A cost 6 times higher than a regular commercial call, and double the rate federal prisoners pay.
These outrageous phone costs also interferes with an inmate’s rights to counsel, because inmates find it very difficult to communicate with post-conviction attorneys whom are responsible for litigating appeals, etc. Additionally, public defender’s offices are saddled with the financial burden of paying for the calls out of already cash-strapped budgets. Private Counsel firms fair no better because unless they are reimbursed for calls received from their clients, they are also stuck with the phone bills. What this amounts to is a “Corrections Tax” on poor families and attorneys because it is the Department of Correctional Services who receives the lion share of the profits from this unholy alliance, and tells the general public that these monies are being spent on prison programs, recreation, etc. which they are hard pressed to prove, because the chief complaint among prisoners and their families, and now society is the lack of rehabilitative programs, etc. for prisoners.
The unholy alliance between The Dept. of Correctional Services and MCI has forced the family of prisoners, the office of the Public Defenders and the New York State Defenders Association to file a lawsuit (Walton V. N.Y.S. Dept. of Correctional Services & MCI-WorldCom) in the highest state court. Recently, a group comprising 18 non-profit criminal justice organizations filed Amicus Curiae “Friends of the Court” briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs. Among them, The Sentencing Project, The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, The New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, The N.A.A.C.P Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Women’s Prison Association. Even Fledgling Faith-Based organizations such as the Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment (I-Care) has joined the fight and lobbied on behalf of the families.
Finally, the most important factor, which affects nearly 90% of the entire prison population in the United States is Post-Incarceration Syndrome (P.I.C.S.) a psychological problem made up of a myriad of different mental disorders described as: “ A set of symptoms that are present in many currently incarcerated and recently released prisoners that are caused by being subjected to prolonged incarceration in environments of punishment with few opportunities for education, job training, or rehabilitation. The symptoms are most severe in prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and severe institutional abuse.”
According to Psychologists and experts in the field “…The severity of symptoms is related to the level of coping skills prior to incarceration, the restrictiveness of the incarceration environment, the number of institutional episodes of abuse, the number and duration of episodes of solitary confinement and the degree of involvement in educational, vocational, and rehabilitative programs…” The components of P.I.C.S. are: Institutionalized Personality Traits: resulting from the common deprivations of incarceration, a chronic state of learned helplessness in the face of prison authorities, and antisocial defenses in dealing with a predatory prison milieu. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Resulting from both pre-incarceration trauma and trauma experienced within the institution. Antisocial Personality Traits: Developed as a coping response to institutional abuse and a predatory prison Milieu. Social-Sensory Deprivation Syndrome: Resulting from prolonged exposure to solitary confinement that radically restricts social contact and sensory stimulation. Substance Abuse Disorders: Resulting from the use of alcohol and or other drugs to manage or escape P.I.C.S. symptoms. Culture Shock: Resulting from difficulty adjusting to prison culture upon incarceration, and readjusting to society upon release after prolonged periods of incarceration. Institutionalization: Resulting from prolonged periods of incarceration in prisons or mental institutions, in which the individual is physically and socially isolated from the outside world---3 major Components: (1) Spending all of one’s time in the same place with the same people. (2) Isolation from the outside world. (3) Shedding individual identity by giving up old clothing and possessions for standard uniforms. (4) Clean breaks with the past. (5) Loss of freedom of action. (6) Adopting negative attitudes towards the law as a result of socialization into the prison culture.
If the above list of problems faced by prisoners whom are eventually going to return home does not stimulate the appropriate and required responses to this growing epidemic, then our entire society must be held accountable for any further increases in the crime rates, incidences of violence, etc. What is most deplorable is the fact that the Criminal Justice System has been aware of Post Incarceration Syndrome and the other factors which leads to recidivism for decades and has hidden its findings from the general public and even state government legislatures, at the behest of big business and those whom exploit and become rich off of the prison industry. Terence Gorski, the foremost scholar in P.I.C.S. warns society thus: “ There is good reason to be concerned about P.I.C.S. because about 40% of the total incarcerated population (currently 700,000 nationwide and 127,000 in New York State Yearly and growing) are released each year. The number of prisoners being deprived of rehabilitative services, experiencing severely restrictive daily routines, being held in solitary confinement or prolonged periods of time, or being abused by other inmates or correctional staff is increasing. The effects of releasing this number of prisoners with psychiatric damage from prolonged incarceration can have a number of devastating impacts upon American society, including the further devastation of inner city communities and the destabilization of blue-collar and middle-class districts unable to reabsorb returning prisoners who are less likely to get jobs, more likely to commit crimes, more likely to disrupt families. This could turn many currently struggling lower middle-class areas into slums.
As more prisoners are returned to the community, behavioral health providers can expect to see increases in patients admitted with P.I.C.S. and related substance use, mental, and personality disorders. The national network of community treatment programs need to begin now to prepare their staff to identify and provide appropriate treatment for this new type of client…” Terence T. Gorski: Post Incarceration Syndrome
For all of the above stated reasons, it is important that New York once again take the reins of leadership and lead our state and America back down the road the founding fathers originally embarked upon, which was to create a civilized nation established upon the principles of equal justice, freedom, fairness, tolerance, and compassion. The title: The United States of America was first coined by a former temporary resident of the great state of New York, a Founding Father, and Author. His name is Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine wrote the books: Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason, and published a magazine called Crisis. And today, the Prisoners of the State of New York, their respective families, and all members of society affected by the incidents of crime, and recidivism urge our newly Elected Governor, Eliot Spitzer, and His newly Appointed Commissioners: Brian S. Fischer, Gladys Carion, Et. Al. to remember the wisdom and insight of Thomas Paine and use “ Common-Sense” and find wise solutions to the Problems outlined above, because New York---America is in a state of “Crisis”, the “Rights of Man” are in peril, and “The Age of Reason” has arrived.
HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF
CRIME, PUNISHMENT, AND THE REHABILITATION OF PRISONERS IN AMERICAN CORRECTIONS.
“ The vilest deeds like prison weeds bloom well in prison air; it is only what is good in man
that wastes and withers there.
Pale anguish keeps the heavy gate and
The warden is despair”
Oscar Wilde, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”
Early History of Crime and Punishment
Since the beginning of the existence of Humankind, and in nearly every society, particular actions have been discouraged and proscribed, which threatened either an individual member of that society, the entire society in general, or those responsible for the administration of government. Rape, murder, kidnapping, treason, robbery, burglary, etc, in some societies, however, were not considered “ Societal” problems, but instead an individual and private matter between the victims and victimizers. Society or governmental oversight of crime was virtually nonexistent, just as the idea of imprisoning an individual as a punishment for crime and his subsequent rehabilitation and reentry into society a better citizen was nonexistent.
The doctrine of retaliation was the remedy for offenses against one’s person, property, or family. In primitive societies personal retaliation was the accepted and encouraged way of dealing with personal injury and what we today view as crime. The system of avenging a crime was not considered law, and must be viewed as merely a tribal more, folkway, or norm. However, these systems of dealing with crime has played an instrumental and influential role in the development of virtually every legal system, beginning with the Sumerian and Babylonian codes, and leading up to most notably, English common law, which American jurisprudence derives. As time went on and societies became more aware and civilized, the practice of personal retaliation was superceded in part by, the “Blood-Feud”, where the victim’s family or tribe exacted revenge on the offender, his family and sometimes the entire opposing tribe.
This method of avenging offenses, however, usually resulted in prolonged and protracted wars, which in some cases wiped out entire families, tribes and communities. Because of the devastating effects on the tribes and communities, blood money was sometimes accepted as retaliation, depending upon the status of the offender and victim. These systems are known in Latin as: “ Lex Salica” and Lex Talionis”. Lex Salica or “Wergeld” in European societies was the fine paid for homicide, or “Man-Money”, and originally referred to the death of an individual and the individual’s supposed value to his/her family. It later included personal injury not resulting in death. (In the United States these are Torts, and the Federal Wrongful Death Statutes). See: Albert Kocourek & John Wigmore, Evolution of Law, vol. 2, “ Punitive and Ancient Legal Institutions( Boston: Little, Brown, 1915), p.124.
The system of revenge is known as “ Lex Talionis” and did call for the payment of blood money. This system of appeasement can still be found in the Middle East and in Far Eastern Countries, and is found in the “Shariah”, which is Islamic Jurisprudence, as well as the Holy Quran and Old Testament of the Bible. See: Old Testament: “Exodus”, Chap. 21, verse 24: “Eye for an eye, Tooth for tooth”. The systems of Lex Salica and Lex Talionis, eventually evolved into the system of fines and punishments, which is the underlying premise of today’s criminal justice system. However, today the punishments are not as harsh and do not allow for corporal punishments, mutilations, dismemberment, etc, with the exception of course, of capital punishment, and modern Islamic governments that are ruled by the principles of the Shariah. What remains, however, from the old doctrines is forced labor via the use of penal servitude, and restitution to the state and or victims of crime. As time passed, however, our modern system of government has eliminated the payment of restitution to the victims of crime, except where the victim seeks it via the Tort, Wrongful Death, and in New York State the “Son of Sam” Statutes. See: Albert Kocourek & John Wigmore, Evolution of Law, vol. 2, “Punitive and Ancient Legal Institutions (Boston: Little, Brown, 1915), p.126.
The Rise of Penal Labor, Involuntary Servitude, Mutilations, and Imprisonment as Forms of Punishments
Punishment for crime was the central issue in the early history of criminal law and jurisprudence, however, corporal punishment, mutilation, dismemberment, and death remained the premium norm for centuries. Most of those punishments were predominately handed down to slaves and bondservants. With the advent of penal labor, which was largely introduced to the world by the Roman Empire, and viewed by scholars as the precursor to incarceration as punishment---which is meted out by today’s governments, punishment for crimes changed exponentially, and incarceration as a punishment, by virtue of penal labor later applied to all offenders. However, it did nothing to curtail the mutilating penalties. According to historian Gustav Radbruch: “… applied earlier almost exclusively to slaves, [the mutilating penalties] became used more and more on freemen during the Carolingian period [A.D. 640-1012] and specially for offenders which betokened a base and servile mentality. Up to the end of the Carolingian era, punishments “to hide and hair” were overwhelmingly reserved for slaves. Even death penalties occurred as slave punishments and accounts for the growing popularity of such penalties in Carolingian times. The aggravated death penalties combining corporal punishments have their roots in the penal law governing slaves…” See: Gustav Radbruch, Elegantiae Juris Criminalis, 2 ed. (Basel, Switzerland: Verlag Und Gesellschatt, A.G., 1950), p.5.
Two components of earlier criminal jurisprudence from the Carolingian period remains today within the United States Constitution and various, if not all correctional systems throughout the country. (1) Because these early punishments were synonymous with slavery (Involuntary Servitude) the punished offenders were marked as slaves, by having all of their hair shaved off of their heads or were branded on their foreheads. Today, when a newly arriving convicted offender arrives at the state correctional institution, his hair is immediately shaved off. Ostensibly, this measure is done in order to promote and maintain prison and personal hygiene. However, it has the effect of “Marking” the newly arriving offender. (2) Congress proposed a thirteenth amendment to the states in the early part of 1861, with the caveat that there would not be future amendments to the Constitution abolishing slavery. However, only three states were able to ratify the amendment before the Civil War broke out in April of 1861. After the war ended, in 1865, the amendment was ratified, and it ostensibly abolished “All” forms of slavery. However, a caveat in the amendment preserved slavery for those persons convicted of a crime. “… Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Amendment XIII, United States Constitution, Dec. 8, 1865.
Nevertheless, prior to the Carolingian period, as the Roman Empire expanded there was a great need for laborers to construct public works, etc. thus the empire made nearly every behavior not in common with European ideals, norms, mores, values, and folkways a crime punishable by penal slavery and hard labor. As in earlier times, and in societies, prior to the empire’s rise, penal slavery was specifically reserved for the poor, lower classes in society, and usually entailed a life sentence of servitude building public works, and ships, mining, and building construction for the growing Roman hegemony. Those prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment and servitude was pronounced civilly dead; their wives were declared widowed, and eligible to remarry; their property was confiscated in the name of the state, and they suffered complete loss of citizenship. Those fortunate offenders that escaped life imprisonment were met with some of the same circumstances as those whom were sentenced to life. They were exiled; loss citizenship; their property was confiscated by the state, and nonetheless, considered civilly dead by society. See: Harry E. Allen & Clifford E. Simonsen, “History and Evolution of Corrections”: Corrections in America, 7th ed., p.8-9,
Today, 49 states prohibits prisoners and ex-offenders from voting, obtaining certain occupational and vocational licenses, etc. and the government and society places numerous barriers in the way of ex-offenders, which makes their successful transition back into society impossible, is tantamount to the civil death experienced by earlier offenders that were caught up in the Roman Empire’s penal servitude system. Prisoners serving life sentences are in fact, in some cases declared civilly dead in many states.
Religious Interventionism In Matters of Crime and Punishment
With the rise of religious power in affairs of state and government, superstition began to play a major role in correlating crime with sin, and governments and societies, which did not originally view church and state as separate entities found the payment to individual victims and the state insufficient punishment for crimes, they believed crime offended not only the victim or state, but God himself. As a result, punishments became longer and harsher in the face of the states’ and society’s endeavor to appease and regain the favor of their respective deities. This commingling of church and state soon blurred the lines between crime and sin, because it was not proven whether or not crime was simply a matter of antisocial deviant behavior, or sin. However, prior to the advent of Christianity, the Ten Commandments was used as the yard stick, which measured the punishment handed down to offenders of the law, which satisfied both society’s and God’s sense of justice. (Particularly in Palestine, and Asia Minor---Judaic communities).
With religion’s and superstition’s feet firmly planted in the area of crime and punishment, alongside secular governments, the scope of religious power was broadened and interventionism in secular affairs on the part of the church in regards to criminal law and punishment for offenders against God, state, and individual victims grew exponentially. By the time the tumultuous middle age arrived, the church was already at the apex of its power, and firmly ensconced in the politics of states. The rehabilitation and reformation of offenders was no longer a secular issue. The church again re-instituted the theory that the offender had two debts to pay---one to God, and one to society. Until it’s abolishment in A.D. 1215, the “Ordeal” was the church’s substitute for trials by secular authority. The trial by ordeal entailed subjecting the accused to excruciating bouts of torture. Those offenders that survived the ordeal were deemed innocent, and those who did not were deemed guilty. The cruel and unusual punishments inflicted upon the accused assured a nearly 90% conviction rate.
In addition, the church expanded the number of crimes, which were punishable by ordeal trials, and most notably in regards to what was perceived as deviant “unnatural” sexual practices. Heresy and witchcraft also played a predominant role in the church’s overzealous use penal servitude, torture, and capital punishment, and the church justified these cruel acts by espousing the theory or misguided ideal that they were saving the offender’s soul and from the clutches of Satan. The church also instead of waiting for an individual to actually be accused of committing a crime, sought out alleged offenders, thus sparking the inquisition, which became a formal institution by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1224, and lasted until it’s end 1834. The church viewed punishment as a means to an end---that end being the hope of pacifying an angry and vengeful God.
A major contribution from the church, however, which remains a part of today’s studies in corrections is the concept of “free will”, “which assumes that individuals choose their actions, good or bad, and thus can be held fully responsible for them…” See: Harry E. Allen & Clifford E. Simonsen, “History and Evolution of Corrections (Corrections in America), 7th ed., p.11. (The concept of free will, though a proven factor does not, however, take into consideration external influences, which may inadvertently or advertently lead one to commit offenses against individuals or states. e.g. Socio-economics, Poverty, etc.)
Punishments for crimes were numerous and both church and state utilized them prodigiously for centuries. Death, torture, mutilation, branding, public humiliation, fines, forfeiture of property, banishment, imprisonment and transportation were the premium punishments of the times, and some remain today. See: Walter C. Reckless, “The Crime Problem”, 4th ed. (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969), p.497.
Capital punishment was the most prevalent form of punishment, though in some cases it was not the actual sentence of punishment. This was due to the extreme level of tortures visited upon alleged offenders in order to extract confessions. There was virtually no knowledge of behavior modification, and more humane and modern ways to control violent persons or those suffering from psychological problems. For example, epileptics were considered demon possessed and during exorcisms, those unfortunate offenders were tortured to death, burned on the stake, crucified, hanged, drowned, stretched on the rack, etc. The most evil devices man could conjure in his mind were used on alleged, and actual offenders alike. Some scholars, however, say that these measures may have been due to fear of the offenders on the parts of religious and secular authority.
The Rise of Public Punishment as A Deterrent to Crime
The church then adopted the theory that by publicly carrying out executions and lesser punishments, it would act as a deterrent to others. In a failed attempt to re-institute the failed Justinian code, where punishments were made to fit specific crimes, mutilation was used for lesser offenses (what may be considered misdemeanors today) and capital punishment for more serious crimes, e.g. for lying, an offender’s tongue was pulled out, a rapists genitals were cut off, and the thief’s hands were severed. Up until the late 19th century, branding was still used in the United States. (Theoretically, a form of branding is still in use in America today, by virtue of the convicted person’s stigma, which is placed upon him by society and the government, which prevents him from positively reintegrating into society)
Popular practices by early America in regards to offenders were: The stock, pillory, ducking-stools, the brank, and branding. The importance of those early American punishments was in their public nature. Nevertheless, it is believed that capital punishment, corporal punishment, and torture used in the middle ages and up until the late 19th century in America was society’s experiment in deterrence. However, it proved more detrimental to society, because it said much about society’s lack of morality and its preoccupation with social and individual revenge, which did nothing to deter crime or the contributing factors, which led to crime. No matter the efforts on the part of society, however, noble the only persons deterred from crime was the individual(s) who were tortured to death and or were sentenced to capital punishment. “…The claim of deterrence is belied by both history and logic…” See: Harry Elmer Barnes and Negley K. Teeters, “New Horizons in Criminology, 3.ed. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1959), p.286. (for a more recent update on deterrence, see Steven Klepper and Daniel Nagin, “ The deterrent Effect of Perceived Certainty and Severity of Punishment Revisited”, Criminology 36 (1989):721-46.
In the late 13th century, Christianity further obscured the lines between crime, punishment, and sin, and Thomas Aquinas made a distinction between external law-“Lex Externa”, natural law-“Lex Naturalis”, and human law-“Lex-Humana, in the hope of finally bringing the issue of crime and sin into both religious and secular perspective. However, the doctrine of human law-“Lex-Hermana” took a very distinct back seat if it was found to conflict with the laws of nature and God. Nevertheless, the church was beginning to decline during this period and in the early 14th century, kings and other monarchs became more powerful and were desirous of extricating themselves and secular authority from the church, who restricted their powers. See: Stephen Schaffer, Theories in Criminology (New York Random-House, 1969), p. 25.
The Beginnings of The Separation Between Church and State
The fight between religious and secular power came to a head when lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More staunchly opposed the unification of church and state, and refused to accommodate King Henry VIII in his wish to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. More, who was ahead of his time in regards to his theories on crime and punishment, most notably deterrence, was subsequently executed for his disobedience and espousing such reformist theories in regards to crime and punishment. Sir Thomas More was the first to advance the new idea that punishment could not prevent crime, and a closer examination of social conditions, which gave rise to crime, was required instead of punishment. This gives credence to the argument that social conditions play significant roles in the incidents of crime. A theory expressed as early as the beginning part of the 14th century. “…The early background of law and punishment points up the significance of social revenge as a justification for individual or societal punishment against an offender. This rationale allowed the development of penal slavery and civil death as retaliation for wrongs against the crown. The idea of correcting an offender was entirely incidental to punishment. Imprisonment served purely for detention. Offenders condemned to the Galley or sulfur mines suffered a form of social vengeance, often including the lash and other physical abuse, far more painful than was the loss of freedom alone. The offender was placed in dungeons, galleys, or mines to receive punishments not as punishment…” See: Harry E. Allen & Clifford E. Simonsen, “History and Evolution of Corrections” Corrections in America” 7th ed., p.14. “…The idea of punishment to repay society and expiate one’s transgressions against God explains in part why most punishments were cruel and barbarous. Presumably, the hardships of physical torture, social degradation, exile, or financial loss (the four fundamental types of punishment) would be rewarded by external joy in heaven. Ironically, those punishments did little to halt the spread of crime.” See: Harry E. Allen & Clifford E. Simonsen, “History and Evolution of Corrections” Corrections in America” 7th ed., p.14.; Edwin H. Sutherland, Criminology (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1924), P.317.
Just as harsh, cruel, barbarous, unethical, and immoral punishments, however, couched in society’s endeavor to deter crime, “get right with God”, and allay the public’s sentiments and fears proved a failure, so has the mass incarceration of millions of citizens, without measures to address the individual needs of the offenders, and the social conditions which leads to crime. “…Even in the era when extremely severe punishment was imposed for crimes of minor importance, no evidence can be found to support the view that punitive measures materially curtailed the volume of crime.” See: Walter C. Reckless, “The Crime Problem, 4th edit. (New York Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969), p.504. “…There is no evidence that increased use of incarceration will lead to lower levels of crime.” See: David Biles, “Crime and The Use of Prisons”, Federal Probation (June 1979):39-43.
The Beginnings in The Concept of Imprisonment as Punishment
The concept of prison confinement as a punishment is a fairly new practice. Initially, imprisonment was used merely as a form of detention until the offender was actually sentenced to some other form of punishment or another. One divergent measure, however, was the places prisoners were subjected to penal servitude were housed at night upon completion of the days labor---these places of confinement were basically cages. Stone quarries, mines, etc. the places where the labor was performed also served as places of confinement. The earliest place designed for confinement of prisoners sentenced to penal servitude was the Mamertine prison built by the Roman Empire around 64 B.C. The prison was a system of dungeons built under Rome’s sewer main. See: Norman Johnston, “The Human Cage: A brief History of Prison Architecture (Wash, D.C.: American Foundation, 1973), p.5.
With the advent of gunpowder, fortress and siege warfare became virtually obsolete and castles, fortresses, etc, became places of detention and confinement. Most of these places of confinement were reserved for political prisoners, and it was not until the 12th century that palaces, castles, etc. were built with chambers and towers specifically for the purpose of housing said political prisoners. Norman Johnston, “The Human Cage: A brief History of Prison Architecture (Wash, D.C.: American Foundation, 1973), p.5. In the middle 16th century, a new type of place of penal servitude emerged. These were called: “Workhouses”, the first of which was built in London, England in 1557, and known as the “Bridewell Workhouse”. The workhouse was built in order to deal with the social ills of the times, specifically homelessness, vagrancy, and “illegal” unemployment. As in earlier times, the lower classed, disenfranchised citizens were targeted and removed from urban areas. By 1576, the English parliament ordered the building of workhouses in every county in England. The social conditions, which led to this adoption of workhouses in England prevailed in the rest of Europe, and by 1596, Europe was filled with workhouses.
Today, all over the country, and specifically in New York City, the same social conditions that led to the creation of workhouses are seen in urban city areas and led to the building of a number of prisons in Upstate, New York, where residents from 7 targeted neighborhoods whom are mostly impoverished, African-American, and Latino are imprisoned. Nevertheless, the workhouses in Europe, which eventually sprang up in America were atrocious and no regard was given to young offenders or women. All were housed together in horrific and inhumane conditions. “…No attempt was made to keep the young from the old, the well from the sick, or even males from the females. No food was provided for those without money, and sanitary conditions were usually deplorable. Exploitation of inmates by other inmates and jailers resulted in the most vicious acts of violence. “Jail fever” (a common term for Typhus), which was bred easily in such conditions, spread to surrounding cities and became the main method of keeping the country’s population down. By the beginning of the 18th century, workhouses, prisons, and houses of corrections in England and the rest of Europe had deteriorated into shocking conditions. Forcing criminals to exist in such miserable prisons became perhaps the most ruthless---if abstract---social revenge of all the punishments thus far described. “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” was the watchword of that period with the public’s seldom being aware of what happened behind the walls. (Ironically, a condition not unknown at the end of the 20th century.” Harry E. Allen & Clifford E. Simonsen, “History and Evolution of Corrections” Corrections in America” 7th ed., p.15.
The “Out of sight, Out of mind” mentality in regards to the treatment of prisoners by the government, and society led to one of the worst prison riots in America at the Attica State Prison in Upstate, New York in September 1971. African-American and Latino prisoners took control of the prison in protest of the harsh treatment, lack of programs, prohibitions on religious freedom and worship, and the ability to communicate with the outside world, among other things. Despite on going negotiations to come to a settlement and the release of prison guards and others held captive, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered law enforcement agencies to storm the prison. As a result numerous deaths ensued, including the deaths of several correction officers. “…The incident that has erupted here at Attica is not the result of the dastardly bushwhacking of the two prisoners on September 8, 1971, but of the unmitigated oppression wrought by the racist administration network of the prison, throughout the year. WE ARE MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and in the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed. We will not compromise on any terms except those that are agreeable to us. We call upon all the conscientious citizens of America to assist us in putting an end to this situation that threatens the lives of not only us, but each and everyone one of us as well…” See: “The Five Demands To The People Of America”- The Inmates of Attica Prison- “A Time To Die”: The Attica Prison Revolt, Tom Wicker(University of Nebraska Press, 1975).
The actual Five Demands, though important are far less important than the “15 Practical Proposals” requested by the prisoners of Attica in 1971. More importantly, and most ironic is that several of the proposals and enactments in regards to the prisoners at Attica in 1971, are still either undelivered, repealed, or was never considered seriously, despite the happenings on those fateful days in September 1971. Prisoners, activists, community based organizations, faith-based organizations, etc, today are calling for the same justice that those Attica prisoners demanded 35 years ago. “…The Fifteen Practical Proposals”: (1) Apply the New York State Minimum Wage Law to all state institutions. STOP PRISON LABOR. (2) Allow all New York State prisoners to be politically active, without intimidation or reprisals. (3)Give us true freedom of religion. (4) End all censorship of newspapers, magazines, letters, and other publications that come from the publisher. (5) Allow all inmates, at their own expense, to communicate with anyone they please. (6) When an inmate reaches conditional release date give him full release without parole. (7) Cease Administrative re-sentencing of inmates returned for parole violations. (8) Institute realistic rehabilitation programs for all inmates according to their offense and personal needs. (9) Educate all correctional officers to the needs of the inmates, i.e., understanding rather than punishment. (10) Give us a healthy diet, stop feeding us so much pork, and give us some fresh fruit daily. (11) Modernize the inmate education system. (12) Give us a doctor that will examine and treat all inmates that request treatment. (13) Have an institutional delegation composed of one inmate from each company authorized to speak to the institution administration concerning grievances(quarterly). (14) Give us less cell time and more recreation with better recreational equipment and facilities. (15) Remove inside wall, making one open yard, and no more segregation or punishment. ( Note: Those items that are in bold print are the same things inmates are asking for today. One particular and honorable thing in regards to prison reform that must be mentioned is the decision of Gov. Eliot Spitzer on January 9, 2007, to end the policy of overcharging and “Taxing” the families and attorneys of prisoners via the MCI-WorldCom prison phone monopoly. Thanks on behalf of all prisoners, their families, and respective attorneys to Gov. Spitzer and Commissioner Brian S. Fischer.) See: “The Five Demands To The People Of America”- The Inmates of Attica Prison- “A Time To Die”: The Attica Prison Revolt, Tom Wicker (University of Nebraska Press, 1975); See also: Marable and Mullings, “Let Nobody Turn Us Around, An African-American Anthology, “Attica: The Fury of Those Who Are Oppressed”, 1971, (Rowman & Littlefield Pub., Inc.) p. 489-90; Malcolm Bell, The Turkey Shoot: Tracking the Attica Cover-up( New York: Grove Press, 1985); New York State Special Commission on Attica, The Official Report of the New York State Special Commission on Attica (New York: Bantam Books, 1972); Russell G. Oswald, Attica: My Story(Garden City, N.Y. :Doubleday, 1972).
The Attica prison riot was not the first, nor was it the last American prison riot. However, it is the most remembered and recognized because for the first time in modern history, the entire world became aware of America’s appalling prison policies, and the treatment of prisoners. However, earlier in America’s history the experiment with creating the first “State” prison ended in disaster, much on par with the disaster at Attica in 1971. In 1773, America attempted to build its first state prison in an abandoned copper mine in Simsbury, Connecticut. The underground prison was nothing more than a system of mine shafts, and open pits, much like ancient Roman sulfur pits. The prisoners therein were subjected to the usual brutal treatment of the times and conditions were horrific, at best.
The prisoners of Simsbury were housed in long mine shafts, and the administration building sat at the mine’s entrance. The conditions of the improvised prison were equally abusive to the many juveniles and women that were housed there. In 1774, tired of the inhumane treatment and conditions, prisoners set off a series of riots in protest, until they were successful in getting the prison closed down. See: Charles W. Dean, “ The story of Newgate”, Federal Probation (June 1977): P.8-14; Alexis Durham, “ Newgate of Connecticut”: Origins and Early Days of an Early American Prison”, Justice Quarterly 6 (1989):p. 89-116.
Despite the horrible failures at the Simsbury, Connecticut prison, America continued in their experiments and endeavors to build a state prisons and use Incarceration as a punishment and deterrent to crime. Spurred on by the immoral benefits of the slave trade and penal servitude, Pennsylvania and New York entered into a prison building “Cold War”, which set the tone for what is now called “ The Prison Industrial Complex” which changed the way the world viewed prisoners, crime, and punishment in both negative and positive ways. Nevertheless, these experiments and endeavors culminated into the United States of America being the leading prison society in the world, with the most prisons and prisoners in the world.
As previously stated, imprisonment served only as the precursor to the implementation of some other form of punishment, and in the 16th and 17th centuries, there were hundreds of crimes to choose from, which not only carried death sentences but lengthy incarcerations as well---penal servitude. For example, during the 17th century, England had over two hundred crimes on their books, which were punishable by death. There was no regards or concerns of rehabilitating offenders, or attacking the social conditions, which played a part in the commission of crime. By the close of the 17th century England was carrying out as many as 800 public executions per year. See: Herbert Johnson, “ History of Criminal Justice (Cincinnati: Anderson, 1988), pp.23-112.
The 18th century brought with it what is termed the age of enlightenment, and some of the world’s greatest thinkers and philosophers weighed in on the issue of crime and punishment---some to their own detriment. These great thinkers understood and recognized that Humankind was essentially dignified above all species, yet was imperfect, and in order for humankind to grow and develop into a humane, compassionate, merciful, stable, and civilized species changes and reform was needed, in order to positively and adequately address the incidents of crime and its subsequent punishments.
Charles Montequieu (1689-1755), for example believed that harsh punishment would undermine morality and that appealing to moral sentiment was a better means of preventing crime. Voltaire (1694-1778) believed that the fear of shame was a deterrent to crime. He fought against the legally sanctioned practice of torture, corporal punishment, and mass incarceration as a policy used as a deterrent to crime. Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), the most influential criminal law reformer of his era and the founder of the Classical School wrote: “An Essay on Crimes and Punishments” and proposed a change in criminal justice approaches geared towards humanistic goals, instead of simple punishment. Beccaria’s principles which are the basis of “An Essay on Crime and Punishment” was the prime motivating factor, which moved criminal justice from punishment to “Corrections”. These principles are:
“The basis of all social action must be the utilitarian conception of the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
Crime must be considered an injury to society, and the only rational measure of crime is the extent of that injury.
Prevention of crime is more important than punishment for crimes; indeed punishment is justifiable only on the supposition that it helps to prevent criminal conduct. In preventing crime it is necessary to improve and publish the laws, so that the nation can understand and support them; to reward virtue; and to improve the public’s education both in regard to legislation and to life.
In criminal procedure secret accusations and torture should be abolished. There should be speedy trials. The accused should be treated humanely before trial and must have every right and facility to bring forward evidence in his or her behalf. Turning state’s evidence should be done away with, as it amounts to no more than the public’s authorization of treachery.
The purpose of punishment is to deter persons from the commission of crime and not to provide social revenge. Not severity, but certainty and swiftness in punishment best secure this result. Punishment must be sure and swift and penalties determined strictly in accordance with the social damage wrought by the crime. Crimes against property should be punished solely by fines, or by imprisonment when the person is unable to pay the fine. Banishment is an excellent punishment for crimes against the state. There should be no capital punishment. Life imprisonment is a better deterrent. Capital punishment is irreparable and hence makes no provision for possible mistakes and the desirability of later rectification.
Imprisonment should be more widely employed but its mode of application should be greatly improved through providing better physical quarters and by separating and classifying the prisoners as to age, sex, and degree of criminality.” See: Harry Elmer Barnes and Negley K. Teeters, New Horizons in Criminology, 3d ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1959, p.322; Cesare Beccaria, An Essay on Crimes and Punishment( Philadelphia: P.H. Nicklin, 1819).
In regards to number 2 of Beccaria’s Principles, which states: “ The only rational measure of crime is the extent of that injury…” It must be understood that, in the cases of the two million people that are either in prison, on probation, or parole for drug offenses, society is not the only recipient of injury. Just about every crime committed in America is predicated upon the use, trafficking, and or distribution of drugs, and most violent crimes are the result of all three. Either the individual was high when he committed a crime; he committed the crime in the furtherance of the drug trade, or he committed a crime in order to feed his addiction(s).
However, society’s response has been to imprison offenders at an exorbitant rate, instead of addressing the primary drug issue, which led to criminal behavior. Those who deal, traffic, distribute, and committed their crimes in the furtherance of the trade, must be treated differently from those who are addicted, and committed their crimes based upon said addictions, etc. Consideration must be given to the question of whether under normal circumstances, and not under the direct influence of alcohol or narcotics, would the offender have committed the crime? Wherefore, instead of measuring the injury to society alone, the injury to the individual whom is affected by addictions, and the social conditions in society, which may have led to addictions, and criminal behavior must equally be measured and the requisite punishments must reflect such measurement.
There is no evidence that incarceration addresses the needs of addicted persons who commit crimes because of their addictions, and deter crime or the behaviors of addicted persons. There must be comprehensive medical and psychological treatment for addicted offenders instead of mere incarceration alone. This measure will also address the concerns of society and is more cost effective than lengthy incarcerations. The treatment of addictions is far less expensive than the incarceration of psychologically impaired addicted persons---from a monetary, moral, and ethically prudent viewpoint.
In regards to Beccaria’s 3rd principle: “…Prevention of crime is more important that punishment for crimes…” History has shown and proven that the only punishment that, actually deter crime, however, only on an (individual) basis is death. Death, however, only deters the convicted offender and not others who may be predisposed to crime for various reasons---which most often are exigent, extenuating, and mitigating factors, arising from social conditions. Nevertheless, the new method of punishment is the incarceration model, and this too has been proven ineffective in deterring crime. As long as there is abject poverty, low education and vocation rates, unemployment, homelessness, etc, there will unfortunately be crime. Until the primary component contributing to crime---illegal narcotics are stamped out of society there will be crime. The poor will sell it; the despaired, despondent and weak will use it; become addicted to it, and commit crimes to acquire it. As stated, the majority of the crimes committed in America are a direct result of the drug trade. Treat the drug problem in America, and you will treat the crime problem.
In regards to Beccaria’s 5th principle: “…The purpose of punishment is to deter persons from the commission of crime and not to provide social revenge. Not severity, but certainty and swiftness in punishment best secure this result…” Because the amount of crime being committed throughout the country has risen, so has the public’s ire. However, the public should be equally angry at American social conditions, which contributes heavily to the rise in crime. Society has taken a step backwards, and now utilizes revenge, as a deterrent to crime, instead of seeing the crime problem for what it actually is---a social problem. Crime affects everyone, even the offender, and we cannot address the problem ignorantly like in the past when epileptics were burned and imprisoned because they were thought to be demon possessed. As Humankind developed knowledge in the areas of medicine, psychology, neurology, psychiatry, etc. we learned to treat epileptics instead of punish them. We learned that they were afflicted with medical and psychological infirmities, which made them different from the average member of society. So too, must we understand that most offenders are suffering from much more, and not necessarily “naturally” predisposed to crime. Wherefore, we must learn what leads man to commit crimes. We can look back into the past and see that it was the same culprits, then, that is causing crime today---social conditions.
How can society justify locking up a burglar who burglarized a home or business, solely for the purpose of acquiring money to feed an addiction; keep him in prison for years without giving him treatment for his problem; let him back out into society worse off than when he entered prison, with numerous barriers and stigmas attached to him, and expect him to remain at liberty? Who then is responsible for the next crime he commits? Basically, corrections must be a form of affirmative action, which gives the ex-offender the chance to correct himself, his social standing, and the conditions, which led him to crime.
Parole and probation must be a second chance to correct one’s life. It must not further punish nor must it place stigmas upon the individual that causes him to be turned out and away from every place he ventures seeking employment, housing, etc. There is only so much punishment anyone can mete out and anyone can take, without breaking. New York State for too long has prevented the positive assimilation and reentry of offenders back into society, and because of this, in many instances third and fourth chances must be given to some repeat offenders, whom were never treated and given the comprehensive care, and tools necessary for a positive transition back into society.
The Penitentiary System—The Beginnings of Prisoner Rehabilitation Through Humanitarian Treatment And Efforts & And The Reemergence of Religious Interventionism in Crime and Punishment
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the leader in the reform of English Criminal Law believed that if “…punishments were designed to negate whatever pleasure or gain the criminal derived from crime, the crime rate would decrease..”.
William Penn (1644-1718) the leader of the Quakers in America and possibly the greatest reformer and antecedent to later reformers Beccaria, Bentham, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, and undisputed father of the American penitentiary system, brought the concept of humanitarian treatment of prisoners here to America. Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania changed the way prisons were administered in America, and eventually influenced changes in Europe and also created and enacted the “Great Law” upon arriving in America, which instituted hard labor as a more effective punishment than death, corporal punishment, etc, for serious crimes. Penn later removed capital punishment from the Great Law and murder and manslaughter were considered social crimes. However, premeditated murder under the great law was still punishable by death.
Under Penn’s Great Law the first so-called “ House of Corrections” was established and hard labor was the premium punishment for serious offenses. Unfortunately, one day after Penn died the Great Law was abolished. However, not before it was noticed that his system worked better than the previous measures throughout history, and the Duke of York Codes it replaced. Nevertheless, capital punishment was reinstated and 13 additional crimes were made punishable by death, and all others were punishable by branding, mutilation, tortures and corporal punishment under the new English Anglican codes, enacted after Penn’s demise. Basically, once the humanitarian Quakers lost control of the laws as a result of Penn’s death, secular authorities hell bent on the concept of social revenge, set the new American Community back thousands of years.
For decades, after Penn’s death the early Americans instituted and devised the most heinous forms of punishment for offenders, and alleged offenders. We’ve seen above the result of the country’s first attempt to build and administer its first state prison at Simsbury, Connecticut, in 1773-74, and despite numerous attempts, the states (Secular Authority) still could not create a successful state ran prison. It was not until 1790, after numerous failures on the parts of states and secular authority that the Quakers were again allowed to oversee the first “modern” (for that period) prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known as the “Walnut Street Jail”, the first “true” “correctional” facility in the world. See: David J. Rothman, Discovery of the Asylum (Boston: little, Brown, 1971), p. 55.
However, prior to the creation of the Walnut Street Jail, the American Penitentiary Act presented to congress months prior to the start of the war for independence, was passed, but due to the start of the war in 1776, its enactment was delayed. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the concept of a “House of Corrections” was the idea and theory of the Quakers---a religious body and not a governmental concern. Government was not concerned with correcting behaviors or the correction of conditions, which led to crime---much as they do not in these times. Today’s governments are only concerned with punishment---the swiftest and harshest.
The Walnut Street Jail was initially built on the model of previous jails, however, the Quakers whom were appalled by the treatment of prisoners and conditions within the jails, convinced the Pennsylvania Legislature to give them a wing of the new jail, and use it as a penitentiary---a house of corrections for convicted offenders only---not those offenders sentenced to death. See: Negley K. Teeters, “The Cradle of the Penitentiary” (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Prison Society, 1955). From the creation of the Walnut Street Jail, derived the concept and term “Penitentiary”. Originally, a place where offenders reflected on their crimes---“Repented”, and made “Penitence”, and this was the very first time that a jail was used to “Correct” or “Rehabilitate” if you will, convicted persons. The Quakers immediately took advantage of the opportunity to try and reform convicted offenders and reinstated most of the provisions of Penn’s Great Law, which was repealed a day after he died, some of which survives today in various forms: (1) All persons were eligible for bail. (2) Those wrongfully imprisoned could recover double damages. (3) Prisons were to be free as to fees, food, and lodging. (4) The lands and goods of felons were to be liable for confiscation and double restitution to injured parties. (5) All counties were to provide correctional houses to replace the pillory, stocks, and other medieval forms of punishments. See: Donald R. Taft, Criminology, 3d. Ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1956), P.478 Today, it appears that no serious thought has been given to real comprehensive rehabilitation, or more or less, an individual(s) repentance.
The Pennsylvania & Auburn Systems of Penology---The Rise of Solitary Confinement And Its Subsequent Use As Further Penal Punishment
The Walnut Street Jail and Penitentiary became the prototype of the so-called “Modern” prison system, beginning first with the Pennsylvania System, which was developed through the reforming crusades of some of America’s most famous founding fathers. For example, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and William Bradford, all inspired by the humanitarian works of Beccaria, John Howard, Jeremy Bentham, and Montesquieu. However, the Pennsylvania System turned out to be a miserable failure, and it was here that the concept of Solitary Confinement for all prisoners---without work, exercise, etc. was born. Because of the policy of total solitary confinement and social-sensory deprivation, prisoners deteriorated mentally and physically within months of their incarceration, and often died. This Led the Pennsylvania System administrators to amend its policies regarding confinement and allowed prisoners to work from anywhere between 8-10 hours daily, however, in complete silence and prohibited interaction with other prisoners.
Nevertheless, prisoners continued to deteriorate due to the new problem of overcrowding, which spread diseases faster, etc. and due to the newly established American government’s overuse of incarceration---because nearly every crime was made punishable by lengthy incarcerations, whether serious felony or minor misdemeanor. Despite, however, the failures of the Pennsylvania System of penology, America rushed to build new prisons across the country. These new prisons proved to be bigger and ostensibly better than the last, and it was not long before the rest of the world, most notably Europe, followed suit, touching off a prison building war of sorts between the states, and various countries in Europe, i.e. England, France, and Italy. See: Barnes, “The story of Punishment”, p. 128.
In 1826, The Western Penitentiary was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was modeled on the Pennsylvania System, and also proved to be little better, and despite the results of the Pennsylvania System’s failure with solitary confinement instituted it nonetheless, but gave the prisoners no reprieve or respite from the social-sensory deprivation involved with solitary confinement---no in cell labor. After the physical and psychological deterioration and subsequent deaths of many prisoners, Western Penitentiary amended its policies in 1829, and allowed prisoners to perform in-cell labor, which, however, did very little to reverse the effects of solitary confinement. Not long after building the Western Penitentiary, Pennsylvania built Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia and it emerged as the leading system of prison administration and policy but again, solitary confinement, lack of in-cell labor and social-sensory deprivation prevailed. What made Eastern Penitentiary unique, however, was its wheel or spoke design, which allowed the prisoners to be monitored in their cell from one “central” point within the prison.
Pennsylvania’s system of prison building and policy was no doubt the leading force behind America’s love affair with massive prisons, and other states such as New Jersey, and Rhode Island adopted the Pennsylvania system as its own and began building their own state prisons on that model. The lore of the Pennsylvania System even stretched across the Atlantic and reached the shores of Europe, and today, Belgium, France, and West Germany still uses the Pennsylvania system of penology. See: “The Prison Journal” 68 (Spring-Summer 1988); “Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency” 25 (November 1988); “Corrections Today” 52 (July 1990); and Steven Adwell, “A Case for Single-Cell Occupancy in America’s Prisons”, Federal Probation 55 (3) (1991): p. 64-67
New York, refusing to be left behind in the prison building enterprise and industry in the meantime, was building a prison system of their own, while the failures of the Pennsylvania System was taking place and becoming known. In 1819, New York opened the doors to its very first state prison in the town of Auburn, and it was based upon a new indoor-cell design. The cells were small, dark, dank, and made specifically and only for sleeping, because a new system of prisoner socialization was being experimented with called: “The Congregation System”, which allowed minimal socialization between prisoners via group labor, dining, etc. Due to the fact that the prison builders knew they were going to be trying out the new “Congregate System” they saw no need to make the cells larger, because the prisoners would be spending their time at outdoor labor, etc. See: Walter C. Reckless, “ The Crime Problem, 4th ed. (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969), p. 548
Another stark difference between the Auburn System and the earlier Pennsylvania System was Auburn’s reluctance to utilize the solitary confinement model. However, in 1821, Auburn administrators conducted an experiment to test the efficacy of solitary confinement, and rounded up whom they considered the most incorrigible prisoners and forced them into solitary confinement on Christmas Day 1821. The prisoners remained therein until Christmas of 1823, in complete isolation and in a state of social-sensory deprivation. All of the prisoners therein succumbed to illnesses and insanity and the experiment ended. The Auburn administration admitted failure, however, only on the basis that it was idleness, which contributed to illness and mental breakdown.
Auburn then opted for the first time in history to use solitary confinement as a punishment only, despite their findings and the detrimental effects it had upon the prisoners. They refused to acknowledge the correlation between idleness, social-sensory deprivation, and the physical and mental breakdown of those prisoners subjected to their cruel experiment in ascertaining the efficacy of solitary confinement. See: Alexine Atherton, “ Journal Perspective 1845-1986”, “The Prison Journal 68” (Spring–Summer 1987): 1-37; and Herbert Johnson, “Freedom and Prisons in the Land of the Free”; “ Chapter in History of Criminal Justice “(Cincinnati: Anderson, 1988), pp149-168. For a detailed discussion of a Civil War prison, see: Joseph Cangemi & Casimir Kowalski, Andersonville prison: Lessons in Organizational failure (Landham, Md.: University Press of America, 1992).
Today, advocacy groups and families of prisoners across the nation are campaigning to end the use of Solitary Confinement, and In New York State A “Boot The S.H.U.” campaign is underway and gaining great momentum.
As in most things, even today, the world follows New York’s Lead and nearly 200 years later, the Auburn System of Penology is still the blueprint and standard used by the prison industrial complex. It should also be noted that Auburn is the site of the first execution by electrocution—the Electric Chair. On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler, a convicted murderer from Buffalo, New York became its first victim, and though the world viewed the electrocution as a publicity and promotional scheme between New York’s electric company, Thomas Edison, and the New York State Department of Corrections, and not as a viable and humane means of deterring crime and punishing offenders, the execution was carried out, nonetheless. The electrocution was a complete disaster and it took several jolts of electricity administered over a period of 6 minutes to kill Mr. Kemmler, an excruciatingly painful and inhumane torment. See: Frederick Drimmer, “ Until You Are Dead”: The Book of Executions in America (New York: Pinnacle/Windsor, 1992) pp.18-19.
The Rise of The Prison Industrial Complex
Nevertheless, the worst and most negative happenstance born out of the Auburn System of Penology is competition in prison building, which spawned the creation of the prison industrial complex, which permeates every facet of American society. The reason is due to the fact that, when Auburn introduced the “Congregate System” proponents of the Pennsylvania System argued that solitary confinement of prisoners prevented cross contamination of infectious diseases, encouraged good behavior, furthered the goals of penitence, and made control of the prisoners easier, which allowed them to concentrate on the individual needs of the prisoners.
The supporters of the Auburn System, however, argued that it was cheaper to build Auburn style prisons, via the use of prisoner labor, and the vocational incentives it provided gave previously unskilled prisoners the opportunity to learn a viable trade. However, New York also argued that the system produced revenues for the state, because prisoners could be used to produce various items, build America’s Highways, and work in the building industry, etc. Basically, the state endeavored to hire and contract out prisoner labor---A virtual slave trade. Another part of the argument suggested that the state would save money by having the prisoners build the prisons that they would be eventually confined in, instead of contracting outside construction companies to do it. Of Course, the economic argument won the day, and within 50 years, between the years of 1819 and 1869, the Auburn System of Penology became the mold and standard for over 30 state prisons throughout the country. Today, America has the most prisons in the world---yet we are supposed to be the freest nation on earth, and New York State is placed (not respectably) second and third to California, and Texas in the number of state prisons, and prisoners. In nearly every instance, America’s prison and prisoner policy has reverted to pre-enlightenment age inhumanity, and although prisoners are allowed socialization, and more privileges, the system is still irrevocably broken. See: Harry Elmer Barnes, “ The Study of Punishment”, 2nd ed. (Montclair, New Jersey: Patterson Smith, 1972) P. 136; Robert G. Caldwell, “Criminology”, 2nd ed. (New York: Ronald Press, 1965), p. 506.
The Shifting Winds of Crime, Punishment, and Prison Policy In America From The Mid-Twentieth Century to The Early Twenty-First Century.
By the year 1951, American prison policy after the advent of the Auburn System of penology, and its meteoric rise to the forefront of the prison building industry shifted gears and began enacting laws, which heralded the exponential growth in the number of prisoners in state prisons and jails---100,000. In 1951, the “Boggs Act” created the country’s first mandatory minimum laws for Marijuana possession, sale, and trafficking. After nearly a century of punishment only as a deterrent to crime, 1954 heralded the beginning of the treatment and rehabilitation over punishment movement. In keeping with the new policy of treatment and rehabilitation, the American Prisons Association changed its name to the American Correctional Association.
5 years after the enactment of the “Boggs Act”, Congress enacted the “Narcotics Control Act” in 1956, which extended the Boggs Act and mandatory minimums to other drugs. 4 Years later, in 1960, the number of prisoners rose to 200,000, and President Eisenhower on the recommendations of his Presidential Advisory Group, created a distinction between Marijuana and other drugs. However, it was not until 9 years later, in 1969, that states began reducing penalties for Marijuana possession---New York State was the first to do so.
1970 saw another shift in gears in regards to drug enforcement policies, and congress began looking at ways to strengthen the focus of law enforcement. 1971, a tumultuous year for congress and the beginnings of the “War on Drugs” caused President Nixon, to declare drugs “Public Enemy #1”. In the latter part of 1971, the world was rocked by the end results of the Attica Riots, and the conditions, which led up to the uprising. 1972 heralded the birth of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which immediately began increasing the American prison population. In 1973, Nelson Rockefeller introduced the Draconian drug laws, which bears his name, and reinstated harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession, sale, and traffic. The enactment of the Rockefeller Drug Laws was the death knell and end of the Treatment and Rehabilitation movement in New York’s penal policy, and subsequently, the rest of the country followed New York’s lead.
1969 was the year that the “Get Tough on Crime” era actually began, but it was not until the Rockefeller Drug Laws took effect that the country saw a marked increase in the already burgeoning American prison population. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban on the Death Penalty. However, it did nothing to deter crime. By the year 1980, the United States Prison population reached a record 350,000. In 1981, President Reagan “officially” declared a war on drugs, and the country once again, saw a dramatic rise in the prison population. The Crack epidemic, which exploded in 1985, and the change in the Federal Drug Laws, which also instituted mandatory minimums for narcotics possession, sale, and distribution, and the distinction between Crack and Cocaine, by 1990 quadrupled the number of prisoners in the country, bringing the total to 1.1 million prisoners.
The year 1993 brought with it the end of opportunities for prisoners and ex-offenders to educate themselves, and become productive members of society ---prisoners were barred from receiving Pell Grants. The worst came in 1994, when President Clinton introduced his Crime Bill and insured that if states wanted to continue receiving federal dollars, they had to institute further draconian measures, which would ostensibly deter crime and reduce crime rates. However, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, as well as the Judiciary saw that “Truth in Sentencing” Laws worked to the detriment of the country and the judicial process and pressed for repealing mandatory minimums in 1995. In 1997, the winds of change began to blow again and the “Get Tough on Crime” movement was seeing a great decline in various states---New York was not one of those states however. While the rest of the country was trying to find new ways of dealing with the crime problem, New York under then governor George Pataki exacerbated the situation and adamantly refused to acknowledge that Punishment alone did nothing to decrease or curtail crime. In 1998, the State of California passed Proposition 36, which gave drug offenders 3 more chances to get their lives together, and offered treatment instead of incarceration as a meaningful measure to deter crime, and also offer the incentive to drug addicted offenders to free themselves from the shackles of addiction. At the other end of the country, while California was finding wise solutions to the social problem of crime, New York banned ex-offenders with felony drug convictions from public housing.
By the year 2000, America’s prison population reached a whopping 2 million, not counting those persons in detention centers, and on parole or probation. As of the writing of this proposal, the current number of persons incarcerated in State and Federal prisons,
jails, detention centers, and on parole or probation is over 7 million---and continually growing.
As shown above, for thousands of years, since 1792 BC with the advent of the Hammurabi Codes, societies have tried numerous theories and experiments in order to deter crime, and punish offenders, and all have failed miserably, and the latest failure of mass incarceration has thrust America to the forefront of failure in regards to conformity with our systems of social controls. Every type of system of conformity to social controls has been tried and all have failed. It is time that new methods are found and utilized to deal with America’s crime problem and the re-socialization of ex-offenders.
Seeking out and eradicating from our society those things, which contributes to nearly 95% of the crime and recidivism rates in the country must be the paramount concern in the war on crime: Poverty, Discrimination, Racism, Ethnocentricity, Illegal Drugs, Homelessness, Poor or Lack of Education, Social Stratification, and putting big business ahead of healing the social ills that permeate throughout our society. Capitalism has no place in society’s needs and desires to better itself, from a civilized, humanist stand point, and as long as corporations and greedy politicians who work for them, instead of the general populace of our society sees dollar signs overflowing from cells, America will eventually become one huge prison, and poverty, homelessness, poor education, etc. will be crimes punishable by incarceration.
The Private Corporation Based Take-Over of American Prison Policy and The Era of The Economy Dependent Slave Labor Pool, Created by Private Industry and promulgated by Town, City, State, and Federal Legislatures Via The Mass Incarceration of Minority and Poor U.S. Residents In Rural American Townships and Communities---Modern Day Slavery and The Prison Human Marketplace.
Thousands of years of history has proven that mere punishment alone does nothing to deter crime, and it begs the question of when the American people are going to wake up and realize this? Not even capital punishment, much less incarceration can deter crime, and though you have politicians and members of society that have not researched this issue and can offer no viable proof for a correlation between capital punishment, mass incarceration and the deterrence of crime, they have convinced themselves, and the general public that capital punishment and lengthy prison sentences are necessary evils, that draws the line between criminals, the rampant spread of crime, and “civilized” society. Most ironic, however, is the fact that the corporations that have interests in the Prison Industrial Complex are not staunch supporters of capital punishment, and prefer the incarceration of offenders, because dead prisoners do not generate revenue, and empty prisons have no needs for the consumer items they produce, etc. Corporations like The Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut), Corrections Corporation of America, Sysco, the Cornell Companies, and UNICOR continue to grow wealthier, through the exploitation of the prison industry and those unfortunate members of society that finds their selves, a part of it. As a result, society grows weaker and poorer, and the quality of life for all Americans falls further below that of less civilized nations.
Recently, when Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed a commission to study the efficacy of closing some of the numerous prisons in New York State, people such as Lawrence Flanagan, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association spoke out harshly in opposition of the move, and cited the paltry figure of 500, as the number of new offenders that ended up in a state prison last year. Mr. Flanagan believes, like many others in political circles that simply by virtue of contributing little over $1.8 Million in campaign contributions to New York Politicians, that they have the right to set or influence policy, in complete disregard to what is best for society and humanity.
In a February 5, 2007, New York Times Article, Journalist, Nicholas Confessore, quoted certain republican state senators as “…being dismayed at the possibility of sacrificing constituents’ livelihoods in the short term to Mr. Spitzer’s agenda, regardless of the long-term benefits he anticipates…” Republican Senator Elizabeth Little, in the same article expressed her concerns to the Governor’s proposal thus, “…I am very concerned about the commission…they have tremendous impact…there are over 5,000 correction officers living in my district. In most of these communities, the prisoners are the biggest employer. It’s not just correction officers, but secretaries and other staff, too…”
Sen George H. Winner, Jr. stated: “…I’m a little wary of the Governor’s proposal”; Sen. Michael Nozzolio stated: “…we see that there is a growing need for more maximum-security cell space…we also believe that there needs to be a more planned approach to this entire correctional system…we’ve requested and demanded and have yet to see, really, a real plan for full utilization …” Sen. Nozzolio went on to virtually threaten Gov. Spitzer by stating that he planned to “…gauge the administrations positions on these correctional issues.” In essence, Sen Nozzolio is saying that he will use his powers to block the Governor’s various appointees to state government posts, if he finds that they are pro-prison closings and penal reform, which threatens his position, and the economic based prison policies he valiantly supports.
The American people, and especially the people of New York must say to Mr. Flanagan, and Senators’ Little, Nozzolio, and Winner, that they are not fooled or moved by their un-impassioned cries! Mr. Lawrence Flanagan, as stated above, believes that because of campaign contributions to certain politicians in the furtherance of the deplorable prison industrial complex, which has in these days and times virtually nothing to do with “Corrections” or the “Rehabilitation” of offenders the right or standing to posture, saber-rattle, or dictate to the people of this state, the governor and or the legislature about what is good for the whole society in terms of humanity, commonsense and the rights of man.
One important aspect of a civilized, progressive and successful society is the lack of want, and need of prisons, prisoners, and prison guards. Wherefore, no man should want to endeavor to make a career of the oppression and punishment of his fellow man, but instead, should endeavor in a career, which may help free his fellow man from his afflictions and troubles---which may lead to his subsequent imprisonment, so that all of society can benefit from his renewed value, productivity, and any goodness within him, which may move humanity closer to becoming one single brotherhood---one human family.
Senators’ Little and Winner believe that they have much to lose if New York State, under the leadership of Gov. Spitzer endeavors to eradicate or reduce the number of prisons and prisoners within the state. However, Senators’ Little and Winner only considers these matters at all because the proposed prison closings may occur in their districts, which contain more than 15 prisons between them---5 of which are in rural Franklin County, which sits on the New York-Canadian border. Senators’ Little and Winner indeed have something to lose---their constituencies that depend upon them to build and maintain prisons in their communities strictly for economic purposes, and subsequently their senate seats.
However, we must ask Senators’ Little and Winner whether or not maintaining their senate seats is more important than losing their collective souls? The American prison system has been co-opted by major private corporations and conglomerates, and it is no longer in the business of “Corrections”---It’s Just Business! A business, which is too closely reminiscent to slavery and has pushed the proverbial envelope containing the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution over an abysmal bottomless pit.
With the closing of prisons; the successful reform and rehabilitation of ex-offenders, and their positive reintegration into society, indeed many jobs will be lost. However, there are hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in New York City and around the country that are not screaming; “ Lock’em up! Build a Prison in my neighborhood, so that I can get a job!” Certainly not the minority and poor people in urban areas, who are most affected by crime. Just as crime, is a “Social---Societal” problem, which signals irresponsible governmental administration, etc, so is unemployment, homelessness, and poverty!
American prison and prisoner policy more than mirrors and echoes chattel slavery, and corrections is now nothing more than a form of “Modern Day Slavery”, and the prisons, jails, detention centers, and reformatories “Human Marketplaces” controlled by private corporations. The best interest of our society and nation far outweighs that of a few thousand or less correctional officers and related staff that has made their livelihood dependent upon the misfortune of others. This may sound callous, harsh, cruel, etc. However, that is Democracy! That is the doctrine and premise in which our great republic was founded upon---the best interest of the majority outweighs that of the minority---unless of course, we are in fact, living in a multi-nationalistic and multi-class society instead of the United States of America.
Corrections in America, today, too much resembles the slavery of yesterday, and the arguments being made in defense of the way the American prison systems are administered sounds much like the arguments made in defense of slavery in the mid-to-late 19th century, and which subsequently led to the war between the states. It is plain and simple: “…An economy dependent upon the future slave labor pool of imprisoned people will inevitably collapse, triggering an economic depression. The collapse may be delayed, but only for as long as the prison slave labor pool is allowed to grow…” The Idaho Observer December 20, 2006
The Real Costs Of Prisons And Their Environmental, Social, And Economic Impacts Upon The Communities And Towns They Are Built In As Well As The Nation
With Prison reform, the closing of prisons, and the inevitable loss of prison jobs, let there be an agrarian reform, and the monies previously used to build and maintain prisons be used to build and maintain the farms that were razed and lost to prisons---let that money be used to build more Wal-Marts or other more humane means of employment and economic growth. “…There are more prisons in America than Wal-Marts. There are more prisoners in America than farmers…”America’s Diverse Family Farms, Agriculture information Bulletin 769, Economic Research Service, U.S.D.A., May 2001. From: “Building A Prison Economy In Rural America” by Tracy Huling, Pg.1
With Prison reform, the closing of prisons, and the inevitable loss of prison jobs, and Senate and Legislative seats, let the weeping and gnashing of teeth by unconscionable State Legislatures signal the death knell of statements and words such as those stated by former New York State Legislature Daniel Feldman: “…When Legislatures cry ‘lock’em up!’ They often mean ‘lock’em up in my District!’” “20 Years Of Prison Expansion: A Failing National Strategy”, In Public Administration review, vol. 53, No.6, Nov/Dec, 1993. From: Building a Prison Economy in Rural America, by Tracy Huling, pg.20.
With Prison reform, the closing of prisons, the inevitable loss of prison jobs, and an end to mandatory-minimum sentences, let there be a marked reduction in the number of imprisoned offenders, who suffers from addictions and mental illnesses. “Due to Mandatory-Minimum sentencing, three strikes you’re out laws, and harsh drug laws the prison population has grown by more than 370% since 1970.” Peter Wagner, The Prison Index, 2003, Pg.5, www.prisonsucks.com
With prison reform, the closing of prisons, and an end to prison building in rural communities as a means of economic growth, let there be the creation of jobs and industry in these mostly poor white rural communities, instead of the re-visitation of slavery and the economic windfalls it brings on the backs of poor minority peoples---just as poor and disenfranchised as those poor white folk in those rural communities. “Between 1990-1999, 245 jails and prisons were built in rural and small town communities, with a new one opening somewhere every 15 days.” Calvin Beale “Cellular Rural Development: New prisons in rural and small town areas in the 1990’s” Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the rural sociological society, Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 18, 2001. From: “Building a Prison Economy In Rural America”, Tracy Huling, pg.2
The Building Of A Prison---“Siting” Absent Real Public knowledge of The Environmental Impact
“…In Stanley, WI private developers managed to site and build a $60 million 1,326 bed prison without one elected official casting a vote or signing a bill.” Richard P. Jones and Mary Zahn, “Decision To Build Prisons Moves Out of State Hands,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/23/00.
“… In 2001, the state bought the prison for $82.5 million.” Charles Westerberg, “Tough On Crime, Easy on Big Business,” FightingBob.com, 6/26/03.
“…In the beginning of the building boom, Federal and State Authorities often offered rewards to towns to build prisons. Wanting to get a piece of the $49 billion pie, many towns now compete for the chance to have a prison…to be considered “Competitive” in the bidding wars for prisons, some towns sweeten the deal with free land, upgraded sewer and waters systems, and housing subsidies for guards…Federal and State officials, private-prison salesmen or, more recently, investment bankers will visit the potential host town in order to sell the idea…Such meetings are done quietly, often behind closed doors. “Premature Disclosure” according to the Encyclopedia of American Prisons, can make siting a prison difficult because the public might find out before the deal is set…” Critical Resistance East California Prison Moratorium Project, New Forms of Environmental Racism, www.criticalresistance.org.
“While local officials charged with the task of creating jobs and revenue may want a prison or to expand their jail, the general public often needs more convincing…Typically a P.R. campaign will be launched, flooding the local newspapers and TV with positive spin on the benefits of building a prison…Town meetings are sponsored and community groups lobbied. A Justice Dept. Briefing advises “Limiting the time period for Decision-Making.” Issues In Siting Correctional Facilities, Department of Justice, Pg.17.
“…In 1996, Oregon sited six prisons in six months under Oregon’s “Super Siting Law” which made prisons exempt from state level environmental review…” Prison Siting Forces Lawsuit Against U.S. D.O.J., Western Prison Project, westernprisonproject.org.
“…In Mendota, CA where the Federal Bureau of Prisons wanted to build a five prison “Corrections Complex” the environmental impact statement was available only in English despite the fact that 86% of the local population speaks Spanish. Eventually a Spanish translated 10 page summary of the 1000 page document was provided…” Critical Resistance East California Prison Moratorium Project, New Forms of Environmental Racism, www.criticalresistance.org.
“…A Florida Task Force found that local zoning laws hinder acquisition of land for new facilities. In response, the legislature passed the Correctional Reform Act of 1983, which gave the state the authority to override local governments in selecting sites for correctional facilities.” Issues In Siting Correctional Facilities, Department of Justice, Pg.17.
“…Reeves County, Texas issued 3 bonds over 15 years , $90 million, to build 3 facilities in the dying oil town of Pecos. Judge Jimmy Galindo, the driving force behind the deal says: ‘…we live in a part of the country where it is very difficult to create and sustain jobs in a global market. [Prisons] become a very clean industry for us to provide employment to citizens…I look at is as a community development project.’ ” Sasha Abramsky, “Incarceration Inc,” The Nation, 7/19/04.
Supplying The Prison Market---Selling & Renting Cell/Bed Space & Prisoners “Prisons-R-Us”
“…Sanilac County, MI hopes it will get about $900,000 in revenue this year from renting beds.” David Jesse, “Cells For Rent” Times Herald, 5/11/04
“…It flatly introduces money and the desire for profit into the imprisonment policy debate, because you’ve got an entity in Wisconsin, a private entity, with a strong financial interest in keeping people in prison and having them sentenced to prison”. (Walter Dickey, Former Wisconsin State Corrections Chief): Richard P. Jones and Mary Zahn, “Decision To Build Prisons Moves Out of State Hands,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/23/00.
“…Today, in Mississippi where the cell supply has outrun the criminal supply, lawmakers, local sheriffs, and private prison interests are all competing for the scarce supply of prisoners…”Charlie Mitchell, “Competition is fierce for an Unusual Asset: Prison Inmates,” Vicksburg Post, 6/3/04.
“…One Website, Jailbedspace.com, connects renters with sellers.’It’s a good marketing tool’ says Lt. Robert Lefever of the Putnam County Correctional Facility which rents out an average of 60 beds per day.” Web Site Connects Jail-Bed Renters with Sellers,” WWW.correctionalnews.com 7/10/04.
Government Obligation Bonds & Revenue Bonds: Where Does The Money Come From To Build Prisons, Who Pays The Cost, & How It Escapes Public Scrutiny?
According to The Cost of Prisons Project: WWW.realcostofprisons.org
“… A Bond is loan made to a government. Governments pay investment bankers to make the loan attractive (‘structure the deal’) and find lenders (‘issue the bonds’). Governments then pay (‘Bondholders’) principal and interest on the loans. Governments issue two broad categories of Bond: General Obligation (GO) bonds and Revenue Bonds. General Obligation Bonds are guaranteed by the taxing power of state. Most GO bonds require approval by the voters, and in many states by 2/3 of the voters. Revenue Bonds are designed to be paid off by revenues generated by the project being built, like highway tolls, bridge tolls, student tuition, etc.
Most prisons are now built with some form of Revenue Bond, even though prisons generate no real revenue and revenue Bonds costs taxpayers more to repay. Why would a state use the most expensive way to borrow money to build prisons? Because voters have consistently voted down GO bonds to build more prisons. Using Revenue Bonds to build prisons is a means of getting around the voters and taxpayers…” WWW.realcostofprisons.org (In order to pay off the principles and interests of loans the State must raise sales taxes, income taxes, property taxes, and state tuition costs. Additional unseen costs are: environmental degradation, increased law enforcement needs, and strains on social and medical services…including planning costs, land costs, and construction costs!)
The Real Economic Impact On Prison Towns And Communities
“…In the 1990’s, an average of 25 prisons a year were built in rural America…” Peter Wagner, “The Prison Index”, 2003, pg.35
“…On Average 80% of new prison jobs go to folks who don’t live, or pay taxes, in the prison town…” Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag, University of California Press, 2005, From: Building a Prison Economy in Rural America” By Tracy Huling, Pg. 6.
“…In Delano, CA the new prison created 1,600 new jobs…only 70 went to local residents…” “Storm Raised by Plan for a California Prison” New York Times, 8/27/2000
“…Nationally, prison employees have shown little interest in buying homes in a new prison town. And as it turns out, prisons attract chain stores, which push out locally owned business…” Building a Prison Economy in Rural America” By Tracy Huling, Pg. 7.
“…According to Thomas Johnson, an economist at the Universit yof Missouri, prisons are not very good economic development strategies because they create few links to the local economy…” Douglas Clement, “Big House on The Prairie,” Fedgazette, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Vol. 14, No.1, January 2002, From: Building a Prison Economy in Rural America” By Tracy Huling, Pg. 7.
“…Prisons generally order food and supplies from centralized state warehouses---not local grocery or hardware stores…”John K. Wiley, “Study: Hosting Prisons Could Harm Small Towns ‘ Economic Prospects,” Associated Press, 7/17/04.
“…Community work projects performed by prisoners are very common and prison officials see them as good “Community Relations”. In the past, however, these jobs employed local residents who paid taxes and spent locally…” Tracy Huling, “Prisons As a Growth Industry in Rural America: An Exploratory Discussion of the Effects on Young African American Men In The Inner Cities.
The Environmental Impact of Building Prisons In Rural Towns And Communities
“…In the Competition to lure prisons many rural towns have put the interests of the prison before the interests of it’s residents. Reeves County, Texas found itself servicing a Bond debt close to $1/2 million a month for three prisons they built on speculation. When they couldn’t keep one of them filled, they paid $62,000 a month to Geo Group, a private prisons corporation, to find inmates. Reeves County still has to service that debt as well all the operating expenses of the 3 prisons…” Sasha Abramsky, “Incarceration Inc,” The Nation, 7/19/04.
In Lakeview, Oregon a contract with the prison says that in event of water shortages the prison has priority…” Prison Siting Forces Lawsuit Against U.S. D.O.J., Western Prison Project, westernprisonproject.org.
“…Wastewater management has been a major issue at every new prison we have built…” Former Colorado Doc Director John Suthers: Stephen Raher, Research Memo RE: Economic Impacts of Rural Prisons,” Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.5/22/03.
“…Social, environmental and economic problems like these may seal the fate of a prison town. Once you have the reputation of a prison town, you won’t become a fortune 500 company town, or even a diverse tourism and company town…” Tracy Huling, “Building A Prison Economy In Rural America”, pg.12.
The Overall Impact Of Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex--- On Predominately African-American & Latino Men, Their Respective Communities, Families, and Futures In America---Especially New York State
“…There are blocks in Brooklyn, New York, and other places, where the government is spending $1 million a year. The money is not being spent on drug treatment programs. Its not being spent on prenatal care or health care. Its not being spent on education or job training---Its being spent on Imprisonment…”Susan B. Tucker and Eric Cadora, “Justice Reinvestment,” Ideas For An Open Society, vol. 3 number 3, 11/03, pg.12.
“…In the U.S., 58% of people are in prison for non-violent drug offenses…”Peter Wagner, The Prison Index, 2003, pg. 27.
“…In New York, 75% of the Prisoners come from 7 African-American and Latino Neighborhoods…” Tracy Huling, “Prisons As a Growth Industry in Rural America: An Exploratory Discussion of the Effects on Young African American Men In The Inner Cities.
“…People of Color Make up 87% of the New York Prison Population Growth since the 1970’s…” Peter Wagner, The Prison Index, 2003, pg. 35.
“…65% of female U.S. State prisoners have young children…” Peter Wagner, The Prison Index, 2003, pg. 31.
“…87% of Prisoners in New York are caged more than 2 hours from New York City…”Peter Wagner, The Prison Index, 2003, pg. 26.
“…There is little evidence that removing so many people from a community makes it safer. In fact, given the huge concentration of people being locked up from targeted neighborhoods, the opposite appears to be true…”Dina R. Rose and Todd R. Clear, “incarceration, Reentry and Social Capital: Social Networks In The Balance,” 2002.
“…When you turn someone into a prisoner you put them on a road that is very hard to get off. Two in three people will end up back in prison---half of those due to parole violations, not new crime. When you turn someone into a prisoner, you transfer their economic and social power, real, or potential, to the people who build and work in prisons. They can no longer vote, take care of their kids, or provide for their family. With each person removed from a community, the social and economic bonds break down a little more. With 98% of people leaving prison returning to that same, unchanged block, a place without jobs, effective drug counseling, or affordable housing, does it make sense to spend a million dollars this way…?”In Oregon and Ohio programs are attempting to change this by re-channeling money back into high crime areas. In Deschutes County, The state turned over the cost of locking up youth, $50,000 per youth per year, to the county. By making local officials and parole officers responsible for specific communities, they have provided a direct incentive to make the streets safer. The County had less violent youths serve their sentences by performing community service, which reduced the youth imprisonment by 72%. This also saved $17,000 per case that they could reinvest in schools, libraries, drug treatment, and other programs. Susan B. Tucker and Eric Cadora, “Justice Reinvestment,” Ideas For An Open Society, Vol. 3, Number 3, 11/03, pg.2.*(JR) *Conditions of Probation Can Be Violated For Missed Curfew or “Dirty” Urine.
“RESEARCH SHOWS THAT QUALITY EDUCATION IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE FORMS OF CRIME PREVENTION AND DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAMS COST LESS THAN IMPRISONMENT…SO INSTEAD OF REMOVING PEOPLE, THE COMMUNITY SEEKS TO HELP THEM STAY OUT OF PRISON…”…” Tracy Huling, “Prisons As a Growth Industry in Rural America: An Exploratory Discussion of the Effects on Young African American Men In The Inner Cities.
“THE AVERAGE COST TO IMPRISON ONE PERSON FOR ONE YEAR IS NEARLY $50,000…THE AVERAGE COST OF ONE YEAR OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS $1,518.”
Recently, Governor Spitzer, and Mayor Bloomberg declared that New York State is close to losing its status as the financial capital of the world, and we must wonder whether or not our prison policy, in regards to spending billions each year on prison cells, etc. and locking people up for “Socially Induced” crimes, as mentioned above, contributes to our financial decline? It costs nearly $50,000 per year, per prisoner to keep him/her confined as opposed to less than 5% of that to treat that same individual, educate him, rehabilitate him, etc. Each of which is more cost efficient and effective than the punishment of offenders alone.
You can lock people up for 100 years each, but it will not deter crime! You can put criminals to death for every crime committed---even misdemeanors, but it will not stop crime! As long as there is poverty, homelessness, and all the other factors mentioned above, there would be crime! Given a choice between starvation and committing a crime, a man or woman with or without an education, etc. will choose to take a chance committing a crime.
Our society is so broken that thousands of our homeless commit minor crimes at the beginning of the winter season in order to get arrested and have a warm place to sleep and 3 meals per day provided by jails---people whom otherwise had no criminal intents. How does society respond to this? The running joke among these unfortunate souls is: “ Its not an Arrest, it’s A-res-cue!”
Wherefore, from what we have seen here from the annals of history in regards to crime and punishment, there is no doubt that society has not yet found adequate, appropriate, equitable and viable solutions to the problem of crime, and the requisite punishments that would deter it. We have shown that society have tried just about every measure to curtail criminality except trying to remedy the myriad of social problems, which obviously leads to criminal and or deviant behavior. Other than farcical rhetoric in regards to conformity to society’s system of social controls, and the correlation between crime and social inadequacies, which contributes to criminality there has been no viable measures or legislative and social enactments, to address and root out the obvious contributing social factors, which produces crime; causes its inexorable and progressive rise, and fuels the recidivism rate for ex-offenders.
Thousands of years of history has proven that punishment standing alone does not decrease crime rates or deter crime, except on an individual basis, and that is only in the case of capital punishment. As long as there are poor, uneducated, disenfranchised, homeless, drug addicted people in society, there will be crime. As long as certain groups of people within a given society are discriminated against based upon their race, ethnicity or culture, which prevents them from pursuing the American dream and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness there will be crime! As long as illegal narcotics are allowed to permeate our society there will be crime! Illegal narcotics, as evil as they are, unfortunately provides an otherwise poor, uneducated, disenfranchised individual a means of making ends meet. Illegal narcotics, offers weaker members of society, the poor, disenfranchised, etc. an escape from the every day vagaries of life in a society, which they deemed failed them. All of these premises and truths requires a cast iron stomach to digest, and regardless of whether or not we accept or reject them and or regard them as excuses, exigent or mitigating circumstances, unless society take active measures to eliminate illegal narcotics from our cities and streets, these excuses become quite viable.
America may not be ready to accept the truths of our social ills, which contributes to crime, but 7 million people in prison, on probation and parole speaks volumes and attest to the fact that our responses to crime and punishment since the birth of the American Republic have all proved futile, ineffective, and has caused America to hold the deplorable and appalling title of world’s largest prison society in the history of Humankind.
Wherefore, for all of the above reasons, and in the interest of humanity and our great American society, the prisoners of the State of New York, our respective families, and all United States residents that are affected by the social ills, which contributes to and leads to crime, ineffective punishments, and the mass incarceration of 7 million United States residents, respectfully request that New York State once again, take the lead and guide America back on the path of justice, truth, compassion, and commonsense. And we request that the following provisions of this proposal, are adopted and implemented, so that the healing of our nation and her people can begin.
Crime is not only an individual state’s or country’s problem, it is a problem, which affects all humanity, and if the United States of America is going to lead the world to a higher state of civilization, we must start in our own front yard, and try to eliminate or at least, curtail the social problems, which gives rise to crime. Conversely, if New York State is serious about regaining its title as forerunner and trailblazer, that sets the tone and pace for the world to follow, we must first be fair and just to every resident of this state, regardless of their station in life and make commonsense decisions, which are equitable to all, and conducive to creating a viable, stable, civilized and progressive society.
We have tried everything else, and everything has failed…It is time for a new approach! 5,000 years of documented and proven history in regards to crime, punishment and humankind’s previous responses, to it does not lie! …Punishment standing alone, and Mass Incarceration does not deter crime, nor does it decrease the crime or recidivism rate!
Sheldon Nathaniel Messer
Sheldon Nathaniel Messer
Sing Sing Correctional Facility
February 6, 2007
Presented By: Sheldon N. Messer, Chauncy Ramos, and Manuel Mena
“…The endurance of these monolithic structures is surpassed only by the tenacity of the assumptions and attitudes on which they were founded: the cause of crime is located in the individual offender; he should be punished for his acts; behavior is modifiable; and isolated institutions are appropriate settings in which to modify an individual’s behavior. America had created a theory, reformation by confinement, and the system has been unwilling to abandon it although it has proved unworkable…”
William G. Nagel, The New Red Barn
“THE RE-SOCIALIZATION OF INCARCERATED PERSONS, EX-OFFENDERS,
AND PAROLEES TO CONFORM TO SOCIETY’S LAWS, VALUES, AND NORMS VIA THE USE OF COMPREHENSIVE REHABILITATION, REFORM, AND REENTRY INITIATIVES AND PROGRAMS, WHICH WILL ENABLE THEM TO OBTAIN USABLE WORK HABITS AND SKILLS; ASSIST THEM UPON RELEASE FROM PRISONS, DETENTION CENTERS, REFORMATORIES, AND CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES IN OBTAINING AND MAINTAINING VIABLE EMPLOYMENT, HOUSING, EDUCATION, MENTAL AND HEALTH CARE, AND SOCIAL SKILLS THAT WILL ENABLE THEM TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES, DEPENDENTS AND FAMILIES, AND MAY PREVENT THEM FROM ENGAGING IN FURTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, WHICH THREATENS AND DESTROYS THE QUALITY OF THEIR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHER MEMBERS OF SOCIETY”.
TO ENABLE THOSE PERSONS WHO ARE IN PART RESPONSIBLE AND DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY THE INCIDENTS OF CRIME, INCARCERATION, AND RECIDIVISM TO BE HEARD, AND OFFER INPUT INTO WHAT IT IS THEY REQUIRE, IN ORDER TO TRANSFORM INTO POSITIVE, SUCCESSFUL, LAW ABIDING, PRODUCTIVE, AND CONSCIENTIOUS MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
TO ENABLE INCARCERATED PERSONS AND EX-OFFENDERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THEIR ENDEAVORS TO REFORM, REHABILITATE, AND REENTER MAINSTREAM SOCIETY, INSTEAD OF BEING ERRONEOUSLY LABELED, STIGMATIZED, AND SUBJECTED TO THE TENACITY OF THE ASSUMPTIONS AND ATTITUDES OF THOSE WHOM HAVE NOT CONSIDERED THE FAILURES OF GOVERNMENT, THE WEAKNESSES OF SOCIETY’S SYSTEMS OF INTERNAL SOCIAL CONTROLS TO PROMOTE CONFORMITY, AND THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS, WHICH CONTRIBUTES TO THE INCIDENTS OF POVERTY, ADDICTION, POOR EDUCATION, HOMELESSNESS, UNEMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND DISENFRANCHISEMENT---WHICH INEXORABLY, AND UNFORTUNATELY LEADS TO CRIME. THEREBY ESTABLISHING AND HOLDING TRUE TO THE PREMISE THAT: “WHEN A MAN KEEPS THE KEY OF HIS PRISON, HE IS SOON PERSUADED TO FIT IT TO THE LOCK…”
Comprehensive Incarcerated Persons Reform,
Rehabilitation, And Reentry Act