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This isn’t just about being ‘tough on crime’. It’s not about winning a ‘drug war’. It’s not even about prison reform or human rights or social justice. It’s about the lack of common sense displayed by an overwhelmingly broken system that puts everyone in the country in more danger. Some of the proposed rule changes […]

California’s Half-baked Prison Rules

by Kay Lee

This isn’t just about being ‘tough on crime’. It’s not about winning a ‘drug war’. It’s not even about prison reform or human rights or social justice.

It’s about the lack of common sense displayed by an overwhelmingly broken system that puts everyone in the country in more danger.

Some of the proposed rule changes for California prisons have already been implimented in prisons around the country. Soon they’ll be in all the prisons. The way these warehouses are being run today include a lot of dangerous foolishness: Dangerous to the prisoners, the guards, their families, and all of society – yes, even you. If you are ever unfortunate enough to run up against an angry, shell-shocked, psychotic hungry ex-prisoner, let me know how it turns out.

The proposed rule changes in California that concern me most are:

Timed 5-second hellos and goodbyes for visitors. I visualize a room overflowing with guards with stopwatches. There is a proposed rule that would forbid the children of prisoners from sitting on dad or mom’s lap. Explain that to a child who wants to be held by their parent. No contact visits for death row prisoners. Florida has already instigated this dangerous rule, even though there were no security breaches to make the rule necessary. So why would I say this rule is dangerous? Because if a prisoner has nothing to lose, life IS more dangerous for the guards around him. And one that bothers me a great deal with it’s senselessness is the proposed rule that would forbid DRUG OFFENDERS from having family visits for one year after incarceration. Every study ever done says prisoners do better with family contact. Why oh why do drug offenders always get the worst of the deal?

It seems to me that prison rules are now made, not because an incident caused security problems, but to make the guards’ jobs easier. You know why? Because they can’t keep the help if the help actually have to get up and work for their money!

For instance, in Florida if you needed toilet paper, you called out your need and a guard brought you a roll of two ply toilet paper (if he was in the mood). Now, you get one roll of one ply toilet paper per week for each two man cell. So the guards can do less work.

These kinds of rules may seem to make the guards’ jobs easier on the surface, but believe me, with all incentives gone, with no rewards in place for good behavior, the guards are going to find their jobs more dangerous, the system will produce more angry, damaged people and society will eventually pay the price.