Story – Incarceration Experiment

Campaigners today presented a petition to the Governor complaining about a “perverse” and “inconsistent” approach to incarcerating offenders across the state. They are seeking to reverse changes which has created 22 correctional districts headed by an elected superintendent, which has led to dramatic divergences between the policies of different correctional facilities. “It’s ridiculous,” claimed one protestor at the State Capitol, “you have prisons in one district where the inmates are sat in the cells all day, they get fed this shit and just end up getting really fat. The district next to it, the superintendent is a health and fitness fanatic, he has any prisoner who is overweight doing non-stop exercise and basically starves them.” “There’s no consistent approach,” argued another campaigner, “how is the state supposed to have a unified approach to justice and corrections, when there’s 22 figures who are all seeking votes, and all have these different – crazy – ideas about how things should be run. It doesn’t make any sense.”

When we spoke to a spokesman from the Governor’s office, he defended the new system, praising the “innovation and experimentation it has brought to our corrections system.” He argued that “within a few years we will have data on what works and what doesn’t, but also it’s about the people of this state who work hard, pay the taxes that fund these prisons, they should have a say in where their taxes are going.”

Soon, citizens will have a more direct say in where their taxes go, as the funding for correctional facilities is transferred to each of the districts, and will be under the control of the elected superintendents. “From now on, the tax dollars funding correctional facilities will be raised in each district, and spent in that district. So, you may get one superintendent who gets elected promising to cut taxes, and fund the facilities less, and others raising taxes to increase spending, maybe with the promise that this will reduce crime levels. It will be up to voters.” Many of the superintendents are already preparing for the time when they have direct control over how they raise their budgets, and redesigning their prisons to suit their visions. Archw.com reporters visited two women’s prisons to see some of the different approaches for ourselves.

Continue reading Story – Incarceration Experiment

Story – The Weekenders, Part 4

No sooner had Marie shut her eyes than she was woken up, by a guard loudly declaring that it was “time to get up,” in a tone both authoritative and routine. She had been asleep for hours, but it didn’t feel like that to her; it had been too short, and too uncomfortable for her to really feel that it had been a proper night’s sleep. She groggily lifted her head and then tried to lift her body. Her tiredness, and the restraints she was in, prevented her from doing this. After trying a few more times she realized that she needed to get leverage by swivelling round and putting her feet on the cell floor, so she did this, and at the second attempt had hauled her upper body upright. She dreaded to think what she looked like. She felt exhausted, and knew her hair was a mess. But with her hands cuffed behind her back, there was not much she could do about it. Having got herself upright, it took two tries to get off the bed.

She asked the guard if she could pee before being put back in the pod, and received an abrupt response: “Quickly. If you’re not done in two minutes, I’ll take you out of there. If you’re still pissing, I’ll put you on a disciplinary.” While pleased at being able to relieve herself before going back in the pod, she panicked at having to pee against the clock, with the guard watching, and seemingly so hostile. “I guess you’re not a morning person,” she thought to herself. Marie was able to finish on the toilet before the guard came to yank her out, but she was unable to properly wipe herself. For the first time, she was grateful that her pubic hair had been shaved, even if the area still smarted when touched by the sharp pangs of urine. She walked to the front of the cell, and the door was opened by the rude guard, who grabbed her arm, marched her to the pod, opened the door, and motioned her inside. As she stepped in, she mouthed “Hi” to the red-head in the neighboring pod, and she replied by waving to Marie with one of her cuffed hands.

Continue reading Story – The Weekenders, Part 4