Television presenter Vika had always been fiercely competitive, so when there seemed to be competition; developing to host a new show that was tipped to be a hit, she did whatever it took to crush it!
She subjected her main opponent to a campaign which involved coordinated death threats and vandalism against her property, causing her to remove herself from the public eye and handing the job to Vika (@vika_model). Until, that is, the trail of the investigation reacher her.
Charged with multiple offenses, she lost her jobs and eventually agreed to a plea bargain, under the terms of which she would report to prison withing 30 days to start her 4 – 6-year sentence.
She used that time to arrange a controversial photo shoot in which she was shown in various prison restraints, an attempt to make light of what had happened and her upcoming punishment and set the stage for a comeback when she is released.
It was widely condemned but made sure that she remained talked about, something that will be vital as she is locked away and removed from the public eye for the years to come.
Nobody wants to be audited, but the new crime audits make being audited by the IRS look like a walk in the park. Under the terms of the Criminal Accountability Act, citizens are randomly chosen, and every aspect of their life and past is thoroughly investigated. Large amounts of data are available to investigators at the Criminal Audit Division of the FBI. Bank records, security camera footage from locations and times the audited person was known to be at, and cellphone records and emails are accessible.
The letter informing the recipient that they have been audited is hand delivered. From that point they have two months to fill out and return what is called a ‘declaration’ and a ‘bid’. The declaration is a list of all criminal offenses that the audited person thinks that they have committed, together with as many details as they can remember. The bid is the suggestion that the audited person makes about what their punishment should be. At this point, they have no idea what the CAD knows about what they have done. They are told that they must record every single crime they can recall, but in practice this involves a guessing game about what the investigators will be likely to find. The more that the audited person reveals about their criminal offenses (especially ones unknown to the auditors) the more likely the CAD are likely to be lenient. One of the ways in which they can be lenient is to accept a low bid.
Obviously, the complexity of all this makes hiring an attorney necessary. At the moment, the system is relatively new, so even the most experienced attorneys are still trying to find the best ways to help their clients. What crimes should they declare? What should their bids be like? They want to try and secure the lowest possible sentence but bid too low and the CAD will seek a total sentence that tends towards the upper end of the sentencing rules. Ultimately a judge decides, but they have not yet rejected an accepted bid or deviated much from the recommended sentence requested by CAD after a rejected bid. If the CAD attribute any additional crimes to the defendant beyond what they have declared, they can challenge them, but it invalidates their bid which may otherwise be accepted by the CAD with a recommendation for an additional element based on the added offenses. Rejection of additional crimes usually results in a criminal trial on those charges. If the defendant has already admitted to enough criminal offenses to warrant it, CAD usually requests that they be held on remand ahead of the trial, and this is usually granted and does not count towards any final sentence. So the incentive is there to be as thorough and accepting as possible.
He hadn’t been a completely popular choice for the American Prison Reform Association’s ‘Man of the Year’ award, but in the reception before the ceremony he won over some of the doubters. As Judge Anthony Reynolds worked the room, he knew who favored him and who didn’t. He was courteous and charming to those who were pleased he was there, but he made a real effort on those who weren’t so pleased.
He was being honored for setting up and leading the Prison Welfare Commission, an organization which had been credited for making prison safer for inmates, and campaigning for prisoners to be able to work and not stay in their cells all day. No-one at the award ceremony had a problem with the work of the Commission. They did believe that in spite of his work with the Commission, Judge Reynolds passed harsh sentences and therefore shouldn’t be given the award.
We have received an email from a reader, Rick, and are grateful he has agreed to allow us to publish it (please refer to the previous article):
‘Someone showed me the reports on the Incarceration Experiment, thanks to your reporters for publicizing what is going on. My girlfriend was planning to drive through that state on the way to visit relatives, but as she seems to think the speed limit is advice not a law and sometimes uses her cellphone or puts on make-up while driving, I’ve suggested to her that she takes an alternative route. If she gets caught and jailed, I don’t plan on taking on more work to keep her out of the ‘default’ conditions!
In our previous report, we visited prisons in three of the 22 new correction districts, headed by elected superintendents with broad powers to reshape the correctional system in their areas to their own design.
Now, after a court judgement, archw.com reporters have been able to visit Gray Mesa Correctional Facility, to which we were previously denied access.
Gray Mesa, and the superintendent responsible for it, Mason Boskovich, have been the focus of controversy that has attracted national and international attention. The facility gets most of its funding from payments by the prisoners themselves, and this has enabled Boskovich to continually lower taxes that fund the correctional system in his district. His ambition is for the prison to one day earn enough money to pay a rebate to residents. It has made Boskovich a popular figure in his area, but divisive beyond it. The regime he has introduced has provoked lawsuits, and even the criminal prosecution of some of his staff. But he remains unrepentant, and maintained his silence to the media, even if he was now forced to allow us to see inside his notorious prison.
Potential inmates are introduced to the regime they may have to live under when they are charged. “It’s Boskovich’s hard sell’, one attorney representing prisoners told me. “Whenever someone gets charged with any criminal offense that potentially carries a prison sentence, they get the book and the DVD, and it is designed to scare the life out of them. And it does a pretty good job of that.” The book and DVD inform the accused of what life would be like in Gray Mesa under the so-called ‘default option.’ “They’re told, if you don’t do anything, this is what life is going to be like for you. And it’s horrible.” But the point of this isn’t to prepare people for inevitable hardship, it’s to give them a big incentive to hand over lots of money. “After scaring them, Boskovich offers them an out, a way to a much less unpleasant life behind bars. At a price, of course.” At the end of the DVD and accompanying book are a bewildering list of possible packages and options available. There’s the ‘basic package’, the ‘bronze’, ‘silver’, ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’, each more expensive than the previous, and offering a less restricted and more comfortable sentence for the prisoner. As well as the packages, prisoners could also buy individual enhancements to improve their living conditions. “It’s all carefully designed to wring as much money out of the prisoners as possible. They make things deliberately awful for them to make them buy their way past some of the worst aspects. The problem is, not everyone can afford to do that, and it also incentivises the prison and its staff to give prisoners as hard a time as possible to get them to pay up even more. It’s a sick system.”
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.
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.