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.
From the visitor’s waiting area at the Women’s Confinement and Detention Center in Holyoak.
Image from the video:
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.”
Another never finished production was an R-rated version of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat starring Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet fresh from their appearance in Titanic. The advertising campaign was all laid out: “The Titanic stars of the screen now appearing in a Titanic tale of terror by the Titan of Terror himself.” Unfortunately, an earthquake destroyed the sets and the production company could not raise enough to rebuild them and the film was never completed. Winslet acquired the only footage of the scene pictured here and destroyed it, feeling that her writhing was more erotic than horrifying.