Jail

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I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never been in jail. All I know about the American penal system is what I’ve heard, what I’ve read, and what I’ve seen on television. My hearsay impression of jail is that it’s boring to prisoners and to jailers alike, and that television and drugs are available to alleviate the boredom for all. My opinion of locking people up at taxpayers expense is that it is a waste of time, energy, and money having nothing to do with justice at all, but it’s not a subject I normally think about.

So I don’t know why I was drawn to a newspaper headline that read, "Jail gets flak over policy." I guess it was the word, policy, that made me curious. Policy about what? Drugs? Smoking? Pollution? Environmental impact? What? Then in the sub-headline, "Overcrowding led to the rape of a nonviolent inmate, jail officials said." Now I had to read the whole article; was the policy about rape?

Suppose I had a son who just graduated from high school, who wanted to attend a prestigious state university. Somehow he gets accepted, and somehow I make the financial arrangements to put him there. He is not a top-notch student, and he’s a little headstrong, but he does all right. One weekend he is invited to a beach party out of town. He and his friends pool their money, and buy an ounce of local marijuana to take to the party. But he gets busted on the trip, spends his party night in jail, and I go bail him out. The judge puts him on probation, on condition that he attends a drug education class. The class is a no-brainer, so he skips one. The cops arrest him for parole violation, and take him to jail.

Now I’m just guessing, but I think this story is as common as nails these days — so far. Whatever its attraction may be, marijuana is the illegal drug of choice around the world, and tons of the stuff flow into our cities to be sold on the black market everywhere. In one small town where I lived for many years, the cops themselves ran a protection racket for the dealers. None of this is news. So why did the cops arrest this boy in the first place? One ounce? Clean record? Why didn’t they just slap his hands, steal his stash, and let it go? Could it be that the boy’s attitude needed adjustment? Could it be that they arrested him for a big mouth? I know a grown man who was shot by the cops for just that; and a similar thing happened to a college kid here not long ago, only he was killed.

The article doesn’t say much about the kid, except that he skipped a re-education class. Maybe he is a stubborn kid, untouched perhaps by the dominant propaganda on campus. Shrink, you violet! Maybe he needed to be taught a further lesson. So they put him to bed with a genuine criminal, and rapist.

A clerical error? Yeah, sure. Like the clerical error at the state prison up the road that resulted in the "accidental" stomping death of an inmate — the jailers were acquitted of wrong-doing in the case, even though they murdered the guy. Maybe he deserved stomping. Maybe the kid deserved raping. In THEIR opinion.

And that’s what riles me. Their opinion prevailed at Waco. Their opinion prevailed at Ruby Ridge. Their opinion prevails in the criminal justice system. Their opinion prevails in the White House, in the Congress, in the Supreme Court. Put on the badge, fire at will.

And where does the long-suffering tax-paying public enter the picture? What is the opinion of the people? If you Google the words, prison rape, prison drugs, prison murder, you will be rewarded with more public opinion than you want to know. The dynastic tyrant-in-training and commander of chads even signed an anti-prison-rape bill into law last year to placate cries from the people for mercy and justice. So shut up and go away, little serfs.

I feel sorry for the kid, and I feel sorry for his parents. Prison rape is a nearly certain death sentence, and AIDS is a lousy way to die. And should he be so lucky to escape that sentence, he still has to live with the anger, degradation, and humiliation for the rest of his life.

The clerks will lie, the prison guards will lie, the bureaucrats in charge will lie, the incident will be covered up in lies, and justice will never be done. Who’s surprised? A President can lie under oath, and nothing is done, so why can’t everybody else? Our political system is a whirl of lies and deceptions, and nothing is done, so why should we be surprised here at home?

What can we do? Set an example, Impeach the First Liar Of The Land. The little trickle-down liars, and even the petty tyrants packing guns will get the message.

Robert Klassen [send him mail] is a retired med tech and writer. Here’s his web site.

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