Prison systems in America… where to begin?

The prison system in America is ridiculous; there is really no other way to state it. Transforming Carceral Logistics: 10 Reasons to Dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex Using a Trans Analysis” by S. Lambel states some reasons for the reform of the prison system.  Although the issues that were raised are legitimate, the issues start before the prison system.

The ‘school to prison pipeline’ is a fact of many under-privileged youth. My hometown had a very distinct visible pipeline.  It is by the Pendleton Correctional Facility which is maximum security for both juveniles and adults.  Many families who were seen as the ‘upper poor’ had a parent who worked as a guard.  Police were at the schools at an alarming rate usually for things that should and could have been handled by the school administration.  These incidents caused students who got in fights to be charged with assault and battery, harassment with intent for notes stating they didn’t like someone or wanted someone to fall down the stairs, and large amount of drug charges for miniscule amounts of weed and tobacco.  All are small problems that detention or suspension could have taken care of, however, the police presence made it a criminal charge.

On another note, prisons are segregated by sex which was not mentioned much in the readings.  It varies by state on where trans individuals are placed, but the general trend is to go by birth sex, even if some transitional surgeries have taken place.  I feel that this makes the violence they experience even more intense while behind prison walls, and that it is set up.  Lambel mentioned that prisons, no matter what they say, actually do practice the enforcement of gendered norms.  By placing non-normative gendered individuals in general population, they are bound to be victims of violence from other inmates and in reality guards.  The protection offered is segregation, also known as isolation and ad.seg.  This is definitely not protection.

Humans are social by nature.  Psychological studies have shown that human connection is important for our well-being.  Without it, humans become depressed, illogical, withdrawn, and socially stunted when they get out, if they do because of their threat to themselves which is translated as a threat to society.  Isolation is more harmful than it is beneficial to any inmate, even those who do something horrible to get there, let alone someone who is placed there for their protection.

Our prison system needs a complete re-do to address the problems for the structural problems, which translate into issues for all inmates, but increased problems for those who are not straight, white, heteronormative, etc. folks.

System Of A Down – Prison Song

The statistics that they used in this song were accurate at the time this song came out a few years ago.  Since, the numbers have just risen.

-Stephanie Miller

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