Monday, July 06, 2009

Lack of AC chilling for TDCJ staffing efforts

The Dallas News published an AP story yesterday titled "Most Texas state prisons deal with summer heat without air conditioning," which reviews an issue that's all too familiar for most inmates and prison employees:

Only 19 of 112 Texas state prisons are air-conditioned, leaving most of the state's 155,000 prisoners and those who guard them to face the summer heat with fans and primitive air-circulating systems.

Prison officials say the 19 air-conditioned prisons are generally reserved for the sick and mentally ill.

So far this year, nine inmates and seven prison employees have suffered heat-related illnesses. ...

Up to 15,000 miniature electric fans are sold systemwide each year. The fans cost $22 each at the prison commissary, and "loaners" are provided to inmates deemed indigent. Hallways, day rooms and dormitory units are equipped with fans.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said the heat is "part of the reality of going to prison."

In addition to the medical units, there's also an air-conditioned state jail in downtown Houston, I learned recently when it was reported the AC went out, which is provided because of the high-rise architecture. Most prisons without AC, particularly older units, were designed to promote air flow with that in mind.

Certainly for inmates, as one prisoner said in the story, "It's useless to be crying about this ... We're the ones who put ourselves in prison." But as a practical matter, the bigger issues for the state are working conditions for staff and medical costs. Notice 7 of the 16 cases of heat-related illnesses reported were actually employees, not inmates - a far greater ratio than their proportion in the units. Typically, summertime worsens understaffing at Texas prisons with the number of unfilled guard slots rising steadily until the weather cools.

This year the recession and aggressive TDCJ recruiting efforts have cut significantly into that staffing shortfall for the first time in many years, but it's an open question how many of those rookie guards will still stay on the job after they've endured a few 108 degree days in August.

UPDATE: The AP story from the Dallas paper was actually based on this longer piece in the Houston Chronicle.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

In case you missed the TDCJ postings from the other day Grits - NOBODY CARES!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I write here about things I care about. If others don't care about them they should frequent another blog.

BB said...

We are still not paying Texas correctional officers a fair wage, tenured staff have to work with unsuitable workers as we are still not requiring physical or psychological screenings for new recruits, and we also continue to utilize a coercive leadership style within our prison system. The progress with our staffing numbers will be short lived, and it is not just because of the heat.

BB

Charlie O said...

Oddly enough, although the Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville is not air conditioned, the visiting room is overly AC'd. I freeze in that place sometimes. You'd think they could spread it around a little.

Carol said...

If they think no AC is bad, check out Maricopa County AZ. prison system. Joe Arpaio is sheriff.
Cruel and unusual punishment?

I totally agree those who do a crime, do the time. To be humilated and on starvation diet (20 cents a serving)is in my opinion, unreasonable.

Though I am surprised TX. has not imitated this system.

Red Leatherman said...

I'm not so sure about the fans available as loners for indigent inmates, might be a new deal.
anyhow, the AC situation seems to be a statement rather than a monetary issue.
I worked on the ventilation systems at the Gurney unit about 10 years ago and the power it takes to run those monsters comes close to what it would take to run a lot of cooling.
@9:17, I saw those postings and a lot more. I see that lots of people don't care if they aren't directly effected. I see the post by narrow minded self justified egomaniacs that you refer to. it's really impossible to miss their post.

Anonymous said...

Another good reason to conform one's conduct to the law and not get sent to prison.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Red Leatherman writes, "the AC situation seems to be a statement rather than a monetary issue." I don't have a single doubt that's 100% the case.

Carol, even here in Texas most everybody realizes Sheriff Joe is a nut. There are a few wannabes floating around who'd like to copy him, but AZ has never had the prison-and-jail-conditions litigation we've seen in Texas. The Ruiz settlement prevents it in state prisons and none of his truly hare-brained stuff would pass muster with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. A couple of years ago there was a brief fad of Texas Sheriffs proposing tents, etc., mimicking Arpaio, and they were all pretty quickly shot down.

To 10:09 - What "conduct," exactly, did Texas prison guards engage in that leads you to believe they deserve to suffer from heat exhaustion?

Don Dickson said...

At this writing there appears to be no AC in the Travis County Courthouse. So to borrow a phrase, you might beat the rap, but you won't beat the heat.

Anonymous said...

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! If this statement is true and I believe it is, we want people to get out of prison and abuse us because we abused them while they were in prison. For more on this topic read Matthew chapter 25 and see what Jesus would have you do. When I worked with inmates we followed the rules but I treated them like a worthwhile human being. The result was very positive. The people who post on blogs who say they don't care about others are actually asking the rest of society to show no care and concern for them and their families. Like it or not, we are all in this life together.

I must admit it is very tempting to point out the faults of others to make ourselves feel much better about ourselves. Jesus also spoke of this human problem when He talked about removing the log from our own eye before we correct the speck in someone else's eye. How many of the self righteous have great sin or criminality in their own lives? Grits has informed us about the number of felonies one can commit with an oyster so maybe we have broken serious laws and don't even know it. If you have ever cheated a little on your taxes then you are a felonious tax criminal. See how easy it is to overlook our own shortcomings but see the bad in others.

Check out Matthew 25 and use what you read to make you a better person. I ask God to help me become a better person every day. We are all a work in progress.

Anonymous said...

AMEN!

sunray's wench said...

I think there might be a problem with physically installing AC in some units, because of the asbestos in the buildings. I have seen online some work schedules at some of the units and it specifically mentions asbestos. Now, surely, if work that required rummaging around in the ceilings of units was required, TDCJ would just be inviting law suits if it did not close the unit completely, move the inmates elsewhere, do the work, decontaminate the unit, and then move everyone back in?

Its not like fixing a small unit to one of your domestic home windows - some units are ALL windows!

And @anon 9.17am ~ this is a big issue for the guards, and I support any move that makes their job better for them to tollerate, considering how poorly they are paid and the conditions that many work under (including those conditions that are NOT inmate-caused).

Anonymous said...

And History repeats itself. John Whitmire got one of his buddies to file a lawsuit against the state on behalf of a "hot" inmate one time. He then forced the state to settle the suit (being the chairman of that comittee at the time) and made the state pay billions of dollars to an AC contractor, that had been paying Whitmire $10,000 a month (for legal advice) the whole time. Bottom line, 90% of these people wouldn't even be in jail if we would stop the "War On Drugs". A War on drugs is like a war on stupidity. You will never win, but oh boy, you get to spend billions of dollars!

Anonymous said...

I'm very sure A/C in the Texas Prison and State Jail system would more than pay for itself in saved medical costs.

Anonymous said...

Grits,
The prison guards engaged in the same "conduct" that our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan engaged in prior to their deployment---they signed up for the job voluntarily. The argument that you should air condition prisons for the benefit of the guards is completely spurious. There are plenty of occupations where people voluntarily expose themselves to the elements or adverse working conditions, e.g., firefighters, steel mill workers, miners, oil field workers, loggers, etc. With the possible exception of some of the public employees noted above, none of them are whining for the taxpayers to make their jobs easier at the expense of the public--especially at a time when we have more pressing public needs (e.g., health care for indigent children, saving our automobile manufacturers, and keeping our banks afloat).

As for Anon 10:28, I'd venture to guess that the conditions in Texas prisons at present are a heck of lot more tolerable and compassionate than those in the Roman prisons during Jesus' lifetime.

Bottom line, if you like to have air conditioning during hot weather, don't get sent to prison or don't hire on to work there! It's that simple. For the moment, at least, we have more pressing demands for our finite tax dollers than keeping you cool.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of poorly thought out comments on this tread that operate at the crudest level of retribution or vengeance.

Remember that the punishment is deprivation of liberty -- not substandard or dangerous living conditions. Every inmate is a ward of the state. If we children the way we treat inmates it would be easily recognized as child abuse and neglect.

By the way about 90% of American citizens report that they have at one time done something that could be classified as a serious misdemeanor or felony offense. So, we need to remember something before we say things like -- don't get locked up -- it could easily be you, your son, or your daughter. What keeps most of us out of the criminal courts, jails and prison is not law abiding behavior so much as not being identified by someone for a crime (even one we did not do). If you have the misfortune of being accused of a crime your life will take a dramatic turn and you may never get your old life back -- even if you are factually innocent.

The quality of society is not based on how it treats the best in society but how it treats the least and the worst.

By the way correctional officers are not "guards" (a pejorative term) and they have an incredibly difficult job. A little respect please. I was a correctional officer for 12 years.

sunray's wench said...

anon 12.51 ~ forgive my use of the term "guards", but here in the UK that is what they are called.

You also say: "If we children the way we treat inmates it would be easily recognized as child abuse and neglect. "

If any other agency or individual treated the elderly the way they are in prison, it would also be termed as abuse.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for your excellent comment 12:51. I agree COs have a tough job, made more difficult not just by the prisoners and the heat but also from public disdain (evidenced clearly on this string, see anon 12:12) for even minimalist suggestions at improving their situation.

But do you really think "guard" is a "pejorative term"? Would you prefer the British term "warders," perhaps? According to Dictionary.com, the first two definitions of the noun form of "guard" are: "a person or group of persons that guards, protects, or keeps a protective or restraining watch," and "a person who keeps watch over prisoners or others under restraint."

I don't understand why this (very common) usage would be seen as a disrespectful term, even if it's not the technical, bureaucratic job title used on internal paperwork. My own use of the term is certainly not meant disrespectfully, however, as someone who loves words, I'm generally loathe to toss a perfectly good one out of the lexicon in deference to political correctness.

Anonymous said...

The Gatesville unit, the way it was built, the location of the buildings, and a few well placed fans stayed pretty cool. My understanding is this is true for the older buildings as well as the red brick ones built in the 50’s and 60’s. That’s how buildings were built before air conditioning, there was much more thought put in to the functional architecture of a building, regards to the land, placement of the structure on the land, placement of windows in the structure, even the placement of trees. Now the CE’s and Architect’s just slap a building together and let the HVAC guys figure out how the ventilation is going to work. This is how the newer units after TDC took over Gatesville were built, no regards to ventilation. The chicas who have lived down there will tell you there is a big difference in being in one of the cooler older buildings at Hilltop, or even Riverside and Terrace compared to being in one of those newer ovens that were built out there. I don’t think that the location of those two new units were chosen to promote good natural air flow similar to the way Mountain View unit was chosen. Mountain View was hotter in the summer because its location was purposely chosen to have bad air flow except when the wind blew across the dump, then it just stunk.

Sunrays Wench, Correctional officers, is a politically correct term that we use to avoid using profanity regarding the descriptive character traits of most of the people who work in those positions. Also in Texas we do have an agency that specializes in abusing children, people know about it, cps is afraid to do anything about it, Feds have tried to do something about it, Grits wont even blog about it anymore, but not "enough" people care, yet.

Sheldon tyc#47333 II C/c

Anonymous said...

Notice that Grits said in the post that some vulnerable populations are getting AC, and also that no one had died this summer from heat.

I have not yet seen any data to say that this is really a situation which would shock the conscious of most Texas voters.

It's one thing to try and protect the safety of the inmates, but many Texans feel that AC is a luxury that most prisoners can do without. I support this sentiment.

Robbie C said...

12:51 Anony wrote:

By the way about 90% of American citizens report that they have at one time done something that could be classified as a serious misdemeanor or felony offense.

Site?

I think hard time should be just that, and agree with not providing AC (or heat) to Texas prisons.

Yes, this is tough on guards and other corrections officials. If there is any way to make their work conditions more tolerable in these extreme conditions -- short of making the conditions more comfortable for the inmates -- I'm in favor of.

Guards understand what they are signing up for: No AC in Texas prisons.

Anonymous said...

Thank Grits -- your blog is terrific and takes informed and thoughtfully developed positions. It is a joy to follow.

I don't think you meant "guard" pejoratively because you have a good grasp of the complexities involved in doing their job well. In your case I think you simply are not aware how that term registers with those working in our prisons.

As some on this thread have implied "guards" deserve little respect -- after all if they could do anything else they would be doing it. The fact that they are criminal justice professionals does not register. The term implies few positive attributes and a lot of negative ones -- limited intelligence, quick to use force, slow to think, low social status, etc.

When used in this way it suggests that correctional workers deserve bad working conditions. One thing we know from both experience and research -- officers who are treated in a disrespectful manner tend to treat inmates in a similar manner. If we want to provide more effective correctional treatment for inmates it has to start with the professionalization of the officers who supervise them.

Correctional officers work all day every day in an intensely interpersonal arena. What they produce by the hundreds every day is interactions between themselves and the residents they supervise. If those interactions are professional, constructive, decent, respectful and reasonable the prison is usually safe and security is high. Where those interactions are abusive, neglectful, racist, sexist, demeaning, arbitrary or excessive the prison is usually dangerous and insecure. Using the term "guard" moves toward the unprofessional, dangerous and insecure.

It is time to retire the term "guard" when referring to those who work as correctional officers in our nations prisons.

Red Leatherman said...

I just remembered something significant in regards to electrical cost involved in operating TDC.
this may have changed since I was working on the hvac and refrigeration systems there but TDC didn't have any electrical meters at any of the units I worked at. they were just charged a flat rate.

Anonymous said...

Robbie C -- you can check the 90% figure out in almost any mainstream criminal justice or criminal justice text book. This is not new information. It has been revealed repeatedly over the years as researchers have investigated the prevalence and patterns of self reported offending behavior (street crime) among the general population (without regard to whether they were caught by the cops).

If you add to that all the white collar crime that goes unreported and unrecognized from tax evasion to fraud the proportion probably goes well above 90%. So, who is the offender? Look in the mirror -- according the research it is nearly all of us in one form or another.

The primary difference between offenders and non-offenders is that one group got caught and the other didn't.

Anonymous said...

To further this discussion, let me point out a law that just last week in Connecticut was declared unconstitutional.

For more than 20 years it had been a criminal offense to give oneself the title of "interior designer" (as opposed to "interior decorator")without a state license and the penalty was a fine and/or up to a YEAR IN JAIL.

We have criminalized many behaviors that have nothing whatsoever to do with public safety.

Those of you who think you or someone you care for (and let's include teenagers in that) could never possibly wind up in a jail cell had better be sure those goody-two-shoes can be exchanged for tap shoes...or maybe some sturdy muck boots.

Be prepared. It can be very treacherous out there!

Anonymous said...

The idea that the average American is just like the average inmate is laughable.

Criminals and their defenders say this to diminish any personal responsibility. After all, they want people to see them as just regular folk.

Part of this 90% nonsense is a conflation of different types of crimes. One can't compare smoking marijuana(which many Americans have done) to armed robbery, murder or rape.

Boyness said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I write here about things I care about. If others don't care about them they should frequent another blog.

7/06/2009 09:23:00 AM
---------------------------

AMEN GRITS! And yes Anonymous Trash, people do care. Let's see, you have 155,000 inmates and there families and friends care. Now, if I can just get them registered to vote.

SB said...

Yes, people do care. Inmates are having to go to bed in wet clothing to tolerate the heat. CO's are decked out in hot uniforms.
AC would go far in keeping tempers under control, keep disease from flourishing and make it easier to attract and keep employees.
Being in prison is punishment. Treat inmates like animals while they are inside and expect them to act like humans when the walk out of prison? That isn't rehab. And no matter how much you may want to further punish inmates we must have CO's. Inside some of those cell blocks it reaches 130 degrees. I wouldn't do it. I had rather work at 7-11 where it's cool.

Charlie O said...

Grits,

Have you noticed that these TDCJ threads seem to bring out the WORST in some Texans. Dostoyevsky said "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." Doesn't say much for Texas, does it?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:36 pm -- Since this blog is on justice issues it would help if you could add something based on more than your "laughable" gut feelings about what is or is not a sound basis for informed policy discussion.

Try reading some of the voluminous literature on justice topics covered by Grits for Breakfast. If you have a university or college nearby visit the library. They will have online literature search tools to help you identify books and academic journal articles from 1990 to the present. Here is starter list of key words:

Crime; crime theory or criminology; penology or corrections; correcional officers; police officers; crime prevention; offender rehabilitation; offender risk assessment; offender risk reduction; deterrence; incapacitation; retribution; revenge; retaliation; restorative justice; recidivism and social supports; prisons; jails; probation; parole; courts; impacts of incarceration on recidivism; community corrections; intermediate sanctions; barriers to reentry; neighborhoods and crime; neighborhood deprivation and crime; drugs and crime; drug policy and drug control; white collar and corporate crime; -- the list could go on, etc.

Take as much time as you need to read the literature in the field then rejoin the discussion. You might have some different insights to share at that time

As for conflating different types of crime -- a crime is a crime and all crimes have the potential of landing someone under correctional supervision (whether that happens depends mostly on the quality of legal representation you can afford).

Your assertion seems to be that criminals are different than non-criminals. How different is Bernie Madoff and other Wall Street "masters of the universe" who manipulated the financial world for personal gain from the bank robber? I can tell you that the bank robber will get away with about $10,000/bank at the most. Bernie and his kind get away with $200+ billion a year (low estimate). Even in terms of deaths -- white collar and corporate crimes end up killing more people than all street crime combined by a factor of 10 each year (about deaths 15,000 homicides/yr. compared to about 200,000 deaths from white collar crimes).

Crime and criminals are evenly distributed in our society by social class (a lot of street crime at the low end of our class structure with very little at the top; a lot of white collar & corporate crime at the top of our class structure with very little at the bottom). White collar & corporate crime is the most serious form of crime we face. Yet, most do not end up in prison and the general public is largely ignorant of this dirty little secret of American business.

Read and research the literature. It will reveal what you don't know, help you understand the issues and the evidece more fully and allow you see why current approaches are largely counter-productive (i.e., tough sounding - 44cal. responses intended to send sort of ideological message that end we shoot the taxpayers (ourselves) in the foot by making the problems worse because we either misdiagnosed the problem or allocated insufficient resources to a correctly defined problem. The War on Drugs is a good example of incorrectly defined problem -- it is not a criminal justice problem cannot be fought using criminal justic strategies. It is actually a health and education problem (e.g., tobacco use has declined dramatically without locking up users, dealers or manufacturers with a mix of health and education policy responses).

Let's continue the discussion when you fill your tanks.

Anonymous said...

By the way about 90% of American citizens report that they have at one time done something that could be classified as a serious misdemeanor or felony offense.

A lot of Americans may have committed crimes. What differentiates convicted felons is that they have committed so many crimes that they eventually got caught.

Of course, there are a small number of people who get arrested the first time they make a mistake. So Joe Citizen drove drunk, spent a little time in jail. Normal people learn from this and change their ways.

Incidentally, a study by economist Steven Levitt found that when prisons allow prisoners to die in prison, crime goes down.

study

No one is suggesting that we should allow prisoners to kill each other to make America safer, but keep in mind that softening up prisons will lead to more crime.

sunray's wench said...

anon@2.51 ~ thankfully I've not been to many TDCJ units, but the locations must play a large part in their ability to heat up and cool down, as much as the design of the buildings. Coffield is known as the Glasshouse because that's exactly what it looks like: glass from top to bottom with the sun shining directly in to the cells. And yet Charlie O is also right that many visitation rooms are literally freezing during even the hottest days, especially if you have to sit directly under an air vent.

Add to the heat, the seemingly regular event of having the water shut off, and sooner or later disease and death will be a factor too.

And yes, in the UK, we call Correctional Officers either guards or warders. But they dont give themselves military ranks like American Correctional Officers do. I'm not sure which I personally would find more offensive if I were an Officer or a soldier. And that's just an observation, not meant to inflame anyone, OK?

Anonymous said...

"Evil is neither suffering nor sin; it is both at the same time, it is something common to them both. For they are linked together; sin makes us suffer and suffering makes us evil, and this indissoluble complex of suffering and sin is the evil in which we are submerged against our will, and to our horror."
Simone Weil

Anonymous said...

I think many people do not realize who or who these "inmates" are. I know I didn't, until I became one. I was an RN who became addicted to Rx cough syrup. Following my desperate attempt to alter a prescription to get more (and believe me I am not defending this activity), I wound up in the Gatesville SAFP unit for ten months of 2001. I was expecting the type of thing you see in "Lockup" on TV--murderers, child molesters, robbers, violent criminals, etc. I didn't find that.

In my own 48 woman unit, there were 5 other RN's with Rx drug addictions, a prima ballerina, an attorney, a physician's assistant, a pharmacist, several wealthy suburban moms with Rx drug problems, and so on. The unit, as a medical unit for special needs populations (those who were pregnant, seriously ill or on psych meds) was supposed to be air conditioned, but was not. People passed out and had seizures on a daily basis during the long Texas summers. There was a single fan available for use that had to be divided between two dorms so we had it only halfd a day. As a "therapeutic community" when one did wrong all 262 were punished. so we frequently had our personal fans removed due to being placed on "loss of commissary" as a mass punishment, were not allowed to wear shorts or t shirts (same reason) and suffered through a week of broken water systems meaning we could not flush the six toilets in our dorm the entire time but simply had to go on top of what was already there (for a week) in the 110 degree heat with no cooling, no showers and only tightly rationed water from a cooler for drinking. I don't think many people realize just how inhumane conditions become in there, nor that not everyone in proson fits the idea they have in their heads of a dangerous and violent tatted and pierced renegade from the law.

Anonymous said...

"Treat inmates like animals while they are inside and expect them to act like humans when the walk out of prison?"

I have yet to see the animal shelter that was not air conditioned or properly heated in extreme weather. When you read about one that wasn't, it's usually after it was shut down for unsafe conditions for the animals.

Darrington recently went through a several day long period whith no water in the extreme heat. No water to bath, flush toilets, and barely passed out to drink. If we treated animals like this, left them in extreme heat, in their own filth with little water to drink for days on end, we'd see the owners of that shelter sitting in jail.

Anonymous said...

Well I can't wait to hear the bleeding hearts' spin on this story. I'm sure it's probably due to lack of air conditioning in S. Carolina prisons that this monster reoffended! Oh wait--you say his criminal history only included so-called "non-violent" crimes? I thought those guys weren't dangerous and didn't need to be locked up?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090707/ap_on_re_us/us_sc_killing_spree

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What's your point, 10:36? It certainly doesn't relate to this post. Perhaps you think South Carolina's laws are too lenient? Why bring that up here? Take your complaint to the SC Governor, if he's not off in South America getting laid.

Also, I don't mind a healthy or even strident debate and opposing views are welcome here, but stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

6:20, you sound like a very good person who was a victim of the war on drugs.

In my opinion, no one should need a prescription to buy a pharmaceuticals and narcotics should be legalized.

I'd much rather see some deadbeat who doesn't have auto insurance put in prison than someone like you who hasn't hurt anyone.

R. Shackleford said...

Rape, lack of freedom, lack of privacy, dehumanization, forcible severance from family/friends (and all the "what if" nightmares that creates), and constant fear of others around you isn't enough punishment? Is it too much to ask that we treat prisoners humanely? As one of the many Anonymi (ha, totally using that word at every opportunity from now on:) has stated, the punishment is lack of freedom, not substandard living conditions. We ought to be beyond a Devil's Island prison mentality at this stage of our national conscience. Obviously not, sadly, judging by the numerous "screw 'em that's what they get" opinions I see here.

Anonymous said...

Shack, no one here is advocating prison rape. Some of us do believe the heat is an appropriate punishment in this society, obviously you have a different opinion.

R. Shackleford said...

I should hope not, Anny 3:11:) My contention is simply that there are a whole host of punishments that go with a prison sentence, most of which the guards are powerless to stop/regulate. In essence, the official punishment coupled with the unofficial punishment adds up to one seriously horrible ordeal, and I don't think adding to the misery by making the prisoners sweat/stroke out contributes to their rehabilitation in any way. Each to his own opinion, of course, but I believe that lumping 1000 hardcore criminals into a small, wretchedly hot and demeaning area with 5000 "offenders" who really oughtn't to be there in the first place only results in 6000 people who really hate the justice system. And why shouldn't they? I certainly would.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:36 - "Part of this 90% nonsense is a conflation of different types of crimes. One can't compare smoking marijuana(which many Americans have done) to armed robbery, murder or rape."

Part of the problem with adhereing to this philosophy is that you might think if you commit a more palatable crime you will be treated differently if punished in prison. It has been my experience that Texas is very fair in that regard. They treat most of the inmates to a very close and personal, equally shared, inhumane, just like everybody else, miserable experience.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion for the Senators and Legislators who think no air conditioning should be part of the punishment; go to any unit starting in April and stay there through at least the last of September and then tell all this is not inhumane treatment!

Loss of freedom is punishment, not inhumane treatment and having hot just blown around does not cool anyone down.

Then, the statement that fans are passed out to those who cannot afford to purchase them is also bull. What about the units without enough electricity or plug-ins to run fans?

The units are already ducted for heating, the only cost except for the units would be the electricity, and goodness knows our Legislators wasted enough money on this last Session to more than pay for the electricity; the inmates could very install them. Even water cooled units would be better than nothing.

This world is in a mess due to some of the people who wrote in these comments and their own ideas and feelings about their fellow man. The Lord does not care, if you believe in Him and ask for His forgiveness, it will be done. What is it those of you who feel the treatment of your fellow man by not allowing human comfort and conditions conducive with living not be given to all not matter what the circumstances. You need to ask your God why you feel this way.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/07 at 12:49 -- Freakanomics (by Steve Levitt) is entertaining but it is an outlier in the study of crime and criminology. The short segments on crime in this work (supported by a couple of journal article he published on these issues) is not consistent with the weight of the evidence from nearly every field of study that has examined these issues.

Levitt's assertions in this case are widely panned by those who study crime for a living and is not even consistent with the other economists who study crime, criminal justice policy, drug control and other issues.

While economists may have something to offer in the analysis of the economy and financial systems they the field is notoriously inconsistent even on those issues. Unfortunately, some who have approached the study of crime from an economic perspective have lead to disaterous policies over incarceration (e.g., Zedlewsky's analysis for the Regan) and the war on drugs (i.e., Office of National Drug Control Policy and DEA).

When I say read the literature -- I don't mean read one book you happen to agree with. I mean read everything you can read, particulary those sources that go against your ideological belief system. Then do some honest reflection about where the weight of the evidence lies. Be forewarned, the weight of the evidence is not consistent with the positions you have taken here.

Hit the books Jack...

Anonymous said...

04:54:00

Your statement misses the obvious point that most honest people don't believe they should have to be subject to the same treatment as criminals.

Of course it sucks to not have AC. I wouldn't want to live like that. I wouldn't want to lose my family or my freedom either. That's the point, they are being punished.

Anonymous said...

5:48 - There but for the grace of God go I. It is my sincere hope that you nor any of your family members ever have to suffer the way those that are incarcerated do.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Your assertion seems to be that criminals are different than non-criminals. How different is Bernie Madoff and other Wall Street "masters of the universe" who manipulated the financial world for personal gain from the bank robber?

Wow, that is truly an idiotic statement. Here is the difference: people often die during armed robberies.

Anonymous said...

06:07:00

Thank you, but we won't need your help to stay out of prison.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/07 at 12:49 -- Freakanomics (by Steve Levitt) is entertaining but it is an outlier in the study of crime and criminology

It's Freakonomics. As in freak-economics. Freak-anomics would suggest Freak-anomy, which would be a study of social instability caused by erosion of standards and values. That is more Charles Murray's element than Levit's. If you have the attention span, check out this essay

Anonymous said...

Point taken 6:35 - but I meant my comment as more of a general, I hope your life happens as planned without any suffering of any kind.
You know, disease, injury, poverty, loss of employment, any kind of suffering due to anything that you, yourself might not understand the justification for. I know others might see it as punishment for some sin or other but really I was just hoping that it might not happen to you personally.

I meant no intention to help you along, I was just wishing you good will.

I'll be sure to keep my thoughts to only hoping that you are never incarcerated without cause. But as you say, you need no help with that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:12 pm -- Here is something to read that might open both your mind and your eyes.

Trusted Criminals by David O. Fredricks.

See how violent white collar crime is -- over 200,000 dead each year -- by those ostensibly law abiding folks who "don't need any help staying out of prison."

The business decisions made by Ford on the Pinto case resulted in about 800 deaths alone. Nestle is responsible for about 1 million infant deaths in the developing nations. They knowingly marketed powdered infant formula that lacked a key nutritional ingrediate because it had been recalled in developed nations and which required clean water and refrigeration unavailable in those nations. More recently Firestone continued to produce faulty tires from 1988 onward despite defects that lead to tire ruptures and hundreds of deaths.

Whether you die from that hands of a robber or the decisions of a bottom line corporate bureaucrat is irrelevant -- you are just as dead.

Go to the library read up on the issues.

Anonymous said...

08:22:00
The business decisions made by Ford on the Pinto case resulted in about 800 deaths alone


This is just another soft headed liberal notion. Creating a product which you might deem as substandard is not the same as engaging in a homicide.

The difference is that a consumer chooses to buy a product and rely on its safety. A murderer forcefully takes another person's life.

You mention the Ford Pinto case...this simply shows your astonishing ignorance. Research has concluded that Ford Pintos were not any worse than comparably sized cars at the time.

At any rate, the best way to improve safety is through the marketplace, and not with your pathetic whining. Corporations which make defective products eventually make dramatic improvements or they go out of business.

Your seem to pursue this dialogue with an adolescent naivete. Your hatred towards successful individuals is immature and detracts from your credibility.

Anonymous said...

"This is just another soft headed liberal notion. Creating a product which you might deem as substandard is not the same as engaging in a homicide.

The difference is that a consumer chooses to buy a product and rely on its safety. A murderer forcefully takes another person's life."

Masterful piece of rationalization, although blaming the victim to diminish any personal responsibility really doesn't take much imagination, no matter how pretty you dress it up in a suit and tie.

You corporate guys scare the hell out of me!

Anonymous said...

Two points. How many people, particularly the elderly and poor, suffer through summers and hot weather without air conditioning? And I might add, through no fault of their own. Until our elderly can have air conditioning without worrying about the electricity bill, inmates are not on the top of my list.

Second: I am so sick of reading how underpaid and mistreated corrections officers are. They have had raises (more than other state employees) the last 2 years at least and a total of 7% for the next two years. One CO said to me that the 10% they received last year was NOTHING and NOTHING would have been better than that insult. CO's are so used to whining and crying about money, they don't realize that the lege is paying attention. You can't make $50 or $60 thousand a year overnight. MANY state employees need raises and better working conditions -- State Schools anyone?

One more point-- prisons without running water and broken systems are unconstitutional. What are CO's doing to report that information to supervisors off the unit? They are part of the problem if they don't report violations.

Anonymous said...

04:24:00

You made a good point, I don't really feel sorry for COs either, however the state has to meet its recruiting shortfall somehow.

Anonymous said...

If the liberal perspective "soft headed", I guess that means that the conservative perspective is "dumber than a bag full of hammers".

The truth is somewhere between the polar extremes -- let's call it the sensible middle.

Anonymous said...

As another person has posted- -I would be willing to go without pay for ANY political offical to work only ONE day where I do- -in a men's max prison, locked on a section with 210 inmates and only ONE fan, and see how bad the tempers rise- -how the SAFETY of th eofficer is put at risk because of this- -just one day, I dare you- -or anyone!
It is not the inmates who are at risk because of the temperatures- -it is the STATE employee- -does anyone care? heck, no- -what is strange- -most units already have the AC units sitting there, they just do not run them on- -wonder why? Yes, I do nto have to work there- -but most better be lucky I do-- I am protecting YOU from these people. Stop "catching out" and saying I do nto have to work there, you better thank stars I do!
And YES, we need to have better rank- -not the guy or gal that is "related" to someone being rank, but a person that knows HOW to be rank- -big major difference, and sadly, TDCJ is NOT doing that.
Pretty much, if you haven't walked in my shoes, then be quite.

Anonymous said...

The prisoners are there to be punished, not pampered. How much thought did they give to their victims? If you think Texas in bad, try Gitmo Bay, without a trial.

Anonymous said...

I I have a love one that is in the TDCJ with a chronic life threaten dieses" Hep C. She is in a so called medical facility in Dayton Texas- There is no A/C no ventilation, they can not purchase fans, raw sewage in the showers. She is not receiving and so called treatment for her Hep C. She is a first time offender and just made a mistake as we all have. She receieved a 4 year term not a death sentence. Folks we can do better than this- at least have some form of air circulation. I know, I HAVE measured the temp in the building it 115 in there last Sat.

People should be punished for their crimes . But , how is torture helping our society- I say this speaks volumes. In my case My the grace of God go I.

Anonymous said...

every "offender" is not in prison because they committed a murder. I know of at least one in there on the word of a six year old because children don't lie. Yea right especially when they have an adult telling them for 2 years who did it. no dna no witness but the da says the 19 yr old is dangerous zap 20 yrs on the say so of a 6 yr old. oh and by the way the 19 yr old is brain damaged from a child hood accident but that doesn't make a difference either. I know he has been raped twice but no body admits that it happens in texas prisons because there is a no tolerance rule.

marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

http://businesseshome.net