Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dec 14, 2007 - New Jersey abolished their death penalty!

Dear Sis~
The seagulls are back. Every winter hundreds of these screeching birds invade the prison, wheeling and dive-bombing overhead, crowding onto the yard during the night, hissing, squalling and pecking at each other, fighting over every scrap of food thrown to them by prisoners. Come Spring, they will just as suddenly disappear, vanishing overnight, presumably returning to the coast from which they came. Oddly, this seasonal seagull migration occurs at all prisons (at least every prison I've been at). My guess is that the ubiquitous garbage dumps, present at all prisons, attracts them, a reliable food source when the wintry oceans become less generous. The gulls make it almost impossible for me to feed my crows and sparrows out at rec because they spot the food as soon as it hits the ground and they all swoop down to devour it. Occasionally the crows will fight with them but invariably the mobbing gulls overpower them through sheer force of numbers...
By the time you read this, New Jersey will have abolished their death penalty. Their senate and assembly already voted to do so and Governor Corzine, who is a staunch abolitionist, has stated he will sign it into law. This is the first state to abolish capital punishment in about 40 years. (If my memory is correct the last state was Kansas, but after about 20 years or so, they reinstated it). Anyway, this is a small step in the right direction and hopefully it will embolden other states to do the same. I'm not naive; it is a long and difficult road to total abolition of state-sanctioned murder, but as the old Chinese proverb says, even the longest journey begins with the first step...
It's 11:30 am and I was just gazing out onto the center of the compound, when I saw two guards sic their 2 German Shepherd attack dogs on an inmate who looked like he weighed 125 pounds. The dogs chewed his ass up while he futilely fought to protect himself. The attack-dog patrols is one of Warden Kelly's "innovations" which is a euphemism for "total waste of taxpayer's money". She has four guards who roam the compound, each with a vicious, half-insane attack dog on a leash, and their purpose(if you can call it that) is to herd the inmates wherever they go, to and from the chow hall, to and from rec, etc... The guards bring up the rear, with these snarling dogs, lunging and straining at their leashes, snapping at every inmate as they walk. The guards seem to enjoy seeing how close they can let the dogs come to the inmates (the dogs are desperately trying to break free and attack, they snarl and bark non-stop, like they are on crack or meth). A couple of times already, they've set the dogs on inmates, including what I just saw. I've never been in any prison where attack dogs roamed the prison, especially for no legitimate purpose. This joint is habitually understaffed (they often have to lock down the prison due to staff shortages), yet they waste 4 guards on this ridiculous dog-duty, because this warden wants to pretend she is running some kind of notorious, maximum security, Alcatraz-type joint (in reality, this prison is soft as cotton...this warden has never seen a real hard core joint)... Gotta go, Sis!
Love, Bill

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