Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 11, 2010

Dear Sis~
This prison has just completed a three-day inspection (an "audit", technically) by the A.C.A. (American Correctional Institute).  For the week leading up to the audit the prison staff was in a near panic as they had prisoners racing around, attempting to spruce the joint up, repairing plumbing here, painting there, etc...  This prison is decrepit and their attempts to make it look presentable are not very successful, other than on a superficial basis.  They sent a paint squad onto our wing to paint the walls and bars, which are encrusted with decades of filth and grime, and a good bit of black mold which doggedly persists no matter how much you try to scrub it away.  (I can only use toothpaste or shampoo along with a toothbrush to scrub the black mold, since the DOC long ago quit issuing any kind of liquid soaps or disinfectant for cleaning purposes, as a money-saving tactic).  As soon as the humidity reaches a hgh level for 2-3 days, you wake up to find the supposedly dead black mold spreading along the cell bars and walls, fuzzy as a chia pet.  Anyway, the paint squad simply painted over the filth and black mold, no attempt to clean anything first.  As Jesus observed, like whitewashing a sepulcher.  They even painted the entire insides of the showers, bright-white, slapping a cheap water-based paint over the moldy ceramic tiles.  It's already peeling off and clogging up the shower drains.  The only good thing about an ACA audit is that our food improves a little for 3 days.  It's all a charade, anyway.  The ACA mused to actually be a useful organization about 25 years ago.  It was a non-profit organization of independent professionals who inspected and objectively graded and evaluated each prison, using a point system/grade scale to determine if the joint would pass or fail.  They judged each prison in various areas, such as health care (regular, mental & dental), classification, safety, food, recreation, programs, etc.  If a prison got a high enough total of points, they were "accredited" by the ACA, and that used to mean something.  Prisons and prison systems wanted to be accredited so they actually tried to improve their prisons.  The ACA's standards were good ones, well thought out, and invariably improved the quality of life inside.  However, about 20 years ago, the ACA was "taken over" by a raft of ex-Dept of Corrections employees from around the country (ex-wardens, ex-directors of various state Departments of Correction) and it morphed into a money-making organization which was made up of the same crew who were being audited.  It became a good-ole-boy club - they lowered their standards and made it easier and easier to get accredited.  It was a classic case of the inmates running the asylum.  Sort of how the FDA get s staffed by ex-drug company executives who then go on to "oversee" the drug companies, or how the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department get staffed by ex-Goldman Sachs executives who then purport to "regulate" their buddies in the banking industry and on Wall Street.  So, nowadays, every prison gets accredited, no matter how lousy they are.  It's a joke now, a lame whitewash, just as "Wall Street regulatory reforms" are a joke.  Nobody really cares, anyway.  The public cares nothing about how corrupt and dysfunctional their prison systems are, they are not even on their radar.  The public only pays attention to prisoners when one of them gets out and commits some sensational crime, and then, all you see is a knee-jerk reaction, demanding that prisons be made more harsh and punitive (as if they aren't already ahrsh and punitive, with a total lack of any pretense of rehabilitation).  Anyway, the ACA is gone now and our "food" has reverted back to its normal garbage status...
David Johnston, who was scheduled for execution in 2 weeks, got a surprising stay of execution 2 days ago.  I say surprising becasue 90 days ago he was close to execution when the Florida Supreme Court has just given him another stay (I don't know what his legal issue was, though).  This is one lucky guy, I know that.  (He's been on death row about 20 years so he's already exhausted all his legal issues, already picked the low-hanging fruit).  Whether he's still alive in 6 months remains to be seen.
Love, Bill

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