Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14, 2013

February 14, 2013

Dear Sis~

For the past week this prison has been a beehive of activity with countless prisoners inducted to sweep, mop, scrub and paint the joint top to bottom in anticipation of the upcoming annual ACA (American Correctional Association) inspection (called "audits" in a vaguely Scientology lexicon). It sort of begs the question inasmuch as ACA inspections have become a sham.  Back in the day ACA inspections actually meant something (if nothing else, we all ate well on inspection day)! The Association had a large measure of independence and was generally respected for its impartiality.  Their standards were progressive and had teeth because their certification was coveted by prison systems eager to prove (to courts and those few lawmakers who actually cared) that they'd  left the stone age and were treating prisoners like humans (or at least like mammals).  But, over the last two decades, the ACA has been thoroughly infiltrated and taken over by a revolving door of correctional insiders (ex-wardens, ex-colonels, ex-Secretaries of Departments of Corrections) who moved in, started paying themselves huge salaries, and began spraining their wrists busily patting each others' backs in a self-congratulatory orgy.  The standards have been substantially watered down and riddled with "exceptions" and exemptions and the inspections (with plenty of advance warning) have become rote routines.  There's no drama with the certifications, which are virtually guaranteed for any prison willing to pay their fees.  Now they just visit each Potemkin Village, walk a few hallways, visit a few carefully selected cells (but never talk to any actual prisoners), then rubber stamp their approval.  Now it's akin to having the American Petroleum Institute award grades to Exxon-Mobil for its environmental policies or asking the National Rifle Association if it favors increased gun control legislation.  The results are entirely predictable and equally meaningless.  Hell, they don't even feed us a decent meal on inspection days anymore; they shovel out the same rotten slop we get every day, knowing the "Inspectors" couldn't care less...

If you get a chance to catch the PBS series Searching for Shakespeare, don't miss it.  It's interesting on many levels and reminds me why he is the greatest wordsmith in the English language...

Ok, Sis, I'll wrap this up and post it so you can dig out of the latest blizzard.