Bastard: Illegitimate, Bogus, Fraudulent, Having a Misleading Appearance
California’s prison population has peaked with 170,000 inmates! To put that in perspective, that’s 70,000 past the legal maximum capacity, and more inmates than all of the jails of France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands – combined, according to journalist Eric Schlosser’s essay “The Prison Industrial Complex.” Inmates are literally pouring out of the facilities; onto the yards, into gymnasiums, dining halls, and elsewhere. This pandemonium is confined to about 35 penitentiaries, give or take, due to the continual rise in prison expansion, in which I’ll end upon.
Running this network of prisons is the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA). Do not succumb to beguilement from any talk of “Corrections” or “Rehabilitation.” It’s a scam. A brilliant essay written by Ben Carrasco gives a much more alarming perspective on this State Union – called by many experts as the most powerful force in the California political arena. The 1980’s saw an obvious increase in gang violence. Added with Ronald Reagan’s obsession of imprisoning every poor crack addict, the expansion of prisons in America grew exponentially. Of the 30-plus here in the Golden State, 21 have been built since 1984.
To house every inmate, annually, it costs roughly $35-45 thousand dollars (depending on what report you’re reading). The total bill for running the Prison System stood at $5.7 billion in 2004. Less than a decade later, it’s nearly double. With a staff of little over 30,000 Guards – less than a tenth of the teacher’s Union – they are the most gracious financial contributors in a Land where the best democracy is bought and paid for with cash. An analysis of the CCPOA’s campaign contributions gives a very well-balanced account as to why a labor union is so active in politics: Any sensible program that might reduce the amount of inmates – and crime – would result in a loss of taxpayer funds, and, subsequently, paychecks.
Take Proposition 5, for example, which was on the ballot in 2008. The measure, officially called the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, would have required the state to spend more on drug treatment, instead of incarceration. The CCPOA acted immediately, and the official “Yes on Prop 5” website states that the Union threw nearly $2 million to get the measure shut down.
It wasn’t the first time they were participants in the legislative branch. In 1994, Proposition 184, known more commonly as the Three Strikes Law, was set to be voted on. Under this proposal, offenders who commit three felonies would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 25 years to life. A small stipulation of that law is that the third felony does not have to be violent or even serious. A small bag can be scraped for methamphetamine residue and get a person locked up for the remainder of his or her life. It often does; since its passage, close to 8,000 people have been given a life sentence for simple drug possession. That is, not sales, and not enhancements (IE: Under the Influence). The CCPOA was an early supporter of the measure, and contributed some $100,000 dollars to get it signed into the books.
The Three Strikes question came up again a decade later when Proposition 66 came onto the ballot. It was a measure that would have amended the law so as to require the Third Strike to be violent. The CCPOA worked with intimidated Governor Schwarzenegger, who stated on T.V. that Prop 66 would “release thousands of rapists and child molesters out onto the streets” – a shameful lie – and in a very close call, the amendment did not come to fruition. These draconian mandates, along with the many other laws protracted or retracted with the Union’s influence, are absolutely essential in explaining today’s overcrowded penitentiaries.
However, before any serious discussion is to be had about renovating the prison layout, one has to give mention to the inmates, and in very specific terms. This is because, in truth, and to the contrary of many prison reform advocates, a large majority of these inmates are indeed violent and dangerous individuals. However, not all of them. There are about 1,500 inmates locked up for marijuana use right now. Not significant compared to many other States, but with the added total of arrests, salaries, court bills, etc. the final bill comes to over $200 million dollars. Other drug offenders – meth, heroin, cocaine – are where the real numbers come in, with the Golden State locking up a record amount of simple drug possessors, according to information on NORML’s website.
Like oil and water, these two brands of law-breakers do not mix. Not at first. But from this, a proverbial hive starts to develop. Young inmates and drug addicts, who, although many of which are just trying just to go home, are still human, and thus just as corruptible as the guards themselves. They are routinely subjugated to gang warfare, and, after a while, many come to see it as an acceptable lifestyle. The fact is simple: Compressed criminality does not leave the prison bars, and a prisoner recidivism rate that is – quite frankly – unacceptable, becomes the end result of lazy enforcement when it comes to inmate conduct. An average law breaker in California has five prior prison sentences. Perpetual criminality, defined.
This disjuncture amongst the inmates is a design of the CCPOA, whose internal policy is derived mostly from Julius Caesar’s famous words, when imploring the secret of conquering: divide them first. In a supposedly vindicated effort to tabulate the bewildered and uneducated inmates, the Prison officials segregate the races and gangs from one another. Southern Hispanic gangs are separated from Northern Hispanic gangs; Caucasian inmates without any Skinhead affiliation are labeled as “Woods”; African Americans are either Crips or Bloods, etc. Every one of them labeled and separated (very literally) into their own special cells. This, in practice, actually promulgates gang behaviorism; with the constant occurrence of rival gang violence taking place in all the prisons all throughout the State. Well-paid guards occasionally have to blast someone in the face with a can of pepper spray.
These inmates are also the cogs for the Prison System’s wage slavery program. An article ran by the Sacramento Bee stated that PIA, the Prison Industry Authority, makes $234 million dollars worth of products every year; including – but in no way limited to – furniture, sunglasses, license plates, etc. State law requires the many Government agencies to purchase these products exclusively from the prison sector. The inmates are paid nickels and dimes for their work.
A monopoly of Union officials and criminal behaviorism is running this State into the ground. The inmate population has always been the Union’s bargaining power, and common sense would tell a rational person that the Union has no intrinsic desire to reduce the quantity of their prized commodity. Thirty years ago, the average guard’s salary was $14,440 dollars a year. These days, with overtime, it’s not difficult for a guard to make $100,000 annually, and often much more. Quite a lot for a state-worker who takes all the funds for himself, never wondering if he or she was the reason the State was financially, and morally, bankrupt. Once again: Why would they relinquish their product?
The Golden State’s judicial system is a perpetual prisoner machine, and the CCPOA has garnered enormous power by taking advantage of the tired, and failed, policy of mass imprisonment. They pay off candidates to get elected into office, and onto their team, and then request giant pay raises to be signed into their budget. Plus, the old Quid pro quo game does not meddle in partisan politics. Representatives on the so-called “Left” and “Right” are both corrupted by this Union. In 1994, Republican Pete Wilson received $440,000 dollars from the CCPOA; at the time it was the largest single donation in California history and largely helped to win him the Governorship. In 2002, the Democrat Gray Davis received $2 million from the Union – with the political powerhouse surpassing there selves yet again with another historic money-toss. The next move is as obvious as it is contemptible: Both Governors signed pay increases for their benefactors. Find a Governor who has sternly denounced the CCPOA. Arnold tried it once, and was instantly greeted with a threat of recall. For the upcoming Election of 2010, Jerry Brown, a longtime Union favorite, has once again received the most in donations.
So what is next with this unending imprisonment? Corruption, cronyism, and perpetual criminality has led to next big move in California prison expansion: AB900. Officially called the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, the bill signed by Schwarzenegger is the largest single prison building project in the history of the world, so says the website CurbPrisonSpending.Org. It will build 53,000 new prison and jail beds at $15 billion dollars – just for construction costs alone. It was passed without a single public hearing.
It is long past time that California take back its prison system. Locking up inmates who have done nothing more than hurt themselves is not only a waste of tax payer money, it is also the prime example as to how America has fallen short of its widely-touted mantra of Freedom.