Ramona asked this question on 5/10/2000:
In Tamms, Il, close to where I live, there is a super-maximum security prison. There 39 inmates are on a hunger strike that is now in its second week. The 39 inmates--down from the 168 last week--are protesting what they claim are arbitrary and illegal practices that endanger their mental and physical well-being.
Their lists of grievances includes claims of abuse of mentally-ill inamtes, ill-fitting shoes, and inadequate clothing. They also claim that they must become informants to win transfer back to traditional prisons--which endangers their lives. Inmates say that the guards often restrict their meals to a ground-up mixture called meat loaf and that the commissary extorts them for favors. They are locked up for 23 hrs a day.
Correction officers say they are reviewing the complaints. The lawyer for the imates says that previous intervention has accomplished nothing.
So, what do you think should be done? Do these inmates--and these are the worst of the worst, have no doubts that these guys got here by earning their tickets--deserve better treatment? The sort of life they live some people in poor countries like India would envy. Do we owe them better treatment when they would likely rape, murder, and steal every one and every thing they could?
tcsmpsi gave this response on 5/11/2000:
Dear Ramona, Yes, we have a max unit here as well. It also holds death row inmates. When the meals are restricted, it is because of a problem which the inmates have caused. And the extortion, well, unfortunately, that is sometimes a '2 way street'....however, the inmates are most adept at this extortion. We always expect complaints, strikes, etc. I mean, they don't have a lot else to do. :) It is always good to evaluate the system, as long as we keep it objective. We should not 'give in' to threats, regardless of what the threat is. Perhaps if we were a bit more staunch in a manner similar to this: To the inmates: "Hey man, look, we are going to evaluate, but we are not going to be pressured into any action. If you wish not to eat, then that is certainly your option. If you think it's worth dying over, then that is your choice." Period. Let the public squeal all it wants. Don't be pressured by that either. Of course, we all know that sometimes guards do get a little...out of line. hell, who doesn't. Their living conditions aren't the best in the world, but then too....it IS prison....and most of it is what they make of it. I'll tell you what, let's give them all the option of going back to the way it was before 1970. Yeah, put that in their bargaining plate. :)
Ramona asked this follow-up question on 5/11/2000:
Hi Mr. Carter,
Thank you for your answer. It's really interesting hearing a point of view from someone who works in law enforcement.
Most of the opinion is going towards the inmates. Some have said that we must take the moral high ground in our treatment of those who, for whatever reason, are dependent upon us for care.
It has also been mentioned that we shold take the incorrible ones and place them on an island to fend for themselves. (That's essentially what Great Britain did with Australia and look what happened--it turned into a pretty great nation.)
Do you think there is some basic level of care that we owe these convicts?
tcsmpsi gave this response on 5/11/2000:
Hmmmm....that is indeed, a real question. Owe 'them'...actually, I don't think so. But, we do owe ourselves as a society to try and find the means to cut the behavioral problems we are plagued with. As a 'people' and society, we are based on particular moral and spiritual standards which 'demand' basic human rights. Other than this, no I do not believe we owe them. Every person has the capacity to make their own decisions. Having been 'brought up' in an extermely abusive, corrupt, and violent environment, I know that does not have to remain in our adult life. It is our own decision which makes our Path. In my opinion. :)
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