America's Prison System. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_2EMM_aE1E&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9-aZIYwK8s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjhUDLni0V0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL9RGzM7VqU. America's Hardest Prisons - First Timers - part 1.
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For the first time in American history more than one in every 99.1 adult men and women are now in prison or in jail.
States spent a total of $49 billion on prisons in 2007, compared to $11 billion 20 years ago.
The United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any other country. China ranks second.
What is Prison?
Prison is quite simple: it's a place where your freedom, movements and access to basically everything is restricted, usually as punishment for committing a crime.
But for anyone who has ever done hard time, a prison is so much more:
it's a place where dignity, privacy and control are given up to guards and prison administrators, where isolation and boredom can drive someone insane, and where the simplest of necessities seem like luxuries.
A prison sentence is a punishment. In this regard, it serves both as a form of justice and as a deterrent(prison is unpleasant, so people are reluctant to commit crimes for fear of going there).
U.S. prisons are broken down into three basic levels of security: maximum, medium and minimum.
Minimum security prisons often resemble camps or college campuses. They are reserved for non-violent offenders with relatively clean criminal records, or prisoners who have served most of their term in a higher-security facility and displayed exemplary behavior.
A medium security prison restricts the daily movements of the inmates to a greater extent, but instead of cells they usually have dormitories, and the prison is usually enclosed by a razor-wire fence.
Maximum security prisons are what most people think of when they think of prison. However, only a quarter of all prisoners in the United States are housed in a maximum security facility.
These types of prisons are reserved for violent offenders, those who have escaped (or tried to escape) or inmates who could cause problems in lower security prisons.
They are surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire, and armed guards in observation towers shoot at anyone who tries to make it over the wall.
When an incident occurs at a maximum security prison, all the inmates are confined to their cells for several days, with absolutely no freedom whatsoever. This is known as lockdown
Several prisons have been built and run under permanent lockdown -- they are known as SuperMax prisons.
Most maximum security prisons have a SuperMax unit within the prison that has permanent lockdown status.
Prisoners simply call it The Hole.
The vast majority of the menial labor performed in prisons, including laundry, maintenance, janitorial services, cooking and landscaping are performed by the prisoners for as little as 10 cents an hour.
Prison overcrowding has forced most prisons to keep two prisoners in each cell, so an additional metal bunk is placed above the bed.
In severe cases, three prisoners have been placed in a cell. A few cell blocks have a dormitory set-up, with eight or more prisoners in a larger cell with multiple bunks, but this is uncommon.
The typical maximum security prison is divided into wings or blocks, each of which has its own staff and can be sealed off from the rest of the prison.
A block may have multiple tiers. The cells are arranged around an open central space that contains a security booth.
Additional armed guards may be positioned in glassed-off cubicles in observation posts within each cell block.
Guards who come into contact with prisoners usually do not carry a firearm because a prisoner could steal it.
The commissary is basically a warehouse of goods that are approved for inmates to own.
Prisoners get a list of all the items and their prices, and on the day they are allowed to go to the commissary, they fill it out for the items they want.
After waiting in a long line, they reach a window where a guard (or possibly a working inmate) deducts the money from the prisoner's account and retrieves the items.
Prisoners are not allowed to carry cash -- money they earn in their prison job or sent to them from the outside is kept in an account.
Each prisoner ID card is electronically linked to the account, much like a debit card.
In the absence of cash, prisoners use a complex barter system. Prisoners who want something that can't be purchased at the commissary, such as better books, illegal drugs, nicer clothes or a weapon might trade cigarettes, commissary stamps or personal protection from other inmates to get what they want.
These outside items might be smuggled in by visiting relatives or guards who make their own profit from the black market.
In some cases, inmates have produced bootleg alcohol or illegal drugs inside the prison itself.
Prisons generally have visiting hours that roughly coincide with regular business hours.
Each prisoner gets a limited number visits per month, depending on his behavior in prison and the nature of his sentence and crime.
When someone is first incarcerated, their paperwork includes a list of family members who are allowed to visit them, as well as a limited number of friends.
Visits from investigators, employers or the inmate's attorney are not limited, but they must still be approved by the warden.
At lower-level security facilities, the visitation room looks much like a waiting room. It is usually very crowded, and there is little privacy. Excessive physical contact between prisoners and visitors is discouraged.
Conjugal visitation rights are extremely rare in today's prisons.
In a maximum security prison, inmates speak to visitors through a glass partition using telephones. Visitation time is limited and monitored by armed guards, and prisoners and visitors are subject to searches before and after the visit.
Other than visits, prisoners can have contact with the outside world with letters and packages.
However, all mail going in or out of the jail is opened and examined by prison officials, and all phone calls are recorded.
A shot is a mark against the prisoner, placed on his prison file.
When the prisoner comes up for parole or requests permission for some kind of additional privilege like a better prison job or a work release program, the number of shots on his record can prevent him from receiving this privilege.
In maximum security prisons, a larger percentage of the inmates are violent offenders.
When a beating or even a murder happens in prison, there are rarely any witnesses.
Cons have a strict rule against "snitching," so even a murder in a crowded prison yard can go unsolved.
This rule is upheld because snitches are repaid by violent retaliation.
Inmates learn quickly to keep their mouths shut, no matter what they saw.
A study of state prisoners from 15 states who were released in 1994 showed that more than half of them ended up back in prison within three years.
The goal of many prisoner reformers is to reduce these rates by providing education and job training for inmates.
All prisons offer a GED course it is often a requirement for parole and a few vocational courses.
More than 90 percent of all prisoners are eventually released.
When they are released, often the only skills they acquired in prison were those that allowed them to survive.
They may be paranoid or bitter. They may have learned that the only proper response to a problem is violence.
Getting a decent job as a convicted criminal is hard enough -- add in these factors and it can become very difficult for ex-cons to reassimiliate themselves into the outside world.
He may get the clothes and items he had with him when he arrived at the prison, although some things may be missing.
He will get whatever money is in his prison account, though it doesn't usually amount to much.
If the prisoner has no street clothes, he is given a prison uniform to wear.
If he has no money, he'll get $5 so he can afford bus fare home, if he has a home to return to after his time in prison.
One in 31 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole.
Recidivism rates between 1994 and 2007 have consistently remained around 40 percent.
more than four out of 10 adult American offenders return to prison within three years of their release, this means that the system designed to deter them from criminal behavior is falling short.
Read the papers any day and you see stories of many people who are committing crimes are out on probation, or are repeat offenders.
Is the solution that we throw away the KEY?
On any given day more than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, and over the course of a year, 13.5 million spend time in prison or jail.
African Americans are imprisoned at a rate roughly seven times higher than whites, and Hispanics at a rate three times higher than whites.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has projected that if current trends continue, one out of every three African American men born in 2001 will go to prison at some point during their lifetime.
Within three years of their release, 67% of former prisoners are rearrested and 52% are re-incarcerated, a recidivism rate that calls into question the effectiveness of America's corrections system, which costs taxpayers $60 billion a year.
95% of inmates are eventually released back into society, ill-equipped to lead productive lives.
Drug sentencing laws have had a critical role in the growth of the prison population.
In 1980 the incarceration rate for drug offenses was 15 inmates per 100,000 adults, by 1996, it was 148 inmates per 100,000 adults.
The figures for federal prison are even more severe. In 1970, 16.3 percent of all federal inmates were imprisoned on drug-related charges; in 2002 that percentage had risen to 54.7 percent.