Having the option of single cells would be a very good start, I say option because I know several current and former inmates for whom that would be torture.
More preventative health care- making daily multivitamins available, better sanitation, annual cleaning of ventilation systems, flu shots and Hep C vaccine for all mainline inmates & staff.. cheaper to prevent outbreaks than to treat them after half the facility is infected.
Food- There is no reason on earth why every prison should not be partially self sustaining, raising vegetables and livestock to provide at least a portion of the food consumed. The benefits would be inestimable in reduced costs, better nutrition and the self worth that comes of doing something "real"... to raise your own food is among the most rehabilitative things a person can do.
Life Skills classes for all inmates within 6 months of release- many inmates lack basic skills, such as shopping, banking, job hunting and social and workplace etiquette, and these skills would make a huge difference in their ability to return to "the outside" successfully.
Conflict resolution training mandatory for ALL inmates during reception... again, many of our inmates enter the sytem with no positive communication skills and providing conflict resolution tools would cut down on problems inside and upon release. All staff who will interact with inmates or the public should be required to have training as well.
My dealings are entirely within the California system, so I don't know if the following applies to other states...
Mail- A consistant bloody set of regulations within the entire system... the same allowed items at every facility, not a different list for each... if a calendar can be 12x12 at one facility, it should be the same at all facilities, if I can send someone at HDSP 50 sheets of writing paper, the same should be true 2 miles away at CCC.
Phones- Inmates should be allowed the option of purchasing pre paid phone time or recieving number specific cards from family and friends (a background check similar to that used for visitor approval could be employed to prevent security issues). The current system places a terrible financial burden on an inmates loved ones and it is well known that regular communication with family and friends improves an inmates chances of actual progress.
No more awarding of "no bid" contracts for any outside service... and contractors should be required to make quarterly reports available to the public to show where money is being spent and be accountable for goals being met.
And for all you folks who think prisons are already too cozy and comfy...I'd like to know What prison have you been visiting? I'd like to arrange for a cherished friend to be transferred there! The top notch medical/dental care I'm always hearing about would be nice!He had a small cavity in one tooth and the answer was to pull the tooth, he needs to see a doctor to renew a prescription for a chronic condition (no, it's not a drug with any recreational potential, it's Prilosec) but can't see the doc because he is not bleeding, and when he does get that script renewed, he'll be paying for it or rather either his mom or I will be doing so. The situation has gotten so bad with prison health care that a federal judge recently ordered the whole department into recievership.
He shares a 6 x 12 cell with one other man, and counts himself lucky that there are not 3 in that cell due to the amazingly overcrowded state of the facility, he gets to leave that cell about 4 hours a day, including shower, chow, dayroom and yard time... and THAT is when the facility is not on lockdown due to drastic understaffing,...on lockdown, it really is in the cell, 24/7, food passed through the door, etc the only thing that keeps going is the mail (and by the way, I send him paper,envelopes and postage, unless it is a letter to one's attorney of record AND there is no money on one's books, the prison does not pay for letters)....the educational programs, IF an inmate qualifies AND if there is a slot available in the class.....and surely you see the need to try to educate these people to improve the chances of their becoming productive citizens upon release?
The showers are hot and reasonably clean, but inmates buy their own soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
The food is a joke, and is barely legal in quantity and quality... most inmates get VERY creative with the top ramen that is available at the commisary...
What Gym/weight room are you talking about? My friend does an aerobic routine in his cell each morning and spends about half his time in the yard running his usual 3 to 5 miles, but there's no equipment available...I'm not complaining about that, but I'd like to know where you get your information.
As to other recreational activities, there are televisions in the day rooms where what to watch is decided by vote (and it's not cable)...any TVs or radios in the cells were not provided by the state, either the inmate or someone like me purchased them and like quarterly packages and phone calls (collect and incredibly costly) they are a privilige that is EARNED... Surely you can see the value of rewarding good behavior?
I could go on and on, but I really want to know what prison all these stereotypes of fun and games are based on, because it sure as hell is not in California!
Answered By: UppityBroad68 - 3/3/2007