Can We Fix Our Shameful Prisons? Why they should be, and why we might not do so.

Fabius Maximus website

Summary:  The recent attention to police shootings of unarmed men (mostly Black) shouldn’t distract us from the big picture, that police violence is but one part of a mad brutal system. Our criminal justice apparatus is broken. A disgrace for a great nation, easily the worst among the developed nations. It works for those who run it, providing secure jobs at middle class salaries for the police, administrators, attorneys, and others who staff it — and lavish profits for the corporations who provide the equipment and run the prisons. It doesn’t work for America, and hence offers a test for our ability to reform our most dysfunctional systems. If we fail, we’ll know that we are exceptional in at least one sense.


Freedom is almost perfected; just a few more cages.

Can Our Shameful Prisons Be Reformed?

By David Cole
The New York Review of Books, 19 November 2009
Posted with their generous permission


View original post 5,036 more words

Montana’s House Of Shame – MSP


Solitary’s Victims Include Families  Written By ACLU of Montana 

Billy McCarthy, lead singer of the band We Are Augustineslost a brother to the horrors of solitary confinement. Many of the songs he writes are influenced by this family tragedy.

McCarthy’s brother, James, was mentally ill. He wound up in Fulsom State Prison and spent five years in solitary before being sent to a hospital for mental health treatment. Shortly after arriving there, James hung himself with a bedsheet.

In an ACLU  podcast, McCarthy talks about his brother as a child, James’s descent into mental illness and his time in the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement — a place that McCarthy says he wouldn’t even put a dog.

The ACLU of Montana is working to keep mentally ill prisoners out of solitary confinement. It is cruel and inhumane and only exacerbates their condition. Thankfully we were able to get our teenage client, Raistlen Katka, out of solitary at Montana State Prison.

Raistlen was incarcerated there at MSP at the age of 16 and spent more than a year in solitary while a minor. OH MONTANA!  In 2010 a judge ordered the prison to send Raistlen to a hospital for mental health evaluation and treatment. Then last year the judge ordered the prison to not return Raistlen to solitary.

We are very thankful for that outcome. Kept in solitary, Raistlen’s story could have ended like James McCarthy’s. Raistlen tried multiple times to kill himself. Now he has a chance at life.    *Source Montana Cowgirl Blog/ Blogroll – ACLUofMontana

Please sign the pledge to end solitary confinement.

What kind of prisons is Montana operating?  I have people telling me that they don’t even want to drive through Montana due to the level of corruption. Everyone is concerned they could end up in prison.  Such a shame!  Oh Montana!

Is This A Case Of Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing?

Department of Corrections Delays 120 Bed Expansion

The Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) is holding off on trying to find an additional 120 beds for inmates.

The agency put out a request for proposals on January 24, 2012 for a 120 bed medium security correctional facility.

On Friday, DOC Director Mike Ferriter said the request will be suspended for 60-90 days while the agency looks at other options.

He says the DOC is looking at ways to reduce recidivism through a variety of re-entry strategies. He also says the Department will continue to project population trends to better predict its future facility needs.

“We think it’s prudent to focus additional attention on this issue,” Ferriter said. “I don’t believe we can be too careful in making decisions on how to spend taxpayers’ money and in our approaches to safely return inmates to the communities of Montana.”

Ferriter says the need for the beds isn’t so urgent that an extra 60 to 90 days will cause hardship for the agency.       *Source KRTV

This sounds really great that they are re-evaluating this plan.  Then again are they?  I find it very coincidental that just a week ago they were ready to start taking bids from contractors.  Now all of a sudden they are putting the brakes on.  Is this just a comfort blanket during elections?  They know there is an outcry on how the whole judicial and prison system is being managed with the corrupters.   Are they giving this hot potato time to cool down just enough for the protestors to become complacent and not stir up trouble?  Then once elections are over they bulldoze their way through it again?  Thoughts for you to ponder on.

False Security In Montana

This subject is a hard one to write about.  This is not a topic that is liked nor tolerated and all for good reasons.  We must protect our communities and our citizens.  This topic has unbelievably found its way into the stage-coach with the gold.  I will be lenient in saying that there may good and well be those politicians that do not completely understand what has been happening in this field and really feel that they are protecting the citizens.  As for other politicians they know exactly what they are doing and this just puts more funds into the coffer.

I am talking about the notorious “Sex Offender” label.    I am not soft on crime.  I have worked with DOC and I have testified in courtrooms for both prosecutors and for defense attorneys.  I have helped to sentence and I have helped to defend. I have sat on a jury and yes, we found the defendant guilty.  I believe in being held accountable. I believe in having a safe community.  The “Sex Offender” label has gotten way out of hand.  This is not what it was originally intended for.  This label is to help us, the community to know who is really dangerous, who could be a threat to us or our children.  When that label is passed out frivolously we lose the seriousness of it by making all incidents seem that they are of major concern.  Example:  Teenage couples engage in sex…the young man is charged and then labeled an offender.  If this law was mandated lets say 60 years ago…just how many sex offenders would there be today?  Then there are the lesser crimes that are not taken into consideration.  Those that have had no prior criminal history and a one time incident that would have been inappropriate touch turns out to be a felony of “Sexual Assault.”  I had a public defender tell me that if I were in a crowded bar and a man were to touch me as he is standing there in a place that I feel is inappropriate or bumps into me accidental but I feel is still inappropriate  I can press charges for “Sexual Assault” because that is how I perceived it. This is not the real meaning of “Sexual Assault.” If this was mandated in the last 60 years how many “Sex Offenders” would we have?

Now we have thousands upon thousands of sex offenders that we are scrutinizing.  Some that are labeled for ridiculous reasons. While we are trying to keep track of so many we lose sight of the dangerous ones that could re-offend or even those that do not have a label.  This is a false sense of security.  It also causes major problems for those that are labeled for the rest of their life or for what the sentence allows as it is hard for them to find jobs, hard to find a place to live, hard to support their families.  Where do you expect these people to go?    Read this article from Bozeman, MT:

You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with politics or money.  Let me show you a few statistics and refresh you from an earlier subject.

“About 34 percent of Montana’s current prisoners were convicted of sexual crimes, according to statistics compiled by Blair Hopkins, a therapist who treats sexual offenders in the state prison. Of those, more than 90 percent are undergoing or are waiting to begin intensive sexual offender treatment.”  *Source Bozeman Daily Chronicle

That states 34 percent.  That is a very large number.  We discussed the prisons for profit.  We discussed the parole board not letting many out on parole. Let’s take one more step down the trail that leads to revenue.   We discussed that once they are out on parole by their very own figures 94% return back to prison because of technical violations, not for breaking the law.  What better way than to have that many labeled sex offenders, that once paroled, with as hard as it is to find a place that will allow them to live there, to find a job that will hire them are unable to report or register as they are commanded to do.  Probation officers are then violating them and sending them back.  The same inmates are being recycled for profit.  The short time while they are on parole they have to pay a fee.  They also have to pay a fee to take the mandated classes.  Those classes can take up to 10 years to finish.  If they are not finished they end up in prison again.  Cha-ching, Cha-ching.

Then you have those that have been railroaded based on “hearsay” with no evidence.  In these classes you have to admit complete guilt that is described on your DOC record from the county attorney.  Those that are innocent are not going to want to do that.  They then cannot pass the class nor be let out of prison.  I have seen this first hand. I have documents that back this up.   I have seen county attorneys accept a plea bargain that states one way in court transcripts but then in the media and DOC records they have added more to the plea bargain.   Too many cases like that.  I have seen where they tell a defendant that they have to be a registered sex offender but then after the sentencing find out via the media that it was not court mandated by law. It is something that the county attorney put together. Yes, the public defender had lied and did not tell the truth about the law.   No matter how hard they try the defendant cannot get anyone to correct the records.  That my friends is a group of outlaw cowboys when you cannot find anyone to help you.   I find the statistics and all of the same allegations of foul play and records that prove that some of these are innocent but they are all found guilty anyway extremely disturbing!  What if someone falsely accuses you? What if your spouse is falsely accused?  What if your teenage son or daughter is falsely accused?  What do you do when the system is tainted? Again, pray that they never want to use you or any member of your family for their gain.

Oh Montana!

I have done a lot of studying, researching, interviews on the whole judicial system of Montana.  I thought that possibly I was seeing a case that was unusual until I started hearing other stories of the same things happening on a larger scale.  Money, Power, Greed, Politicians, Public Defenders, County Attorneys, Attorney General, Judges, Bribes, Fraud, Wrongful Convictions, Big Corporations, Prisons For Profit, Long Sentences, Department Of Corrections Horror Stories, Parole Board Being Handpicked From The Governor, Parole Board Answering To NO One, 94% Being Returned To Prison For Technical Violations And Not For Breaking The Law.  *Resource:

The Verbal, Mental, Emotional and Physical Abuse To Inmates, Probation Officers….the list goes on.  This 2011/2012 Report does not seem to go along with the Parole Board Overviews that you will find on the resource list to the right.

Who does a person trust?  This is not a land of the free and wide open ranges, this is the land of making money off the many inmates that you can convict.  They have a found a money-making scheme that instead of rustling cattle they rustle human lives.  The new way of living in Montana.

I’m Just Me, Looking For Justice

I went to Montana and it was like a dream. The majestic snow-capped mountains. The big blue sky country that Montana is well-known for. Ranches with horses and ranches with cowboys. My first snow winter and the romance. Then my beautiful dream started turning into a nightmare. I started seeing beneath that pristine white snow to the dirtiness underneath. My rose-colored glasses were torn off and stomped upon. I ran head on into a brick wall that is called the Montana Judicial System. A state where corporations and state departments and politicians are like characters out of a western movie. Where those cowboys don’t have to answer to the law, they make the law, where no one is safe. Welcome to the real Montana.