I wonder what the big prison reform issue is going to be in 2018. As I see it, there are three categories of reform issues to watch: preincarceration (bail and sentencing), incarceration (overcrowding and rehabilitation), and postincarceration (reentry and employment). This post focuses on incarceration—more specifically, the retention of inmates in private prisons.… Read the rest
Some laws are oppressive to low-income people facing criminal prosecution. An example is California Penal Code section 1203.016. This law, effective since January 1, 2015, enables California’s fifty-eight counties to deliver poor people to corporations that then profit from the human misery of these people, men and women who are charged with crimes and stuck in jail.… Read the rest
Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos is a book you absorb through your eyes and into your heart. This 176-page coffee table book is a thoughtful catalog of stunning photographs of formerly incarcerated people and their self-disclosures about their tattoos. Twenty-seven people are presented in two striking visuals: heavily tattooed and digitally retouched without their prison ink.… Read the rest
My cellblock at Ironwood State Prison (ISP) in Blythe, California, rose out of the sands of the Colorado desert region of the Sonoran Desert. Prisons such as ISP are often put in remote areas away from large population centers.
The two summers of my time spent at ISP were blistering hot.… Read the rest
I recently took a road trip to Placer County in Northern California. The county offers myriad outdoor recreation opportunities in the High Sierra, including hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Parts of the county resonate an untouched Wild West feeling—beautiful landscapes, gold rush artifacts, protected bird sanctuaries, free-roaming wildlife, and indigenous plant life.… Read the rest
We’re all going to die. We’re not all going to prison. Is there a connection between the popularity of prison-themed programming and our fear of dying? Put another way, why are movies and television programs about prison so popular to people who will never see the inside of a jail or prison?… Read the rest
In April 2001, the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, California, filed a bold class action on behalf of California prisoners. The lawsuit, filed in the US Supreme Court, brought front and center a pernicious, festering problem that the California prison administrators had ignored, or worse, didn’t care about. The issue was overcrowding and the problems associated with inmates being forced to live, eat, work, and sleep in cramped, unsafe, and unhealthy environments.… Read the rest
We live in exasperating times. With a let’s-make-a-deal president in charge, what’s ensued is a frightening roller coaster ride of deceit, corruption, and incompetency. There’s a long list of substantial failures, including health care reform, the deregulation of Wall Street and environmental controls, hateful immigration ploys, the alienation of world allies—need I go on?… Read the rest
I ended my previous blog, Et Tu Tattoo, with questions that caused us to look at prison tattooing in different ways.
- Tattooing is forbidden in California prisons (and other systems), so why are prison tattoos so prevalent?
- What does a tattoo artist need to set up shop inside a prison?
This blog post focuses on the work of photographer Steven Burton, whose photographs capture the results of digitally removing ink from heavily tattooed skin. I find the photos compelling. If you’re like me, your eyes will dart back and forth between the pictures.
Prison tattoos (tats or ink) are complicated works of art.… Read the rest