Greed, fear, deception and double standards make for a thick weapon that not even the smartest criminal can escape.
The accused in this next public display of corrections?
The Department itself.
The Department could possibly be hanging from their own thick homemade rope. The threads the department are bound up by are on the verge of choking out what little is left of any faith, respect, trust and sense of justice that the general public has placed in them, and their mission statement. They are slowly hanging themselves in the eyes of the public.
Their crime: operating outside of the role of justice, fairness and ethics.
After a mass pouring of letters from citizens to the MDOC, the Governor's office, local press, prisoner advocacy agencies, and after the publication of the last article, an official response was sent from Governor Snyder's office stating, “...During the review process,(of a new phone service provider) many things were taken into consideration, including but not limited to: pricing, services available to prisoners/family members, special feature options, ease of use of the system, prior experience of the vendor, and ease of transition of services..”
Let's review for a moment: Pricing. Service. Special Features. Ease of use. Prior Experience. Ease of transition.
1. Prices doubled
2. No special features are spoken of
3. The phones operate the same (they have buttons and only dial out)
4. Prior experience in the phone carrier turns out to be a shady deal for profit
5. There was no advanced explanation before the transition occurred.
6. All the above has ultimately imparted mass confusion on family members, prisoners and prison staff.
The Governor's office stated this “special change” was “all for the prisoners, to make sure their needs were met.” I believe that points 1-6 listed above, trump the department's promising words that speak of ease and meeting any needs. Except their own, of course. And the only thing easy bout this contract are the Administrators.
For the next three years, the Department plans to rope in an estimated $21 to $30 million dollars from the general public. They plan to use the three year time span while they are collecting money, “to determine what sort of system will be needed.” At the end of the three years, they will spend the money (if it is still there and not utilized to fill holes in the budget) and install an unknown system that they haven't convinced anyone that they really need.
Every year, for the next three years, there will be collective revenue of $10 to $14 million dollars for the MDOC. Their contractual co-defendant, PCS, will be pocketing $3-$4 million dollars of that yearly revenue. It is suspected that this change in vendors is servicing no one but PCS and the MDOC. Just as worthy to note, the MDOC received price quotes from a handful of telephone vendors, each telephone vendor offered these “detection services” in their quotes. The exact details of the other vendor's detection services is not known, so there is no way to compare apples to apples, but all other vendor quotes offering a detection service still came in much lower than that of PCS. The competing vendors (aside from PCS) were all relatively close in comparison and varied between .5cents to .10 cents a minute, with a detection program in place.
While there have been occasional cell phones confiscated(less than 10 per year)the Department hasn't admitted that major security breaches have occurred with a cell phone, other than it being considered prison contraband. Criminal charges have never been pressed against any MDOC prisoner for committing or attempting to commit a crime from within a Michigan prison with the aid of a cell phone. What could these prisoners really be doing with these cell phones? And how are the phones making it through tight security screening processes that are already in place? If you aren't familiar with the process to get into a facility, let's enlighten you. One can take nothing in but silver change, a key to a facility locker, and an ID that are all carried inside a clear baggie. You must first walk through full metal detectors, hand wand metal detectors, remove shoes, socks, show the soles of your feet, shake out your shoes, submit to a full pat down, show the inside of your mouth including under your tongue, show behind your ears, and then sit in a room under the peering eyes of a guard and 3-4 cameras that are monitored from central control. Is this foolproof? No. But I can guarantee you that it would be pretty damned tough to get a cell phone passed to a prisoner under those tight measures. A postage stamp or a Darvocet perhaps, but not an I-Phone or a Smart-Phone. Does it happen? Reportedly, not very often and if they are found, they will most likely be found long before the prisoner gets back to the unit to use it. Because like the visitor, they too get “shook down” and that process is much, much more invasive. I'll spare you weak stomached individuals the details. Who then is bringing in these half a dozen phones a year? One can only speculate.
The expense and comparison to risk reduction does not compute. There are many other ways the Department could spend money to reduce criminal behavior. According to research conducted on behalf of prisoner advocacy agencies, other State Correction Departments haven't considered this sophisticated system an option due to its expense and the rapid evolvement of technology. Those of us who exist in this world of technology today know this to be true. Technical devices are not foolproof and technology evolves rapidly, requiring frequent updates and upgrades. Why then IS the Department spending up to $14 million dollars on sophisticated systems that are reported to be very expensive, less than reliable and may require frequent upgrades on an issue that isn’t really, a big issue? Who then will pay to upgrade and monitor their detection system as changes in technology occur? Will they charge the tax payers or continue to charge the families receiving calls from a facility? Will they include these future charges in next year's budget that is already crippled?
Hold on, we may have the answer.
“There has been no commitment from the MDOC to cease collecting these funds if and when a cell phone detection system is installed.”
PCS and MDOC have an agreement, which reads as follows. “Understanding that budgets are shrinking for all State agencies, as part of our Best and Final Offer, PCS is also wiling to work with the MDOC to create a Special Equipment Fund to help bridge any potential budget shortfalls. The amount of this fund can be set at the discretion of the MDOC.”
Wait. Did I read that right?
“..PCS is also wiling to work with the MDOC to create a Special Equipment Fund to help bridge any potential budget shortfalls. The amount of this fund can be set at the discretion of the MDOC.”
“..Willing to work with...” and “...create...” and “bridge potential budget shortfalls...” and “...amount set at the discretion of the MDOC...”
Sounds sort of, “criminal.”
The Department is broke, they failed to set and follow a tight budget, they wasted funds, taxpayer dollars, they aren't rehabilitating the errant, they aren't releasing those who are rehabilitated and now they need a clay pigeon to divert the public away from their own mediocrity. Who better to blame then the individuals who are already feared, hated, scoffed and rendered politically defenseless.
I have said this before and I will say it again, the system, especially the justice system, is flawed. It's broken. Period. Everyone in, out, under and above the law knows this. It isn't a big secret. It isn't the way it used to be many years ago, when the crime and punishment was looked at by the laws AND the individual. The group of peers that judged the defendant weren't made up of or paid off by someone benefiting in some political or monetary way. Its mission was about holding people accountable and where possible, rehabilitating them in a manner that is productive and conducive to the well being of everyone.
Not all lawmakers, law enforcement or administrations have questionable ethics but it is a reality that things are a little askew. Law nowadays is laid down, interpreted, misinterpreted, twisted and made up by people who have extreme and varying personal opinions combined with being pressured by political votes. And the punishments vary in odd and questionable ways. Make the community "feel" like they are safe and protected and you will get votes. If I make a law to make people feel protected and, set those laws up with "services" that make people spend money in adjacent to that, even better. At the current US incarceration rate, soon most Americans will be in prison for something and end up with a criminal record that will render them less of a useful and constructive person to place back in society. Unfortunately, imprisoning 2/3 of the US population does nothing to make anyone any safer in the long run. They often leave the system without quality therapy, job training, and other counseling and often more angry and lost upon release, then they were when they went in. The individuals return to society, unable to become legally employed due to their past choices and behave in a desperate manner out of mere survival and fear of losing their sense of security and financial foothold.
Some will re-offend because they haven't learned, some will do so to survive their past choices they have not been able to live down, some just plain give up because they can't survive out of the system, they are dependant on the system to survive. "Well, then stay out of jail, you loser and Hey! Do the crime, serve the time." Those are great suggestions, opined by many but very unrealistic. History has always had "errant individuals." That has never changed, what has changed however, is how we TEACH people to LEARN from their ways.
There is much to be said about the victim-perpetrator role in the cycle of crime. Though not all victims become perpetrators, and not all perpetrators have been victimized, it is worth mentioning because neither can survive without the other. What came first? The victim or the perpetrator? The cycle of errant actions and human behavior isn't new, and really isn't that complicated. Every behavior has a reason. You can't just look at what happened, and find a solution, you have to look at why. This is what is failing to happen. People aren't paying attention. Period.
This isn’t just about "the prisoners who deserve to be punished." This is a grander scale of greed, the things we ALL pay for, no matter what department it is. It is unfortunate that there is crime, it is unfortunate that there is trauma and loss and sadness and greed and corruption and destruction and mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse and people harming people and people losing their lives and their family members and their minds. It's more unfortunate that Michigan alone has almost 50,000 people in their prisons that are sitting idle, uneducated, un-rehabilitated, untrained, while the general public continues to house, feed, pay their medical costs and the salaries of the staff that got laid off from their long term careers and have no real "correctional" training but have no other job prospects. There is too much finger pointing and hatred and less and less correcting of the errant prisoner. There is no correcting the Department. What we have here is an establishment that sees a perfect opportunity to make a profit off the most broken human beings that no one will defend and then take advantage of a never-ending cycle of crime, and why not, as long as we don’t find realistic solutions to decrease crime, someone profits.
What the tough on crime mentality means now is retaliation, power-trips, corruption, greed and instilling fear.
Sounds criminal, doesn’t it?
The people incarcerated that don't have the right to call home, the ones that don't deserve to be in communication with their families, the ones that are losers and burdens and a menace and spiraled out control ...well, I hate to tell you America, we created them. They were and still are, the children and young adults on your block that were caught in a cycle of abuse, poverty and violence. They were, at one time, the ones that had parents who both worked two jobs to survive while the child was left unattended and confused. The ones subjected to conflict and instability. The ones that didn't get the guidance or the non judgmental support of their communities, the ones everyone overlooked because "that isn’t my kid, that isn’t my problem" as they drove on by to their perfect life that may or may not spiral out of control at anytime if they lost control of their emotions, their job was threatened, their family fell apart, their mental health fell apart or their basic need for survival became threatened. Any of us who have been guilty of any of the above, are just as much to blame for allowing these young adults to stray. It takes a village to raise a child, not the Department of Corrections. I caution you in even uttering the words, “not me and not mine.”
Shame on all of us.
And shame, shame, shame on the MDOC who are major players in the victim-perpetrator cycle. It is obvious that this department is desperate but is the Department so desperate and afraid that they have engaged in their own opportunistic and pre-meditated criminal behavior?
Crime is defined as “an act that violates the basic values and beliefs of society.” In order to commit a crime, criminal opportunity requires three major components; a motivated offender, a suitable target, and lack of a witness to intervene or report.
Is there an element of ruthlessness in greed and self-interest? That is open to interpretation. But the very criminal opportunity the mission statement boasts about protecting society from is rampant within their Department policies.
Motivation, target, lack of intervention.
And the state's “resources” are all chained up and witnessing how it's done but who is going to interevene?