Better Butter, Better TV and Better Prices? What A Riot!
As reported by KIFI in Idaho Falls:
85 Idaho inmates housed in a Texas jail are on lockdown after a non-violent protest Saturday morning. The inmates refused to return to their cells inside the building after completing recreation time outdoors at the Newton County Correction Center.The protest lasted for over seven hours.They demanded butter for rolls, more television channels and cheaper commissary prices. The warden said preliminary information indicates the prisoners were plaining their demonstration since arriving at the facility to protest their out-of-state transfer.Currently, there are over 400 Idaho inmates housed at the center.Offenders are being sent out of state because Idaho's prisons are full, and have been for several years.The Idaho Department of Corrections estimates 1,400 Idaho offenders will be incarcerated out of state by the year 2010.
In my "own private Idaho," I would like to see the Department of Correction and the Commission of Pardons and Parole issue a joint letter to all out-of-state prisoners that says the following: (1) all prisoners involved in the incident in Texas will have their parole eligibility dates moved back a minimum of two years, (2) all prisoners involved in the incident in Texas will be denied parole and will be required to "top their time out" if they are engaged in any further disobedient or riotous behavior, (3) any other out-of-state prisoners involved in any similar incidents will have their parole eligibility dates moved back, and (4) any additional prison time to be served will be served at an out-of-state prison. Prison isn't supposed to be vacation with room service. It's punishment. It makes me think even harder about Article VII of the Bill of No Rights I posted last week.
Arbitrary and Capricious recently posted a blawg entitled ID: Idaho inmates, Texas abuse, describing an allegation that at least one Idaho inmate had been handcuffed, beaten, and maced at the same Texas facility this last spring. Director Thomas Beauclair and an Idaho delegation flew down to Texas to investigate the incident. That is at least some indication that Idaho authorities take matters of safety and propert treatment of inmates seriously. The inmate involved stated in a letter to his sister that the treatment stopped once the Texas warden was notified and intervened. This emphasizes the fact that inmates should address concerns through proper channels. If the prison employees abused the inmates in a manner that warrants criminal charges, the investigation should be referred to the appropriate prosecution authority. If abuse occurs again, Idaho needs to consider moving the inmates to a different facility.
This latest act of defiance does not appear to be in response to the prior beating allegation. The prior problem also doesn't legitimize being petty about such things as more butter, more channels and cheaper commissary.
I do not feel sympathy for the inmates that get shipped to other states. I believe that when they decided to engage in criminal behavior, they were simultaneously giving up their right to choose what their living arrangements were going to be and for how long. I think it is incredibly unfortunate that Idaho is shipping inmates out of state. I understand that affects families, people who did not commit the crimes. And, it affects prosecutors too. I was recently informed by IDOC that I would have to pay $3,000 to $4,000 in order to get a prisoner back from Minnesota to testify in a robbery trial. But, like many things, being shipped out of state is something that inmates should have given some consideration to before they decided to engage in the criminal behavior that put them in prison. It is no secret that Idaho ships inmates out of state. It has been happening for years. Would-be criminals need to prepare for it. Out-of-state prisoners need to accept it.