America's Prisons Are Broken

John Oliver's segment on Last Week Tonight (HBO) about America's prison system (some adult content):

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

12 thoughts on “America's Prisons Are Broken”

  1. "Broken" -- with scandalous irony -- because "fixed" (as in "deviously influence the outcome" [OED]).

  2. While I am a watcher of MSNBC for its coverage of politics, I have long been greatly disgusted at its willingness to present prison reality shows for entertainment. I never watch them; when you have a sibling in prison for life, especially when he should be in psychiatric treatment, they make you sick and angry.

    Back in the early nineteen eighties when he entered prison I would here people speak of prisoners having the life of luxury because they had color TV and free medical coverage. Today we here people complain that they have cable TV, and, of course, free medical coverage. These people, I can safely say, have never been inside one of these "luxurious" facilities.

    Thank you for showing this clip. I fear that much of our society is becoming hard toward anything it does not understand; of how it can watch the prisoner, the sick, fall of the edge of the universe into nothing with the simplistic off hand remark, "Well, they brought it on themselves".

    Yes, society must be protected from those who would harm it. However, society itself has a responsibility to protect these individuals from themselves and from one another. And from what I have seen, the prison system is a shocking example of how switching from tax dollars to free enterprise for care and protection can actually be a dismal, sickening failure.

  3. It seems like there should be a greater distinction between violent and non-violent crimes in the justice system and in how those prisoners are imprisoned. I think in general the public accepts the idea that violent people no longer deserve the protection of the law, but maybe prison reform could gain traction by trying to make a case for non-violent offenders to at least be segregated from violent ones which might go a long ways to protect and allow rehabilitation of peaceful inmates. While no system is perfect Matt Tabibi's The Divide certainly paints a grim picture of how economic disparity translates into judicial inequality in how the law is administered. The costs of the prison system must be staggering, it is hard to imagine how a society can succeed in the long term when so much of it's resources are dedicated to control.

  4. If I think maybe "caring about prisoners" is something I want to be involved in....and religion and bible study is not really my thing, where can a person start?

  5. From a political standpoint I think you start with self-education, reading what you can about prison-related issues. From there you can use whatever resources are available to you to educate others (e.g., I posted this video on my blog to help bring attention to some issues, things like Facebook are good for this sort of thing). You engage the political system as a citizen concerned about the issue (petitioning lawmakers, voting, etc.). You can join and participate with activist groups working on the issue. For example, above on my header you'll see I'm a member of TCADP.

    Regarding work inside a prison, beyond religious-based programs, many prisons and jails have educational programs that use volunteers. For example, Ruth, a friend at my church, teaches an art class at a local jail. She does it because she's a Christian, but it's an art class. Many jails and prisons have GED programs that might use volunteers, etc.

  6. I realize that you are being facetious. I have found that most progressives/liberals are unaware of Professor Jonathan Gruber, since this story is being ignored by the MSM. That being said, I must agree with his repeated comments about lack of transparency being a benefit for the current administration, and also that the American voters are "stupid". How else to explain their voting -- not once, but twice -- and electing the worse POTUS in my lifetime? His views are a litany of condescension. Dennis Miller said this mind-set is like a nude beach -- sounds good in theory, but upon arrival you are greeted by all sorts of things you would rather not see.

    And having said so here five years ago, to quote Gore Vidal -- The best sentence in the English language is: I told you so.

  7. I'd say that I'm being satirical rather than facetious Sam, as I'm sincere and sincerely boggled at the vitriol expressed by so many Evangelical Christians at today's POTUS.

    Today's POTUS crime: we're forced into more humane health care systems.

    Previous POTUS CRIME: we're forced into a war based on false evidence; enriches Cheney's cronies; diverts us from the goal of squashing Al-Qaeda; those who wanted the war most don't want to pay for it and forces its cost onto the backs of the middle class; blind to the complex forces at work in that part of the world and merely figured that America could just "John Wayne" American Democracy down there throats.

    To quote someone with a bit more gravitas than Dennis Miller; "...they busy themselves picking specks out of the eyes of others but are blind to the logs in their own..."

    I'm all for critique. But when its delivered in ways that are monolithic and void of self reflection, I wonder if all the "critique" is in reality an exercise in "scape-goating".

  8. "Today's POTUS crime: we're forced into more humane health care systems."

    Believe me when I say that I am deeply self-reflective. How else to explain my continued presence here as a minority of one after five years?

    And now that we have proof positive that that "force" was based not on facts, but deception and lack of transparency from one of the architects of the ACA, along with an attitude of condescension towards the middle class which staggers the mind, that's OK with you? Use of fabrication and deception to railroad something is wrong no matter who does it.

    Please stick to the facts (such as the recent election), rather than the ends which justify some liberal ideology and means. I know nothing about anything that evangelical Christians have to say, having left that group 40+ years ago.

  9. Today's POTUS crime: waging a largely hidden and unaccountable drone war against civilians, including children, in nations we are not currently at war with and where no Americans are in danger (Pakistan, Yemen, sometimes Somalia) in the name of the eternal war on terror, then allowing the CIA to claim (against all other evidence) that no non-combatants had been killed. He allows the CIA to retroactively claim all victims as enemy combatants, to obfuscate the reality of the carnage.

    Google "Pakistan drone victims" sometime.

    Our Nobel Peace Prize winning President has the blood of children on his hands, and I'm frankly sick of progressives turning a blind eye to it and treating him like some kind of messiah because of Obamacare.

Leave a Reply