Do not follow the U.S. prison system

By Linda E. Edwards
January 20, 2007

Re: Marion O’Callahan’s Commentary in Newsday

JailThere are two additional ways we do not want, definitely do not want, to follow the U.S. prison system.

1. The building of private prisons to be leased to the state is one of them. In this system – example Corrections Corporation of America – (check the U.S. stock exchange for trading values), shareholders get together and build a prison. Now for the shareholders to make a profit, just like a hotel, the institution has to operate at maximum efficiency. That is full or almost full. So shareholders have a vested interest in keeping these prisons full.

The shareholders are mainly sheriff’s deputies, policemen and prison wardens. I have not heard of a judge having shares, but you never can tell.

Now, it costs $40-$50 to incarcerate an adult for a day. It costs about $80 to incarcerate a juvee (juvenile) for a day, so the juveniles are more profitable to the shareholders. Is it any wonder then, that there is interstate commerce in prisoners, that the jails are full to overflowing, and it is possible to go to jail for unpaid traffic tickets? (These were figures supplied by the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the election campaign in November, 1994 so the figures are much higher now.)

2. The incarceration of women and their children in immigration prisons is another scandal. Mostly Latin American, these women are mothers of U.S. born children, born while the mother was here illegally. They are rounded up and jailed, pending deportation, with two or three kids trailing behind them. What opportunities are there to walk the straight and narrow, when you are a prisoner at age two? What other country in the world jails children? What opportunities are there for the sexual exploitation of these children within the prison system?

Mr. Kerik and his crime prevention cronies might be interested in selling tasers to the Trinidad police. This has to be avoided. Tasering induces heart attacks and is a video game type spin off of the cattle prods once used by southern lynchers against African Americans.

These merchants of international torture see only one colour – green, the colour of money.

Wherever the U.S. sinks its talons, the number of guns, and the amount of violence goes up.

You might wonder why that is. Go to history, and see who was deported from Europe to settle America – the criminals. This is why the society is so brutal, and why places that come under their hegemony, become brutal places. They export guns, crime fighting methods and foster a criminal society by so doing. People will not try other methods of social change if guns can settle the score. They are easy, deadly and spiral more death.

America has a lot that is worthy of emulation – its belief that their is an educational program for every child is one, the amounts of money spent on making life easier for the differently abled is another. The optimism and charity of its people is a third, but, we do not need to imitate its prison and policing systems.

Racism infested it long before Civil Rights tried to cleanse it, and it is still a corrupt system. This is why Amnesty International was investigating them a few years back, and the inordinate number of executions practiced in Texas is now an issue before the Supreme Court.

16 Responses to “Do not follow the U.S. prison system”


  • I suggest the USA follow the T&T prison system. Prisoners should be made to excrete on newspaper. No uniforms should be provided, cell phones easily available, horrible food, no cell searches and escape a common recurrence.Bail should be set so low, that just about everyone walks free until trial.
    In T&T it is MANDATORY that you go to jail for unpaid traffic tickets.
    Our prison system is sooooooooooooo much better.
    Sarcasm off.

  • Although you are being sarcastic you are misleading about what takes place in T&T’s prisons. “no cell searches and escape a common recurrence.” That is not true. Cells ARE searched and escape IS NOT a common “recurrence”.

  • Excuse me? Let me see how many escapes I can recall from 2006. 2 from Sando.Mag.Ct, 1 from P.O.S Gen Hosp., 1 from Police custody in Sando, 1 from Golden Grove, a few from YTC. 3 charged, or convicted of murder.Maybe they got tired of riding in those sardine can, sweat box trucks they call “Justice Always Late”.
    Of a total of 2 land -based prisons and $30 bil. budgets can’t we at least keep the dangerous hoodlums behind bars? There should be zero from Maximun Security.
    Cells are searched when the prisoners allow it, as even the man in charge disallowed officers from conducting a search. No shake downs allowed without prisoner consultation.
    I mean can you imagine having to do a #2 in a bucket with a room full of fellows, or worse yet having someone else relieve their bowels right next to you, and theres no flushing involved. RETCH!!
    Also tasers are a nono because a live bullet does a better job of restraining a lunatic with a brick in his hand. Or better yet the officer can hit him with his note pad, or that funny swizzle stick if he wears khaki.
    AA rated our prisons as one of the world’s worst in 2005.

  • Cells ARE searched and escape IS NOT a common “recurrence”.

  • I disagree with Linda for the reason that she gives for the United States being a violent society. Because some criminals from Europe were sent to settle the New World is not a definitive answer. Australia was a prison colony and is now where near as violent as the USA.

    Trinidad’s prisons must be bad because I’ve been to Haiti and if the illegal Haitians who were imprisoned preferred to be sent back to Haiti than stay in Trinidad prison…it’s got to be bad!

  • I must have missed that line. Please tell me who was deported to settle the USA. If my memory serves me correctly, the colonists of the USA were fleeing religious persecution and indentured laborers, and after that were paying passengers. Please inform me of this new historic event, as I was led to believe that the only convict colonies were Australia and French Guiana.

  • Shows what some ppl think they “know” after the US rebelled (1776) against British rule the Brits began sending them to Austrailia, before convicts were used in the New England states and others as cheap labour on farms, when their time was served they would be set free.

  • Riaz, let me give you a history lesson about Australia. Go to Wikipedia.com and check on The Black Line in Tasmanian history. 1830. There you will learn that white Australians went over to Tasmania, lined up on the shore, and walked across the island killing every aborginal Tasmanian that lived there, so they could take their land.
    That dastardly deed out shone the Trail of Tears and the deathmarch of the First Americans because some of them survived. It is equalled in history only by the German general who force marched the Herero people of South West Africa, which is now Namibia, into the Omahete desert, without water or food, in 1902, and left them there. Then he said that the Herero were not a real people, “a real people would not perish so easily”. For the fate of the Herero people, check European Genocide in Africa.

    These are historical incidents documented by white people.

    I know whereof I speak. Eternally vigilant.

  • Now, Reason, its your turn. English deportees settled America prior to 1776. They were shipped out by the boatloads for such major crimes as stealing a wild partride for dinner from a rich man’s farm. After the colonies revolted, they were then sent to Australia. Barbados also got its share. To be barbadoed was to be deported to Barbados. The few who came on the Mayflower were fleeing religious persecution, far more numbers came fleeing their creditors, the hangman’s noose and other legal problems. Even girls aged eleven were deported for petty crimes. Its there in the records.

  • Linda, in your haste to defend your statement, you misunderstand me. I was talking about present day. Australia today is far removed from the state of violence currently experienced in the USA. They were both a destination for convicts but you attribute the violent nature of America to this. I disagree with this reasoning because Ausrtalia is quite the opposite today.

  • Perhaps its Whites Only policy, practiced for two hundred years, in terms of immigrants, and its restriction of the indigenous population to reservations has something to do with this? As recently as the exodus of the Vietnamese Boat People, Australia refused most of them entry. So did JApan incidentally.

    Iceland too has low crime statistics, based on a very different precept. I do not haste to defend. I am a student of history, and all thaat happens now, have foundations in past actions. If you restrict the population to whites only for a long time, you breed one kind of people. Open societies have a different construct.

    Australia is not the opposite today. Come see me, and come live with me are two differentthings.

  • The indentured servants who you classify as “deportees”, which in itself is misnomer, as how can you deport someone to a land they have were not born in, exiles may be a better term .
    In any case these people were the worthy poor of the UK who had committed no crime. They were freed from debtors prisons by Colonel James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733.
    So from 1733 to 1776, a grand total of 43 yrs, the most deserving insolvent debtors from the jails of GB were sent to settle the colony of Georgia. Nobody fleeing the hangman’s noose and other legal problems included, just those unable to meet their financial obligations. Now take in to account the Mayflower landed in 1620, 113 yrs prior to this policy. Why don’t you just make up history as you go along.

  • Just to clarify, I mean Australia was quite the opposite of the USA (not Austraila of the past) in terms of violence both home and abroad.

  • As a Trini living in New York, I have to say to my fellow people, stop playing “follow the leader”. To follow a leader this leader must be righteous, is the USA righteous and worthy of following to a “T”, absolutely not. This country is riddled with racism, white on “any color”, so corrupted is New York that an organization has just been formed where people of “color” can quickly call a hot line to report police (some, not all) harassment, police (majorly white) harassing (non-whites) for any reason or no reason under the sun, in this media glorified country is phenomenal. They show you (on BET, FOX, CNN) the bling, the money, the riches and the smiling faces.
    What they don’t show you is the advantage clearly and constantly given to “non-colored” people, every one else must work quadruple hard for success out here, there is very little equality and justice, not even for the “non-criminal”.
    Trinidad is a multi ethnic nation and a small nation at that, where there is multi ethnicity, there is bound to be racism, and where we have inequalities (perceived or real), there will be unrest, anger, biasness, unfairness, jealousy, conceit, hatred, racism, and etc. amongst all of the people who have little to no knowledge on human DOMINANT/RECESSIVE genes, what makes skin color dark all the way down to pale, and have no understanding that we are one human race. .
    That ignorance, in the head of a police officer, will play the biggest role when attempting to keep prison cells occupied, for the better of his financial situation.
    We will all be hurt in the end, our cousins, uncles, mothers and brothers will cry out in pain. Stop thinking that these European Nations are flawless and are “the perfect role models” they are not. PLEASE don’t make that “Private Jail” mistake.

  • In the words of the Frantz Fanon:
    “Two centuries ago a former european colony decided to catch up to Europe. It succeeded so well thet the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.
    Comrades have we no other work to do thn create a third Europe?”
    The above quote is taken from “The wretched of the earth” a somewhat difficult read but none the less essential for the times in which we live.

  • Latest news buzz. The USA is trying to set up a jail in Mexico to jail Mexicans(read that Latin Americans, please) committing crimes in US, including perhaps, traffic violations. Some scholars say it’s unconstitutional. The very idea of wanting to go build a jail in someone else’s country, to incarcerate people who broke a law in your country, where unequal treatment before the law is legion, is frightening. That is like the time they asked Trinidad and Tobago to take in the Haitian Boat People, rather than let them go to the US, where they were trying to get to in the first case. Do we not have enough Guantanamos? Remember, the biggest prison building nations in the world are former oppressive regimes, and regimes where people are treated unequally because of race or skin colour. Every colonialist power had four buildings in its central compound a government house, a courthouse and jail, a post or telegraph office and a police station.(Older towns like Arima and Sangre Grande in Trinidad, still have this model- all on one block. With five or six colonial administratotrs, it was clear that the jails were not for them, but for those who resisted colonial rule. Same is true for North America- Canada and USA, India, Australia, Colonial Africa and the Caribbean. We need to see what unites not divides us.We inherited racial divisions from colonial attitudes, and pass them on to our children as if they are genetic traits. If they were, interracial marriages would not be possible. We have to wake up.

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