Joe Biden quickly pounced on the use of private prisons. Complaints of widespread abuse were running rampant so he immediately canceled contracts and began transferring inmates to federally operated facilities where life is more appealing. This was all well and good and objections to his actions were minimal. But then he dropped the ball. He promised massive prison reform but his increasing dementia must have wiped that memory clean.
In January, pen in hand, Biden smiled for the press as he scribbled his signature on an executive order. With the bravado of a mighty stallion, he said, “It is just the beginning of my administration’s plan to address systemic problems in our criminal justice system.” That stallion is now just another dead horse headed for the glue factory.
Federal prisons are bulging at the seams. Inmates are already living like dead sardines in a can. Tensions run high and violent misbehavior has dramatically risen.
Phase one. Biden is still expected at his convenience to start encouraging reductions in prison populations as a solution to the problem. The easiest way to do this would be to hold a lottery to see who gets sprung. Make it fun.
Phase two. Once this is accomplished something has to be done to keep them from filling back up again. An easy answer for this would be to start cutting criminals a little more slack. A good smack on the hand can do wonders ‘ya know.
Biden’s soft stance on this serious issue is not going to solve what’s happing inside federal prisons. He doesn’t get it. Extreme violence and suicides are everyday occurrences. Health concerns are not being properly dealt with, if at all, and due to understaffing, escapes are at an all-time high.
But the worst is yet to come. The majority of inmates being transferred from private prisons have only been transferred on paper. They’re slowly starting to trickle into federal facilities as private prisons begin the preliminary stages of shutting down, but once the new inmates start arriving by the busloads, which they will, the poops gonna hit and demolish the fan.
Because federal prisons are already severely understaffed, and the public is all too aware of how the Biden administration is tackling the overpopulation issue, guards and staff are quitting at a higher rate than the bureau is receiving employment applications.
Prison reform advocates say Biden talked a believable game with his forked silver tongue but he’s taken no action whatsoever. Inimai Chettiar of the Justice Action Network said, “There isn’t an appetite in the administration to act.”
The administration blames its lack of action on the pandemic while at the same time devoting all of its efforts to infrastructure. They say to give it time. It’s only been six months.
Biden said that ordering the closures of private prisons was “to stop corporations from profiteering off of incarcerating — incarceration that is less humane and less safe, as the studies show.” This was said during a speech aimed at one of Biden’s key agendas, combating racism.
Biden could easily tie prison reform and racism up with the same ribbon. Nowhere on earth are racism and racial inequality on display more so than inside of America’s prisons. It’s been this way since the 1800’s when the first U.S. prisons were established to lock up freed slaves for any offense anyone could create at the spur of the moment. Since that time prison populations have remained disproportionally Black.
Adding to the overpopulation dilemma, the federal prison population is growing even without the transferees. Give or take, there are roughly 156,000 federal inmates serving average terms of five to twenty years. Of those, 46% are serving time for drug-related charges.
Weapons, arson, and blowing stuff up make up 20%. The rest are there for “other stuff,” which could include something as small as crossing state lines after committing a minor crime that may not have been jailable in the first place. A federal inmate may have stolen a tank of gas in WV and made it two miles over the Ohio border before getting stopped. Their cellmate might be serving three consecutive life sentences for murdering and chopping people up.
The Biden administration has no power to change what’s considered a jailable offense and what isn’t, thank God, but there’s a lot they can and better do quickly. Staffing is crucial. Dwindling staffs and rising prison populations is not a good recipe. Someones going to get hurt. Probably lots of people, including any remaining staff.
Proper medical care is another easy fix. There are so many easy steps the administration could take to immediately relieve the growing dangers, but they say to give it more time. Meanwhile, inmates are hanging themselves from drain pipes and receiving minimal medical treatment for the handmade shanks they’re sticking in each other as their frustration grows.
The main objective of prisons is the rehabilitation of its inmates into productive citizens, not to piss ’em off and make ’em worse. Granted, life on the inside is not intended to resemble a peaceful picnic in Central Park, but a little humanity might go a long way. Biden promised he’d fix all of this but the truth has revealed itself. To him, they’re just a bunch of worthless prisoners with no redeeming qualities. Let ’em rot.