David Arenberg is the only Jewish inmate in the Arizona state prison in which he’s currently incarcerated. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a piece in which he describes his experience:
I am always the last person to eat. It’s part of a compromise I worked out with the skinheads who run the western state prison complex where I am incarcerated. Under this compromise, I’m allowed to sit at the whites’ tables, but only after the “heads,” and then the “woods,” and then the “lames” have eaten. I am lower on the totem pole than all of them, the untouchable. I should feel lucky I’m allowed to eat at the whites’ tables at all.
Not that there’s anywhere else I could eat. The prison yard is broken down into five distinct racial categories and segregation is strictly enforced. There are the “woods” (short for peckerwoods) that encompass the whites, the “kinfolk” (blacks), the “Raza” (American-born people of Mexican descent), the “paisas” (Mexico-born Mexicans), and the “chiefs” (American Indians). Under the strict rules that govern interracial relations, different races are allowed to play on the same sports teams but not play individual games (e.g., chess) together; they may be in each others’ cubicles together if the situation warrants but not sit on each others’ beds or watch each others’ televisions. They may go to the same church services but not pray together. But if you accidentally break one of these rules, the consequences are usually pretty mild: you might get a talking to by one of the heads (who, of course, claims exemption from this rule himself), or at worst, a “chin check.”
Eating with another race, however, is a different story. It is an inviolate rule that different races may not break bread together under any circumstances. Violating this rule leads to harsh consequences. If you eat at the same table as another race, you’ll get beaten down. If you eat from the same tray as another race, you’ll be put in the hospital. And if you eat from the same food item as another race, that is, after another race has already taken a bite of it, you can get killed. This is one area where even the heads don’t have any play.
Seems to me that Dave is going to make a seamless transition back into society.
Google plus has two written reviews of the prison, but the bit that caught my eye was the description:
AT A GLANCE: death row · custody · inmates
Yes, I have spent the last 30 minutes reading google reviews of Arizona prisons.
Even cats are put in headlocks by the screws in Brazil
A penitentiary agent holds a cat with a package of tools and a mobile phone taped to its body at Luiz de Oliveira Souza prison in Arapiraca, Alagoas, Brazil. Brazilian authorities captured the cat, which was entering the prison with a saw, bits for hand drills, a mobile phone, batteries and a charger. The cat belonged to the prisoners and was frequently taken by relatives to their homes, returning to the prison on its own.
The O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported Saturday that all of the prison’s 263 inmates are suspects in the smuggling attempt, though it says a prison spokesman said, “It will be hard to discover who is responsible since the cat does not speak.”
I’ve started following a few more Photojournalism Blogs, the MSNBC one is not bad
Taken between 1989 and 1993, Sergei Vasiliev’s photographs of Soviet prisoners document the secret code language of criminals in the USSR, evidence of a gritty spirit of picaresque resistance within a violently repressive culture.
I found an russian tatt art tumblr if you’re keen.
Federal prisoners Joseph Banks and Kenneth Conley made this rope out of sheets and dental floss and abseiled 20 storeys to freedom. Right after forcing themselves through a four inch gap they’d chiseled in the wall Shawshank style. Badass.
Santa Rita do Sapucai is a town of 35,000 inhabitants in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, two hours from Sao Paulo. It is called the “Brazilian Silicon Valley” for its electronics industry, but the truth is that very little ever happens here.
Few attractions exist in Santa Rita. There is the river Sapucai. There is the February carnival, which attracts a few hundred samba dancers once per year. Until a few months ago, Santa Rita was lost and forgotten in the lush Brazilian vegetation. And then something happened. News media across the world turned their attention to the most disreputable place in this tiny town.
In Santa Rita jail, inmates earn their liberty through exercise. Eight prisoners take turns on four stationary bicycles, each pounding out a hard trail to freedom.
After reading an article about American prisoners creating electricity through stationary bikes, Santa Rita’s local judge, Jose Henrique Mallmann, decided to apply the concept on his home turf. Four street bikes were donated by the police, and converted into stationary exercise bikes. Local businesses donated old batteries, and others volunteered to install a system that would transform mechanical energy into electrical energy, producing enough energy to light up 10 of the 34 lamps that glow over the banks of the river Sapucai.
Inside the jail, prisoners pedal from 9am to 5pm. They get breaks for meals, and each three-day stint of cycling (24 hours total) reduces the prisoners’ sentences by one day. “Everybody wins,” argues the prison warden, and he may be right.
Inmates lose weight, improve their health, work productively, benefit the town and feel useful. Moreover, they finally wield some influence over the duration of their prison time. In return, the local community gets light, and with it, a drop in crime. The areas of town that once stood dark and neglected have been taken back by the citizens of Santa Rita, who now walk and play sports under the 10 pedal-powered street lamps.
“We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such…What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.”
09/13/71 - State Police & National Guard assault ends a four day prisoner uprising at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY. When all is said and done, 29 inmates and 10 hostages lay murdered by authorities.
With powerful and probing films like “The Trials of Henry Kissinger,” “Why We Fight” and “Reagan,” documentarian Eugene Jarecki has turned a critical eye to some of the most fundamental political and social issues on the American landscape, and he’s done it again with his latest effort, “The House I Live In.”