July 30, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

Howdy, y'all. Just a word to let you know I have returned from the hoosegow and am now, again on patrol of the homeless-, sacramento-, and buddho-blogospheres – to the extent the probation departmento of the Sacramento justice system allows.

The county jail facility in the city of Elk Grove where I've been for the past 32 days was interesting. I hope to blog about it soon. My biggest complains are that the dorm was noisy as hell much of the time which was nerve rattling and cognitively impairing; that cops/guards were excessively meanspirited, though I recognize they have a tough job, sometimes; and that the culture of black twentysomethings seems to be in particularly bad shape. Among many positive surprizes: My fellow inmates [and certainly including those who were black twentysomethings] were overwhelmingly interesting and sociable people; there were many acts of kindness coming from my brother inmates; and the level of chess playing was very advanced.

One thing I come away from my experience not understanding is the purpose of jail. I come away wondering what theories there are 'out there' on what jail is supposed to achieve.

Sure, basically it should be punishment. Is it proper, then, for inmates with the means to be able to buy items from the commissary, and have phone use, totalling more than $600/month, whereas poor inmates must make do with welfare, which consists of small quantities of basic toiletries, two stamped envelopes, two sheets of paper and a stubby pencil? Shouldn't punishment be wholly a function of time served and be equal, as can be otherwise, comparing one inmate with another?

12 comments:

Kyle said...

Welcome back Tom, good to see you out and safe.

franko said...

yes, welcome back. i can't wait to hear about your thoughts experiences.

Rev. Danny Fisher said...

Welcome back, Tom! And thank you for your letters. (I got two in the mail today to mark the occasion!)

Tom Armstrong said...

Thanks, guys. I wish I could say it was particularly nice being back [that is free, again], but the bad economy has homeless world on the ropes. I must rush off and see if I can get a place to sleep tonight. In a jail, a guy doesn't have that problem. [Maybe I can do something to get myself incarcerated, again, you think?]

~C4Chaos said...

welcome back to the other side of samsara. looking forward to your stories.

~C

P.S. i hope you didn't drop the soap ;)

NellaLou said...

Good to know that you are back safely.

Tom Armstrong said...

Hey, hey, C4. No, grrrr, I didn't drop the soap. Actually, to my surprise, modesty was the go word in the dorm bathroom. Though there were eight showerheads in the shower room, and that room did double duty as the place for many to use banned substances [mostly tobacco], the protocol was that one guy use the shower area at a time.

Thanks, C4 and NellaLou. Good to be back, outside the concertina-wire topped fences.

Mumon said...

Welcome back. I wish you great fortune on the next thing.

Ryan Garou said...

First off, welcome back man and glad you made it through without incident.

Re: your final observation on prison, keep in mind you are living in an evil society that at the bottom does not care about rationality or fairness. Prison is about a number of things - making money for the police and security industries, maintaining the aura of authoritarian control, managing and brainwashing people who are in a position to potentially become revolutionaries ... it's never going to be tweaked to accommodate fair punishment or optimal human rehabilitation. There's no reasoning or arguing with the Mammon Machine ...

Tom Armstrong said...

Thanks, Ryan. Ha, ha & aha! I certainly think you're right with what you write, but I am mostly interested in what a jail ought to be like.

Likely a perfect jail isn't achievable, but there ought to still be a blueprint for one. Anyway, I'm going to search for that blueprint and report back on what I find.

But Benjamin Franklin is on your side, Ryan, writing in Poor Richard's Almanack "There are no ugly Loves, nor handsome Prisons."

Anonymous said...

always alert to how to improve our sorry state, you keep the words that keep us on target
----so good to see you back,
judih

Tom Armstrong said...

Thanks so much, judih, my dear longtime friend.