Is stealing wrong? Is it wrong if you’re stealing from someone the government has labeled a criminal? That’s essentially what’s going on in the prison system. Everyone likes to hate on “criminals” I guess, now that homosexuals, minorities, women, Jews, and so forth are officially off limits, (rightfully so, of course) but exploiting prisoners is not an effective way of improving public safety. Goethe, the famous German poet and polymath once said,
Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.
But if Oregon governance, and the Oregon Department of Corrections is a branch of Oregon governance, can’t even manage the task of simple honesty, I doubt whether they have the capacity to treat anyone either the way they might potentially be, or even the way they are –apostate, but potentially quite redeemable in most cases.
Unfortunately, the Oregon Department of Corrections doesn’t give a damn about the human souls in their custody. Prisoners are treated with the utmost contempt, and if they are viewed in any positive light, it is only because of what ODOC stands to gain financially through their various little scams.
I received a feeble response from Ms Wade who, you can tell by her tone, is used to dealing with prisoners in an off-hand, dismissive manner. It is precisely this arrogance which I not only intend to expose, but also exploit. Pride comes before a fall, as it is said. The Oregon Department of Corrections is also extremely vulnerable, just as any large, complacent institution tends to be, because they are unaccustomed to being challenged. They are certainly not used to scrutiny of any sort, and you can bet that they will do everything in their power to shy away from it.
Their problem is that every single thing they do is observed and monitored by the inmates. Because I was an inmate, there is nothing I cannot find out, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. In the near future I will be posting some shocking information about some of the abuse that went on in the prison I was at. They have no idea what I possess or who they’re dealing with!
Ongoing, I am going to get prisoners to tell their stories. I am going to name names Mr. Hernandez, Lt. Geers, CO Toombs, CO Blackburn, CO Tackett. If any of you happen to reading this, know that I am unafraid, and I will be exposing your cowardly acts, and the untold abuses that I and countless others have suffered at your hands.
I will be sending more and more letters into the prison system. I will be at the gates of your institutions greeting departing prisoners, asking them to consider joining the cause. I will also be posting videos of prisoners that I met so they can tell you their own stories.
So, this is the response that I sent to Debbie L. Wade:
Dear Ms Wade,
So let me get this straight: Of all the thousands upon thousands of wallets, belts, purses, iPhones, shirts, jackets, socks, shoes, underwear, hats, watches, earrings, gold jewelry and so forth collected over time, no inventory has ever been taken, and these items of considerable value that were previously thrown out are now being donated to the Salvation Army? And the money that the Salvation Army makes by reselling these items never makes its way into victim’s funds, funds for the children of prisoners, or the prisoner’s welfare fund? And during the period of time that everything was being thrown out, including the gold, the diamonds, and the platinum, you somehow had special knowledge that every guard ever to have worked in intake was of such sterling character and trustworthiness that none ever got into the trash to retrieve anything already on its way to the dumpster? Okay, I guess I could see how that might be.
Of course, now that all of those items of value are just handed over to the minimum-wage-making Salvation Army truck drivers, and then to the minimum-wage-making Salvation Army store employees, we don’t have to worry that any of the items are ever taken? Or maybe you couldn’t say?
I left prison just over two weeks ago, by the way. You know what I left with? A pair of cheap sweats, a bag of condoms, and $9 on my Oregon Trail card that I had made over the course of nine days scrubbing latrines. I tried to refuse the bag of condoms, but was told by mean old Ms Jackson, a guard, that I wouldn’t be allowed to exit the prison without taking the bag of condoms with me. On a totally different topic, if you don’t mind, I have to ask: are sex offenders also given the bag of condoms, (not that that I’m trying to imply that such a thoughtful gesture would be sending a mixed message or anything)?
Instead of throwing the clothes away, or giving them away, maybe the fair and sensible thing to do would be to give them to departing prisoners? It is we who donated them in the first place, right? That would actually save the tax payer a couple of coins since you probably wouldn’t have to keep buying the cheap sweats from Dollar Tree (or wherever you get them, Fifty Cent Tree, maybe?) as well. The prison has a virtually unlimited supply of free slave labor, so it shouldn’t be any trouble to ship it over to a release prison like Columbia River Correctional Institute to have them process all of it, right?
As far as the inmate not getting tax documentation from the Salvation Army, or even being told that the belongings are going to the Salvation Army, (and not being given a way to contact the Salvation Army), I would suggest that when it comes to such things, you can’t simply say “We don’t have the time”. Taking care of the regular fiduciary responsibilities that come with handling and disposing of other people’s property shouldn’t be viewed as an inconvenience! Any ordinary citizen, prisoner or not, certainly doesn’t have the luxury of saying “Oh, it was too much of a bother”. Frankly Ms Wade, such negligence could land a regular person in prison! But you should be informed that inmates are not given written or verbal notice that their belongings go to that specific charity, so I don’t know how they would begin to make a proper inquiry.
So, in addition to making a few comments and seeking some clarification (please let me know if I’ve gotten anything wrong here), I would like to know who I can contact at the Salvation Army that might know a little about these valuables that they are receiving from your prison system. They should have the phone and the jewelry for sale somewhere, right?
Here are a few other things I’ll be inquiring about also in the near future:
- When guards discipline inmates, say, by writing them up, is that information ever kept on file?
- When I was at DOC, I noticed that African Americans received a disproportionate amount of the “discipline”, maybe something like 50% even though they made up a much smaller proportion of the inmate population. Do you ever audit such reports to make sure that there isn’t racial bias? Because it sure seemed like there was a lot of it when I was there.
- What is the legal status of inmate calls? Since they are all recorded, should they be regarded as public record? If I wanted a file of all the calls I made, I should be able to get that, right? If so, how much would it cost?
- How much does ODOC profit every year, in total, by its vendor relationships?
- Are there any vendors supplying goods or services to ODOC who were former employees?
- What access does the public have to all of the video that is recorded or prisoners on a daily basis? Is any of this available to the public? What is the Oregon Statute which governs all of this?
- Are inmates notified when their mail is not delivered to them? Who watches this? I ask because soon after I got out of prison, several friends reported having sent letters that I never received.
- Do I have a Constitutional right, do you think, to send a copy of this letter to every DOC prisoner? If not, why not?
- Are DOC employees incentivized for keeping food costs down? That is, are they ever given bonuses for meeting certain targets?
- While hundreds of teachers are being laid off across Oregon, how much does DOC spend on floor wax? (I remember being given was I was told was very expensive floor wax to wax the floors in the kitchen on several occasions).
- Is any record kept of how much contraband is seized from strip searches, the kind where a prisoner has to spread his ass cheeks, bend over and cough.
- Do you have any record of how often these strip searches are performed?
- Has the rate of recidivism been trending up or down in the Oregon Prison system over the last few years?
- What guards have been under investigation for prisoner abuse over the last couple of years?
- Lieutenant Tackett was widely reported to have beaten a crippled prison, along with Lieutenant Geers. Do you know whether there is any truth to these allegations?
- How much does the ODOC pay out in a typical year in law suits? Can you give me a total from the last five years?
Just so you know, I’ll also be inquiring about where all of the money goes from all of the “feeds” that are held throughout the prison system. And much else besides, but I’m guessing you’ll have your hands full with this for awhile. I’ll be sending this letter out to about twenty or thirty media outlets, too, by the way: The Oregonian, The Register Guard, The Nation, The New Yorker, The ACLU, The Mercury, The Willamette Week, and so on. You don’t have anything to worry about, Ms Wade, I’m sure. I’ll also be posting a copy on my website, bunk34.com. I’ll be waiting for your reply!