Lately there has been much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth by politicians concerning the vulnerability of some of the more than 2 million prisoners that are incarcerated in our country’s 6,000 federal, state and local penitentiaries, prisons and/or jails. Because of the tight quarters to which the prisoners are confined, so the thinking goes, they cannot practice social distancing and therefore are at greater risk of being infected by, and thus transmitting the virus to, one another.

Moreover, because of the conditions that exist within the walls of our nation’s correctional facilities — sullied at best, abhorrent at worst — there seems to be additional concerns that incarcerated populations are still more susceptible to COVID-19 than are the rest of us.

In response to these humanitarian anxieties many of our country’s prominent politicians, ever eager to be seen as representatives of the unrepresented, have advocated for and in some cases achieved the unthinkable — releasing convicted criminals, some of which were high-risk sex offenders.

Never mind the implications of such a move on the honest, hard-working citizens and taxpayers. But things, as things will, are quickly falling apart where this practice has so far been employed — to the surprise of no one the recidivism rates have been quite high, over 50 cases in NYC alone.

Still, the fair but depressing takeaway from this is where have all these troubled voices of concern been? It is absurd and obscene in equal parts that anyone would use the COVID-19 pandemic to feign alarm for prisoners who have endured prolonged suffering and humiliation at the hands of both publicly and privately run prison systems, and where it has been demonstrated in both word and deed that a prisoner’s life is one to be lived without dignity.

It is widely know that the incarcerated are, and have always been, at greater risk of disease (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, staph, sexually transmitted, AIDS), and violence (manifold issues of gang related assault, theft, murder and forced sodomy), as well as rampant drug abuse and all manner of untreated mental health issues. Still, as repugnant as these conditions and atrocities are to health and welfare of those incarcerated, we’ve never, paradoxically, thought to release any of them as a result. The conditions these prisoners live in are not only to the detriment of any lofty notion of rehabilitation, but in many cases antithetic to all that is decent and humane.

Why at this late hour do politicians like Bill de Blasio et al. express alarm for the wellbeing of prisoners?

What is it about the COVID-19 pandemic that represents the tipping point by some for the general health and welfare of prisoners when by any measure this virus pales, utterly pales, in comparison to the general health and welfare catastrophes otherwise faced by prisoners each and every day they spend incarcerated?

As metaphors go, ‘train wreak’ turns out to be pretty apt when discussing our $80 billion per year prison system. Prisons have degenerated into contemptible asylums of sadistic violence that are controlled by gangs, ignored by politicians and neglected by those public and private organizations tasked with their management and oversight in total representing a wholesale debacle that fails to deliver to the taxpayer, and to those convicted, any semblance of an institution of reform.

Though I’m all for accountability and paying your dues, it is nonetheless fair to say that anyone incarcerated by a state or federal government deserves, at a minimum, a clean, safe and healthy environment in which to pay their debt to society. How else can we expect to reform? That any politician is sounding alarms about COVID-19 and its potential impact on our prisons but has thus far failed to act to affect change in these other areas is tantamount to swallowing an elephant and choking on a gnat — it’s absolute hypocrisy!

There can be little to no reform for our prisoners when they’re being brutalized and/or raped by the tyrannical gang regimes that too often control so many of our prisons. If our politicians were concerned, genuinely concerned, about the heath and welfare of those incarcerated in our nation’s prisons they’d deploy, en masse, the additional resources necessary to end the ubiquitous violence that is sadly so much a part of the everyday life of those who are simply trying to serve their time.

(21) comments


I think that movement is meant for the thousands of inmates arrested for marijuana possession and given the horrendous mandatory sentences that were handed out.


What you think is not born out by the facts. Many criminals who are dangerous felons have been released. Murderers, rapists, etc.


Could you provide your fact sources??? I don’t believe you are correct. Peace.✌️


**In court filings, state lawyers said California intends to accelerate release and parole dates for 3,500 inmates serving terms for nonviolent crimes and already due to be released within 60 days. The releases are to be conducted “within the next several weeks.”**.......If you look at the States proposing prisoner release, this is pretty typical.


Didn't Quid Pro Joe, "you ain't black unless you vote for me" Biden support the anti-crime bill that called for mandatory sentencing? Wasn't it Trump that reversed the consequences of that bill with his prison reform order?[ninja]


It's interesting to remember when the liberals called our prisons country clubs when a white collar conservative is sent to the big house, but now since they want prisoners released, they are abhorrent. All depends on whose ox is being gored.

It's also important to remember that the convicts get three hots and a cot, along with free education and vocational training, as well as free medical care.

Accredited prisons also have to meet standards set by the American Correctional Association.


Where do you store all of your gored oxen?


Tell me things aren’t upside down when rapists, murderers, armed robbers, domestic terrorists, arsonists, and rapists get released from prison, but salon and other small business owners get locked up for defying a tyrannical governor’s executive order.


Can't argue with that reasoning, twodawgs, but I'm sure some here can make the case.[ninja]


In court filings, state lawyers said California intends to accelerate release and parole dates for 3,500 inmates serving terms for nonviolent crimes and already due to be released within 60 days. The releases are to be conducted “within the next several weeks.”....that’s my case. Other States are similar.


Mr. Bittle, the word to describe a train crash is spelled 'wreck', not 'wreak'.


Forgive me for the typo, I did not mean for it to distract you from the underlying points.






Prisoners shouldn’t be allowed early release nor should public school students be forced to attend school until a vaccination / cure is available.

Greg F

So you would rather risk someone's life even if they were 6 months shy of release anyway, and at risk due to the sardine-packed nature of prisons where many of them are purposely infecting each other that even poses more of a risk? They aren't releasing hardened criminals or those who haven't served the vasts majority of sentences. I guess you still want someone who smokes a joint to serve time too.


I believe in consistent consequences for druggies and crooked politicians, we routinely incarcerate innocent people so I have little sympathy for certified inmates who choose to violate the law


If what you say is true where are there a number of current cases where hardened criminals were released and have committed the same crimes again?


Is that true even if the incidence rate for school age children is much, much lower than say the flu or other maladies? Lets not make judgement merely based on fear. International studies have shown that not only is the infection rate among children next to nothing but that they do not carry or transmit the disease. It is interesting and seems at odds with what I would expect but it is the current scientific thought.


Somewhere along the way, public perception and mindset have devolved from a way to rehabilitate lawbreaking individuals into a “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” mentality. It is a complex problem - from the Quaker concept of a penitentiary and having the offender show penitence for the crime, to prisons teaching life skills, to chain gangs, tent cities and pink underwear there are wide disparities in the way inmates are treated and viewed. Jails and prisons have become a warehouse for the mentally ill who cannot function outside of a rigid structure, due to the closing of “mental institutions “ in the 1980’s. This population was released to the streets, and consequently were rehoused in the jails and prisons. The taxpayers never saved any money - this vulnerable population still needed a support structure so the taxpayers are now paying to keep them in jail. Drug and alcohol dependence have also filled jails and prisons with those addicted. Incarceration is not the proper placement for either of these issues, and should not be a warehouse for the mentally ill and addicted, but that is what it has become. Because the recidivism rate is high for both of these groups, public perception is that they should just be locked up and rehabilitation is a waste of time and money. The realization is that most of those incarcerated will be returned to society, and it is in everyone’s best interest to educate them and train them for a vocation so they can be contributing members of society.


For those who commit capital crimes or are repeat offenders, I have no problem the lock them up and throw away the key. For relatively minor offenses, sure lighter sentences but if they are released and recommit then longer and longer sentences are in order. However felons and especially violent felons deserve long, perhaps lifetime sentences and frankly I support the death penalty in some cases. Yours is a world of dreams. I personally know many who were in prison, released, given every opportunity and support to reenter society and instead chose otherwise. It is sad but true that many like their lifestyle for some reason unknown to the rest of us.

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