Gouging the Families of Prisoners; and “The Janitors of Good Wishes”

Gouging the Families of Prisoners; and “The Janitors of Good Wishes” November 7, 2014

a post with lots to say about political praxis as well as, you know, gouging the families of prisoners:

…There is a salutary purpose to be served by people like Henson, who believe that good government can offer valuable solutions to vexing problems.  The positive wishes for new ideas provide a force that drives innovations that do, in many instances, make things better than they were before.  Even if they don’t turn out perfectly, or as well as hoped, they can be surprisingly better.  Whether that’s enough is another issue.

But as lawyers, particularly criminal defense lawyers, are the janitors of good wishes, cleaning up the mess left behind by overly optimistic notions of grand solutions that ultimately create more, different, unanticipated problems, we tend not to be as sanguine.  We look for the cracks, the holes, the problems, because we’re the ones picking up the pieces of ruined lives left behind by the best of intentions. …

In this particular instance, Henson writes about how video jail visits, promised as an adjunct to in-person visits, seemed like a great idea.  It offered a secondary way of visiting inmates, and was a significant boon to family far away from prisons.  What could go wrong?

Well, the worthiness of the idea was dependent on its being a supplement to the normal, in-person visits.  When they came up with the idea, that’s how it was supposed to work.  And then time passed, and the supplement aspect faded until one day it was decided that video visits would serve as a replacement for in-person visits.

According to the prisons, video visits reduced disciplinary problems and contraband in the facility.  In-person visits are a much bigger hassle for the prisons, demanding staff to keep everyone in line, as there must be someone at the gate to antagonize and humiliate the loved ones of inmates. Keeping family at a distance makes their administrative tasks easier.

And then, there’s the money.

more; via Walter Olson

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