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Then You Wonder Why They Act so Outrageous

By Alicia Dorr in News on Apr 25, 2007 6:04PM

It really is tempting to succumb to the illusion of control when it comes to crime in this country. Those of us outside of the millions upon millions of square footage devoted to prisons can debate about the death penalty, or watch a movie or TV show about rehabilitation without ever having to face the prison industrial complex that has quietly grown out of control, and has never evolved to suit the needs of the people it supposedly exists for to help, or change.

alcatraz-prison-picture-3.jpgThat's why news of a two hour riot involving 500 inmates at the New Castle Correctional Facility is shocking, but really shouldn't be surprising. And if the idea of a large number of inmates inciting violence, setting fires in the courtyard and injuring two guards doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you, perhaps a word from one of the prison guards, Larry Savage, who sees and works with inmates every day might sway you:

"They were wrapped up in masks, with sticks, knives, shanks. ... They were just flexing their muscles and they wanted to show that they could take the prison over at any time, and that's what they did."

The riot itself was instigated by recently transferred Arizona inmates, apparently as a way to voice their unhappiness with their new surroundings. That may have been the immediate cause, but it is also a symptom of a greater frustration among a huge number of people who have been locked up and forgotten by a society that was spurned by one that thought a good way of dealing with crime was to send their unwanted to Australia.

We aren't sympathetic with any side, to tell you the truth. We just think that an event of this magnitude should act as a smelling salt on everyone, make us wonder if it really is the best idea to lock people away, to deny them time with families and to exercise as little "rehabilitation" techniques as possible. Just spend funds on building more prisons, right? Anything to set the people who arguably need more help and compassion than anyone apart from the rest of society.

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