Ron LeFlore (update)May 8, 2007
Current events rarely impinge on the constant whining sound of the musty squandered past here on Cardboard Gods, but I thought I should pass along the news that the recently featured Ron LeFlore is headed back behind bars.
My first thought on hearing this, I have to admit, was “Hm, what kind of comic material can I generate?” I’m not alone, I guess: I learned the news about LeFlore from a link on Baseball Think Factory, where the accompanying conversation was an exchange of one-liners (my favorite, from a poster named Wilson AlphaMeat, was “Maybe he’ll be discovered again.”). To salve my conscience over this, I am also providing a link to “The American Prison Nightmare,” a New York Review of Books article surveying some recent books that shed disturbing new light on our failing prison system. According to the article, things don’t look too good for Ron LeFlore:
[Confronting Confinement: A Report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons] tells us that America’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded, unnecessarily violent, excessively reliant on physical segregation, breeding grounds of infectious disease, lacking in meaningful programs for inmates, and staffed by underpaid and undertrained guards in a culture that promotes abuse. What is more, prisoners’ ability to legally challenge their living conditions has been curtailed by a congressional roadblock called the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, which has cut in half the number of inmates filing civil rights complaints.
And things don’t look too good for any of us, really, the article pointing out that the failing prison system hurts the entire society:
Bruce Western makes a crucial point at the start of his important book, Punishment and Inequality in America: “If prisons affected no one except the criminals on the inside, they would matter less.” But with more than two million Americans behind bars, the impact of mass incarceration is impossible to contain. Their fate affects the taxpayers who support them, the guards who guard them, the families they leave behind, and the communities to which they return. Not even the war in Iraq escapes the reach of prison culture; Sergeant Charles Graner, the villain of Abu Ghraib, worked as a Pennsylvania prison guard.