Today you came to Nueces County Jail, the facility I am currently incarcerated at, to give your “National Inmate Survey.” You sent or hired individuals to come interview about 350 inmates in a jail with a population of over 1,000. Furthermore, you stated that you plan on doing similar surveys at about 500 facilities Nationwide.
Your consent form states that, “The results of this study MAY help improve the condition and well being of inmates in correctional facilities across the nation (emphasis on may is mine, not yours). It also explains that “The purpose of this research project is to estimate the numbers of inmates who are sexually assaulted in prisons and jails each year.”
Unfortunately, I am writing you today to let you know that you can add one more to the already staggering numbers of inmates who have tragically been sexually assaulted during their incarceration. Of course, in your cold statistical survey percentages, this individual assault will not even change your numbers a fraction of a percent. The assault actually occurred during the same exact time you were requesting inmates for your survey today. The already well understaffed jail was having a significantly hard time fulfilling your requests for potential surveyees, giving the perpetrating inmate an ample amount of time to assault the victim. To better your statistical understanding, in our own unit, the on duty corrections officer spent a collective one to one and a half hours sending and collecting people to your survey. Furthermore, the survivor of this assault happens to be the only openly transsexual person in our unit, and her earlier requests for protective custody had been brushed off by jail staff.
After consulting with the survivor-inmate, I have promised to keep her identity anonymous as she only has a few more days left to serve and does not want any amount of individual or systematic blowback for whistleblowing on an already traumatic experience. Also, out of my own fear of receiving some sort of “terrorism,” sedition, or defamation charge, I by no means am nor would I ever, insinuate or state that any government branch or office is liable for this rape. Also, I would not dare state that this is a tragically precise example of the institutional failure in your self-fulfilling, self-interested, self-perpetuating, bloated and bureaucratic monopoly on violence. I would further like to ass that as a God-fearing patriot of this amazing nation – one that was proudly founded on the genocide of entire native populations and economically fueled for over two centuries by the exploitation and enslavement of even more human beings – that I undyingly support every racist, classist, and insane policy created and enforced to make this beautiful country the world’s leader in incarcerations and state-sanctioned executions. But before moving on, I would like to clarify that in your own laws (legitimate of course, only through the monopoly of violence that you, the State, uses for enforcement; in other words, your rules because you have the guns to say so), you have explicitly stated, that for better or worse, you will assume all legal responsibility for the protection and well being of these inmates while incarcerated.
So, as an ex-economics major and community college dropout, I have learned through the years a couple things that might interest you. The first would be, how to effectively run a black market gun and drug running operation. Oops. Wait, I actually learned that from you, the United States Government, in History 1302, during the section on the Iran-Contra Affair. The second thing (really, I guess now the only thing) I learned while studying economics is that statistics are ALWAYS used by their two largest producers, for profit corporations and governments to even further legitimize and justify their claims to power (as if force was not enough). Through the use of deceptive and limiting language (such as words and terms like “only,” “some,” “way below,” and “comparatively), the facilitation of only selective statistics (lying through omission is still lying), even within the carefully scripted manner on how statistics are displayed (for example, stating that “Only 22% of those currently incarcerated admit to being sexually assaulted,” instead of more explicitly stating, “660,000 of the 3 million currently incarcerated inmates, or almost 1 in 4, admit to being sexually assaulted during incarceration, but the total number of unreported assaults would bring this number even higher”) your statistical narratives will only paint a rose-tinted portrait of correctional facilities. Once again, but in different words, these are the same facilities that you have an oversigting responsibility to fulfill all inmates’ constitutional guarantees while under state incarceration. This is not an attempt to accuse you of, now or ever, purposely misconstruing or outright manufacturing “the facts” to rationalize or justify your actions, or sometimes more fundamentally destructive, your inactions. That would be as horrible as establishing unfounded and false pretenses for a war (like the existence of weapons of mass destruction), which you have never been accountable for, so that must mean you are not guilty of doing such dishonest things. But then again, look for who is in charge of the accountability process or even the accounting process for that matter. Wait, there is an accountability process?
Okay, so I guess my real intention of writing this letter is not to give you a lesson in either economics or statistics (by looking around at the current financial situation, it seems you already have that one down perfect). My intentions actually come from the much more frustrating by honest standpoint of being locked up behind bars. Honest, because I actually admitted to my actions (so, how many coups and assassinations does the C.I.A. have under its belt now?). Frustrating, because the internment, belittlement, suffering and countless other harmful implications of my being incarcerated, have no more meaning to you than the tax margins on a capitalistic end of year accounting spreadsheets. Marginalized by statistics, then branded with an 8-12 digit inmate identification number, we become no more than data in computers, which is then printed out on yearly congressional reports, that end up being not only double the size of San Antonio’s completely un-abridged phone book, but also about twice as useless. Reports demanding the same thing annually; more tax dollars and harsher sentences; a reduction in prison education programs and more control; less inmate’s rights and more greed; less nutrition in the food and more power; ultimately producing lesser human beings.
Some would say that there are only two major distinctions between you and the Nazi’s. The first simply being that while the Nazi’s exclusively used only IBM computing machines, that you further perpetuate an illusion of free markets with purchases from Dell, Compaq, HP, Macintosh, Acer, Toshiba, etc. The second is that while the Nazi’s systematically eliminated Jews, gypsies, gays and other minorities; inside ghettos; packed on to cattle-cars; shot with rifles and machine guns; and by Zyklon-B gas chambers disguised as showering rooms; that you, the U.S. Government, are only systematically murdering poors, blacks, browns, yellows, reds, among other minorities; inside ghettos, hooked on government trafficked drugs; shot with police issued handguns and tasers; and death caused from old age and stress from fighting within a trap of probation, jails, and a lack of property rights, if we’re a part of the lucky ones; or if we are not so lucky then it’s death by parole, prisons and the loss of all rights.
You hold the power to take away one’s rights at anytime, such as the right to vote or the right to a fair trial. You instead replace them with the rights of all white juries; drunken public defenders; racist judges; three-strike laws; mandatory minimums; private, for profit, maximum security detention facilities; a bastardization and crumbling of due process and habeas corpus; and parole and probation violations that are as arbitrary as not being able to find work as a felon; or successfully renting a residency as a felon; or establishing a line of credit with the local phone company as a felon, just in order to have a landline to hook your monitoring bracelet into each night. And who the fuck, in America, still can rationalize a landline when cell phones are sold at Wal-Marts, Safeway’s, and Dollar Stores for only $9.99; an amount that is less than a tenth of a percent the true cost of total ecological destruction caused by the ridiculously obscene manufacturing of cell phones; or one hundredth of a percent less the cost of medical expenses from the economically coerced slave-wage laborer, that could never actually afford the luxury of a hospital or health care, so instead incurring the ultimate cost of or price of numerous cancers; yes, the same precious gift of cancer that is continued to be passed down through a poisoned land base and water table, onwards to their children and countless generations to follow; all while the necessities of food and drinkable water are being denied to those same newborn children through so called “necessary” U.S. economic sanctions; running concurrent with IMF and World Bank imposed mandatory repayment plans on loans, that those same people never saw a dime nor even a penny from; making the countries that those same people reside in, labeled so obscurely in global economic indicator terms as, net food exporters, but in more honest words, food robbed from the poor to be given to rich world’s landfills; all while, CCIA propped up military dictators run to offshore banks with billions in profits swindled from those same IMG and World Bank’s loans that are now seeking repayment (and interest) of another way of saying, holding hostages, in the form of destition and starvation; the same exact Caiman Island offshore banks that double as tax shelters, for many of world’s largest multinational corporations, from the burden of “unfair” and “harsh” United States corporate tax laws,; laws that are overlooked by U.D. lawmakers and the lobbyists who own them, in order to reallocate funding from schools, healthcare, and other social programs into financial bailouts and economic stimulus plans; plans that end up benefiting the same tax-evading corporations with tax payer dollars amounting into the trillions; all under the flag of freedom, free enterprise, free trade, and freeways only for those house servants that can afford to cash in their clunker for a more gas efficient, ethanol-burning, hybrid SUV; burning up the same ethanol produced from the heavily tax-subsidized corn, that use to be sent overseas as food rations from U.S. Aid; all while the U.S. claims to aid “backwards” countries forwards into freedom and democracy, with its leaders like a broken record repeating freedom and democracy, freedom and democracy, as they continue to “liberate” poor countries to much more manageable sizes; with the use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs, wars, when properly managed can increase the cancer rates while decreasing the voting rates which makes for a better transition into the democracy of industry; So, once these war stricken countries become stable enough for business, the same multinational corporations make their way to economically enslave more of the world’s poor; among the many new sweatshop factories, is one that produces lithium ion batteries for prepaid cell phones, and another that produces clothing for Bob Barker’s prison supply industries; and of course, like any system of abuse, the cycle continues to perpetuate itself at the expense of most, for the delusions of a few.
Being that your job is to isolate and quantify very real world things into abstractable numbers, I don’t expect you to understand all of this, or any of it, for that matter. These things are all connected and not just by numbers. If you really were interested in “help[ing] improve the conditions and well being of inmates in correctional facilities across the nation,” you would not interview a limited few thousand inmates by computer survey and then expect to gain an understanding of the infliction, problems, concerns affecting over 3 million inmates. Instead you would interview all 3 million plus inmates, and not just without a survey with preset parameters, but actual interviews requiring an open dialog. Actually, if you really cared about any inmates, you would no longer be able to justify in words or numbers their ongoing internment under such a corrupt, insufficient and broken system.
But if you allowed yourself to care, you would no longer be able to justify waking up Monday through Friday, just to leave your own kids behind to then spend all day staring into a glowing box as it shoots out magical numbers and a paycheck twice a month. Is your salary worth the bloody perpetuation of oppressive wars abroad, repressive policing here at “home,” an overall enslavement of most human life, and all at a historically unmatched, irreversibly destructive exploitation of the land base that all life depends on? Is the best way to benefit your children to be away from them forty hours a week? Is that what you or they think?
Do they actually prefer self-medicating their lack of identity with television, cell phones, computers and video games? Instead, would they much rather prefer forming a substantial relationship with their father, who up until this point, they have grown up never knowing because he spends his day doing his part to the continuation of incarceration, a colder way of saying, keeping other fathers locked up away from their own families? Do you realize your daily monotonous tasks are inseparable from the nightmarish consequences of the larger institutions that through your career have used and pimped you? Do the answers to any of these questions scare you?
What’s your child’s favorite book? What was your favorite children’s book? Have you even had the time to share it with your own child? Can you imagine trying to read to your child during a ten minute visit, once a month, using a dirty plastic phone, because multiple plates of shatter-proof glass and bolted down prefabricated sheets of steel separated you? Have you ever even read any stories or told some of your own, to your child at night by their bedside? Can you imagine only being able to read to your child, by their graveside, all because one year earlier they were killed by a daisy cutter, that was unsuccessful in targeting someone who might have shared your religion, your neighborhood, your skin color, or maybe the only common ground you two shared was both being poor? Can you imagine not even knowing how to read because you were raised from factory to factory and now that your oldest daughter has just turned ten, she to will be forced into working just like you? Do these questions even affect you or are you so numb from booze, work, and T.V., that you stop yourself from feeling anything?
When was the last time you made love? Have you ever been overwhelmed with feelings while in another’s arms, or have you always just rated them on a scale of ten to one? Have you ever had to sit in front of a computer screen and listen to a manufactured voice, list out multiple choice questions about sexual assault? Can you imagine doing this after witnessing a cery real assault? Would you be afraid to tell the truth? Would it do any good if you had? Have you, yourself, ever been sexually assaulted? Have any of your children or significant others been coerced into such a traumatizing experience? If they had, would you even know, or would you just be at work? Would you place them in a freezing cold building, in front of a screen, with a computer voice poking and probing with dozens of emotionless questions, in hopes that you’ll be able to understand them better? Would you try to bribe them with a bag of 100 calorie mini-snack cookies to answer question after question? How, when, where, and with what were they sexually assaulted by? How hard was it? How long did it last? Did they take a bribe of a honey bun or ramen noodle soup afterwards? Did they bruise? Did they bleed? Did anything break or tear? Can you even imagine, you or anyone else you love, answering these questions to a computer with a robot voice, limited to only replies of yes-no, true-false, a) b) c) d)? Would it make it easier if you used the touch pad or touch screen? Would it make it easier if these questions were interpreted in Spanish? Can you imagine not knowing that at the end of the day, all of your answers were simply tallied up, equated out, and averaged to find a few numbers or maybe percentage? Could you imagine knowing any of this? Does any of this make you feel anything at all and if not, what will? What will it take for you to see statistics as a disgusting, inappropriate, warped and insane way of viewing the world?
Thanks for your time,
Nueces County Jail
Written on 08.03.09
(Transcribed by Charity)