FUNDING OUR OWN INCARCERATION
BY CHARLES A. JACKSON BEY
As we know the cost of living in the outside world has been going up and the battle for minimum wage has reached nearly ten dollars per hour throughout Michigan. Be mindful the institutional factory jobs has been removed throughout Michigan prison system, as well as our work bonuses for the remaining jobs such as food service. Over the last 30years prison wages have not gone up! throughout Michigan, it is widely known that state prisoners such as myself can barely support ourselves with a prison job adding to pennies a day. We are considered blessed if we have the help of family and friends. It should be noted once again that prison wages have not increased in over 30years. Yet the prison store prices have gone up! Along with prison job pay scales going down. On top of limiting us to only 200 hours as food service workers, with a starting rate at 17.5¢ unskilled, 23.5¢ semiskilled, and 32.5¢ skilled per hour, consider how prisoners are being held responsible for the following living expenses toward funding our own incarceration:
A. Hygiene supplies including sales tax
B. Over-the-counter medications,
including sales tax
C. Co-payments for medical, dental, optical services, in the amount of $5.00 per visit individually
D. Legal photocopies along with notary
services in the amount of $1.00 per notary.
Pursuant to MDOC policy directive PD 03.04.101, which governs medical service providers to charge prisoners a $5.00 medical co-payment for all medical services as delineated above, placing extreme hardship on all prisoners! so this alone does save the state and prison system thousands of dollars. This is in addition to the fact that all the work we do would otherwise cost the state money to hire people from outside to do, which means prisoners are taking on the many facility operations.
Also look how we add additional funding to our own incarceration, comparing store prices from 2008 to those of 2020:
*noodles then 20¢ now 35¢
*white rice then 65¢ now $1.39
*chili no beans then $1.45 now $3.33
*peanut butter then $1.70 now $3.29
*tuna fish then $1.30 now $4.42
*footlocker then $79.40 now $112.00
*protein powder then $10.90 now $15.51
*cough drops then 65¢ now 93¢
*stamped envelope then 41¢ now 59¢
*Colgate toothpaste then $1.50 now $2.80
*Soap then 40¢ for Ivory, 60¢ for Dial, now 65¢ for off-brand
Keep in mind that in reality we are unable to actually afford any of these items on a 17, 23, or 32¢ income, so that means that those of us who are blessed to still have family, friends, and love ones to help support us are the ones actually being fleeced. Which they are the actual tax paying citizens funding our own incarceration through the Securepak ordering system, phone system, J-pay Music, and the fee for sending financial aid to our accounts just so we can keep funding our own incarceration through the system of highway robbery with no gun!
My last critical point which I want to enlighten readers to is this Safe & Just Michigan gave the two following statements in the spring of 2019:
1) People incarcerated in Michigan are serving some of the longest sentences in the nation, with an average minimum sentence that is 10.3 years and growing, and
2) Michigan’s prison population has fallen 23% between 2006, when it reached its largest size of 51,515 people, and 2017.
These two statements might sound like they cancel each other out, but both statements are true. The paradox is one of the interesting facts brought to light in the Michigan Department of Corrections’ 2017 statistical report, which was released in January 2019. It’s no coincidence that the average minimum prison sentence is rising at the same time the overall prison population is declining. In fact, the two are related. In recent years, efforts have been made to find ways to divert people from prison for offenses that bring shorter prison sentences. Problem-solving courts, such as substance use courts and mental health courts, offer treatment programs instead of prison time. This has reduced the state’s prison population. However, that has done nothing to reduce the number of people who are still serving long-term sentences. While people serving sentences of 20years or more comprised 18.3% of the prison population in 1998, as of 2017 they represent 31.7% of the population. We have fewer people coming to prison, but those who are coming are coming for a longer time, adding to the system of funding our own incarceration along with the tax-paying citizens of Michigan being fleece.
According to a report by the Senate Fiscal Agency, a reduction in 13,000 prison beds would result in a $494,000,000 savings. Even with this decrease Michigan still has an incredible amount of work to do in order to lower the prison population further. Even with that cut over the last 14years, Michigan still spends over $2 billion on corrections alone. Like many states, Michigan has reached a critical point in the status of it’s corrections department. Instead it should be Michigan Department of Corruption or Misusing Michiganders’ Deposits on Corruption because the MDOC has deviated from the concept of Michigan Department of Corrections. Because in reality that term would represent an individual being corrected from their error by being rehabilitated through adequate programming, restorative justice, and prison reform.
So you citizens should be fed up! with the lies and misuse of your tax dollars going towards the funding of our own incarceration!!! I know I am, what about you???