Thursday, July 2, 2015

Warden threw a party at the county jail

I hate to keep bringing this up, but may I ask just what is going on in the American prison system?

And I'm not talking about people still being in jail since 1967 for having marijuana seeds in their pocket or something.  I know those inequities exist, but is there any doubt that David Sweat and the late Richard Matt should have been locked up with the key thrown into nearby Niagara Falls?

At 34, David Sweat was in stir for shooting Deputy Kevin Tarsia 15 times and running over him with his car. Sweat's mother, Pamela Sweat, said her son was a troubled child with a violent streak. "I don't want nothing to do with him," Ms Sweat told the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, New York. "He has tormented me since he was nine years old, and now he's 34 and I feel like he's still doing it."

Richard Matt was shot to death by a border patrol SWAT team after almost three weeks on the run through rural New York State.  He was 48 and seemed to be just a little slice on Hell on earth, starting out by terrorizing other kids on the school bus, running away from home on a stolen horse as a teenager (what is this, "The Rifleman"?) and as a local thug in Towanda, NY, dismembering the body of his former employer.  At least he was kind enough to kill the man before sawing him into a million pieces, after which he fled to Mexico, where he killed another American and, for his sins, was incarcerated in the prison in Dannemora on a term that was to run until 2032 with no chance of parole.  Matt "is the most vicious, evil person I've ever come across in 38 years as a police officer," Gabriel DiBernardo, a retired captain with the North Tonawanda Police Department, told the New York Times.

So.  One guy is a longtime troublemaker, guilty of two murders, and the other saw a long string of crimes culminate in the murder of a police officer who was attempting to arrest him for possession of stolen guns.  The penal system of New York saw fit to place these two upstanding citizens in the "honor block," where they could apparently come and go as they pleased, dress in civilian clothes, and saw their way to freedom through cell walls and steam pipes, aided by tools brought to them by a prison worker who thought maybe she loved one or both of them and by a guard who allowed them onto the catwalks behind their cells so that they could wire their executive suites for electric outlets for their toaster oven.

They even made a practice run of their escape the night before they pulled off the real thing.  Any performer can tell you the value of a good dress rehearsal.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the warden, his top brass and most of the guards were in the audience with Playbills in their hands, enjoying the show.

There were supposed to be hourly bed checks of all 180 cells on the night shift at the lockup.  I guess that was overlooked.  And in the evening, while they were breaking that brick wall with a sledge hammer they found sitting there in the prison, no one heard the unmistakable sound of a wall being dismantled?

Here's what happened instead:  Sweat and Matt slipped through an opening they had cut in the back of his Sweat's cell.  They climbed down five flights of piping to the tunnels below the prison. Then, they crawled through the hole they had made in a brick wall. From there, it was an easy matter to slip into a steam pipe which they had cut holes in, walk down another tunnel, and pop out of a manhole cover two blocks from the prison.

That's where they were supposed to be met by their ride, fickle-hearted Joyce Mitchell, but that didn't work out so well.

Sawing through this wall probably violated their
lease, and they will forfeit their security deposit
Now, the three top officials at the Clinton Correctional Facility and nine other security employees are out on their assessments, on administrative leave. Among them are the two guards who regularly worked the night shift on the inmates’ cellblock and who were on duty the night of the escape. Guarding, but not guarding.

I've said this before, but I need someone to help me understand. It all seems so simple to me, but I'm just a guy without advanced degrees in penology and criminology and sociology.  Why do we even have prisons if the evil sons of witches we send there are treated like the cast of "Saved By The Bell: The College Years" and allowed to roam about at will, cooking in their cells, dressing like models in the LL Bean catalog, and sawing their way out as no one looks to see what they're up to?

I almost wonder why they'd want to get out, anyway.  Sounds like they had it pretty cushy in there already.

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