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Inside the Broken California Prison System

Inside the Broken California Prison System

Book Description

Inside the System by veteran jailhouse journalist Boston Woodard provides an insider’s view of California's dysfunctional prison industrial complex in crisis. On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that due to massive overcrowding, California is in violation of the Eighth Amendment, which constitutionally prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Because its 33 prisons are at nearly 200 percent capacity, the state has been ordered to release or find new accommodations for more than 30,000 prisoners within two years. With the harshest sentencing laws, toughest parole policy, and highest recidivism rate in the nation, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is a failure on all counts except for those who profit from the $10 billion spent annually to maintain it. Woodard describes how it came to this, as well as the day-to-day reality of the impact on prisoners in a corrupt system effectively accountable to no one. Inside the Broken California is a collection of more than 40 articles originally published over a period of six years in the Community Alliance, a small monthly newspaper in Fresno, California. They detail subjects such as restricted media access to prisoners, the brutal impact of overcrowding, medical and mental health treatment failures, rogue prison staff, religious and racial discrimination, an omnipotent prison guard union, and shipping prisoners out of state to private prisons. At the same time he offers real solutions to the overcrowding problem that would not endanger public safety. Woodard is a writer, musician, literacy tutor, event organizer, and prisoners’ rights advocate who has been writing about what goes on inside the California Prison System for almost two decades in both free world and prison publications. His articles have embarrassed and angered prison officials used to operating without public oversight, and he’s paid a price for exercising his First Amendment right to define his surroundings. He’s been put in the Hole, had his mail tampered with, lost his typewriter, subjected to verbal threats, had his personal property stolen or destroyed, and been illegally and adversely transferred from prison to prison. Still he refuses to be intimidated. “My writing is not about ‘prison rights,’” he says. “It’s about the public’s right to know about the good and bad within these prison walls and how their money is being spent. It’s also about the positive efforts of men and women given up for lost by society. I just want the guards and prison officials to do what is demanded of me and every other prisoner in the system, and that is to obey the law and follow the regulations.”

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