Stop Dehumanizing Our Prisoners: Budget Cuts to Axe Prison Visitations

In efforts to continue being the worst country for human rights, the DC Department of Corrections has

“…moved forward with implementation of a pioneering model for inmate visitation via video conferencing. This technology connects inmates housed at the DC Jail with their visitors via the department’s state-of-the-art Video Visitation Center, located within the DC General Hospital complex.”

You may have read, during Father’s or Mother’s Day, articles about prison visiting programs, such as Get on the Bus, that transport the children of prisoners to facilities so that they may visit their parents.

There is, of course an emotional appeal to this. Watch me do it:

(Photos courtesy of http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTR31WQP#a=3)

If you have human emotions like the rest of us, you felt some empathy, maybe even cooed a little “aww”. Many people do this, follow it up with a “gosh we should do something about that.” and move on with their lives. By giving the issue 5 seconds of your time, you’ve done “something”, you feel.

Human interest stories are shit, first of all. They don’t accomplish anything. I’ve worked in politics long enough to know that our government officials don’t care. This is what they care about:

See what I highlighted? Costs. I can cut money? Ding, I won. I’m going to be seen as tough on criminals? Cherry on top.

So the DC DOC is doing this, despite the fact that research has shown “prison visitation not only helps improve safety within prisons, but also helps incarcerated people– and their children— have better outcomes when they return home.

Once again, our government takes the short-term “solution” of saving nickels, only to cost them dollars in the future, you know, the dollars that will be spent to quell prison violence, recidivism, and prevent future broken homes.

I can argue on the emotional front. Any normal person would care about this. I CARE about this on the emotional level. I don’t care how much these things will cost. But the language of politicians is the language of money.

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