What is the Answer to the Problems in America’s Prisons?


by Todd Sweet, ©2012

Do prisons in the U.S. rehabilitate their inmates?

(May 18, 2012) —[Editor’s Note:  The following letter from Todd Sweet is his assessment of his situation after having been relocated to CCA in Clifton, TN in early February of this year.  Some of the material contained herein is not suitable for children, but we have made the decision to present the letter unedited to fully inform the reader of the circumstances Sweet was observing and describing within the correctional institution and system to provoke thought as to their amelioration.]

South Central Correctional facility [sic] (SCCF), a Corrections Corporation of America facility. [sic] At this facility there are no cameras in any of the units to catch or cut down on illegal acts.  When and if you are caught with a knife or you assault someone there is little consequences [sic] for your actions.  No new felony charges – of which [sic] would drastically cut down on criminal behavior.

When you are an inmate trying to use your time for the purpose of rehabilitation and learning and your life is suddenly confronted with potentially fatal consequences by inmates not willing to seek self betterment, you go to CCA staff for help.  Do they?  No.  Instead they write you up for refuseing [sic] cell assignment (RCA).  You are then restricted on many things.  You dont [sic] receive good time.  You gain points that makes [sic] your security level increase.  You must pay for the write-up each time your [sic] written an RCA disciplinary report.  You are not allowed to use the phone or purchase any hygien [sic] items or writing supplies.  Your food is cut way below state and federal standards, so much so that in 6 days I have lost 6 pounds.  You can write a grievance on all this wrong doing [sic] but your grievance will simply get misplaced.

If you go up for parole during this time as many do, they wont [sic] parole you because of the write up [sic] for RCA when in reality you never refused cell assignment but simply asked for protection after a deadly confrontation.

When the segregation unit is overcrowded with men in the same situation as you, you all get moved to cells conformed to additional segregation cells back inside the very unit you needed protection from.  Now instead of anymosities [sic] subsiding do [sic] to out-of sight – out of mind, [sic] you are now on display, labled [sic] weak and on the forefront of the dangerous minds watching you.  They (CCA) post an extra guard in front of your door and to your surprize [sic] both shifts are very helpful in meeting your immediate needs but your heart aches for them because they are both female and small.  Both endure sexual remarks and gestures all day do [sic] to the predators around them.  And remember there are no cameras – if an inmate chooses to attack he will have several minutes to accomplish whatever he wishes.  The only other guard in here is very old,, very frail.

After 7 days Mr. Hacker or Mrs. Sweat (the unit managers) will come to me.  They will ask me to move back into general population.  I will refuse.  I will then be written yet another disciplinary write-up for RCA.  It will give me more points, more money will be taken out of my account for each write-up.  My security will increase while my chances of getting into needed programming will decrease as will my chance of parole due to the write up. [sic]  This cycle will repeat several times, my present cell mate [sic] has received 4 write ups [sic] and he is very close to going up for parole – his freedom is at stake because he did what is right, when you are confronted with trouble you are suppose [sic] to ask for help instead of takeing [sic] things into your own hands.  While you continue to receive disciplinary action, the perpetrators get to play with knives, cell phones an drugs – the last two of which are provided by CCA staff on the take.

The most amazing thing is the fact that I watch these inmates conform to inspection 5 days a week.  Their beds are made, their uniform is tucked in.  They clean their cells.  They stand at their doors with their hands at their sides and dont [sic] make a peep.  Hacker and Sweat bark orders and make demands.  the inmates listen.

So why is it that staff enforces and can enforce rules for 30 minutes each morning but the rest of the 23.5 hours a day – dont. [sic]

Let me tell you why…

The inspection reflects on their ability to keep control of their facility.  When the warden walks through or the commissioner visits, this inspection is all that counts.  It is essentially the only 30 minutes the staff cares about.  When a big-wig comes through the building all is under control.  Once they leave all hell breaks loose.  Every day, all day. [sic]

There is a man 2 cells from me that requested protection from a gang.  Staff wrote him up for RCA and a short time later assigned another cell mate to his cell.  This inmate was a member of the very gang the man needed protection from.  So what happen? [sic]  He was brutally beaten.  Only now will they give him protection?  Nope.  RCA.  He continues to get written up for refusing to cell here where he is in imminent danger.

So what choices do I and the many other inmates have in this situation?  Continue to receive RCA disciplinary action or go ahead and give in, go back to general population in this ever increasing [sic] turmoil of hell and die.

Those are the only two choices the CCA staff have given us.

One inmate did just that.  He was refused protection and was placed back in this unit.  His name is Adkins or Atkins, [sic] when he got back to this unit it was only minutes later he was stabbed.

Another issue is rape.  Out of all my years in prison I have not seen or heard of a rape.  It use [sic] to happen long ago but less and less over the years.  Television makes light of it and people just believe its [sic] part of prison.  Though there are plenty of homosexuals in prison rape is not the game in the minds of most criminals.  As I said before, I’ve been in many institutions and havent [sic] seen not one [sic] incident.

Until I landed here.  Cell 110 is still sealed off with crime scene tape.  No cameras remember? [sic]  Corporate America should not be in charge of corrections.  They cant [sic] keep you, the public safe either.  [sic]  CCA was responsible for the escape out of Kingman AZ in 2010 remember? [sic] Innocent people in the public died.

So please, pray for me and others in my present situation and theirs.  Use your voices on the telephone or your fingertips on your keypads – but please do not stand for CCA’s actions.  Not only is their lazy way detrimental to my health – but yours as well.  The present way is to release animals into the street for they are doing absolutely nothing to rehabilitate inmates or hold them responsible for their actions.  instead [sic] the staff themselves punish those who are trying to do what is right.

If you use your voice or finger tips [sic] just know you will be met with lies.  Spins.  So got to the top and dont [sic] give in.  Get facts.  Get the truth.

Evil doesnt [sic] like the truth.

And let us not forget Monroe County corruption.  Soon we will be given a breakthrough such as that in I Chronicles 14:11 “Like the bursting forth of waters.”

And what gives with Chatanooga [sic] Sherriff [sic] Jim Hammond stating.. “We need to run them out of town, put them in jail or send them to the grave” in referrence [sic] to gang members?

I dont even read the paper but I heard about it how?  I sat and overheard actual gang members from Hammond’s district talking about how they are going to have to start killing cops on sight.  Its [sic] kill or be killed.  Real bright move Mr. Hammond. [sic]  I will keep you and your attitude and total disregard for human life in my prayers.  May God work on your heart.  Prayer and God will help your gang problem, not threats and loose talk.

Rest in His love until next time — Todd J. Sweet

One Response to "What is the Answer to the Problems in America’s Prisons?"

  1. OPOVV   Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Dear Todd,
    What you have so adequately described is a blight on American society. They say that one can judge a people on how they treat the less fortunate, the less able, and certainly the less lucky.
    The lowering of educational and, consequently, employment standards has resulted in what I believe is the lowering of the most important standard of them all: the moral standard.
    The creed of Officers of the Court, including private firms that incarcerate people: “Right or wrong, I will do whatever I am told, I will follow orders, including demonstrably illegal orders, because I fear for my job and, even though thousands died storming the beaches on D-Day, 1944, in Normandy, France, my comfort is worth more than those deaths.”
    Prison employees, as University of Michigan Affirmative Action beneficiary students, certainly leave a lot to be desired, and society is paying for its laziness: it’s easier to lower standards than it is to train people to pass the test in the first place. Rather than the citizens of America being smarter than the previous generation, America’s greatest asset, our young people, are being purposely trained, as circus animals, to be dumber than their parents.
    The solution? Nothing will change with law enforcement policing themselves. This revolving door policy, allowing millions of illegal immigrants, allowing illegal drugs, loan sharking, pimps to engage in White Slavery IN THE OPEN, pay-offs to cops, will never change unless we can take the bull by the horns, and I don’t see it happening.
    The corruption in Monroe County, TN, has been more than documented FOR YEARS and yet the FBI and the Governor of TN has completely ignored the situation. Either they are all stupid and corrupt, or just plain stupid.
    We need a leader that’ll clean house, but I just don’t see it happening. I’ll never get elected, so I wish us both good luck.


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