Palin , Prisoners and the Alaska Prison System

Moving on to issues closer to home for us, I was wondering about Governor Sarah Palin's record on prisons and prisoners. As Governor, the Alaska Department of Corrections is within her purview.

Alaska's prisons are sorely overcrowded. Since I don't have access to Alaska state court pleadings, I searched PACER for federal lawsuits against Palin on civil rights violations. Palin has been sued at least twice in federal court in Alaska during her year and a half term, once by a prisoner named Berry Jack who claimed he was raped for 3 days, treated at a medical facility, and then denied recommended therapy thereafter. His complaint is here (pdf.)

The Court ordered him to file an Amended Complaint. In his Amended Complaint (pdf), he said he wrote to Gov. Palin and she wrote back, saying she stood behind Anchorage Correctional Complex Superintendant Debbie Miller's decision to refuse him therapy. He states he wrote her again and "she called Alaska State troopers on me." He put in another request for treatment after which, he alleges, the Department of Corrections destroyed all his records. [More...]

The Court then mailed him some paperwork and it came back undeliverable -- I assume he was moved or put in the hole. The Court dismissed the case (pdf) because he didn't respond to its mailings or submit a change of address form. He will be allowed to refile.

I wonder if any reporters up in Alaska care to find prisoner Berry Jack and get his story.

Joe Schmidt heads up the Alaska Department of Corrections in her administration. The previous Governor, Frank Murkowski, cut off almost all funds for treatment in prison, including for sex offenders, obviously a terrible idea. Instead he decided to focus on post-release monitoring. The ACLU sued on behalf of three sex offenders.

Joe Schmidt admitted that cutting off treatment programs (which a court had ordered for sex-offenders) was the wrong approach. Gov. Palin tried to restore some funds for treatment programs in her budget this year. The legislature refused her funding request for sex offender treatement in prisons.

In her most recent budget, Gov. Sarah Palin included money to restart in-prison treatment, but the money for a sex offender program was taken out by the Legislature, Schmidt said.

"We asked for it this year. We are likely to ask for it next year," he said. Jason Brandeis, staff attorney for the AkCLU, said his agency is willing to wait and see what Schmidt can accomplish before embarking on a class-action suit on behalf of untreated prisoners.

While it speaks positively of Palin in terms of her intent, it's also an indication to me that she doesn't have much clout with her own legislature. That's a skill that is sorely needed in an executive. It's one that I repeated often as a reason I supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries: I believed she not only was right on the issues, but had the experience and clout in Washington to get her agenda through even a hostile Congress. We'll never know, but it raises flags to me about Palin in that area.

There's more on Palin's choice of Joe Schmidt to head the state prison system. The prison guards union has taken him to task for failing to keep them safe. (Lawmakers get earful at meeting on prisons; ACRIMONY: Guards allege that administrators don't take their safety seriously. Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) May 28, 2008, Lexis.com)(online version here)

The guards say the administrators are not doing enough to keep them safe in the state's overcrowded prisons. They say the department is not hiring enough guards and won't acknowledge dangerous health issues, like constant exposure to MRSA, a difficult-to-treat staph infection.

Schmidt and his deputy commissioners claim the union is playing dirty to get what it wants: more control over the department and its management.

Schmidt says he has made a lot of difficult changes since being appointed at the end of 2006 -- reducing overtime, promoting rehabilitation programs, and pushing aggressively for ways to reduce costs and the state's staggering 60 percent of offenders who end up back in jail. Gov. Sarah Palin has said he has her support.

While the Legislature last session approved funding for more officers and the department is consistent with national averages in its ratios of guards to prisoners, the number of inmates is growing and is predicted to continue to grow as a result of tough-on-crime laws. More prison space is being built, but not fast enough to keep up with the forecast growth.

The union passed a no-confidence vote against Schmidt:

The internal bickering between the union and administration reached a crescendo in April when the union passed a no-confidence vote against Schmidt. At the Tuesday hearing, Ramras told Schmidt he shouldn't have publicly said the union was "bullying" him or using "threatening" tactics.

A legislator called for an investigation.

The acrimony went on for four hours. Afterwards, Schmidt said he had extended the olive branch to the union several times since tensions started building about six months ago. The union has refused to meet with him to hash out issues, he said. "They just need to come to the table."

McGuire, who recently toured the Fairbanks prison, said the overcrowding and high number of prisoners per guard is creating a dangerous level of fear in the institutions -- among both prisoners and guards. "You have a real potential for something catastrophic to happen," she said outside the meeting.

"Unless you sentence someone to life, you have to accept at the outset that they are coming back to our community," said McGuire. "Punishing people is important. Housing them is important. Rehabilitating them is important."

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, has called for an investigation by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee to find the truth behind the union allegations.

Other legislators also have called for an audit of the Alaska Department of Corrections under Schmidt's leadership. (Corrections commissioner says he welcomes audit The Associated Press State & Local Wire May 11, 2008.)

Schmidt may be a good guy. (Legislature enters prisons dispute; INVESTIGATION: Corrections chief, union say they welcome an audit. Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) May 10, 2008.)

His focus is on changing how Alaska looks at prisons from a punitive system to a rehabilitative one. He says this has rubbed the old prison guard culture the wrong way.

Still, it seems the state's prison system is another example of Gov. Sarah Palin's less than stellar record when it comes to executive experience.

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    Question (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by JAB on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:07:26 PM EST
    What is the average for governors to be sued by prisoners? Is 2 a small or average or larger than average number?

    No clue (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:20:19 PM EST
    I don't handle prisoner rights complaint. Most are pro se because they can't afford lawyers. I think you would also have to search whether she's been sued in state court and how many times the previous governor's were sued. Do some research. The number is not significant to me.

    I found two suits -- one alleged incidents before she was Governor so I didn't mention it.


    More questions on this (none / 0) (#61)
    by JavaCityPal on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:37:32 PM EST
    I'm trying to get a sense of this.

    1. Did the trials and convictions happen while she was governor?

    2. Were the suits to "The Governor" and that belongs to whoever the governor might be at the time the suit is filed, and not a personal suit because the Governor actually did something wrong?

    I don't think anyone keeps statistics (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:04:15 PM EST
    which would allow an apples-to-apples comparison.  That's the short answer.

    There are a number of variables involved which make such comparisons difficult.  From handling the defense of prisoners' rights suits a few years back, I can tell you some of the categories for these variables include:
    1.  The internal structure (both administrative, statutory, and constitutional) of a particular state's government.  
      This arises because some states' constitutional, statutory or administrative structure make it more difficult (or easy - it varies) to sue, or to successfully sue, for torts or prison civil rights violations.  Part of this is an outgrowth of Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence (which requires an analysis of state-government structure to determine whether a civil rights suit can go forward).  Another part of this is dependent upon the nature of state tort claims laws.  One can make a career out of this aspect alone.
    2.  The nature of the claims asserted.
      Again, in some states the kind of claims which are successful there, are not necessarily successful in other states.  For example, some states allow tort recovery against the state for victims of prison rape and others limit that to recovery from the rapist.  Some allow recovery for diseases contracted in prison and others don't.
    3.  The federal circuit in which the particular state lies.
      The eleven circuits (I'm not aware of there being any prisons in the D.C. Circuit, and the Federal Circuit doesn't deal with prisoner rights cases) have differing interpretations of what constitutes a violation of constitutional rights sufficient to support a prisoner's civil rights suit.  What shocks the conscience in the First Circuit might well be an accepted everyday occurrence in the Fifth.
    4.  The wackiness of the inmate.
      Depending upon the nature of his claim, a smart and not-nuts inmate might be able to successfully sue pro se.  Most are neither.
    5.  The level of personal involvement the particular defendant might have.
      Obviously, if the structure of the state government does not have the governor doing much vis-a-vis prisons, that governor would either not be sued often, or be quickly dismissed from the case.
    6.  The policies of the local federal district courts (and judges and clerks) in dealing with in forma pauperis suits.  What many people do not grasp is that, under one of Gingrich's Contract on America points (deterring "frivolous" lawsuits), all in forma pauperis suits (which are for poor people who can't pay the filing fee in federal court) are subject to review - and dismissal - by the Clerk of the District Court.  This is before they ever get assigned to a judge.  Since most prisoners are filing pro se in forma pauperis suits, and likely are in prison as a function of (a) not being able to obey rules (if and when they can find them) and (b) are likely not well educated to begin with, they will almost certainly run afoul of one or another rule of procedure or another early in their suit.  A hardcore clerk can cut the docket by tossing their suits without a judge ever hearing or seeing it.  And, after a certain number of such tossed suits, they have to get advance permission to file in forma pauperis - which, again, a hardcore clerk can deny with ease.

    And, I haven't even started to address issues like immunity, lack of proper law libraries (and of access to them) in prisons, prison officials charging successful jailhouse "lawyers" who assist other prisoners with the unauthorized practice of law, or the difficulty inherent in weaving one's way through the maze that is 42 USC sec. 1983.  West's US Code Annotated (the entire US Code) devotes an entire volume to that section alone.

    The "best" rough (very, very rough) way of estimating the rate of litigation would probably be number of suits per prisoner-incarceration-day, where one prisoner-incarceration-day is the incarceration of one prisoner for one day.  Even that sort of statistic, though, would have to be modulated through applying some sort of factor which would address issues like overcrowding (prisoners actually housed in a particular institution versus the rated capacity of the institution), climate (there are a lot of cases out of the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin) alleging the cells are too cold in Northern Wisconsin in winter vs. stifling conditions in southern prisons in summer), nature of the warden's regime ("tough" wardens and prisons get sued more often), "get tough on crime and criminals" laws (similar), and so on.

    I hope this helps understand the difficulties inherent.

    But, siccing the state troopers on a prisoner who sues the governor does seem more than a little extreme.


    Hardly unusual (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by caramel on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:16:58 PM EST
    and certainly not specific to Republican governors... The woman is definitely not my cup of tea but a number of (so-called) democratic governors have much poorer records where prison abuses are concerned. Just a thought!

    I didn't mean to imply this was her whole record (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:26:15 PM EST
    I'm just starting to look at the issue and reporting as I go along. She's only been in office a year and a half so she hasn't had time for a large amount of abuses to accrue. And if prisoners have to exhaust state remedies before going to federal court, it could be years before those with grievances occurring during the past year and a half get there.

    I found the Berry case noteworthy because he claims he wrote to her directly and reports her response -- and then zap, his records are gone and he becomes MIA. It's certainly worth looking into if you're an investigative reporter in Alaska.

    The union/prison thing is a huge issue all over the country. How she deals with it reflects on her executive experience.

    Her success or lack thereof on getting her proposals through the legislature is also relevant.


    thanks for reporting (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by wystler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:36:02 PM EST
    you're doing a mighty service to the folks who read this blog when you feature the politics of crime :)

    Is the legislature (none / 0) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:52:26 PM EST
    majority Republican or Democrat?  How much of her agenda/requests has she been able to get approved through it?  One of the articles mentions increased funding for more officers.  Was that the governor's request?

    IOW, I'd want to know a bit more than the fact that the sex offender program wasn't approved before I could make any assumptions about her ability to work with the legislature, particularly since anything to do with sex offenders is a major hot-button issue with voters these days and state legislators all over are totally freaked out by it.


    perhaps not nearly so noteworthy ... (none / 0) (#43)
    by wystler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:56:40 PM EST
    ... but of some interest is that Mat-Su is a pretrial detention facility. Not entirely used to the notion that a state's DOC is responsible for custody of detainees who have not been sentenced. (Here'bouts, the local county board is responsible, but not surprised that such model doesn't apply well in the 49th state.)

    In other words, Berry Jack hasn't even been found guilty of an underlying charge.


    Unless he out on parole, (none / 0) (#70)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 06:39:00 PM EST
    for example, and is now in the pipeline for a new charge or parole revocation.  Does sound like a non-federal facility.

    Good point (none / 0) (#68)
    by caramel on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 05:05:16 PM EST
    She hasn't been governor for very long. Nonethess I think there are obvious issues that should be attacked (what the hell is Obama doing playing Mr. Nice guy?). As you are well aware prison issues are not the most popular topics on the face of this planet, and particularly not in America. The woman is a puppet and one can only hope this political stunt will bite the Republicans where it should. It was a daring bet for sure, but who can believe that the votes gained with the Christian right are going to surpass those lost a the center? And what about the women's vote? Not very convincing to me and you should see the European press... the Republicans didn't need that to discredit themselves (and America) further after 8 years of such a moron and outrageous administration.

    Think AAAhnold... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by PssttCmere08 on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:37:52 PM EST
    A Basic Search (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by The Maven on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:20:21 PM EST
    of the Alaska state trial court system records doesn't seem to turn up much of anything.  I saw only two suits naming Palin in any capacity during her time as governor, one filed in July 2007 (which looks like it might be education related), and the other, a civil rights case, filed just two weeks ago.  There were no records found with her as a party at the appellate level.

    Sorry, better search: (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:26:15 PM EST
    Search for: "ritter" Filed in Colorado between January 1st, 2007 and September 1st, 2008 in the Prison Condition Category
    Results 1 - 31 of 31

    ouch! (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:31:55 PM EST
    But what are the two prison populations you are comparing?  Wouldn't Colorado have a larger prison population than AK?  It would be more fair to compare based on number of complaints per 1000 prisoners or something like that, right?

    6 X larger prison population in CO (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:40:36 PM EST
    '06 Alaska Population: 663,661
    State Prison Population: 4,554
     As of January 31, 2006, there were 28,243 people under the jurisdiction of the
    Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC):
    and 15X larger number of lawsuits (2 vs. 31).

    Very good. Your numbers are up to date. (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:53:01 PM EST
    does that state prison population (none / 0) (#45)
    by wystler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:00:47 PM EST
    ... include pretrial detention facilities?

    iirc, Colorado DOC takes custody post-sentencing, but, apparently in Alaska, the DOC takes custody upon failure to make bond following arrest.

    what's quite disturbing here is that Barry Jack's complaint issued from pretrial detention. iow, he couldn't make bond (for whatever ...)


    Full quote: (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:06:28 PM EST
    As of January 31, 2006, there were 28,243 people under the jurisdiction of the
    Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC): 18,429 in state and private prisons,
    2,407 in community corrections, 496 in jail awaiting transfer to DOC, 267
    escapes/walkaway and 6,644 on parole.
    So, much fewer actually in prison, if that's the metric you want to use, but still 15X the lawsuits against Ritter...

    However you want to slice it, Ritter and CO have many more lawsuits/inmate than Palin and AK.


    Did you seperate the suits filed... (none / 0) (#60)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:29:22 PM EST
    against Ritter during his tenure as Denver DA from those filed during his 1.5 years as governor?  

    time period that Palin has been Gov.

    OK, thanks! n/t (none / 0) (#64)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:44:49 PM EST
    In case that's not clear enough (none / 0) (#65)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:46:26 PM EST
    the lawsuits were filed during the same ~1.5 year time period that both Palin and Ritter have been Gov.

    before you jump to conclusions (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by wystler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:34:16 PM EST
    ... you'd best factor in prison population size

    not too quick on where to get those numbers, but i do know that Alaska's entire estimated population in 2006 was 670,053, less than 15% of Colorado's


    Colorado's population (none / 0) (#27)
    by tree on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:41:02 PM EST
    is appoximately seven times Alaska's. If the prison population of the two states are thusly equivalent, that means that the number of complaints against Ritter is still over twice the number of complaints against Palin, per population.

    Thanks for the update (none / 0) (#41)
    by tree on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:54:24 PM EST
    with prison populations. Its appreciated.

    And Colorado has a significantly... (none / 0) (#18)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:32:35 PM EST
    ...larger population.  

    straw dog (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:40:46 PM EST
    AK has nowhere near the number of prisoners that Colorado does.

    And don't forget Ritter was the elected District Attorney for Denver for 8 years before becoming Governor. Slightly different than being mayor of a town of 5,000 when it comes to experience on crime issues.

    And the Justice Department is part of the Executive Branch (President/Vice President)


    Don't we have (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Bluesage on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:51:05 PM EST
    The largest prison population in relation to our overall population than any other country?  How does Gov. Palin measure up compared to every other Gov. in these United States that is dealing with prison over-population which might be every one of them?  Or are we just looking for more clubs to beat this woman with?  Picking at the scab seems kinda dumb as it never heals the wound.

    Yes we do (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by CST on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:56:32 PM EST
    And Jeralyn has gone after a lot of politicians on this issue, including Joe Biden and Bill Clinton.  So in that context, no, it's not "looking for clubs to beat this woman with".  It's looking at an issue that this blog takes seriously.

    thanks (none / 0) (#48)
    by wystler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:05:03 PM EST
    it seems so many who've flocked to this community seem unaware (blissfully) of JM's blog's subtitle

    wystler - I am one of those who (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by Bluesage on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 05:13:40 PM EST
    Flocked to this site because I was looking for more measured and respectful discourse and I like this site for that reason.  And yes, I do know what this site is about but anyone who has been here a while knows that since Hillary dropped out of the race and Jeralyn became an Obama supporter and McCain picked Palin her post on Palin have been a little less than fair or respectful.  I guess I need a disclaimer here and that would be that I do not agree with or support Palin but I do believe in showing respect.  That seems to be an outdated notion now in the "new" Democratic Party.  

    Stop trying so hard (3.66 / 6) (#8)
    by goldberry on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:23:38 PM EST
    The Democrats lost their moral authority to contest the Republicans on ANY issue when they rigged their primaries and stomped on the roll call vote.  They completely ignore the voters.  I don't know what their up to but I don't trust the Deomcrats anymore.  What Sarah Palin's record on prisons is after 2 years on the job concerns me not in the least.  There is nothing you can say against her that would affect me in any way.  Why?  Because she's running for the number 2 spot.  So, I have to ask myself, why are Democrats getting all tied up in knots about a number 2 spot position?  Is it because they are trying to compare her with Obama?  Why bother?  McCain seems pretty spry. His mother is 96, fergawdsakes.  He's going to be around awhile.  Or is it because the Obama campaign is afraid of defectors? If they are, they're going about it in a pretty strange way.  They almost seem to be driving the Hillary contingent away.  
    What I can't understand is why Jeralyn is going along with it?  

    This seems fairly off-topic (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by rdandrea on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:25:58 PM EST

    get off it goldberry (5.00 / 5) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:29:02 PM EST
    I'm researching an opponent. That's what I do. I posted extensively on the Dems records during the primary.

    Your agenda is light years from mine. I'm about to ban you.


    fine (3.40 / 5) (#50)
    by goldberry on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:06:11 PM EST
    Ban me.  
    It's your credibility at stake not mine.  You've completely lost all perspective.  

    This reminds me of a neighbor of a friend (none / 0) (#56)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:14:32 PM EST
    Neighbor drank the better part of a bottle of vodka and started raising hell, in particular going after neighbor's live-in girlfriend.
    Friend called cops when neighbor and girlfriend wouldn't answer door.
    Cops came.
    Neighbor tried to leave "I'm going to walk the dog".
    Cops asked for his ID.
    Neighbor refused.
    Cops blocked stairs.
    Neighbor said "I'm going out."
    Cops said "not if you don't tell us who you are.  The 9-1-1 call is all the probable cause we need."
    Neighbor says:  "So arrest me then".
    Cops said: "OK".
    And they arrested him and took him to the cruiser, whereupon neighbor made things worse by trying to kick out the windows.

    Thank you for this information (none / 0) (#12)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:26:43 PM EST
    As a social worker, I have mixed feelings about sex offender treatment for adults in prison.  The research indicates it is not effective.  The most effective time to treat and change behavior is when the offender is a teenager.  Residential treatment is most effective. Once a sex offender is in the adult prison system it is very close to a lost cause.  I personally think adult sex offenders should mostly get life sentences.

    Having said that, there is no one item about Palin, including this, that rises to the level of true scandal, corruption, or incompetency.  However, the string of incidents you have pointed out here at Talkleft over the last several days, when taken together, indicate some competency issues, imo.  

    research shows it is effective (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:41:43 PM EST
    search the TL archives, I've written about this many times.

    But isn't early intervention more effective? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Manuel on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:18:37 PM EST
    The Joseph Duncan case has affected me greatly.  Perhaps it is because I have children of an age similar to those involved in the last incident involving Duncan.  Please understand that I have been against the death penalty all my life.  For example, I did not see anything wrong with Dukakis' famous answer in 88.  The Duncan case is making me reconsider.  Perhaps, some acts are so horrible that death is warranted.  On the other hand, what does it say about our society that the behavior of people such as Duncan is allowed to escalate unchecked and without effective treatment?  On the third hand, what if effective treatment doesn't exist?  To what extent do we bear responsibility for the monster that Duncan has become?  Shouldn't we have been able to keep Duncan away from his victims?  Unfortunately, I am under the impression that the positions of all four major candidates would be more similar than different on these questions.

    Research? (2.00 / 0) (#17)
    by Fayed X on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:32:06 PM EST
    A lot of that so-called research that says that sex offenders aren't likely to be rehabilitated is at best skewed.  There are a lot of racial and cultural issues that the treatment doesn't account for and without a strong focus on culture you are destined to fail.

    My aunt is a social worker and she has countless stories of "sex offenders" who are rotting in the the government tombs even though they are cured.  They go years and years inside the system and by the time they get treatment they are unable to get back into society and prove that they have been rehabilitated.


    I am open to any research (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:36:14 PM EST
    that is hopeful.  I haven't seen it.  I don't know how you determine an adult sex offender is cured until you put them back in the community.  The recidivism rate is very high.  Do you know what criteria is being used to determine the status "cured"?

    Cured (none / 0) (#28)
    by Fayed X on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:41:06 PM EST
    I don't know the specifics because as I said it is my aunt and not me.  I can say that with what we put offenders through that I am not surprised by the repeat frequency.  Jails and prisons are rotting dungeons and the treatment, food, medical care and recreation are all sub par at best.  I think it would be interesting to find out how many are offending again simply to lash out at a heartless community that locked them up for a simple mistake.  

    Many people in my community use violence as a way to make a statement and I have to say that I understand even if I don't agree.  In many cases they are simply reacting to the way they have been treated and how their ancestors have been treated for hundreds of years of oppression.


    I completely agree with the (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:46:53 PM EST
    terrible conditions argument, and that is creates and perpetuates violence in people.  I am not trying to be "cold" to the rat holes that most prisons are...I just want to protect children that are the victims of sex offenders.  I would love to see states spend a lot more money on juvenile sex offender treatment so we can prevent people from going to prison and protect more children.  Most offenders were victims first.  Victims who received no treatment.

    The sex offender classification (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Grace on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:58:39 PM EST
    that I'm curious about would be adults who rape strangers.  Can they be rehabilitated successfully?  

    In many cases, these people aren't caught until they are serial rapists.  


    Not imo (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:05:58 PM EST
    but I have not had a chance to read all of Jeralyn's past posts on this...my review of the literature was about 5 years ago, and at that time there was nothing out there with consistent evidence to demonstrate you could change the behavior of serial rapists and/or rapists who attack strangers or adult sex offenders with multiple child victims.  There is a critical lack of empathy in these people, many are sociopaths, some are psychopaths.  I am talking about serial rapists now or people headed in that direction.  There is no effective treatment for a sociopath.  Some may not rise to the level of true sociopath but they may be so disassociated from their own emotions that they are incapable of understanding the harm they are doing to another human being.  

    you are on the wrong site (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:04:18 PM EST
    this site supports the rights of those accused of crime. There are few enough of them, we ask victims' rights advocates to find their own sites.

    if you are talking to me (none / 0) (#54)
    by bjorn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:08:56 PM EST
    I got the message.  thanks Jeralyn

    Fayed X (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:45:43 PM EST
    welcome to the site. New commenters, those signing up within the past 30 days, are limited to 10 comments in 24 hours . You are at 9.

    Whoops! Gotta watch that. (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Fayed X on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 03:50:34 PM EST
    I guess I was getting carried away and having fun.  I'll just read and space out my comments better tomorrow.  I'm learning a lot!!

    Agreed for most crime (none / 0) (#52)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:06:52 PM EST
    But you'd really have to convince me that a sex offender who committed "a simple mistake" (not even sure what that would be) would go out and deliberately commit another sex offense (another simple mistake?) in retaliation for having been locked up for the first one.  Sorry if I misread your comment and you didn't mean to say that.

    I agree with you entirely that our prisons are a disgrace that only make the crime problem worse and multiply the human suffering, though.


    Berry Jack is out on parole (none / 0) (#53)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:07:23 PM EST
    I just checked vinelink.  He is under supervision of Juneau office.  If you go to the link and put in his inmate number as provided on the complaint, you can get his info and a 1-800 number for further info.  

    Correction (none / 0) (#67)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:50:54 PM EST
    I think Jack is on probation.

    Here is the info (none / 0) (#55)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:09:27 PM EST
    Offender ID: 516194 Offender Name: BERRY L JACK Date of Birth: 03/04/1961 Age: 47 Custody Status: Community Supervision Scheduled Release Date: Reason: Probation/Parole Date: 08/01/2008 Race: White Gender: Male

    This is really bad of Palin (none / 0) (#57)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:15:30 PM EST
    to agree that Berry Jack does not need treatment.  Read the news account of the cellmate who allegedly raped him and the circumstances.  I do think this really happened and for Palin to side with DOC and support their decision to deny this man treatment is outrageous!!!!  I really don't care about her teenage daughter and such.  I really do care about treatment of prisoners.  I really do care that Palin would turn her back on this inmate, despite his personal plea to her.  I really hate her response to this inmate.  

    Read the article:  http://alaskapride.blogspot.com/2008/03/anchorage-jail-inmate-elmer-seetot.html


    pretty horiffic (none / 0) (#63)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:43:47 PM EST
    Wow.  That is pretty horrific.  It looks like the authorities clearly believed the man was sexually assaulted because they filed those charges, and yet, they refused to give the victim, who was being held for non-violent property offenses, any treatment after he was apparently raped 23 times.  Good lord.  This is very disturbing.

    It is horrible (none / 0) (#66)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:49:12 PM EST
    and to think Jack was just a detainee, not even convicted of anything and housed in the same cell as this known maniac who was accused of chopping someone up and putting the pieces in the freezer.  What the heck??  Can you believe Alaska would house all the detainees with no screening whatsoever for propensity for violence?  Makes my blood boil.  Obviously that is the way they do it in Alaska.  And Jack was just accused of petty offenses it appears.  

    Woah!!! (none / 0) (#59)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 04:18:39 PM EST
    There are many Hillary supporters here and your position does nothing to persuade us to support "your" nominee, ya know?  

    What we have here is a pro per (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 06:46:50 PM EST
    person, in custody, suing whomever he may want to sue, including Gov. Palin, and alleging whatever he likes.  That is why they are called "allegations."  I've defended hundreds of similar pro per inmate lawsuits and my first advice to my clients is:  anyone can sue anyone else for anything.  Assuming the pro per plaintiff in this case is in a custodial setting controlled by the state (not the county--usually pre-trial custody facilities are local, not state), maybe he has a case against the Gov. and maybe he doesn't.  We don't know yet.  

    did you read the article? (none / 0) (#72)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 06:52:11 PM EST
    If you read the article, you see that the state did, in fact, file multiple sexual assault charges against this man's cellmate for raping him.  You will also see that this man was being held pre-trial for non-violent property offenses when he was housed in the same cell with a man accused of chopping up his grandfather and putting him in a freezer.  This is not just some frivolous prisoner litigation with which I am also very familiar.  This is a horrific case of someone who was repeatedly raped and then treated like dirt by the facility that put him in harm's way in the first place.

    so glad you explained (none / 0) (#73)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 07:07:29 PM EST
    It is a horrific scenario and obviously has merit as the alleged rapist is now charged with 23 counts of rape. This IS horrible.  Note, Gov Palin was new; I doubt that she really understodd the fact that detainees were screened in no way and a crazed maniac/murderer could be cellmate to a low level thief.  That is the real story.  The fact that the new Governor did not get it does not surprise me. The fact that Jack personally contacted the Gov and received a dismissive reply is what really bothers me.  



    Here's the history available (none / 0) (#74)
    by jccamp on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 07:58:08 PM EST
    Jack was arrested in August 2007 for multiple counts of forgery, theft and credit card fraud. He was put on probation. He apparently violated his probation or was determined not to be eligible and was re-arrested. While waiting for trial, he was transferred to a different jail than where he was originally incarcerated. He complained, claiming the new facility was unsuited for his medical needs (unspecified). He was put in a cell with a man waiting trial for murder, who sounds even more unbalanced that your average murderer. After 3 days, Jack was transferred back to his original jail. He accused the cellmate of rape. The State Police investigated and charged the cellmate with multiple counts of sexual assault. Jack was examined and treated like any other sexual assault victim, and was advised by the investigators or medical staff to seek therapy. He request to the corrections staff for therapy (also unspecified) was denied. He filed several versions of the lawsuit in U S District for Alaska, alleging civil rights deprivation. He asked for varying amounts of money (e.g. 3.9 billion dollars in compensatory damages, 7.0 billion dollars in punitive damage, a full pardon and  a lifetime pension). He was again given probation and released. The lawsuit was dismissed because he failed to notify the court of his change of mailing address from the correctional institution.

    There does not appear to be available on-line the denial of Jack's request for therapy. It may very well be because no such therapy was available inside a correctional facility, and transporting jack to an outside therapist was impossible,for instance, because Jack demanded a specific therapist either geographically or monetarily outside practical alternatives.It's hard to actually critique the decision denying therapy without knowing the particulars. In any event, this is hardly a decision made by a state governor.

    And Jack himself is quoted (none / 0) (#75)
    by jccamp on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 08:23:58 PM EST
    as saying he was offered counseling at the time of the assaults. See the original newspaper story here.  

    Presumably, there is some difference in the counseling offered and the therapy Jack later requested. Otherwise, one might suspect Jack didn't really care about therapy or counseling, but was attempting to gain financially from his misfortune. I did notice that in none of the three lawsuits filed by Jack did he demand the therapy. Each only mentioned money, pardon and a pension.  

    The Berry complaint does not compute. (none / 0) (#76)
    by JSN on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 08:57:53 PM EST
    There must be some missing facts.

    Was he held in a county jail or a state pretrial detention center?

    Putting a property crime probation/parole violator in the same cell as a person charged with a violent murder appears to be gross misconduct on the part of the jail administration but the complaint is about another jail  denying treatment.

     I don't get it.

    By the way how many complaints has Mr. Berry filed against jails?