E-mail from a Correctional Officer Federal Prison
February 19, 2007
Dear Mr. Pecchio,
I have just recently
completed your book "The Devils Den of Prison and Justice". I felt overwhelmed
to write you and let you know how much I enjoyed the book. The book revolves
around honesty and truth and nobody ever said the truth is attractive. The
truth is just that; the truth. I am writing to encourage all citizens that seek
the truth about our current prisons to read both books, as ugly as the truth and
honesty may be.
I am employed as a State Corrections Officer in the State
of Pennsylvania. After reading both of your books, "Hell behind Prison Walls"
and "The Devils Den of Prison and Justice", you have taken a subject matter that
most people know very little about and exposed it. The readers of your book may
assume that the corruption of the corrections system is just isolated to the
Elmira Prison where you were employed. Nothing could be farther from the
truth. This problem is in all prisons and the way it is managed.
I was reading your book I kept a highlighter nearby for passages that just
caught my attention. The one that caught my attention the most and definitely
holds true is that you will never know what it is like unless you are inside.
The average citizen dismisses the idea that grown men can and will act like
animals on the inside. We can't imagine that there are inmates that have
knowledge that they are HIV positive and have Hepatitis that literally will bite
their lips causing themselves to bleed so they can spit at you hoping that some
will end up in your eyes or mouth. This inmate I am referring to described it
as the gift that keeps on giving.
The average citizen looks upon a
chapel as a house of worship. Some inmates view this as a place where they can
plan out things, exchange commissary goods or engage in homosexual activity.
Shall we discuss perhaps the inmate that use to "cheek" his medication so that
in the evening time he could put the medication in his "collies" coffee and rape
him after the medication took effect? Or perhaps we should discuss how an
inmate was seeking sexual satisfaction by inserting a toothbrush holder up in to
himself, got it lodged, and had to have it surgically removed at taxpayer's
expense. It disgusted me to see that same inmate in the Staff Dining Room
cleaning tables after his recovery.
Soon after I began working, I would
come home and share some of these stories. One thing always seemed to be the
same. They would think that I was exaggerating and adding to the story to
"spice" it up a bit. After a bit, I just stopped speaking about it most of the
time. After all, grown men don't act this way. I agree that some things are
very difficult to understand or even to believe. I probably wouldn't believe
most of it myself unless I was inside and saw this for myself.
have captured the ugliness of our prison system. We don't hold the inmates
accountable for the time they are there or the reason they are there. They just
do their time, get out, and prison management hope that nothing happens in the
mean time. Keep them happy, and hopefully they'll behave.
has the opportunity for 6 hours of exercise yard per day. During this time they
play basketball, horseshoes, botchy-ball, soft-ball, football, throw Frisbee,
play hand-ball, lift weights or just have casual walks. They are not required to
work unless they choose to. They receive commissary once a week in which they
can purchase potato chips, candy, instant soups, tobacco, etc. They pay a
fraction of cost for cable television in their cells. They have picnics in the
summer in which family and friends visit with music, hamburgers, hotdogs, potato
salad and various other picnic items. In the winter, bands will be brought in
to entertain the inmates in the gym. The problem with prisons is that we have
given the inmate so much that now all they expect is more. The minute we decide
to start taking it away, we invite trouble in unknown magnitudes.
The state will provide all inmates a total of 10 postage paid letters per
month. If we take a look at this it would be something like this.$2.90 per
inmate per month +$34.80 per inmate per year+44,365 inmates as of December 2006'
Total: $1,543,902.00 per year (It is expected that inmate population will
increase to 51,000 by 2011)
I can only assume that most people really
don't know what is happening because if they did, it would startle them as well
and they would feel compelled to attempt to make a change. After all, how could
we send our neighbors and friends to work in this type of environment? How
would citizens allow our tax dollars to be spent this way without question or
holding somebody accountable? Remember, that it is the tax dollars that fund
John, I offer this letter to you as testimony. I encourage
others to read both books. I encourage the citizens to question how tax dollars
are being spent. After all, they get upset and blame Penn-DOT if a pot hole
shows up in the road but won't bat an eye at over a million dollars being spent
on postage for inmates each year. When was the last time you were offered free
postage? We never discussed medical, legal fees, programs, etc. I didn't want
to overwhelm anybody that may read this.
I sincerely appreciate your
visions to inform the citizens of this huge short-coming. Perhaps a change can
take place. Perhaps we can restructure the discipline of our institutions before
it is too late. Perhaps we can hold the inmate accountable for the crimes they
commit and the "system" that pampers to them just to keep them happy. Not just
make this a revolving door that it has become. Nobody here ever wants or is
looking for the day we can say "I told you so" because by then, it will be too
late for that as well.
Correctional Officer 1
Correctional Institute Dallas