Since the thus far successful escape by inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt, from the Clinton Correctional Facility, located in the small upstate village of Dannemora, NY, it is reported that the approximate 3,000 remaining residents have been placed on some type of lockdown. Authorities haven’t really provided a meaningful explanation for taking such steps other than the fact that two inmates escaped; it appears to be an automatic response without particular purpose. There has been no articulation that the remaining inmates have become suddenly more dangerous, or in some other manner, are posing a bigger threat to staff or the general public, it is just what prisons do, and have been doing, for many years in modern correctional settings. The problem is, that such reactionary measures, taken without regard for whether the inmates have violated any rules, or otherwise have started to react in disruptive fashion, may start to cause problems. People do not appreciate being disciplined for something they did not do. Moreover, as the New York Times recently reported, the lives of loved ones, outside the walls, are dramatically suffering from the prison’s reactions; writing about one such person, the Times writer noted:

“Before the lockdown occurred, she would usually leave her home on Staten Island by 6 p.m. on Saturdays. She and her three children first ride a public bus about an hour to the Staten Island Ferry. They take the ferry to Lower Manhattan, then catch the subway to 161st Street, then walk to the corner where a chartered bus is parked.

The bus leaves at 10 p.m., but she tries to be there at least a half-hour early so they can get good seats for sleeping.

This time of year, when the roads are clear, they typically arrive at the prison by dawn”.

While there will be plenty of folk who could care less about the plights of a wife or girlfriend of the inmate, and there is likely to be little sympathy or compassion for the inmate himself, mainly, in some circumstances, because of the nature of his crime, the government should care. Prison policies should be closely tailored to meet the demands of public safety, and traditional American values of due process and fairness. It is not just or right to punish people for something they did not do, and it is even more disingenuous to add additional hardships to loved ones who are already undergoing great struggles.  You would not punish a child because you think they might do something wrong. We have said before, that the public often blots the existence of such situated citizens from their minds, sometimes for prejudicial reasons, and other times because they feel all these men and women are getting what they deserve; the inmates should not do the crime if they can’t do the crime, loved ones should move on. It is not until they become the target that such people start to comprehend the value of fairness and due process.

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