No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Jailhouse Porn
Fort Apache: Flagler

| August 8, 2015

flagler jail porn recidivism

One of those prefabricated cell blocks being prepared for transport to the Flagler jail. (FCSO)

A few days ago the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office sent an invitation to local media to photograph the transfer of prefabricated jail cells from one place to another in Bunnell. I guess we were supposed to be impressed with the massiveness of those concrete blocks rolling to their final resting place on the unfortunately termed “Justice Lane.”

pierre tristam column flaglerlive.com flaglerlive I didn’t go. I don’t mind the endless groundbreakings for construction projects that are nothing more than government doing its most basic job, with our money (and sometimes pampering its job by building the occasional palace, with our money). But there’s a point when the back-patting becomes obscene. Turning jail construction into a photo-op is one of those points. There’s nothing to be proud of in the pornography of incarceration.

We need jails. But we don’t need monuments. And we certainly don’t need them in these numbers. Every prisoner is a symbol of failure: not just his failure, which is no small thing, but his community’s, a responsibility we too easily dismiss as non-existent. Prisons and jails mask that dismissal. They absolve us of responsibility even as they aggravate rather than treat the problem. Jails eliminate from society millions of non-violent offenders, decimating families and jobs and branding individuals as criminals for life. Those men and women are condemned to employers’ scorn and denied the right to vote long after they’d served their time. That’s not justice. It’s dehumanization. And it affects millions of non-violent offenders such as drug addicts and mental health patients.


The brainless rhetoric of tough-on-crime politicians allows them to project protection and responsibility even as they are accomplishing the reverse: they are criminalizing a slew of behaviors that have no business being criminalized, they are building an infrastructure of prisons and jails that, with 2 million people behind bars (and 7 million are under direct correctional supervision), exceeds every other nation’s incarceration rate. And they boast about it. They set-up photo-ops about it.

I’m not faulting the sheriff’s office’s PR folks. They’re doing what they’re told, what their politically savvy choreographers know works like a narcotic on voters’ basest instincts. And they’re right. The public loves its prisons and jails, the whole harsh, concrete, inescapable clang of it. It loves the architecture of punishment, the thick, drab walls of a criminal justice system that, to quote Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood, considers every individual arrested a scumbag until proven innocent, and a scumbag deserving of every inch of those prefab walls. That same public that will ridicule inexpensive mental health or diversionary programs and call them waste even though they’re more effective at keeping people out of jail snarls with joy at the prospect of a $26 million lock-up, most of which we don’t need. (The new jail itself costs $18 million, running it costs $6 million).

You’ll never convince me that a county that’s contended with a 140-bed jail all these years suddenly needs triple the lock-up space, even if its population were to improbably double in the next 20 years: not when, finally, politicians are beginning to emerge from their gulag mentality, when the idiotic war on drugs, and on pot in particular, is showing the harsh laws to be more unjust than what most drug users could possibly do, not when crime has been falling year after year, and when the 1990s rash of jail construction was shown to be the racket for jobs that it is. It has as much to do with justice as a billy club does with reason.

But glimmers of progress aside, no one has ever accused the Flagler County Commission or the county’s interchangeable sheriffs for being ahead of their time. If the military keeps fighting the last war, these guys keep fighting an outdated crime wave even as they boast of endlessly falling crime rates. They could have built a new jail in line with that trend and in line with necessary safety concerns. Instead, they’re giving us Fort Apache: Flagler.

That’s what explains this lust for more jails, this inability to see something wrong in turning what should be a shame of the community into prefab pride on par with boasts about parks or beaches.

But in the end it’s not the politicians’ fault. It’s yours. It’s your dollars, your votes, your lusts for disproportionate punishment that has turned what should have been necessary islands of confinement into an archipelago for warehousing human flesh. To call it a system of “corrections” is a euphemistic first-degree  felony. Inmates don’t get “corrected.” They don’t get cured, rehabed, treated or educated. They learn how to more effectively despise an incorrigible system and to be better criminals before going off to pad those recidivism rates. They live up to what we’ve made of them, intentionally and sadistically: subhuman creatures mirroring a subhuman architecture of punishment.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter @PierreTristam.A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

Print Friendly

46 Responses for Jailhouse Porn
Fort Apache: Flagler”

  1. Concerned Grandparents says:

    You know, there are hundreds of poor, unemployed males who are now being arrested by our deputies and thrown in jail because they missed a few months of child support. Instead of calling the young men up on a phone and telling them they have 48 hours to bring some money to the County’s Child Support Office, our officers have now become REVENUE COLLECTORS for the county…….How about creating JOBS so these young men can make some money. And it would be really great if the ‘Law” could stop the money being collected and given to “the child’s mother” who are spending it on drugs, cigarettes ,and booze instead of feeding and clothing the child.

    • MEB says:

      Have you noticed the number of “violation of probation” arrests?? Its all about getting money. Yes these people committed a crime and probation is a part of it. But a lot of times these people have no choice to accept it, knowing they don’t have the income to make these payments, on top of their own bills.

    • another concerned grandparent says:

      AMEN

  2. Jack D. Howell says:

    [Selected as Comment of the Day in the Aug. 10 Briefing.–FL]

    Pierre, I understand your points loud and clear. Your assessment is dead on! But, I would ask the first you look at the population of the county compared to what the county was when the current jail was constructed. I don’t have a problem with the expansion of the facility as a contingency. I wholeheartedly agree with you about intervention programs and the success they have shown. Yes, this is the positive approach. Personally, I would like to see a continued reduction in inmate population and crime reduction. I hope we will never need the additional space now being added! The reality is the sheriff does not fill the jail. The county commissioners do not fill the jail. The jail is filled by the judicial system….the courts fill the jail. Our society will dictate the size of our jail by the crimes committed and adjudicated as guilty.

    • Nancy N says:

      [Selected as Comment of the Day in the Aug. 10 Briefing.–FL]

      I have a lot of respect for your position in the community Jack, but I have to respectfully disagree with this:

      “The reality is the sheriff does not fill the jail. The county commissioners do not fill the jail. The jail is filled by the judicial system….the courts fill the jail. Our society will dictate the size of our jail by the crimes committed and adjudicated as guilty.”

      As someone whose family has been on the wrong side of that “justice” system, I can tell you…the Sheriff does fill that jail. Because the courts only get cases that the Sheriff’s officers bring to them. Officers frequently have discretion about making arrests, or what charges to request. They set the process in motion.

      And once someone is arrested for a felony, it is basically a foregone conclusion that they will do time. Only about 10% of cases go to trial. The rest end in plea bargains because public defenders are overworked and sentence guidelines are so stiff that people are forced to plea – even to crimes that they didn’t commit – because the risk of going to trial is often a difference of taking several years versus risking the rest of their adult lives at trial.

      Society HAS dictated the size of our jail – by electing politicians who have increased sentencing penalties over and over to the point that virtually everyone must take a plea, and by electing politicians as prosecutors who are so concerned about how their win percentage looks to the public (read: voters) that they over charge defendants to scare them into taking a plea to force one into the win column at all costs.

      That’s not justice. That’s playing politics with people’s lives.

  3. Andy says:

    That’s one of the most profound things I’ve ever read – “every prisoner is a symbol of failure”. I gotta let my brain chew on that one for a bit. A good editorial makes you think. A great editorial makes you re-think.

  4. Sad Future says:

    I agree with the article. Saw these things on Monday at the weigh station carried by a caravan of flatbed trucks. Got sick to my stomach knowing good or bad they’re useless unless someone is inside of them.

  5. Heidi says:

    They are preparing for all the arrests they are going to make in the new armpit of Flagler, the “L” section.

  6. scrub jay says:

    Again, thanks for this.

  7. Sherry E says:

    Another excellent article Pierre! The building of larger jails, instead of “good” mental health/drug rehabilitation facilities is a travesty and certainly nothing to document or celebrate.

    Eventually, pot will be legalized, and many of those additional beds will not be needed, anyway.

    Rehabilitate DON’T Incarcerate!

  8. anon2 says:

    Pierre, I’m not sure what your problem is with the jail. The jail has been overcrowded in the many years I have lived in Flagler County. I can just see your headline now, Flagler County sued by the Justice Department. I hope one of those cells houses a library, another some classrooms and maybe a few cells set aside for the emotionally disturbed inmates who have inundated prisons and jails all over the country.

    I agree that pot busts are ludicrous, but laws are made in Tallahassee, not Flagler County. It is also up to the judicial system to impose punishment, not the sheriff. The sheriff is charged with maintaining the jail, but not with the punishment.meted out.

    Perhaps, after decades of moaning and groaning by the county commissioners about the need for a new jail, the sheriff is proud to have accomplished it. I hope that he doesn’t use the facility to lock ’em up and forget about them, but uses the space to provide reading material, access to a law library, and recreational facilities. Just leaving them to educate each other in crime is not the best use of all that space.

  9. Bob says:

    Drug addicts commit crimes to support their habit. At that point they must be punished.

  10. Barry Hartmann says:

    I hope to many people don’t fall for this editorial.

  11. blondee says:

    Bring ’em on! Pierre thinks the war on drugs is “idiotic?” Let me know if you feel the same way when all the drug dealers move onto your street.

  12. Heading North says:

    Commit a crime, get found guilty by the judicial system, either by a jury or a judge (who you elected) and go to JAIL!
    CASE CLOSED.
    You want them released for “rehabilitation”? Let them move into your garage and you deal with it!
    Get over yourself Pierre!

  13. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    If you legalize drugs, then you don’t have drug dealers to deal with.

  14. L section resident says:

    Once again a joke!!! You pick and choose what arrest you want to post.
    Which nine times out of ten you pick the worst ones.
    Which is fine but sometimes the cops are quick
    To jump without doing an investigation which can lead
    To quick judgement and arrest which ruins a person live and his families as well.
    You call yourself a journalist,that’s a joke in itself. And to call,” every prisoner a symbol
    of failure!” Who are you to judge? Get a life a stop
    Ruining others.

    • Gkimp says:

      People ruin their own lives, the police/sheriff are just there to make people accountable for their actions. Make bad choices you’ll reep bad consequences. Society does not create criminals, people become criminals and are subsequently incarcerated as a result of their own actions. When others make excuses for them instead of condeming their actions, they continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Keep adding cells and filling them up!

  15. m&m says:

    The photo looks like the perfect cell for Weeks and Manfre.

  16. Gia says:

    These scumbags, drugs addict etc should be send in South america or Russian jail. US jails are like holiday inn. Also a reminder that gov. is not there to create jobs & rehabilitation does not work.

    • Nancy N says:

      And once again Gia is running her mouth off without any clue what she’s talking about.

      I’ve spent hundreds of hours inside the walls of Florida’s state prisons, and have Platinum status with Holiday Inn. I can assure you, there is absolutely no comparison between the two.

      Whether the government is there to create jobs is a matter of personal political philosophy, but one thing that isn’t a matter of opinion is the efficacy of rehabilitation programs in preventing recidivism. Study after study shows that substance abuse rehabilitation and other rehabilitation programs reduce the chances of a prisoner coming back to prison after release.

      But prison officials are reluctant to implement such programs because they cost money in the short term, although they save the state money in the long term. Plus, with more and more prisoners being housed in private facilities, there is no incentive for those businesses to reduce recidivism. They WANT prisoners to come back to prison after their release – it’s good for their business. Reducing the number of prisoners in custody long term is not good for the shareholders of private prison contractors. Even for the state run prisons, high recidivism ensures job security for the prison industrial complex of the state. Why would any of those people want to implement a program that keeps people from coming back to prison? Fewer prisoners equals facilities being closed and jobs being lost.

  17. ken says:

    Politicians on both sides have their pet government programs that are fails.

    For many on the right, it’s the war on drugs. That war is a failure because addiction is a sickness which requires evidenced based treatment. No amount of jail time will cure that sickness.

    For many on the left, it’s the myriad of welfare programs. The programs often penalize people for working. Did you ever notice how quickly a people are able to find a job once their benefits run out?

    What a sin that instead of using our tax dollars to improve society, politicians misuse our monies in a way that ruins lives and hurts our society.

  18. Footballen says:

    I honestly try to put myself in the other guys shoes or considering what the other guy has to deal with at least. I try to see the BIG picture on these topics. I have considered most of the things in this article for the first few moments, then the other perspectives come back into play and reality sets in. It is what it is. If you cannot do the time then by all means do not do the crime. If you do not consider how to repay a loan when you take it your credit will suffer. If you do not remove your hand from the door frame while closing the door it will hurt and for heavens sake Bart, the butterfinger is hooked up to electricity and you keep shocking yourself!

  19. PeachesMcGee says:

    “Every prisoner is a symbol of failure”, Umm, no…

    It’s about choices, some good, some bad.

    • Andy says:

      I don’t think Pierre means that the person is a failure; I read it to mean that the fact that a person becomes incarcerated is a failure of society/parenting/personal choices etc. A prisoner is a missed opportunity to do the right thing. That’s how I read it…the symbol of failure is against Society as much as it is the individual who chose to do the wrong thing.

  20. Gerald says:

    If you feel the need to do the crime, Dont cry to your Momma do your time. Take away the TV ect. Bring back the chair.

  21. Dave says:

    Good article but your missing a few points. People talk about building larger jails, well who do you think is going to pay for it, yes you the people of this county. Get real, reusing old portable concrete jails that are paid for makes a lot more sense than spending millions on a new jail.

    “. Inmates don’t get “corrected.” They don’t get cured, rehabed, treated or educated.” it all depends on what type of inmates they are. Rapist, murders, drug pushers will never be “corrected”. Maybe the death penalty is more in line in what your after. Jails have turned into “weekly retreats, with free food, free medical, housing, exercise, TV, movies, books and we pay for all of these freebies for inmates. Take away those freebies and maybe inmates might get corrected in one way or another.

  22. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Something tells me that most of the “commit the crime do the time” posters have never had to deal with the judicial system. The system is stacked against you, whether you are innocent or guilty. Most defendants have public defenders, which are typically underpaid and overworked, and are unable to treat a case with the level of attention that it requires. Most prosecutors will mislead or flat out lie to defendants, withhold evidence from the defense (you do realize that it’s almost impossible for a prosecutor to go to jail for just about any action, right?), and generally make it seem like you are going to jail innocent or guilty if a case goes to trial. Witnesses and police testimony are taken as fact when in reality are almost completely unreliable or simply made up, and the pressure is to get you to take a plea because the alternative is a punitive sentence just because you chose to take it to trial, regardless of your innocence or guilt. When you get out, you will never get worthwhile employment and you lose rights, thereby making it almost impossible for you to make a living without engaging in criminal activity.

    Your mantra of “do the crime, do the time” is uneducated foolishness, and your belief that “the truth will set you free” is hogwash.

    • Footballen says:

      OK everyone lie cheat and steal. No one uphold any morals whatsoever and lets see how that works. Whats that you say? We are going backwards into time.?

      • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

        The alternative isn’t chaos, you know. I’d settle for comprehensive prison and legislative reform centered on rehabilitation and restoration of rights upon exiting the prison system. It would also be nice to see laws that shield prosecutors and judges from consequences at the state level overturned, with a body set in place that’s willing to pursue criminal charges against them when needed.

  23. Brian Riehle says:

    The criminal justice system in America isn’t about crime or justice….it’s an industry that employees thousands of attorneys, police officials, courthouse staff, prison guards, orange jumpsuit manufacturers, food service personnel, etc.
    Most of this money would be better spent on Advocacy programs for juvenile offenders, drug rehab and mental health programs, and neighborhood outreach programs.

    • Footballen says:

      Do we let the sex offenders then teach our children?

      • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

        This all or none approach is something I see brought up when dealing with people that are mindlessly pro-police. Can you explain to us why you think it’s all or none?

  24. anon2 says:

    Just pointing a minor fact in this debate. County jail is for those arrested and who are waiting for a trial or for those serving a sentence of less than one year. Convicted rapists, murderers, etc. go to state run prisons.. Keeping that in mind, the county inmates are either innocent until proven guilty or serving time for less than one year.

    @Ray Thorne, after a couple of decades of debating the need for a new jail, patching the roof, and fixing up other deferred maintenance, and general overcrowding, why shouldn’t the sheriff take some pride in his accomplishment?

    • Sad Future says:

      “County jail is for those arrested and who are waiting for a trial or for those serving a sentence of less than one year.” NOT totally true or simplistic as stated. New York late 1980’s, minors to adults picked up in sweeps called secret indictments. Meaning a file was complied on you are who the authorities says was you and month to a year later your picked up to with one hundred other people to languish through the system/red tape and “bull pen therapy” until you plead fight your charges or get sentenced this sometimes lasting close to two years without trial. The point is some people sit because they can’t make bail guilty or innocent even when the charges are eventually dropped. Also state inmates passing back through the county system after sentencing to face additional local charges.

    • Footballen says:

      Do we dig a hole which would be cheaper?

  25. biker says:

    How about a little personal responsibility ? You end up in jail not because you are some kind of victim. You end up there because you make the wrong choices. You take the wrong fork in the road. There are many successful persons that have been raised in adverse conditions. To blame everyone else but the the offender is disingenuous.

    • Nancy N says:

      Are you really naive enough to believe, after all the things that we’ve seen on the news in the last year about police shootings and other abuses of authority, that everyone who ends up in handcuffs is guilty of a crime? If there is anything that should be learned from all of the recent police abuse scandals, it’s that sometimes people are locked up for nothing more than irritating a cop or being the wrong color.

      And even for those who are guilty…it’s not laying claim to victimhood for offenders to say that rehabilitation is needed. 90% of the people locked up right now will be walking the streets again some day. It is in our own best interests as the citizens who will one day live alongside them in society to invest in rehabilitation programs to turn these people into productive citizens when they re-enter society. It doesn’t matter how they got how they are. It matters what can be done to change their future to make the world better for all of us. Rehabilitation programs turn offenders into better neighbors, better family members, better employees, better members of the community. What is wrong with that?

  26. Anon says:

    Hmmm… the one thing I don’t see is anywhere that says people should be held accountable and take responsibility for their own actions. It is his / her failure regardless. That is were it starts. I am tired of the “I am down trodden and a victim of white privilege”. BS… get over it and take responsibility for yourself, your actions and stop passing the buck. If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime. If the law is unjust then it needs to be changed by our elected officials though they could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

    • Sad Future says:

      Why is it people like you always want to pick up the discussion after what your forefathers (white America) did and benefits from? Meaning you only look at the past or the heritage of this country when its a positive reflection on you and your beliefs. African Americans, Native Americans and Middle easterners can’t all be making up self pity and accusations. The government itself admits it has set alternate systems of life in this country whether it’s welfare, prison or drugs and immigration it needs to perpetuate those issues in order to make “Proud Americans” like you feel elevated and privileged, because guess what you can’t measure up to them so for you to sleep good at night they give you the way out and that’s to measure down. If this system was equal there would be no need for privilege or rich. Keep telling yourself it’s all about taking responsibility and they will let you keep peering through the glass ceiling seeing the way out but never letting you reach their heights.

  27. SPEAK TO THE PEOPLE INVOLVED says:

    The truth is that the jail is being built because of some overcrowding but mostly because of there classification issues. There are inmates that come in on a minor offense like DUI that are in the same housing unit with inmates with felony charges. That is due to lack of space. Would you like to be put in a block with career criminals when its your first offense? I don’t think so! The problem is that people like Pierre like to speak on his SOME facts but mostly opinions. I bet he has never even interviewed a correctional officer on a non biased non negative topic. If you call them prison guards then you are stuck in the early 1900’s and still think there are chain gangs and they carry billy clubs. I do believe in rehabilitation for those that want it but you are crazy to think that ALL people can be rehabilitated. Believe it or not there are bad people in this world that need to be separated from the good people. If you don’t think so then by all means put your address on this web site and invite inmates to come over and lets see if you want them in your home or FORT APACHE.

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive
Loading

ADVERTISEMENTS

support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida

Subscribe to FlaglerLive

Get immediate notification of new stories.

Advertisement
Log in
| FlaglerLive, P.O. Box 354263, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4263 | 386/586-0257

FlaglerLive.com