February 29th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Prison bars white inmate from reading 'Slavery by Another Name,' citing security risk

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – The Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II," by Douglas Blackmon, tells the story of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction south who were imprisoned and forced into involuntary servitude after being convicted of trifling crimes. Now a modern-day prisoner in Alabama is suing for his right to read the book.

The lawsuit, filed in September, alleges that when officials at the Kilby Correctional Facility in Mt. Meigs, Ala. denied prisoner Mark Melvin access to the book, it was a violation of his rights to "freedom of speech, equal protection and due process." The case is currently in the discovery phase.

The Alabama Department of Corrections declined comment for this story, citing the pending litigation. In their answer to the lawsuit, they admitted that Melvin had been denied access to the book, but denied any violation of his rights.

The Department said the book was in violation of its rules about what kind of reading material can be sent to inmates – namely that "the book, its title, its contents and/or its pictures could be used (or misused) by the plaintiff or other inmates to incite violence or disobedience within the institution." They also noted that the book, which describes the forced labor of African Americans in detail, "could also be used (or misused) in a manner which is inconsistent with legitimate peneological objectives, for instance the rehabilitation of inmates through prison work details and/or the inculcation of a work ethic."

Melvin, who is white, is serving a sentence of life without parole for a murder committed when he was 14. The book was one recommended to him by Bryan Stevenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative who had represented him in an earlier case. Stevenson, in compliance with prison rules, arranged for the publishers of "Slavery by Another Name" and another book, "Mountains Beyond Mountains," by Tracy Kidder, to mail copies of the books directly to Melvin.

Stevenson said he often sends books to his current and former clients in the prison system, especially those who were convicted at a young age and have only limited educational opportunities in prison. Melvin had expressed an interest in history and biographies, so in September 2010, Stevenson sent him books about Irish, Native American, and U.S. history, including Blackmon’s book.

"I think knowledge creates a better understanding, creates more introspection and introspection leads to rehabilitation," said Stevenson. "There's so many negative distractions that reading is a better escape than a lot of the other things you see people doing in jails and prisons."

According to the original lawsuit filing, when prison officials told Melvin he would not be allowed to have the book because it was allegedly "too provocative," Melvin appealed by filing a grievance. Prison officials denied that grievance on the basis that the content of the book was inappropriate. The lawsuit alleges that a second grievance filed by Melvin was denied without officials giving a reason.

Stevenson said he believes prison officials don’t like the book's treatment of historical facts that highlight the mistreatment and injustice  meted upon African Americans at certain points in the state's – and America's – history.

"All kinds of books with graphic violence and other destructive narratives come into the prison every day," said Stevenson. "Prisoners watch television with all kinds of worrisome messages. We've raised the question, 'Why this book?'  To me it seems clear that it’s because it's really a book about racial history. For many people, talking about our racial history is so complicated and provocative that they’d rather not do it."

Stevenson said that inmates told him that prison officials did not prevent them from watching a PBS documentary based on the book when it aired on Alabama Public Television earlier this month.

The book's author, Blackmon, called the Alabama officials' decision "outrageous." He said that soon after news of Melvin's lawsuit broke, the commissioner of Georgia's prison system contacted him to say that he had read "Slavery by Another Name." The commissioner went on to tell Blackmon that it had impressed him so much that he was making it required reading for participants in an upcoming staff retreat.

"Wiser, well-reasoned people who have actually read the book, who have taken time to be serious and consider the balance of history and who are not acting with a knee-jerk reaction, understand that this is the kind of history that helps us understand why things are they way they are  today," said Blackmon. "And it could help inmates understand the world they live in, whether they’re white or black."

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • Race • What we think
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. Cashun Please

    White men rejoice!!!!(cowards) Look at your proud history!!!(losers) Who can deny that the white man is superior!!!!(p!@*!!!). After all your people has done to us, should'nt we get to return the favor? Thats why we rape, steal, kill, terrorize our (your) neighborhoods. You did it to us first dude!!!!! A little payback neva hurt nobody!!! LoL!!!!! Remember!!!! Juneteenth is smack-a-whiteboy day.......lets all celebrate!!!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madelin

      Everyone who is reading this blog and focusing on RACE INSTEAD OF CRIME is supporting a FAILED system which REWARDS criminals for committing crimes. This is part of why the REHAB DOESN'T WORK. The Civil Rights Act was passed almost 50 YEARS AGO. Using race as an excuse for being a violent criminal is BS. If violent crime was punished by execution in more cases and a life of misery for the interned, the excuses for grouping into racial GANGS would soon ELIMINATE the criminals of ALL races.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      History repeats good luck getting a counter seat in the future : )

      March 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DH

    I wonder if the baboons at Kilby are allowed to read Malcom X? I wonder if they can read at all.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ginger315

    Prison should resemble salvery.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      He DARES compare his denial of a book to slavery? So when again was he chained, beat, treated as a sub-human, and made to starve or live in appalling conditions? This person took a life and is sitting in a small area, probably larger than the one I live in. He is fed, I have to work for my food and trust me, I'd love to be able to eat a square meal three times a day and have someone else pay for my utilities, sewage/sanitation, taxes and other cost of living expenses. He has it better than the majority of citizens who are struggling through day to day. He has some nerve.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Random me

    Don't judge a book by it's cover. I'm white but i'm cherokee and Irish. Last time i checked native americans were enslaved as well. And there are many people who are darker skinned that are neither african or children of slaves. Second they could have the best cuisine on the planet , world class medical care and all the books they could read and it would still be Hell. Why? They spend every day being told what to do, they can't choose to go outside or even to the bathroom without having permission. I lived for two months in a mission where they treated us nice, fed us well and kept us safe. But we were told when to get up, when to get to sleep, when we could shower, what we could wear, when we could use our phones etc. I hated it. I would work night and day to avoid ever going back. I agree serial killers and rapists can rot but everyone else is paying no matter how nicely it's dressed up they are not free. And that is constant torture. Also they as given an education and chances to work as well as medical care because for everyone who isn't a lifer they are coming back out and it is the warden and guards job to try and rehabilitate them.

    March 1, 2012 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Here in Florida the daily budget for feeding prisoners is $1.62. Currently there's a push to serve only 2 meals daily on weekends as a cost-cutting procedure...the amount allowed for a final meal is $15.00.

      There are no luxuries in prison. Our prisons don't all have air conditioning. If you have ever visited the state in summer, you know how hot it gets here when the humidity is 98%. The combination of the temp and the humidity make the temperature up to and over 110F. The cinder block construction radiates heat all night long. Welcome to Hell. Come commit a crime in Florida. Enjoy gourmet bologna sandwiches on white bread for breakfast and lunch with no dinner on the weekends. There's no free satellite television in the cells.

      Whomever is claiming all this crap is available in prison is lying through his teeth. I wonder who it is who is promoting these lies and the reasons for them? Could it be he's trying to whip up the populace for some reason or other?

      March 1, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      Hello they are not free because – he took the life of someone, he is there to serve time and he chose this path for himself. The world out here is getting harsher and harder to navigate through. He's in there being taken care of 100%. Slavery means something very different.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Random – thanks for your last point. Yes, most inmates ARE coming back out. So, the questions these hardliner, "make 'em sit and think about what they did" types need to answer are:

      If you don't want them to come back out, are you willing to pay for life sentences for every felon? EVERY one? (Don't forget, then we'll be paying for their geriatric health problems.)

      If you don't want to pay to keep them in there, and agree they're coming back out, would you prefer that they spend their time getting education and job training, or just being idle and getting more bitter? Would you prefer that they come out still addicted, or after treatment? Would you prefer that they lose all contact with their families, so they have no place to go, except maybe to break into YOUR house?

      Never mind that those of us who work in the prison are in greater danger if the inmates have nothing else to do except grow their hate and plot against us.

      March 2, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
      • Madelin

        Why should we REWARD violent criminals with a higher standard of life than the honest people who struggle every day to survive the economic slavery of corprate power? They're released back into society UNCHANGED which is why the REHAB "correctional" system is a COMPLETE FAILURE. Instead of SCARING PEOPLE to SUPPORT their criminal lifestyles and the REVOLVING DOOR OF BENEFITS TO THE MISFITS, they should be scared of a system which has only INCREASED the number of violent criminals in US society. More should be KILLED and the fewer be made so miserable, they'll do anything to stay out of jail.

        March 2, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |

    let's rebut this

    March 1, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |

    You can't have it both ways. This prison system is set up for failure and it has to change. Why is the recividism rate over 70%??? I T'S society's fault just as much as the prisoners.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      It's our fault? I'm so sorry, I kind of busy busting my butt to keep myself and my children alive to stand and become an activist for someone that has nothing better to do than murder innocent people. I spend so much time worrying my children will be victim to what most of these people have done. Murder, rape, kidnapping, etc... Look, they are adults – they knew the law, no one is that ignorant to presume if they commit a serious crime nothing will be done to them. I already work hard, with a portion of my $ going towards taking care of them. They have all the time in the world, maybe they should take responsibility for their actions and use this time to think things over. I am pretty busy working to ensure they can be paid for and that myself and my family have a car, home and food continually.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madelin

      NO, it's NOT SOCIETY'S FAULT. It's the CHOICE and the BEHAVIOR of CRIMINALS. Otherwise, ALL humans would BE criminals. The REHAB system REWARDS criminals for their crimes and GIVES them more and better opportunities than their honest equals who struggle everyday to survive the economic slavery of corporate power. The Civil Rights Act is almost 50 years old. Neither race nor economics is an excuse for violent criminals. Extending a lengthening list of Human Rights to violent criminals, foreign mercenary workers and other countries has bankrupted America. The GOOSE which laid the golden eggs was WORKED TO DEATH for the BENEFIT of those who DON'T.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |

    All you dudes do not know what you are talking about. The reason why prisons are so expensive is because of the cost to pay the guards. In my state, some of the guards get up to 175k a year with all the overtime and hazard pay. I know a married couple who make over 300 together. I know, I did their taxes last year. Their union is the most powerful in the state and they got carte blanche over a decade ago to get the pay and benefits they wanted while other state employees such as teachers and other professionals get cuts. When the state tried to get the private sector to handle the overload, the CCPOA tried to stop it. The 3 strikes law and putting people in prison whose only crime is hurting their own bodies is what is costing the money. The medical and training you talk about is woefully inadequate and almost non-existent in that order. The problem is those self rightious indignant tea party republicans who want to put everybody away for stealing pizza but don't want to pay for it.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. VRage13

    Prison should be PUNISHMENT!! The ultimate adult timeout. No books, no TV, no radio, no mail (except from lawyer), no visitors (except from lawyer), no computers, no movies, no pencils,, no paper, no newspaper, no mags.....nothing but a futon mattress, blanket and a bucket for relief.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Ethernet

      Exactly right, when you commit a crime and go to prison for it. You don't have any rights except the right to shut up,sit down, and do your time.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • teremist

      Dear Vrage13, There are a few problems with your theories of appropriate incarceration. Most state prisons provide food, shelter, indoor plumbing, and some medical care. They are required to by law. In addition, they are charged with keeping inmates and staff safe, as much as possible. (From both disease and injury.) Anything that affects the inmates, also affects the staff. We know that human beings deprived of mental stimulation, deteriorate mentally and emotionally rather quickly. This makes them highly dangerous and unstable. It is in the best interests of STAFF, to allow books, magazines, TV, radio and other diversions such as exercise equipment. It is certain when humans are treated as less than animals, they respond accordingly. This does not amount to inmates living it up at the Hilton, rather it amounts to making survival in a cage with hundreds of others survivable.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ddaniels

      I totally agree with you, that is the way prisons should be, but unfortunately, we have corrupt prosecutors, judges, and just incompetents whom convict people whom are not guilty and then you hate to punish so greatly the ones whom are innocent..Until, we can come up with a justice justice system what do we do.. I am all for, if you absolutely sure a person is guilty, do not waste taxpayer money on trials and human rights, if they are positively guilty, they should go straight to the Hell House forever, with no release and no medical, no tv, no anything. Example, the kid whom just shot those three students, he will get a trial and waste 100's of thousand dollars on doctors, judges, juries, lawyers. He did it already, throw away the key, not better a deterrent to the next kid than that... We do have it all wrong in this country. The prisoners are coddled and babied and at our expense.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. @D DUKE


    February 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Factual Liberal

    Race does not exist. Humans are human, regardless. If a living creature hurts another living creature, regardless of species, there is always a reason. In human society, to eliminate bad actions, deal with the cause factors. Simple as that. World peace CAN be achieved.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ethernet

      Thats a big non sequitur

      March 1, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      Uh no. World Peace cannot exist as long as humans have an ego.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. a plan

    You can't tell someone's race, by the color of their skin!
    You can only ASSUME!
    and to assume makes an:
    "ASS" of "U" AND "ME"!

    February 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. a plan

    End racism!
    You can't accuse an entire race of being racist, without first admitting you are a racist! Mr. Omar!

    February 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. slavery

    it is kind of true though. they use them to make houses and such. they don't get much money. maybe pennies on the dollar.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • a plan

      When you say "they".. Who are you talking about?

      February 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      I tell you what, next time you get your paycheck, let your eyes head over to the portion where they take funds out for taxes. Now, that large amount that is sliced out – wasn't that you that did that work? Yes? Now some is going to roads and schools but some is also going to prisons. Now, think about that – and get back to me when the pity for them doing a little bit of work here and there kicks in.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Omar

    eldorogado??? What's not true? Is it true that the blacks from slavery descent in this country is treated worse than any other race (including native africans, asians, hispanics)? Is it not true, that black men (besides the handful of people you mentioned) are being marginalized in society and portrayed as people unworthy of association with the human race? Is it not true that when a group of people are being denied opportunities and have very little hope to accomplish the "american dream" that it can have a very substantial mental disorder on them, and they can ultimately think of themselves as being less than human and destined to a life of prison or death? Is it not true, that the majority of black people who are "successful" are forced to asimilate to the majority ideals and show allegiance to their cause, no matter how educated, or skilled the black person may be? By the way I am not a muslim, but ur comment was typical of the american stereotyping ways. Yes I do know white people as well as other races. As my experience tells me their are good white people...they just usually happen to be oppressed as well. Which is the typical treatment for a white that sympathize or consider black people as equals. I also served in the military where I encountered many people of hispanic and asian descent doing there best to try and fit in with the white racist and show that they wanted to be on the team and didnt view blacks as their equals as well. After all more slaves were taken from africa to south america than what were brought into north america. Do u expect me to actually believe that u don't believe that blacks are treated racist in this country. I am sorry to say but I am not a fool here and I have no reason to be politically correct, unlike President Obama, I have no problem with speaking the truth about the racial divide in this country.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • focus!

      Who treats them worse? White people?
      And who marginalizes them? White people?
      And who forces them to assimilate? White people?
      And if you know that white people are oppressed as well, then how do you claim "white people" oppress them?
      And yes, I would expect you to believe that just because you are white, doesn't mean that you oppress black people. But when your racist like you are, you can't see that far can you?
      And I will be happy to discuss the "racial divide" in the country with anyone who isn't biased, as you are!
      And you fail to speak of the "good" white people in your other post!
      And just like a true Muslim, you spoke of nearly all people being decent except "the Jewish" people. But then they aren't really a decent people in your eyes either, huh?
      but if you would go back and read your own post, only replace "white people" with "wealthy people" you'd be right. But you dont you chose to hang on to racist views of the past!

      February 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • focus!

      white people didnt go to Africa, and collect black people from the continent. They were sold to white people, by black people, for profit.
      Again at its very root! Black people sold their own kind into slavery for money!
      so let me again reiterate; wealthy people cause oppression, not white people. Wealthy people owned slaves, not white people! Over 70% of all white people, never owned anyone, including black slaves. Every race on the planet has been enslaved at one time or the other.
      So get off of your "poor me whiny wagon" and contribute to fix the real problem. And stop being racist at the expense of racism! Geeez!

      February 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chris

        @focus, I am not sure, but wasn't there black slave owners in the United states as well?

        February 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • focus!

        @ Chris.. Yes and at one point a much higher ration than white slave owners.

        February 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • focus!



        February 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. naji

    In case people didn't know the Prison System was changed from the Penal system to the Correctional System for a reason. There are bad people, innocent people and ignorant people in prison. Now Im not saying we give them everything but a basic education? Reading books. How can that harm society? When they get out...if the get out...they are gonna need skills or something or they will end up right back where they were. And along that journey guarenteed one of us (law abiding citizens) is gonna get robbed, murders, swindled, raped, beaten, etc. Open your eyes.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madelin

      America's Correctional System is a joke. The 1st prison to begin the REHAB of criminals was in New York in the late 19th century. I would NOT say the idea wasn't worthy or that a fair testing of it hasn't been done. It's a COMPLETE FAILURE. Prison inmates are materially better off than their cohorts out of prison. This DOES NOT make them more ethical people; it encourages them to be their criminal selves, harming society and the innocents thereof and when they get caught, their needs are met at a MUCH HIGHER LEVEL than the honest people who struggle every day to survive the economic slavery of corporate power. Violent criminals when allowed to live should spend 8 hours a day performing some type of physical work NOT WORKING OUT. If they cause problems after 8 hours, their work day needs to be extended by 1 hour up to a 12-hour work day. If that fails, they get a "sleeper" drug. The book readers can read for 2 hours after their work day; otherwise, they can sit in their cell and think about their crime and their victim(s). That's their life; they behaved as predators; they can live without the pleasures of freedom and without tax dollars paying THEM for committing a crime. For the really hard core, subcontract their care to China. This is the way to disincentivise criminals. Right now, America and Europe are ALLOWING the human predators to destroy productive, contributing people who ask only to do the best they can. Arguments which support this travesty have not only increased the prison population, but there are so many criminals, they aren't even punished for the crimes they are caught committing. They're released into lower income communities so they can be role models for the young. They're VERY SUCCESSFUL AT THAT.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jarhead4life

      Then give how to manuals so that they can learn a skill versus books that incite turmoil. Basic skills will benefit them far more in finding a job once they are released.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • focus!

        Great point jarhead!

        February 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Really???

        Common sense is not common at all, Jarhead4life. Thank you for that stiff dose of it! There ARE much better books to stimulate the brain.

        March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  16. elgatorojo

    Elgatoblanco or should I say "white cat"?

    Why do you think they are in prison?
    For tickling people with kisses?
    Making valedictorian?
    Helping old ladies cross the street?
    Or doing something illegal

    February 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mac58

    You do know they only can read so much of Max Brand or Louis L Amour. There are hundreds of books depicting some kind of slavery including other races ban them all?

    February 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  18. AJ

    liberals coddle prisoners too much, it's almost giving them a luxury resort for hurting people and committing crimes. The fact they have access to books, tv, ice cream, internet, weights, etc its just appauling. WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS

    February 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • liberal

      Im a liberal, I dont coddle to prisoners.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneofeach4me

      IT's all a vicious circle you see. Reason being, some of those offenders (or inmates) were also victims at some point. They could have been abused, abandoned, or witnessed abuse. Society in itself has to change the way we see each other if we want the violence to taper off.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • naji

      Are you serious? You do know that most crime is done out of ignorace right? Books kinda do the opposite of that. What is Liberal about that? Seems like its a logical thing to do. I dont care for the ice cream and other stuff but really what kind of person doesn't want other people to be able to read? Being human means you are born with the right to know where you came from as a human. Also, who are you to deny people the ability to learn. Thats like saying you are better than them which you are in no way that.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Madelin

        What about VICTIM's RIGHTS? Once a human crosses the line to exploit or displace HIS/HER needs to harm, that person has decided his/her future. DON'T use my labor to pretend he's valuable or employ people to comfort her predation.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • John

        Not all books are created equal. I've done prison library service, and 99.9% of them won't touch anything but XXL magazine and urban fiction glorifying the lifestyle that sent them there.

        February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • focus!

      Where you came from is no where near as important as where you are, and where you are going!

      February 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jarhead4life

        EXACTLY. We all have a past. But at this point in time they need to focus on where they are at, why they are there and what they will do once they are release. Thus the only readying material they should have is learning a skill so that they can get employed once they are released. Same goes for TV. They should only be allowed to watch programs that will benefit their skills. They are there because they are criminals. They are there for punishment for the crimes they have committed. And for those who created such serious crimes that they should never be released – they shouldnt be allowed to read or view anything. They should just sit there and rot.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      AJ, I want to know where you get this information. Prove that prisoners have access to all these things. In my state of Florida many of the prisons aren't air conditioned, much less equipped with luxuries.

      Post links They must be verifiable and non-partisan. BTW, I'm a liberal and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop speaking for me. I do NOT believe prisoners should have free access to the internet or HDTV, and in my state they do not.
      If they do in your state, change it. When they did in my state THESE THINGS WERE FUNDED BY A CHARITY. NO TAX DOLLARS WENT TO PAY FOR IT HERE. Who pays for it in your state? If you don't know, find out.

      IF prisoners have limited access to the internet for the purpose of attending college online that's a good thing in any state. Education and self-improvement are always a good thing.

      If you're anti-education then there's no common ground between us and I'm sorry for that.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  19. MMiner

    I don't know a lot about the prison system; but isn't one of the points of the system is to take away some rights that law abiding citizens have? Some prisoners have better access to education than our nations children.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Three hot meals a day. Warm bed at night. Free Medical and Dental. Free Cable TV and DVD players. Access to a library and a woodworking shop. Free access to workout equipment. Sounds better than what I have.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • GetReal

        Your "facts" are untrue. No prison in the US offers "free cable" to prisoners, and the free medical and dental care is care that is so often lacking, and so poorly implemented, that countless lawsuits have been filed nationwide because prisoners DIE from lack of medical care.

        More so, if you feel compelled to compare your free life with that of someone confined to a cage (even if that cage were to have a hot tub in it), it is your life that needs attention, not that of those in prison.

        February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ann

        To Getreal: There is cable TV in federal prison. How do I know this? Because I have worked in one for 19 years.

        Why does this bother people so much? It's a very cost-effective way of giving the inmates something to do. A couple of TVs in each housing unit, tuned to various channels like CNN, sports, some Spanish shows, BET, whatever, with the occasional movie piped in. Is that really so luxurious?

        What do you think people are going to do when they're locked in a place like this for decades at a time, sit at attention on the edge of their bunks?

        Don't forget, the vast majority of these folks will eventually be realeased – maybe to YOUR town. Would you prefer them to be released with, or without, an education, job training, drug treatment, etc.? Which will make YOUR town safer?

        February 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • AJ

        Ann, I'd prefer they sit there with nothing to do but thing about what they did. Especially the violent ones. Drugs I don't care about, but violent offenders? Yes I do care. They should rot in there.

        February 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • elgatoblanco

        Yes! It does sound wonderful. And let's not forget those other nice things like getting raped in the shower, stabbed with shivs, and being locked in a tiny cell all the time. Those inmates are living the life.

        February 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mike

        I wouldn't call prison food, meals, and the warm bed is from Bubba. So Robert if you are gay and hate real food than I guess this is like your life.

        February 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chartreuxe

        Your 'facts' couldn't be more wrong.

        Here in Florida the daily budget for feeding prisoners is $1.62. Currently there's a push to serve only 2 meals daily on weekends as a cost-cutting procedure...the amount allowed for a final meal is $15.00.

        There are no luxuries in prison. Our prisons don't all have air conditioning. If you have ever visited the state in summer, you know how hot it gets here when the humidity is 98%. The combination of the temp and the humidity make the temperature up to and over 110F. The cinder block construction radiates heat all night long. Welcome to Hell. Come commit a crime in Florida. Enjoy gourmet bologna sandwiches on white bread for breakfast and lunch with no dinner on the weekends. There's no free satellite television in the cells. There's very limited television access for an hour or two each day, but a vote must be taken for which channel is watched.

        Whomever is claiming all this luxury crap is available in prison is lying through his teeth. I wonder who it is who is promoting these lies and the reasons? More importantly, WHY are YOU so gullible?

        Look up the public information for your state's prison system. Learn about it on your own. You'll be surprised. Then you should get angry. You've been lied to, and you swallowed it whole.

        March 1, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • absurd!

      Yeah, why we give those on death row free healthcare, is counter productive.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Robert

    Life in prison without parole for a crime committed at age 14? That's not right. Most people don't have their heads screwed on straight at that age. He ought to have a second chance at age 30--especially if he gets educated and gets a degree.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • absurd!

      So what do we do to the 14 year old, that killed another 14 year old.
      Im sure the family of the perpetrator would say, he's only 14, you can't prosecute him.
      However the family of the 14 year old victim would certainly want justice.
      And lets stop pretending that a 14 year old doesn't know right from wrong... They're not as dumb as a lot of you would like to think..
      And if the 14 year is proven to not know the difference between right and wrong.
      Then maybe the parents of the child should be tried, and imprisoned!

      February 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ann

        No one suggested he shouldn't have been prosecuted at all. Of course he should have. It's just the absurd length of the sentence.

        February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Secondchance

      A second chance after murder? What about the victim do they get a second chance....NO

      February 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Awakenevil

        I disagree – 14 – He should be given another chance. Not saying in 5 years, 10 years 15 or even 20 years but when he has shown he has grown up, can contribute to society, and live a healthy normal lifestyle without endangering himself or those around him they should rehabilite him and let him have a second chance

        February 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Gary Bman

    wander why the ACLU, Al and Jesse haven't spoken up yet??

    February 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • CGA

      Your Southern right-winged tendencies are showing Gary Bman...it is Wonder not Wander.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Juanmom2

        *like* thanks CGA:-)

        February 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dduke

        It's a typo perhaps you racist

        February 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Dduke

    Hey Hernandez go fetch me some tacos and beers por favor

    February 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  23. just a thought!

    Maybe when we become Americans, we should refer to ourselves as Americans. Not Africans, or Mexicans, or Irishmen... But American!
    You see America is a melting pot of all races. And when you refer to yourself as something other than American, then youre simply saying you aren't really American at all! but a racist with a predicate for your own race. If you want to be an Irishmen, got to Ireland, if you want to be Mexican, go to Mexico, if you want to be African, then go to Africa.
    If you want to be an American where race, is less of an issue, then come to America, and be an American!

    February 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      I just said that exact thing to my hubby last week. Why is it that Americans are always refering to each other by race. Either you are American and you bleed American blood or you don't.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dduke

        Women that use the word hubby are so annoying

        February 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • tiredofyou82

      Thats a thought. Problem is, it is not just immigrants coming in to the US, and claining their original heritage. The whole other side of the equation is, people already living in the US are quick to label immigrants as Mexican, African, etc. JUST as quickly as the immigrants identify with their ethinicity. It is an absolute two way street. Perhaps if all Americans welcomed with open arms (legal) immigrants, and CALL them Americans, perhaps the immigrants will begin to classify themselves as Americans. But to say that all foreigners when they come here need to immediately identify as Americans is absolutely unfair. I know quite a few African and Asian families that have come to the US, got full citizenship, and consider themselves American (among their other ethnicities of course). The problem is, because they still "look" like foreigners and have accents, Americans don't consider them American. So why should they even want to identify as American. Should they have to "prove" their American-ness first? This was a long-winded way of me saying, the honus should not be put all on the immigrants. It is our responsibility as well. Hence the phrase "melting pot".

      February 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • just a thought!

      @tired of you..

      You taking incidents of a few, and classifying all Americans in that bunch..
      If you see someone who doesn't look American to you, and you label them as something else, then you have a race issue, not the Americans..
      I know Americans of all colors, and religions, and I still consider them American.
      Stop prejudging all Americans based on what you see in your own little circle. And start seeing America for what it is!

      You can't sit back and name call, and then complain about name calling. That makes you a Hippocrate!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Race is an issue though.....without race blacks, Mexicans etc are left explaining that in truth their race and culture has real problems they need to address, they will never give that up

      February 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Omar

        It is the typical of the "american way" hide and downplay the disgusting truth about what this country was built upon and blame the blacks for the things that white america did to destroy their futures. They have always oppressed the black people in this country so that they can maintain a status of privilege and make money off of the backs of blacks. That is still going on today. They try to isolate the black man and get people to believe that it is something inheritantly wrong with him and if a black man commits a crime he is a monster and did it for no reason, but if a white man commits a crime they humanize him by saying what drove him to this, or he must have gone into mental illness. They will try to make up a reason so that their white privilege is not lossed. They are isolating the black man and and unfairly profiling them so that they can support a billion dollar criminal justice system, but the average white person can avoid this scrutiny by their "white privilege". the reason why those so called intellectuals and society pillars don't want to discuss race is because they don't want the american people to realize the truth about their past tactics and the tactics that they are still using to this day to disenfranchise the black man and past down "white privilege" to their next generation. this whole country is based on lies and hypocrisy. When someone points out the lies and hypocrisy, well their new saying is that this person is "playing the race card". All the while their true purpose is to desensitized people to racist standards and make black people acceptive of their own oppression or 4th class treatment. Indeed many blacks have given up and have been recruited as an oppressor of their own race, and often on the front lines. This works as a buffer system to the oppressors because it will allow them to spend less energy oppressing and thrust the black in harms way. Truly causing an environment of distrust among the blacks and a general feeling of hopelessness among the blacks that are knowledgeable of this country's real history and still have morals and principles. They are the targets of these deceivers. THIS IS THE REAL AMERICA WE LIVE IN.

        February 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • elgatorojo

        Omar! You have no idea what you are talking about!
        You think white people oppress black people?

        black leaders telling black people to stop playing the race card....
        President Obama
        Bill Cosby
        Morgan freeman
        Will smith
        Colin Powell
        And many many more.
        They have all said to stop blaming white people for your troubles in life, and to pull your pants up, learn to speak English, and get an education and a job.
        their not white, but successful black people.
        The rich people of the world would rather we hate each other and disregard the real issues at hand.
        That the wealthy oppress the poor, white black Hispanic, Jewish, muslim.. It doesn't matter the race. Its those who have fortune, keeping it from those who dont have fortune.
        And when we concentrate on race issues and hate each other, the only ones who win, are the wealthy. They get to stealthly fly under the radar of oppression. Because idiots like you think you know what you are talking about..
        Do you know any white people? Do you know any Christians? Or Jewish folks? Or do you just prefer to stay in your own black Muslim community. I mean clearly black Muslims aren't racist... They couldn't be. Sure decapitating someone because they are white or Christian would be considered racist looking through your own eyes of hatred! Maybe you should worry about the ineptness' of your own country before trying to tell us how to run ours.
        Thats why your countries have been at war for thousands of years. Because they are filled with idiots like you!

        February 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chartreuxe

        Omar, not even God can change the past. All we have is today. The past is the past and we have to make peace with it. We're all guilty of something. Still, we need to move forward and the only way we can do that is to stop blaming one another for the evils our ancestors did.

        Gator Eye, that's working out pretty well for them, isn't it? Seems that folks can't see past partisanship to look for the facts. *sigh* I wouldn't want to believe that my people would lie to me, either. Still, I always check things out for myself.

        March 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • just a thought!

      Furthermore, what does "a foreigner" look like in America? Stop being racist, and stop promoting racism.
      thats what youre doing even if you fail to realize it.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • just a thought!

      Race only has the power that we give it.
      Yes racism exists. But the majority of the country is not racist.
      The bigger divide is the class divide.
      the rich oppressing the poor.
      until we deal with this issue, we remain clouded with stigmas of race, religion, or lack there of.
      You have to have fortune, b4 you can deny others of it!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Omar

      spoken like a true blind and patriotic dummy

      February 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dduke

        Omar you smell like a camel but you bring up a good point. Muslins are the next batch of turd we need to abolish from this nation.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Douglas

    I need to make one thing clear. I am not calling Hispanics Roaches. I just saying, look at the Census.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Roaches.....CNN will need to post an article now called roaches and racism and tell us how transgendered African midgets have a statistical lower number of chiropractors and the whites owe them

      February 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Douglas

    right, Hispanics are slaves? Last time I checked. Hispanics are growing faster than roaches. Why do you think everything comes in English and Spanish. What a disgrace!! Any way, another picture of a white man with a gun holding prisoners. So what? Commit the crime, oh well.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      The European discovery of this continent happened by an Italian on behalf of a Spanish monarch, Douglas. Spanish was the first European language spoken here, or did you drop out before you got to that part of history in school?

      The Oldest City on the continent is ST AUGUSTINE here in Florida, Spanish-speaking for hundreds of years.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Hernandez

    Fyi to fyi, there is plunty of proof that hispanics are the slaves of the modern U.S.A. any people coming here from other countries get buissnesses handed to them & they are expected to pay it back, but it's still handed to them. in order for me to own a buissness as an american i must spend thousands on a school that can't even direct me twords the job or company they endorse through the school.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • FYI

      I dont know that I would call Hispanics the new slaves of the USA. (I think thats close to a careless statement). but perhaps youre enslaved by the wealthy in your own country. Those who would rather hoard fortune for themselves as opposed to giving opportunity to its people.

      And of course when you do illegally cross the boarder in hopes of finding work and a better life. Its the wealthy, who then hire you, and try to get everything they can from you at the least possible prices (eg... High work demand, for very little pay). but it's not just you. Its the same for poor white people, poor black people, and all poor people in general.
      People wouldn't be illegally crossing boarders to be enslaved, would they?

      And you dont have to have a college degree to open a business. (mostly some starter money, and a good idea for a business).

      And people dont get business "handed to them" So to speak, if they have to "pay it back". Please dont complain when people are given opportunity.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Douglas

      There you go. LOCKED UP. But it's the white man's fault.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Where my tacos at convict?

      February 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Country Doc

      Easy solution: Come legally.

      February 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Hernandez

    I was denied access to the bible at the johnson county main lock up in kansas

    February 29, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary Bman

      Why? Because you demanded it be in Spanish??

      February 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dduke

      Did you pray to become white?

      February 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  28. FYI

    millions of European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780!

    Again my point being that black people were the only victims of slavery!

    This is an always has been a class issue.. The very wealthy enslaving the very poor!
    Stop the madness! Stop slavery, and redirect your anger. Base it not on race. But on the wealthy enslaving the poor!

    The rich want people to believe it's about race, or religion or any other issue, than what the real issues is and has always been!
    The privileged causing oppression, and then taking advantage of the oppressed!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Dantheman

      Locking up a 14yr old for life should be a crime. Adult prosecution of Children has to stop.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Dantheman

      FYI, Blacks were the most recent victims of one of the largest mass enslavements of all time. It's only natural that the most recent and severe example is in peoples minds when they hear slavery.
      The Muslims in Africa did not take boats to Europe to cart off Westerners by the boatload, FYI.
      Most people can read and are aware of other enslavements... i.e. the Jews were slaves multiple times....

      February 29, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
      • FYI

        So dantheman... Thats where we draw the line? Slavery is ok, so long as boats are not used?
        I dont see your point..

        February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
      • absurd!

        Thats not true!
        Slavery in america was abolished b4 the holocausts! Please get your facts straight and stop being racist!

        February 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • FYI

      Let me correct my earlier post.

      It should read: "again my point being that black people were not the only victims of slavery!"

      February 29, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  29. Dantheman

    The majority of prisoners are black (fact). The majority of crimes are committed by blacks (fact). The majority of prisoners in the system are there for non-violent or violent drug-related crimes (fact).
    Legalize marijuana, decriminalize individual drug use, empty the prisons, pay off the debt with a marijuana tax and totally recover the economy by starting a drug economy with a new good to produce, tax, sell/trade etc...
    Is this too logical or do we want prisons full of black Americans? Oh SNAP! That must be the answer, yes we do!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • FYI

      Prisons are now being owned by private corporations. Just another sign of the wealthy making profit of the very poor and unfortunate.

      Legalize (or atleats decriminalize) all natural drugs!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
      • Gary Bman

        Yeah, because all these fools wandeering around our streets are not brain dead enough already?

        February 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really???

      One of those drug crimes was the boy who opened his door to a "friend". The "friend" had 2 other "friends" with him. They shot him to death for his personal stash of drugs. All those "friends" are in prison for life with no parole. One of the jailbirds had everything...He was a star wrestler, about to graduate, accepted to a high end college. He gave it all up to sit in a jail cell for life with no parole for a dime bag of pot. Yep those pot heads are not a problem. Tell that to the dead boy's family.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  30. FYI

    Slavery has occurred through out history. all races (not just black people) have been enslaved at some point (including white people). its always been more of the "rich" enslaving the "poor", as opposed to 1 race enslaving another. 70% of whites never owned or enslaved any black people. As you had to be very wealthy to have a slave. So it's dangerous for any 1 race to feel victimized, or vent frustration on any 1 race. it is and always have been a case of upper class, enslaving the lower class.
    Please know where to direct your anger, otherwise we may never get passed the past!

    February 29, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom2

      FYI, yes many races have been enslaved throughout history but only ONE race lost everything; their homeland, language, religion, and humanity. Let's not forget Africans (blacks) were considered chattel, no different than an animal or furniture, slavery for blacks looked alot different than slavery for whites. This has always been the dumbest argument people try to make, so I guess it's ok to abuse children since it's happened in the past? Really???

      The book is a great read and so is Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow". Did you know that in 1970 there wee far more Black men in college than in prison? Fast forward 10 years and the number of Black men in prison TRIPLED, while colleges and universities saw a drastic decline in enrollment. As someone else pointed out black men make up the highest number of incarcerated people and most are in there for non-violent drug offenses (most are addicts themselves) but this does not concern some white people in America because they are too busy rewriting

      February 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Juanmom2

        Typo "were" not "wee"...oops

        February 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • absurd!

        What race are you talking about that has "lost everything"?
        And any slave has always been considered less than human by their oppressor. What's dumb is you trying to claim that your views of slavery are correct, and other views are just wrong. And where in any of my post have I said that slavery is ok because it's in the past? You're a racist, and you are what keeps it alive. Always complaining that you've been wronged and others who have been wronged isn't important. Why you think you sing the saddest song only explains how self involved you are. Antagonizing troubles, instead of working to correct them.
        but continue believing that white people are why blacks go to prison, or why blacks aren't getting into college.
        But consider the wealthy, and what they do to increase the price of tuition.
        juanmom! Again youre simply being racist, while whining that youre the victim of racism.
        You are the number 1 reason racism still exists!

        February 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Dduke

    Another black pandering article on CNN I'm shocked.....now whites can't read books

    Wake up..... Introspection from blacks translates into.....damn I needz to cauze crime, they owe me, rape is love.....etc....

    February 29, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • skpfrmdc

      Your obvious racism dilutes your point to the status of slander.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dduke

        Maybe this article is racist?? Why the double standard?...

        February 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |