Alabama Showed ‘Flagrant Disregard’ for Cruel Prison Conditions

The Justice Department has issued a damning report.

NYT (“Alabama’s Gruesome Prisons: Report Finds Rape and Murder at All Hours“):

One prisoner had been dead for so long that when he was discovered lying face down, his face was flattened. Another was tied up and tortured for two days while no one noticed. Bloody inmates screamed for help from cells whose doors did not lock.

Those were some of the gruesome details in a 56-page report on the Alabama prison system that was issued by the Justice Department on Wednesday. The report, one of the first major civil rights investigations by the department to be released under President Trump, uncovered shocking conditions in the state’s massively overcrowded and understaffed facilities.

Prisoners in the Alabama system endured some of the highest rates of homicide and rape in the country, the Justice Department found, and officials showed a “flagrant disregard” for their right to be free from excessive and cruel punishment. The investigation began in the waning days of the Obama administration and continued for more than two years after Mr. Trump took office.

The department notified the prison system that it could sue in 49 days “if State officials have not satisfactorily addressed our concerns.”

Alabama is not alone in having troubled, violent prisons. But the state has one of the country’s highest incarceration rates and its correctional system is notoriously antiquated, dangerous and short-staffed. The major prisons are at 182 percent of their capacity, the report found, contraband is rampant and prisoners sleep in dorms they are not assigned to in order to escape violence.

“The violations are severe, systemic, and exacerbated by serious deficiencies in staffing and supervision,” the report said, noting that some facilities had fewer than 20 percent of their allotted positions filled. It also cited the use of solitary confinement as a protective measure for vulnerable inmates, and “a high level of violence that is too common, cruel, of an unusual nature, and pervasive.”

State officials said the report addressed issues that Alabama was already aware of and working to fix.

The findings, while horrific, are hardly surprising. Alabama is among the poorest states, with a per capita disposable income that’s only slightly more than half that in the richest states. It has trouble adequately funding its schools and other public services. Taking care of those convicted of crimes, alas, is a rather low priority even aside from the racial aspects of the issue.

Honestly, the biggest surprise here is how vigorously the Trump Justice Department continued this investigation. Not only would one have presumed prison conditions rather low on the list of its priorities but Alabama is a solid Trump state. Additionally, for most of the period in question, the DOJ was headed by Jeff Sessions, a longtime Senator and previous Attorney General from Alabama.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This my surprised face. :-/

  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    I share your curiosity about Session’s role. But the investigation was started before he took office, and probably many of the “hands-off” type rules the DOJ has applied to the Mueller investigation apply here as well.

    While lack of funds is definitely a factor, the cited details seem to come at least as much from lack of intentions to do one’s job justly.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    While lack of funds is definitely a factor, the cited details seem to come at least as much from lack of intentions to do one’s job justly.

    I think it likely that the pool of people willing to do the thankless job of a prison guard for $30,000 a year may not overlap much with the pool of people who view prisoners as human beings worthy of respectful treatment. Add in massive overcrowding and it gets much worse.

  4. mattbernius says:

    @Jay L Gischer & @James Joyner:
    To James’ point, at the root of this is over-incarceration (which is in turn tied to factors like the increase in longer-sentence mandatory minimums, over-policing within certain communities, and a whole host of “tough on crime” measures that dehumanize people convicted of crimes) combined with gutting of poverty and reentry initiatives.

    The only “good” thing that comes out of studies like these is the chance of criminal justice reform and reinvestment acts — if for no other reason than the current system is bankrupting states.

    Beyond that, I wish I could say anything in the report surprised me. It’s also a great reminder that all the people who complain about prison being “so easy” are talking out of parts of their body that shall remain nameless.

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s not just lack of money. There’s corruption as well. Last year, there was a story about an Alabama Sheriff who had taken $750,000 meant to feed prisoners and put in his own pocket, which was apparently perfectly legal.

  6. Kathy says:

    I’d bet 3 to 1 at some point in the near future, some GOP politician in Alabama will point to this report and proudly proclaim how tough their state is on crime.

  7. mattbernius says:

    For those interested in what @Hal_10000 is referring to:

    https://www.wbur.org/npr/593204274/alabama-sheriff-legally-took-750-000-meant-to-feed-inmates-bought-beach-house

    The TL:DR version: a state law passed before World War II allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves. No way that can possibly go wrong…

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  8. Franklin says:

    We were debating prison overcrowding in high school debate decades ago. It doesn’t seem much has changed except maybe some marijuana legalization and the criminal justice bill passed a few months back.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Hal_10000:

    It’s not just lack of money. There’s corruption as well. Last year, there was a story about an Alabama Sheriff who had taken $750,000 meant to feed prisoners and put in his own pocket, which was apparently perfectly legal.

    While somewhat related, that’s a separate issue. The DOJ report is about prisoners in state penitentiaries. Sheriffs mostly hold people awaiting trial and those convicted of relatively minor offenses.

  10. James Pearce says:

    Honestly, the biggest surprise here is how vigorously the Trump Justice Department continued this investigation.

    It’s not all that surprising, though. It was only a few months ago that Trump signed the “First Step Act.”

    Maybe surprising that he zoomed in on Alabama over California, but I suspect tackling AL’s issues might be easier and thus bumped up priority wise?

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    No, I think they got the right state. California’s been there, done that:

    By 1990, the state’s prison population had quintupled to 100,000 and by the time Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, it had reached 162,000, just slightly below its peak.

    Since then, however, it has declined sharply to a current 129,000, thanks to federal court orders attacking prison overcrowding, more lenient attitudes on parole and probation, diversion of some low-level felons into county jails, and two ballot measures – one sponsored by Brown himself – that reduced penalties.

    Some law enforcement authorities contend that California’s penal pendulum has swung too far, and that having fewer miscreants locked up and more on the streets is sparking a new surge of crime.

  12. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Declined sharply” and CA still has more people locked up than they did back in 1990, at the height of the crack era?

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  13. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    Kudos for pointing out the difference between jail and prison. Its an important distinction that most people don’t understand well.

    @Franklin:

    the criminal justice bill passed a few months back.

    The First Step act, which @James Pearce also mentioned only applied to Federal Prisons and the Federal Prison system. The only way that the Feds get involved with local criminal justice systems is via civil rights investigations, like this one.

    @James Pearce:

    “Declined sharply” and CA still has more people locked up than they did back in 1990, at the height of the crack era?

    I am not sure there is any state that doesn’t have more people locked up now than they did back in 1990 (even though we’re at a much lower rate of crime). Again, we as a nation have a problem/addiction with mass incarceration.

    Edit: it’s also worth noting that a lot of laws passed at the height of the crack epidemic also played a direct role in getting us to the current state of mass incarceration.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Let me know when you decide on a final location for your goalposts.

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  15. Slugger says:

    First, these conditions are a serious affront to anyone’s conception of human rights. We can not accept these kind of handling of human beings. I call for thorough investigation of these crimes against humanity.
    Secondly, there do seem to be some pretty bloodthirsty people out there. I read all kinds of calls for harsh punishment of what strike me as minor offenders like actresses who tried to bribe someone for a college admission. In keeping with these thoughts, I propose that the last two governors of Alabama spend only six months in a minimum security facility. And yes, I’d release Rod Blagojevich.

  16. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    Again, we as a nation have a problem/addiction with mass incarceration.

    Yes, we do. Even in left coast domains with basically no Republicans.

    @Michael Reynolds: The final location of my goalposts: The Southern District of New York.

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  17. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Yes, we do. Even in left coast domains with basically no Republicans.

    James, I don’t get your point here…

    To Michael’s point, California has taken a number of nation leading steps to decarcerate. Imprisonment rates are still high there, but they are high everywhere. I’m not sure why you are apparently looking down at the steps taken there so far.

    Further, California’s rate of incarceration is lower than your beloved Colorado.

    https://patch.com/colorado/across-co/us-prison-population-shrinking-colorado-middle

  18. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s a work in progress.

  19. Neil J Hudelson says:

    I’m trying to find anywhere in this blog post or comments wherein someone claimed incarceration is only a Republican issue.

    Shockingly, I cannot find such comment.

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    James, I don’t get your point here…

    Put succinctly, the initial point was that a lot of state law enforcement regimes need reform. AL is one of them. CA is another.

    It’s not too surprising the Trump administration is working on it. Trump is a joke and a clown and really bad at his job, but he’s not George Wallace reincarnated like some people would have you believe.

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    I’m trying to find anywhere in this blog post or comments wherein someone claimed incarceration is only a Republican issue.

    Did you see where it was claimed that CA has “been there, done that” when it comes to prison reform?

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  21. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Did you see where it was claimed that CA has “been there, done that” when it comes to prison reform?

    Which is not the same as claiming it is a problem for Republicans. It is correctly pointing out that Michael’s home state is a leading state in reducing incarceration, and was in direct reply to your muddled comment about California. He made no claims about partisanship whatsoever.

    Indeed, the only comment on this thread that brings up partisanship is:

    Even in left coast domains with basically no Republicans.

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  22. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s not too surprising the Trump administration is working on it.

    But this isn’t quite accurate. The Trump administration, in particular Kushner, put a lot of effort around *Federal Prison* reform. And they should be celebrated for that. I have done so in multiple places.

    We in the criminal reform space have not seen similar efforts being applied to influencing reform at the State level. Not to the degree that the Obama administration was pushing for it (note that this civil rights investigation, like a number of others began under Obama).

    I’m not trying to attack the administration here — it’s great to see this investigation didn’t get killed. I however need to point out that they *haven’t* invested the same efforts in attempting to influence states to fix prisons. Further the Adminstration’s cuts to social services and support of the growth of the police state are not going to do anything to assist with decarceration efforts.

    So if you actually do the record, their record is pretty mixed.

    Did you see where it was claimed that CA has “been there, done that” when it comes to prison reform?

    Two problems with this James. Michael made no comment about politics, simply that CA went through a MAJOR prison reform effort.

    And again, that effort led to a major decrease in prison population. So yes, CA went there and did that. Did it go far enough? No — this is a national issue. But let’s look at the numbers:

    Incarceration rates 2016 (per 100,000):
    18. California — 331
    45. Alabama — 571

    Its one thing to say the work isn’t done. Good god, even the best state in the US’s rate sucks (Maine — 137). But I don’t understand this weird whataboutism smugness that you are deploying here.

    Plus I’d love to hear what you are doing to actively support prison reform in your state considering that progressive CO’s incarceration rates per captia are higher than CA’s (I won’t get into the racial disparity differences as well).

  23. James Pearce says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    It is correctly pointing out that Michael’s home state is a leading state in reducing incarceration, and was in direct reply to your muddled comment about California.

    And yet it ignores that Michael’s home state was also a leading state in exporting mass incarceration to other states in the first place and should probably join the list of states that Trump’s DOJ is investigating for abuse.

    He made no claims about partisanship whatsoever.

    Of course not. His claims are made about cartoons.

    @mattbernius:

    But I don’t understand this weird whataboutism smugness that you are deploying here.

    It may be smug, but it’s not whataboutism. Trump should seriously add California to the list of prison systems investigated by the DOJ. Aren’t they still racially segregated?

    Plus I’d love to hear what you are doing to actively support prison reform in your state considering that progressive CO’s incarceration rates per captia are higher than CA’s

    I support Trump’s DOJ investigating CO’s prison system too. They can start with Florence ADX, which is under Fed purview anyway.

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  24. Kathy says:

    I’ll try to explain Pearce’s position with an analogy:

    Popular proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins but with one step.”

    Pearce’s version: “If your 1,000 mile trip isn’t over in one step, you’ve failed and won’t ever get anywhere.”

    Addenda: “And if you do cover a thousand miles in one step, you failed to cover 10,000.”

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  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    My prevailing suspicion is that the study continued because nobody at Sessions DoJ or the Trump White House paid any attention to it.

    a state law passed before World War II allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves.

    This may well have been part of the compensation package for sheriffs in pre-WWII Alabama to keep total compensation low.
    @Kathy: She shoots. She scores on a blistering shot from the centerline!

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  26. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Overincarceration is a direct result of globalizationural and the loss of factory jobs. Guess what replaced the factory in rural America? Entire communities eat off the human capital chewed up in the local prison capital. The white people that administer and and run these prisons sure are f
    going to destroy there own community….and drug and child molestation infested it might be. No… they are going to mosey over across the tracks and hail and fine the Shit out of the brown community.

    This issue alone is a huge reason HRC could not turn out the amount black vote she needed to win the Presidency. Bill may have meant well…but his wife paid the price.

  27. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You’re too kind.

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  28. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy: I think if you crack the books in any state, you’re liable to find abuses in the prison system.

    But here I’m told CA has it all figured out? They have the population of Topeka locked up in their jails, but they want a birthday cake for making strides? Such jails, too! Pelican Bay? World class institution right there…

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  29. Neil J Hudelson says:

    And yet it ignores that Michael’s home state was also a leading state in exporting mass incarceration to other states

    1. Define “exporting mass incarceration” please, and back it up with evidence that California is both “exporting” mass incarceration and is a leader in said exportation.

    2. In case you meant “Michael ignored that California was a leader in incarcerating people,” then I would note the very first sentence of his very first quote acknowledged it, and even provided numbers! To whit:

    By 1990, the state’s prison population had quintupled to 100,000 and by the time Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, it had reached 162,000, just slightly below its peak.

    But here I’m told CA has it all figured out?

    No one said that. You stated something that strongly implied California has a worst mass incarceration problem than Alabama, and were surprised that the DOJ ‘zoomed over’ California. Michael rightly pointed out that California has taken many more steps than Alabama in reducing their incarceration. You misinterpreted this (I believe deliberately) to mean that
    1. Michael believes Mass Incarceration is only an issue in Republican states.
    2. That Michael stated California has solved mass incarceration.

    Neither of these interpretations are honest. And for someone who just recently claimed to be very careful in their word choices, I have to believe these misinterpretations are deliberately dishonest.

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  30. James Pearce says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    Define “exporting mass incarceration” please, and back it up with evidence that California is both “exporting” mass incarceration and is a leader in said exportation.

    California is to law enforcement what Texas is to textbooks: The country’s test kitchen.

    No doubt this won’t qualify as evidence or strengthen my case, but here’s a paragraph lifted verbatim from the wiki entry on Prisons in California:

    The California system has been the origin of many trends in prison conditions within the United States as a whole. The state’s large and diverse population, large size, large urban areas, high rates of violent crime, criminal street gangs, tough sentencing laws and its status as an entry point to the U.S. for both immigrants and drugs has given California a large and complex prison environment.

    Another fine quote:

    From 1982 to 2000, California’s prison population increased 500%.

    And yet another:

    In 2011, 6,000 California prisoners partook in a hunger strike to protest the conditions to which they were subject.

    In 2011!!!

    And I’m sorry, Neil, but the very first sentence of his comment was this: “No, I think they got the right state. California’s been there, done that.”

    “They got the right state.” Why, because AL is where all the racist crackers live?

    “Been there, done that.” The phrase you say after you summitted Everest, not what you say going up the damn Hillary step.

    Face it. I’m asking why prioritize AL over other, larger states with the same problem -a legit question– and Michael’s over here defending CA as the jewel of the Republic. “Prison reform? Been there, done that.”

    Are you sure you want to take that side, Neil?

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  31. Neil J Hudelson says:

    No doubt this won’t qualify as evidence or strengthen my case

    You’re right, it doesn’t support your case. You claimed California *exports* mass incarceration. The evidence you provided explains why California *has* a mass incarceration problem.

    Kris Kobach has met with multiple state legislative leaders throughout the nation, and has crafted model legislation for those states to reduce voter participation, especially among Latino voters. That is what *exporting* policy looks like.

    I’m asking why prioritize AL over other, larger states with the same problem

    Because they don’t have the same problems. Alabama has far worse issues. As has been noted multiple times in this thread.

    Why, because AL is where all the racist crackers live?

    As with partisanship, the only person bringing up racism in Alabama is you. I know, it’s much easier to argue against the words you want someone to say, rather than the words they said.

    Michael’s over here defending CA as the jewel of the Republic.

    Again, not what was said. His response–as has been noted–was in direct response to your question of why Alabama was prioritized over California. At no point does his response claim that California is the ‘crown jewel of the Republic.’

    Again, arguing against what you wish someone said is always far easier than arguing against what they actually said.

    (You realize we can scroll up and read what was actually said, right?)

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  32. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    “They got the right state.” Why, because AL is where all the racist crackers live?

    Who wrote that? Please point out who here made that claim. Because I don’t see it. At all.

    Face it. I’m asking why prioritize AL over other, larger states with the same problem -a legit question– and Michael’s over here defending CA as the jewel of the Republic. “Prison reform? Been there, done that.”

    Again:
    Incarceration rates 2016 (per 100,000):
    18. California — 331
    45. Alabama — 571

    Do you understand what that means? And combine that with the fact that California was already under federal mandates and judgements…

    James, remind me, what’s your background in Criminal Justice reform…

    Second, here’s a great reason why:

  33. James Pearce says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    You claimed California *exports* mass incarceration. The evidence you provided explains why California *has* a mass incarceration problem.

    At the prison convention in Vegas this year, all the panopticon salesmen are feting the California state reps because “as California goes….”

    How does the rest of that phrase go again?

    Because they don’t have the same problems. Alabama has far worse issues.

    It’s funny you say that, because Alabama has the same issues that forced Brown V Plata. But they’re worse you say? Perhaps it’s because the Feds are just now intervening, whereas CA’s intervention is a few years old at this point.

    As with partisanship, the only person bringing up racism in Alabama is you.

    Context, Neil. Michael is a limousine liberal who trucks in stereotypes and overemphasizes racism as the cause of most, if not all, of this country’s problems. I suppose we can assume he’s seeing Alabama for what it is.

    But you can be sure he’s not.

    His response–as has been noted–was in direct response to your question of why Alabama was prioritized over California.

    His response was to defend California, which had to be told by the Feds “you can’t do that” less than a decade ago.

    You realize we can scroll up and read what was actually said, right?

    Well you can scroll up. The reading part has yet to be demonstrated.

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  34. Neil Hudelson says:

    Michael is a limousine liberal who trucks in stereotypes

    Interesting juxtaposition.

  35. mattbernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Well once again, a certain privileged snowflake again decides that his interpretation/point of view is the only one that matters.

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  36. Neil J Hudelson says:

    I suppose we can assume he’s seeing Alabama for what it is.

    I think this is just poor writing, but it seems to say that Pearce thinks Alabama is a den of racists, and Michael is simply alluding to what we all already know.

    which had to be told by the Feds “you can’t do that” less than a decade ago.

    That seems to undercut the claim that the DOJ has “zoomed” right past California.

  37. mattbernius says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    That seems to undercut the claim that the DOJ has “zoomed” right past California.

    Picking nits…

    I honestly cannot remember if the California system was under DoJ oversight in the last two decades.

    They definitely have been under various federal court order.

    Oh the complexities of Federal interventions

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: Every time that I start reading some of Pearce’s posts again, he climbs on a hobby horse like this one and rides it until he’s completely bonkered himself. Fascinating…

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  39. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Interesting juxtaposition.

    Also…accurate.

    Also:

    Pearce thinks Alabama is a den of racists

    No, I know better and I don’t “truck in stereotypes.”

    That seems to undercut the claim that the DOJ has “zoomed” right past California.

    No, the federal interventions undercut the Californian’s claim that “We got this.” Anyone conversant in actual social justice issues –actual social justice issues and not the anti-white preening that passes for social justice these days– knows that CA has nothing to brag about on this score. Nothing.

    @mattbernius:

    Well once again, a certain privileged snowflake again decides that his interpretation/point of view is the only one that matters.

    Matt, with all due respect, I’m making an argument and encountering the same nonsense I always deal with. Kathy’s over here being the Pearce translator. Ignint shows up just to throw up some bon mot and offer a high five. Bad writing, not a criminal justice expert, blah blah blah. It’s exhausting, dude.

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  40. James Joyner says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m making an argument and encountering the same nonsense I always deal with.

    You’re “encountering the same nonsense [you] always deal with” because you’re doing what you all too often do: hijacking a conversation with an inane comment. Out of nowhere, you speculate as to why the DOJ “zoomed in on Alabama over California,” when it’s pretty clear from the article that spawned the OP why Alabama was singled out for investigation. Michael Reynolds then chimes in to note that California was way ahead of Alabama in getting ordered to fix its prison problems. You proceed to misinterpret that as to saying California has zero problems with its prisons and then . . . off to the races with frustrated commenters trying to explain to you what the argument was actually about.

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  41. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Matt, with all due respect, I’m making an argument and encountering the same nonsense I always deal with.

    Just a few weeks ago you bitched to high hell that we all were misinterpreting what you clearly wrote. At that time you declared that we had to respect your interpretation of your intention more than your actual words on screen.

    Today, once again, you are telling us that all of our interpretations are wrong and that only your interpretation of intent, not literal words on screen, is correct.

    That is the height of assumed privilege and snowflakeness — things you claim to hate and yet constantly model.

    James: you keep calling a leg a tail and asking the rest of us to agree. And then when we don’t you whine, say its all our fault, and generally make everything about you.

    That is selfish privilege. That is madness. And that is YOUR fault not ours.

    You are the fragile privileged snowflake you can never shut up about.

    Honestly you’ve reached a pathetic, pitiable point where either you are (a) utterly blind to your own behavior to a pathological point, (b) willfully ignorant of your own behavior and think it’s everyone against you, or (c) intentionally trolling. Regardless of answer, it’s an awful look.

    So going forward all I have for you is pity because any of the above are not a formula for a particularly happy life.

    I truly hope that your offline persona isn’t like this, otherwise I fear you’re on a path towards a lonely existence.

  42. mattbernius says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Overincarceration is a direct result of globalizationural and the loss of factory jobs.

    Not really.

    Loss of factory jobs (and other forms of lower class economic opportunity) definitely because an accelerating factor in the rise of mass incarceration. However, I don’t know of any leading criminologist who sees that as a direct factor.

    The seeds for mass incarceration we sowed way before globalization came to the forefront and have to do with issues around race and our reaction to the drug war (and the threat of the urban other).

  43. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    hijacking a conversation with an inane comment

    My comment may have been “inane” –to each his own, I guess– but I didn’t hijack this conversation. I was pretty disengaged by this point. Probably shoulda just stayed that way.

    Also:

    You proceed to misinterpret that as to saying California has zero problems with its prisons and then

    I misinterpreted “been there, done that?” Don’t think so. I took the comment for what it was: partisan braggadocio.

    @mattbernius:

    willfully ignorant of your own behavior and think it’s everyone against you

    With all due respect, I do think everyone is against me. They are.

  44. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    With all due respect, I do think everyone is against me. They are.

    Oh my special privileged snowflake, you have hit the truly pathetic point where you are like Erik F wondering why everyone thinks that he’s a bigot at best, if not an out and out racist.

    You can protest as much as you’d like, but you’ve given us all the receipts – over, and over, and over again. See, e.g.:

    I misinterpreted “been there, done that?” Don’t think so. I took the comment for what it was: partisan braggadocio.

    Heck, a lesser man might have been taken aback when even James Joyner lays out that this was a reading is complete crap. But not you my special snowflake. Because JJ is clearly in on the we hate James Pierce and are gaslighting you because you’re the last person speaking truth to power or something like that in the name of transcendent bothsidesism.

    Once again the pattern remains: everyone in the thread reaches the same conclusion and yet, the problem is always with *US* and *never with you.*

    I cannot wait until the next time you decide to go on a “personal responsibility” rant oh special snowflake.

  45. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    With all due respect, I do think everyone is against me. They are.

    Was this not your intention?

  46. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    Heck, a lesser man might have been taken aback when even James Joyner lays out that this was a reading is complete crap.

    I respect you and I respect James Joyner too. But we’ve been over this: Certain views are over-represented here, and others are hardly represented at all. So when you go “look at all these people who agree with me,” you’re not telling me much. Indeed, you sound like Jeff Probst, snuffing out my torch.

    A few years ago, you’d be able to suggest that CA’s prison system needs reform to most liberals and they would agree with you. Now that Jerry Brown has been working on it, though…

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  47. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:
    Look, I am honestly done with discussions with you James. It’s clear that you are in a place where there isn’t room for discussion.

    Which gets to a bigger point:

    Another commenter reached out to me off OTB and expressed something that I have been thinking as well — looking across all your posts of late, we see a number of concerning signs. Your behavior has honestly shifted over the last year or so. You’re not respecting what other people write, even when carefully phrased. You are exceptionally defensive and cannot apparently acknowledge anything. Your thinking is muddled at best and you don’t seem to see how you are shifting your own arguments and creating these issues. You’re expressing comments like “everyone is against you.” And you’ve shared a few very personal comments that suggest you have been dealing with some deeply personal issues.*

    I am honestly concerned for your mental and emotional health. While I can only speak for myself, I am pretty sure I’m not the only person who is thinking this.

    I just want to say that I hope you get through what you are working on. I hope you are in a place where you feel you can ask for and get the assistance you need. If you are not getting that help, I strongly urge you to consider doing so.

    Finally, out of these concerns — and the reality they way that I am interacting with the present you is honestly not healthy for me either (as I have noted in the past, I’ve been through my own issues) — I’m probably never going to engage you in a debate again until both of us are healthier. As part of that, I will most likely not respond to any reply you make to this post.

    Good luck in your journey. I truly hope things improve for you for the sake of your long term happiness and wellbeing.

    * – I realize that things may come across as a personal attack. They are not intended that way. This is a cataloging of behaviors that can be seen across all your posts. To put it a different way, this is the same thing as telling an alcoholic that they are binge drinking to the point of unconsciousness.

  48. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:
    One final note, and I worry this may be read in the wrong way, but after consideration I think it’s important enough to say.

    Above in the thread you said to JJ that “I was pretty disengaged by this point. Probably shoulda just stayed that way.”

    I honestly think you should ask yourself if contributing to OTB and getting all of this negative energy (to the degree you think everyone is against you) is making you happy and healthy.

    I say this not to suppress your opinion in any way. And in full transparency it is something I often ask myself and I have taken breaks for my own health.

    I just urge you to consider if commenting here and getting into long fights that you cannot seem to walk away from is the best thing for you at this particular moment.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: At the risk of infuriating Mr. Pearce yet again with another “high-five” (and a drive by at that, in this case), Well Done!

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  50. An Interested Party says:

    With all due respect, I do think everyone is against me. They are.

    No wonder so many people think of you as a Trump supporter as that demographic has cornered the market on victimhood status…

    Was this not your intention?

    Indeed…

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  51. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    Your behavior has honestly shifted over the last year or so. You’re not respecting what other people write, even when carefully phrased. You are exceptionally defensive and cannot apparently acknowledge anything. Your thinking is muddled at best and you don’t seem to see how you are shifting your own arguments and creating these issues. You’re expressing comments like “everyone is against you.” And you’ve shared a few very personal comments that suggest you have been dealing with some deeply personal issues.*

    Matt, I appreciate both of your comments, but things look very different from where I’m sitting.

    Someone calls me a privileged bigot and I’m expected to respect them?

    I’m at the bottom end of a pile-on, but I’m expected not to be defensive?

    My thinking isn’t muddled. The left is muddled. Seriously, man…it’s hard to see from the inside, but outside, it’s obvious. The Wash Post has an article about black voters being conflicted on whether they should vote for someone who “looks like them” or a white man who can get elected. They wouldn’t have that conflict if they had some coherent ideology.

    Don’t worry too much about my mental health. I’m fine. Grouchy, yes. Mean, hell yes. But as I’ve said before: I can take a lot of shit. Sometimes, though, I just don’t want to.

    (I’d like to apologize for Neil and everyone else for implying I’d write my suicide note on a screenshot of some mean comment left here. It wasn’t true and the implications of that are foul. I’m sorry.)

    But I think you’re right. This place isn’t for me anymore.

  52. Matt says:

    @James Pearce:

    A few years ago, you’d be able to suggest that CA’s prison system needs reform to most liberals and they would agree with you. Now that Jerry Brown has been working on it, though…

    The ONLY person to make that claim is you. Everyone else is merely saying that California is ahead of Alabama on this and that’s a fact. No one is claiming California has fixed it or it’s a shining jewel of an example except you.

    Certain views are over-represented here,

    That view is called reality. You’re outright making false claims about things said by people IN THIS VERY THREAD which others can look up and see the falseness. Stop lying about what others are saying and you might find you have fewer problems..

    My favorite part is how you used a stereotype on Micheal and then two words later IN THE SAME SENTENCE complained that Micheal is stereotyping… Lordie..