Thursday, February 09, 2006

The public and media reaction to the jail riots finally got a dose of reality last night when I heard for the first time the magic words -- Mexican Mafia. To regular readers of this site, it's no big surprise. We know who runs the jails and the prisons. It's not the jailers. For anybody who's been in the system or is familiar with it, COs and deputies aren't much more than referees. The real power resides in the SHUs and it's about time that the rest of world starts to realize it.

There are a few simple truths that the media, politicians and social activists don't seem to get. One is that most of the "rioters" don't want to riot. But the reality is that once you're in the system, it's almost impossible to lay low and just do your program. The shot callers won't let you. When the call goes out, you either clique up and get with their program or you'll find yourself completely isolated with a target on your back for not having any heart. It's a no win situation for the "average" inmate.

The other reality most don't get is that even relocating the shot callers to Alaska isn't going to stop their influence. As long as they can make a call, pass a kite or get a letter out through an attorney, they'll continue to exert their influence. There's no getting around that. So it's laughable when you hear calls for isolating the "bad apples" (I actually heard some knucklehead use that term on TV) to reduce their influence.

And then of course, there's the call to put more deputies on the tiers. That won't work either. At least, not completely. There will never be enough deputies to keep people who want to assault or kill from doing exactly what they want.

Maybe the nuttiest response to the riots was articulated by Ramona Ripston from the ACLU. She blamed "this Congress and this President." Remember this is the same group that demanded desegregation of the prisons, a move that provides written assurance that more inmates will be killed. It's hard to know if the ACLU wants to solve the problem or make it even worse.

If there's any good that can possibly come from this is that it may make some little homie decide not to do things that could land him in jail. As bad as things may be on the street, it's nothing like th hell of being locked up.