October 21, 2017

"Police not notified after inmates planned to electrocute guard at youth prison."

Wisconsin State Journal reports on "the latest revelation of violent acts against staff members at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, the state prison in Irma for the most serious young offenders in Wisconsin."
On Sept. 25, a group of male inmates in one of the prison’s housing units dipped the cord of an electric fan into a cup of water, poured water in a wall outlet and spilled some water on the floor near the fan, according to sources with direct knowledge of the incident but who do not have permission to speak publicly.

Many of the inmates in the unit then asked the guard to plug the fan into the wall outlet. The guard would have done so if an inmate had not, at the last minute, warned the guard not to plug in the fan....
The police were not called, the guard continued to  work in this unit, inmates taunted him about how they almost succeeded in killing him, and no one was even punished.
In the last week, inmates have punched two other staff members, sending them both to the hospital — raising questions about the safety of staff at the facility.
The larger context is that there's a federal lawsuit, brought by inmates, alleging that the inmates have been abused, and there's a court order limiting discipline methods. There's also an FBI investigation. So you need to be somewhat skeptical about prison officials talking to the press about the inmates abusing the prison staff.

And here's a second, newer article at the Wisconsin State Journal: "Youth prison guard: 'I am afraid of getting killed'":
Inmates at the state’s youth prison have kicked in glass windows, stolen pepper spray and threatened to rape female staff members since a federal judge told state Department of Corrections officials to make drastic changes in how they manage prisoners’ behavior, records show....

The comments came after U.S. Judge James Peterson ordered prison officials in July not to keep inmates in solitary confinement around the clock for weeks, not to excessively pepper spray inmates and not to put them in shackles regularly.

“Kids now believe they have nothing to lose,” one staff member told Tiffany’s aides.

“I am afraid of getting killed by an inmate,” said another staff member who recently resigned.
How is it that the government hasn't figured out how to maintain discipline without round-the-clock solitary confinement for weeks, excessive pepper spraying, and routine shackling?! I feel sorry for low-level employees who suddenly face more dangerous work conditions, but it seems that it's the government's fault.

52 comments:

Darrell said...

Yeah. Poor abused inmates. Running the asylum.

AllenS said...

Reassign U.S. Judge James Peterson to work in the prison, with a hands on approach to the prisoners, then he can tell everyone how it should work.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

"How is it that the government hasn't figured out how to maintain discipline without round-the-clock solitary confinement for weeks, excessive pepper spraying, and routine shackling?!"

I suspect they've figured out all kinds of ways. Each of which is then deemed excessive. The three ways listed are the least excessive of the ways that work for that type of inmate.

Why do you assume there is something less unpleasant that will work? How much time have you sent with that demographic?

Jim said...

Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together. This member of government says shackles and paper spray away. Put the Federal Judge in there too. To encourage the others.

J. Farmer said...

My very first real job as an undergrad psych major was as a mental health tech at a residential facility for juvenile offenders. And, unfortunately, the problem runs in both directions. Both the security staff and the youths each tend to have massive chips on their shoulders. And there were frequently incidents of one or the other reacting in overly harsh terms to perceive slights or shows of disrespect. That the staff and youths were about two-thirds black probably had something to do with this problem, but it is not permissible in polite society to make such observations. It's a cliche, but about 10% of the juvenile justice population consist of people who you can actually make some positive difference in their lives. The rest is mostly just behavior management and containment.

Oso Negro said...

Maybe they need more brutal, rapey, pederast-type guards?

DHunter said...

Because federal judges are omnipotent and can run the prison better than the corrections officers! And run the federal government better than the president, obviously.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

These inmates must be the "Super Predators" that the racist Hillary Clinton wanted to be "brought to heel."

Guildofcannonballs said...

Ground fault interrupt.

Leland said...

Stupid inmates, electricity doesn't work that way.

Fernandinande said...

Leland said...
Stupid inmates, electricity doesn't work that way.


It sounded harmless to me, but it's likely the description was completely wrong.

Virgil Hilts said...

Teenage, fatherless boys who have never been civilized. Through time most societies, realizing their depravity, worthlessness and peril to everyone else, have found ways to have them die off (or get killed off) fairly young w/o a lot of fuss. Making abortion cheap/readily available is one way (and definitely one of the less vocalized reasons so many are strongly pro choice).

Gahrie said...

Sending these kids into a corner for a timeout, or asking them to reflect on their behavior are not very effective for these types.

Gahrie said...

Corporal punishment and pain are very effective behavior modification techniques, but I'm sure that they are banned.

Fernandinande said...

"How is it that the government hasn't figured out how to maintain discipline without round-the-clock solitary confinement for weeks, excessive pepper spraying, and routine shackling?!"

Good question!

++

"Realize that well regarded professional scholars of crime — the ones who have held appointments at the National Institute of Justice, served on crime task forces, have held and are holding named professorships at prominent universities, and those who remain well positioned to influence the national discourse on crime—are generally hostile to the enterprise of biosocial criminology."

"They maintain outmoded understandings about where crime comes from and generally reject the science suggesting that their knowledge base is wrong."

exhelodrvr1 said...

It's Lord of the Flies, and it's only going to get worse until integrity of the family is restored.

Gahrie said...

I say we handcuff them to treadmills just out of reach of each other.......

Fernandinande said...

Gahrie said...
Corporal punishment and pain are very effective behavior modification techniques, but I'm sure that they are banned.


Unfortunately punishment is not much of a deterrent for the worst criminals -

"psychopathy seems particularly resistant to punishment."

Their brains react differently than normal people; part of the reason for identifying young psychopaths is to modify their behavior before they enter the regular, and ineffective for them, criminal justice system.

Gahrie said...

Unfortunately punishment is not much of a deterrent for the worst criminals -

So...I'm perfectly fine with punishment as punishment. If it also serves as a deterrent to others, so much the better.

Michael K said...

For heaven's sake ! There are videos of students beating teachers all over the internet.

That's one from Milwaukee. Those kids are NOT in juvenile facilities.

Imagine what those in detention or prison are like. Minnesota schools have become chaotic since discipline was removed.

And those are the kids on the outside !

Sally327 said...

Thorazine would work but that's probably an excessive measure.

Can't really dope them up but if the guards aren't allowed to restrain or isolate, I'm not sure what's left.

FullMoon said...

Teenage, fatherless boys who have never been civilized.

Yeah, ya know, every father is not Ward Cleaver or Dr. Huxtable.
Plenty of bad, violent fathers out there who encourage bad behavior and set bad examples.



Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bad Lieutenant said...

Unfortunately punishment is not much of a deterrent for the worst criminals -

"psychopathy seems particularly resistant to punishment."

Their brains react differently than normal people


Sounds like that fat fool Garner in NY. Or Cool Hand Luke-some men you just can't reach.

Martin said...

Oh, they have "figured out how to maintain discipline," that has been common knowledge in the field for decades.

They choose not to. THAT is what is wrong here.

Mark said...

Lincoln Hills has been a disaster for while. Poorly run with no consequences (until recently) when guards went way over the line.

Deciding to warehouse all male juveniles together turns out to have allowed the worst offenders to teach their ways more effectively and to a greater audience.

Sure look forward to these paragons of society being released. I am sure the solitary really helps them prepare for being an adult in society.

Walker is going on 7 year with Lincoln Hills circling the drain and zero leadership and accountability.

Michael K said...

Yeah, ya know, every father is not Ward Cleaver or Dr. Huxtable.
Plenty of bad, violent fathers out there who encourage bad behavior and set bad examples.


That is certainly true but there are far more fatherless boys in trouble than those with bad fathers.

mockturtle said...

I like the idea of public floggings for youthful offenders, though it might turn out that some are actually sadomasochists who might get off on such treatment.

Bob Boyd said...

Judging solely from the description, no one was in any real danger from the fan/water caper.
But attempted murder is like gift giving, it's the thought that counts.

Remedy-wise, take away the electric fan. Substitute paper hand fans.
And no cups. Let them suck their water from a big, inverted bottle with a tube that pokes through the bars like in a hamster cage.
Just brainstorming...

Achilles said...

At most the guard would have got a light shock. 110 doesn't do much. It would ground out faster than humans would notice anyhow.

Everyone involved is probably not terribly bright including the judges.

Fabi said...

Two words: hard labor.

Wear their punk asses out and they won't have much energy left for assorted hijinx.

Big Mike said...

How is it that the government hasn't figured out how to maintain discipline without round-the-clock solitary confinement for weeks, excessive pepper spraying, and routine shackling?!

@Althouse, you're a very intelligent person. You want to have a go at it?

MaxedOutMama said...

Uhhh - I think you missed the point about these being institutions for the most DANGEROUS young offenders. They are often extremely and recklessly violent, to the point of being murderous. There's no hard behavioral line between a 16 year-old and an 18 year-old, except that mid-teens have the least active consciences of all. This is the reason why teens are often actively recruited by military/paramilitary/violent gangs. Rape/murder as an initiation for sixteen year-olds. Good times, good times.

Among the offenders at Lincoln Hill (there were less than 150 boys at the time of the lawsuit, for an entire state) are juveniles sentenced in adult court for crimes such as murder and rape, who will be transferred to adult facilities as soon as they turn 18. I'm really not sure what you would recommend as behavioral mgmt strategies for an LWOP 17 year-old who has already killed two people. Think it over and enlighten us. Better yet, contact the staff yourself and help them out.

The juveniles "served" there also include drying-out addicts and sex offenders. Amazingly enough, quite recently the stats were that about 108 of the inmates a year were receiving at least GEDs. That was stunningly good considering their clientele. I would suspect that the number of those will be dropping as the facilities become more "humane". After reading a few of the articles, it turns out that pepper spray usage rose after the judge's order, supporting the theory that the situation rapidly is escalating out of control.

If you really believe that there are not a few exceedingly violent and dangerous teenage individuals out of a whole state, I suggest you sign up for their "grandmother program". It seems like before the court's order they were pulling the most violent/disruptive 1 out 6 or 1 out of 5 kids out and putting them in solitary. Without that, I would guess that the place is rapidly turning into a madhouse.

Darrell said...

Boys will be boys!

mockturtle said...

M.O.M., I have a friend who was a juvenile parole officer and she will dispel in short order any illusions about these young offenders. Bad to the bone. Father Flanagan was wrong.

BTW, I wonder if Flanagan's Boy's Town could sustain a rigorous investigation.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K pontificated...
That is certainly true but there are far more fatherless boys in trouble than those with bad fathers.


Well, duh, that anecdote is funnier than it is useless since ~70+% of black kids have single moms. There are probably more fatherless black kids in college than kids with bad dads.

The black murder rate was much higher (2X?) in the mid-1990s, when about ~50% of the murdering-age kids (17-25yo) had single moms, than in the 2010s when about ~70% had single moms. Similar, but milder, effects for the other races.

You're fond of misinterpreting S. Pinker, so

Steven Pinker tells Tim Radford - even your kids' friends have more influence than you do

"Time and again, [Pinker] says, the most exhaustive attempts by researchers to document the role of parents has failed to find any significant influence. For example, identical twins reared together were no more similar than identical twins reared apart."

But with your poor reading comprehension, a video might help.
Steven Pinker - Parental Influence On Personality.

Via Pinker - Why Parenting May Not Matter and Why Most Social Science Research is Probably Wrong

I haven't seen any studies which actually show that single parenting results in worse kids, as opposed to single parenting being a symptom rather than a cause.

mockturtle said...

Fernaninande, I suspect you are right. There are plenty of associations but are never demonstrated to be causative. Interesting that The Bad Seed was on TCM recently. Genetics are probably more influential than environment which explains why so many loving adoptive parents get unpleasant results regardless of excellent parenting.

Ann Althouse said...

I know these inmates are the very worst kids, but it doesn't give the government the power to torture them. The government has to figure out how to maintain discipline without stooping to cruel and unusual punishment. It has to be handled professionally, not a matter of treating them as badly as they've treated others.

It's shameful that the government has no backup plan when the option to mistreat everyone is taken away.

mockturtle said...

Ann, flogging was used routinely as a disciplinary measure for many centuries. Nothing 'unusual' about it.

Virgil Hilts said...

Fernaninande, thanks for Pinker articles. It's an interesting subject and a lot of complicated factors explaining why crime rates drop and rise (for example we incarcerate
a hell of a lot more people now than we did 40 years ago; it helps to reduce crime rate when you lock up an additional 1M young men (the majority of whom were raised by single-parents).
Atlantic article from a few years ago had one of the best discussions of different factors and complexity of isolating any one of them: https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/the-real-complex-connection-between-single-parent-families-and-crime/265860/
I like Pinker and read his stuff, but he's not immune from criticism; some of his rosy ideas about the decline of violence are being challenged, including for making statistical errors (check out Taleb's critiques, which sometimes go off the deep end). A good summary here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/13/john-gray-steven-pinker-wrong-violence-war-declining






Jim at said...

"Can't really dope them up but if the guards aren't allowed to restrain or isolate, I'm not sure what's left. "

Shoot, shovel and shut up.

Michael K said...

Well, duh, that anecdote is funnier than it is useless since ~70+% of black kids have single moms. There are probably more fatherless black kids in college than kids with bad dads.

I was responding to someone else. I avoid you if possible and you are always the one to attack.
The second sentence doesn't disagree with me.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
I know these inmates are the very worst kids, but it doesn't give the government the power to torture them. The government has to figure out how to maintain discipline without stooping to cruel and unusual punishment. It has to be handled professionally, not a matter of treating them as badly as they've treated others.

Your world can't be lived in.

Gahrie said...

I know these inmates are the very worst kids, but it doesn't give the government the power to torture them.

Who wants to pull their fingernails?

The government has to figure out how to maintain discipline without stooping to cruel and unusual punishment.

The problem is the do gooders have decided that any form of actual punishment is cruel and unusual.

It has to be handled professionally, not a matter of treating them as badly as they've treated others.

Why not? Seriously...why not treat them as badly as they have treated others?

It's shameful that the government has no backup plan when the option to mistreat everyone is taken away.

You still haven't offered any solutions...just made it clear that you want to make it impossible for the guards to do their jobs.

Gahrie said...

Anyone else think that the next two offenders sent to this place should be placed in Althouse's home under her custody instead?

Michael K said...

Nobody is talking about torture. They need to be locked up until their testosterone levels get low.

Then may be they can be allowed into society again.

Inside, if some individual in uncontrollable, put them in solitary to keep the others safer.

I also agree with hard labor as it would probably help with what must be incredible boredom.

Plus work off some of that energy,

David said...

"How is it that the government hasn't figured out how to maintain discipline without round-the-clock solitary confinement for weeks, excessive pepper spraying, and routine shackling?! I feel sorry for low-level employees who suddenly face more dangerous work conditions, but it seems that it's the government's fault."

I don't thing this article provides a basis for that conclusion. That's what we might LIKE to think, since we don't want to confront the possibility that the inmates are so depraved that they are ungovernable by other than extreme methods. But that could be the case. If only a few alpha grade inmates are ungovernably depraved they would infect the entire culture.

mockturtle said...

Has a ban on spanking resulted in better behavior?

richard mcenroe said...

There's always lobotomies. Progs were real big on those up through the 30's... then they realized they had enough Congressmen...

Achilles said...

You can always let them smoke pot and give them a couch in their cell.

I am sure that would be considered torture by the usual suspects.

I am only part joking.

Think of the money you could make putting them in a hunger games type arena...

Ok ok...

Steven said...

There are people who are socially incorrigible, who can only be controlled by gross physical means. Gross physical means are pain, bodily restraints, execution, drugs, and surgical modification.

If you declare all gross physical means to be "cruel and unusual" according to evolving standards of decency (rather than historical practice by the authors of the phrase in question), you are choosing to let these people run wild. The failure is yours, not their guards or their employers, for refusing to deal with reality.

Char Char Binks said...

I keep hearing on WPR about the oppression endured by the little angels at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. It's good to get a dose of reality for a change.