condescending twatbags, law, politicians, politics, poor judgment, stupid people, Trump, YouTube

Jenna Ryan’s positive thoughts about her upcoming prison lifestyle…

Josh Duggar is not the only one staring down a prison sentence after the new year. Come January, Texas real estate broker, Jenna Ryan, will also be headed for a stint in the jug. Last night, I read a story about how she’s trying to think positive thoughts about spending time locked up for her part in last year’s attempted insurrection. She even took to TikTok, dressed in leggings and a sports bra, to talk about what she hopes to accomplish during her planned sixty day stay at a federal prison.

I was astonished to see Jenna step on a scale, revealing to the world how much she weighs. She says that while she’s locked up, she plans to lose weight. She figures the food will suck, and she says she won’t be able to drink alcohol or eat snacks. Because the food will be terrible and Jenna figures she’ll have nothing but time for exercise, she thinks she can lose up to thirty pounds during her sixty day stint.

I’ve got to hand it to Jenna Ryan. She’s definitely got some moxie. And there’s something to be said for trying to maintain a positive outlook. There’s nothing she can do about her upcoming prison stint. She’s going to have to report and do her time. Then, when it’s over, she has the rest of her life to live. So kudos to Jenna for realizing that. But… I am still very surprised that Jenna Ryan thought she could do what she did last January and get away with it. And she’s still putting herself out there, showing everyone her naked and extreme self-regard and lack of a clue. In fact, she’s pretty much almost naked in her video. The arrogance and lack of insight she shows is incredible.

@dotjenna

Keep Positive- Prison Fit Check #jennaryan

♬ original sound – Jenna Ryan

I must say, Jenna Ryan’s nerve astounds me. Ever since I first became aware of her last January, I’ve been repeatedly surprised by the things she says and does. She doesn’t seem to have any shame. I guess that’s a good quality in someone who sells houses for a living. But it also makes me think that she’s not a very honest person, nor is she particularly decent. I sure wouldn’t want to do business with her, especially since she doesn’t seem to understand just how serious this situation is. I hope, for her sake, she gets a clue. Not that I’m hoping for it, but I suspect that if she doesn’t wise up, someone might want to beat the crap out of her while she’s locked up.

I would imagine Jenna Ryan is the type of person who has no consideration for anyone but herself. Jenna probably has a lot in common with the very first roommate I had when I was in college, who would go out partying with the girl across the hall and come in at 3:00 in the morning and turn on the overhead light. She didn’t care that I was sleeping and had an early class the next morning. She was only concerned about herself. She rather ruthlessly forced me out of the room during our first week of school, even though it was as much my room as it was hers. She didn’t care. She had no shame.

Likewise, Jenna Ryan didn’t care that Donald Trump didn’t win the election. She wanted to force the rest of the nation to continue to endure him, even though Trump lost. HE fucking LOST. And he totally deserved to lose. Many of us were DELIGHTED and extremely relieved that Trump lost. Jenna didn’t care that a lot of voters were happy to see Trump leave office. She showed up in DC, trying to thwart the political process that would enable Joe Biden to take his rightful place in the White House. It didn’t matter to Jenna that Donald Trump is an obviously terrible person. Apparently, what the rest of us want didn’t matter to Jenna and her fellow insurrectionists. While Trump supporters told us to “get over it” when Trump won the White House, Jenna Ryan and her ilk weren’t able to take their own advice last winter.

I remember last January, thousands of people converged on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, hoping to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Jenna Ryan was there, dressed in a souvenir hat and scarf, sipping white wine, and screaming “we are armed and dangerous!” She was caught on video, advertising her real estate business, announcing that she needed to go to the bathroom, and very proudly screaming “We are not going to be quiet! We’re fucking pissed!” She later tweeted, “We just stormed the [Capitol]. It was one of the best days of my life.” Yep… and it was also the day that has led Jenna to her current predicament.

Mmm’kay… so you were pissed, Jenna, and apparently, you also needed to take a piss. Where did screaming about being “pissed” in Washington, DC while also needing to take a piss get you? Remember how you bragged about flying in a private plane with a cute guy? Remember how you posed for pictures and starred in videos as thousands of Americans, emboldened by Donald Trump, tried to derail the government? Remember how you, and thousands of other crazed Trump supporters, tried to usurp the will of the people? And then you had the nerve to ask Trump to pardon you for your part in endangering the lives of lawmakers, police officers, and everyone else who was tasked with seeing that the U.S. election results were certified? Quite predictably, Trump didn’t do shit for you, just like he doesn’t do shit for anyone but himself. Was supporting Trump worth spending time locked up in prison? We shall see at the end of your time in the joint.

My guess is that Jenna Ryan is going to be hearing a lot of screaming and cursing in prison, too. And she correctly points out that prison food is notoriously horrible, although former prisoner Jessica Kent has pointed out in her many YouTube videos about prison that some items aren’t too bad. My guess is that Jenna Ryan is probably going to lose her resolve to subsist on prison chow. She’s gonna want some commissary, and from what I’ve seen, a lot of the food that is available from prison commissaries consists of junk food. Yeah, she’ll be denied booze, although some prisoners have figured out ways to make hooch (aka Pruno). If Jenna is smart, she’ll stay far away from Pruno. Not only is partaking of it likely to get her punished, it’s also reportedly pretty disgusting stuff.

Maybe Jenna will have the opportunity to take a class. Maybe she will learn a new life skill. Jenna says she looks forward to “working out”, “doing yoga and cardio”, “reading books”, and “detoxing”. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess. It’s not a bad thing to try to live a healthy lifestyle. But prison is an inherently unhealthy place to be. Even if she manages to stay out of trouble, eat less junk food, and stop drinking, the stress of being there won’t be easy. And while she says she’s worried about the quality of the food, she says she hopes there will be protein shakes and protein bars available. Um… what does she think prison is? A spa?

Most prisons aim to feed people as cheaply as possible. That means a lot of carbs will be offered– they’re cheap and filling. Also, carbs help keep people more compliant and docile. I don’t know if the commissaries in federal prisons offer protein bars and shakes, but it’s my guess her choices will be limited. Jenna Ryan ought to approve of that. She is a Republican, after all, and Republicans aren’t usually in favor of treating prisoners like human beings with needs. A lot of Republicans are fond of saying, “You do the crime; you do the time.” and it doesn’t matter to them that prisoners have to deal with inhumane treatment, bad food, unpleasant accommodations, and disrespect. A lot of people who viewed Jenna’s video were laughing at her. Some were clearly disgusted at her lack of humility. I noticed at least one person declared that Jenna was showing off her “white privilege”.

A few days after she posted her controversial TikTok video, Jenna was back with another video. This time, she tried to clarify her position, reminding everyone that her charge is a misdemeanor, not a felony, and when she gets out, she can go back to work. She says she has a “beautiful life” awaiting her after she goes through “hell” temporarily. Nice attitude, and I guess, technically, she’s not wrong… she can come out of prison and enjoy the rest of her life. But I think she may be underestimating the potential effects of prison and her notoriety. She certainly doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously, at least at this point.

@dotjenna

Prison Sucks

♬ original sound – Jenna Ryan

I think I would be a lot more impressed with Jenna Ryan’s positive attitude if she seemed genuinely contrite about what she did and realized how very wrong she was to participate in the “festivities” of January 6th, 2021. She absolutely deserves to go to prison. No, I don’t think she needs to spend years there, nor do I wish any violence on her while she’s there, but I do think a taste of life in the big house will do her some good. I do hope she learns from it, comes out healthier, and lives a better life within the confines of the law.

MOVING ON…

On a somewhat related topic, yesterday Bill and I watched Fundie Fridays’ latest video, which happened to be hosted by James– boyfriend of usual host, Jen. James says he’s going to resign from his job so he can help Jen create YouTube content. It amazes me how many people make money on YouTube– so much so that they can quit their jobs and make videos for a living. I have a YouTube channel myself, but it’s not a popular channel. I use it to make music– try songs written by other people that I want to see if I can do, and to make travel videos for my travel blog. I don’t have a lot of subscribers, and most of my videos have copyright claims, so I don’t make money from YouTube at all. And, after seeing some of the ridiculous dramas people get into on YouTube, I don’t think I’d want to make it my job. However, I do enjoy several channels, as well as some of the truly talented personalities who share their stuff on YouTube.

Anyway… Fundie Fridays’ latest video is about Marjorie Taylor Greene, the repugnant Republican from Georgia who is so proud of being a Trumper and carries big guns, which she poses with in her ads. I seriously cannot stand this woman. It pisses me off that she prances around with large weapons and tries to ram her reprehensible politics down everyone’s throats. She has no shame. She and Jenna Ryan, as well as Lauren Boebert, are all clueless twits who are helping to lead America down a very dark and undemocratic path.

I cursed a lot while watching this video. James sure has pretty eyes and teeth, though. He’s prettier than Marjorie is, that’s for sure.

I get being conservative. I understand wanting to be a Republican and voting for Republican candidates. But why not show some fucking class? Why harass victims of school shootings? Why champion Donald Trump, who has openly expressed his disdain for anyone who can’t do anything for him? Where are these women’s brains? Why do they only care about money, prestige, gun rights, and fame, instead of the people they are supposed to serve? I’m so tired of these unhinged people making names for themselves by being insufferable assholes who inflict their obnoxious behavior on the rest of us.

Meh… well, it’s another Monday, and I’ve got other shit to do, to include picking up the dog shit that is no doubt waiting for me in the backyard. So I guess I’ll close today’s post and get on with the day. I hope everyone has a productive Monday, and stays off of TikTok and out of jail.

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Duggars, narcissists, true crime

“It is finished.” Jury does the Lord’s work and finds Josh Duggar guilty!

I had kind of a busy day yesterday, although I was keeping an eye on the news. I had a feeling we’d finally get the verdict in Josh Duggar’s federal court case. I knew he was going to be found guilty, but there were some people who were a bit nervous, since the jury was taking some time to come to a decision. And, although my gut feelings are usually pretty accurate, there’s always a chance for surprises.

There were no surprises yesterday. Josh Duggar is now a convicted sex offender. In a few months, he will get his sentence and be off to prison, likely somewhere far from Arkansas. Below is his mugshot, which is bizarre looking. Who smiles for a mug shot taken under such shameful circumstances?

I stand by my assertion that this man is a psychopath.

Like many people, I’ve been following the Duggar Family News Facebook page, as well as the private group that is associated with it. Some people are saying that Josh is smiling because he’s being like the Paul the Apostle. It was explained that Josh’s children are being taught that their father is being persecuted. I don’t know much about the story of Paul, but one thing I do remember hearing is that Paul was famously misogynistic. Given the way Josh reportedly treats women, perhaps the moniker fits somewhat. In any case, I’m sure that Josh’s older children, who know their father and will miss him, have to be told something about why he’s not going to be home with them anymore. Or… maybe Josh is out of his mind.

I first became aware of Josh’s conviction because of a friend. Although I had been paying attention to the news yesterday, I turned my attention away from it for awhile to watch Call the Midwife. When I checked Facebook again, I noticed I was tagged in a news article. It was just the first tag. I probably ought to stop following the Duggars. I think people who follow them contribute to Jim Bob Duggar’s delusions of grandeur. The truth is, that family isn’t any more blessed than any other family is, in spite of all of the “blessings” God supposedly sent them, courtesy of Michelle Duggar’s hyperactive womb fertilized by a man who no doubt encouraged his eldest son to go down a very dark road.

Josh will spend the next few months locked up in county jail. It will suck a lot for him. According to Jessica Kent, a former convict who now has a very popular YouTube channel, being locked up in county jail sucks because there’s nothing to do, and inmates are generally locked down most of the time. Jessica even did time in Arkansas, so she has a concept of what it’s like where Josh is, although she was arrested in Fort Smith, while Josh is in Fayetteville. An interesting side note– my husband, Bill, lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the end of his first marriage. That’s why he was a member of the Arkansas National Guard.

In any case, it was early evening when I found out about Josh’s fate, but Josh was locked up at about noon his time. He’s currently spending his first night as a convicted sex offender, and in a matter of months, he will probably leave Arkansas for a federal prison in a location where his deviant sexual proclivities and the security risks associated with them can be dealt with appropriately. Before he gets his assignment, he will probably be taken to another facility, where he will be classified.

I don’t know too much about that process, but I do remember reading a book called Fish by T.J. Parsell, in which the process of being classified was described as very unpleasant. Parsell’s situation was not like Josh’s. His story is about being a boy in a man’s prison. I read that book in the spring of 2009, when we lived in Germany the first time. I remember being very affected by that story, as Parsell was not a sex offender. Instead, he was a victim of a brutal prison rape that occurred after he was drugged by other inmates.

I think my opinions about prisoners changed when I read that book. On the other hand, I do think Josh Duggar’s conviction was entirely appropriate. I don’t wish for him to be harmed by other prisoners… but I won’t be surprised if it happens. Child molesters are definitely at the bottom of the totem pole in a prison environment. And the fact that Josh comes from a relatively wealthy family and was a reality TV star may make him especially attractive to other inmates.

I just read an interesting 2017 era article titled “Where do federal sex offenders go to prison?” It was written by Zachary Margulis Ohnuma about Anthony Weiner, a former Congressman who was convicted and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for sexting with a 15 year old. The author of the article points out that the sex offender treatment offered in prison may put Josh Duggar in even more jeopardy. He writes:

While it is true that BOP offers sex offender treatment in prison, experiences vary — and the Fifth Amendment right to silence does not carry a lot of weight. Inmates in sex offender programs are surrounded by other sex offenders. They are pushed by counsellors to admit to doing more than they admitted to in court. After all, the philosophy goes, not everyone gets caught for every crime they ever committed. While sex offender treatment has been shown, as a general matter, to be effective, the programs offered in prison are akin to the food on offer there — not something you would want to partake of unless it was absolutely necessary.

I would imagine that Josh will go to a prison where he can get treatment. I don’t know if he will be forced to accept treatment. In any case, having looked at the official Web site for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it does not appear that Arkansas offers any facilities that provide treatment for sex offenders. There are two facilities in Texas and one in Illinois that have sex offender treatment programs. Those would be the closest to Arkansas. I don’t know what that will mean for Josh’s wife, Anna, and their seven children. My guess is that they’ll stay in Arkansas, but one never knows.

Anna has been incredibly loyal to Josh, in spite of his many obvious shortcomings. That loyalty may end up working against her. As it stands now, it’s possible that Anna could soon face charges herself, especially if it’s discovered that she turned a blind eye toward any abuse perpetrated by Josh toward the children. I suspect that her children will be interviewed by child protective services, if that hasn’t yet happened. Those kids have already had to cope with their father being forced out of the home and their mother spending most of her time with him, instead of them. I’m sure that CPS will want to know a lot more about how the children are doing, now that their father is a convicted sex offender.

I can’t help thinking about how bizarre all of this must be for the children in the Duggar family. I don’t just mean Josh’s children, but also his brothers and sisters and their children. The cognitive dissonance must be incredible. Josh has done some terrible things and has brought shame to his family. But his parents are “praying” for him, and did all they could to help him, while they cast out one of his victims. And Jim Bob is still campaigning to be elected to the Arkansas Senate. I think if Jim Bob is elected, I will lose all hope for humanity in Arkansas.

I get the impression that Jim Bob sort of runs a cult with a cult. Yesterday, I wrote a book review about a woman who was raised in Bill Gothard’s cult– the same one the Duggars are in. Being raised in Gothard’s ATI and IBLP is bad enough. But I think the Duggar family goes further than that. I think Jim Bob is the head of his own cult, where there are many “alternative facts” and “alternative realities” that everyone within the sphere must adhere to. Jim Bob clearly has his own versions of events. In fact, he clearly lies when the situation suits him, even though that goes against Biblical principles. He tells his children to tell the truth and repent, but those rules don’t apply to Jim Bob.

Anyone within Jim Bob Duggar’s sphere has to do what he wants them to do. Those who can’t or won’t follow his rules and devote themselves to him will soon find themselves cast out of the family circle. What Jim Bob is doing is nothing unusual among narcissists. I’ve seen my husband’s ex wife do the same thing to her family members. Anyone who won’t adhere to her fantasy world gets cast out because people who speak the truth and see things clearly are a threat to her power. I think Jim Bob runs his family and church like that.

This wasn’t the guy I saw, but you get the idea.

Years ago, I wrote a blog post about an experience I had when I was in college, back in the early 1990s. I remember a hypnotist came to our school and put on a very entertaining show. Volunteers were brought up on stage and the hypnotist would put them under, then make them do hilarious things. Along with the volunteers, there were also spotters who were tasked with helping the hypnotist. Anyone participating who didn’t fall under his spell was escorted off stage. This was because those who didn’t fall under hypnosis threatened the act. I don’t think it’s that much different when it comes to people like Jim Bob and Ex. Those who don’t fall under the spell need to be escorted out so they don’t “ruin” the illusion for others.

I think Jill Dillard used to be among the biggest believers in Jim Bob’s “mini cult”. But she has been deprogrammed by her husband, Derick. Jill and Derick have been ostracized by the family, even though Jill is one of Josh’s victims. If anything, Jim Bob should have been protecting her and the rest of his daughters from his deviant son. But, instead of being supportive and loving of Jill, Jim Bob has made her and her family unwelcome. In the long run, this is probably a better thing for Jill, but it still means she’s lost her family of origin. She serves as an example to others, keeping them “in line” by showing them that if they disobey, they will be ostracized. The same thing goes for “cousin Amy”, who has also spoken out against Jim Bob. The minute she did that, she was cast out of the fold.

Jim Bob rewards his followers with homes, jobs, and money. But the minute the see the truth and speak it– the minute they think for themselves and act accordingly– they have to be escorted out, much like those resistant people from the hypnotist’s show. What they may not understand is that there are people outside of that cult system who can and will help them. They don’t have to cling to the bad situation. They can make the courageous choice to escape, once they are over 18. A few of Jim Bob’s children have made that choice, but some of the others are still firmly entrenched. No matter what, as long as there is breath in Jim Bob’s body, he will always see his children as his possessions– even the ones he’s cast out of the family circle. If there’s anything I have learned about narcissistic parents, it’s that they almost never let anyone go completely.

We’ll see what the future holds. One thing is for certain, though. Josh Duggar’s days as a free man are over. He’s going away, and probably for a long time. His children will surely be safer without him around, but it’s still a hard thing for them. No matter what, he’s still their father, and they will always have a connection to him. I think if anyone needs and deserves prayers, it’s the children who have been harmed by Josh… or any other pervert who preys on the innocent.

The sad thing is, as horrible and disgusting as Josh Duggar’s actions are, there are still people who are much worse than he is. Bill and I were talking about this over breakfast. I think Larry Nassar is worse. I can think of some much lesser known people I think are worse, or have committed worse crimes. For instance, Brian and Shannon Gore, who were from my hometown, committed absolutely heinous child abuse that resulted in one child’s death and another’s permanent damage to her health. So… I try to keep that in mind as I gaze at Josh Duggar’s strangely happy looking visage in his mug shot. But this prison experience will probably be just the beginning for the horrors of Josh Duggar’s life from now on. Maybe God will have mercy on him… but I doubt his fellow inmates will.

Below is a link to Fish, the book I mentioned up post. If you purchase through the link, I will get a small commission from Amazon. I will warn that the book is not for the faint of heart.

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politics

New York is going to close some prisons, and some people aren’t happy about it…

I had quite a busy day yesterday, updating my travel blog. I’m not even halfway through our vacation, so I suspect I have a few more days of intensive travel writing and video production ahead of me. Travel blogging is fun, and I really enjoy looking at the photos I take when we travel. On the other hand, when I upload a lot of photos, my Internet invariably craps out, wasting time and frustrating me as I have to repeat tasks.

Writing on this blog is less frustrating, because I don’t use as many pictures… and also, I feel like I can be more authentic on this blog, because most of what I write is about how I feel, rather than what I’ve seen and experienced. Regular readers of my blog may know that I’m not a big fan of prison. In fact, the older I get, and the more I read up on the subject of criminal justice, the more I think we have too many prisons and way too many incarcerated people in the United States. I’ve actually felt this way for a long time, even before I started watching Jessica Kent’s excellent and informative YouTube videos.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a whole lot of people are in prison due to drug offenses. While sometimes people on drugs do terrible things to themselves and to other people, quite a lot of drug offenders are non-violent. Some states are starting to realize that putting people behind bars for drug offenses isn’t always the best idea. In New York State, lawmakers have been dismantling the strict anti drug laws that were passed in the 1970s. Consequently, their prisons are gradually emptying. Over his almost 11 years in office, former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo shut down 18 prisons in New York. His successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, is following Cuomo’s lead, and has plans to close six more prisons.

Republicans, in particular, are unhappy about the decision to close prisons, even though New York’s prison population is at its lowest since 1984, and there are several facilities that aren’t even close to full capacity. Again, this is because of criminal justice reforms and decriminalization of the use of certain drugs, like marijuana. You’d think Republicans, who so often speak of being the “law and order people”, would be glad to see a decline in people going to prison, especially since there’s a monetary and societal cost to locking people up. For one thing, a person with a prison record has a harder time finding work or housing. People who can’t find work or housing are more likely to turn to crime as a means of survival. Or they might try to access welfare, which we all know Republicans aren’t too keen on. They’re all about protecting life, as long as the life is that of the unborn. But once a person is born, a lot of them don’t really give a shit, do they?

In any case, some Republicans in New York are against closing the prisons because they provide jobs in rural communities where places to work are lacking. Some also mention that they’re worried about safety and the increase in crime. But… the New York Times article I linked mentions that there are a lot of empty cells in New York. Those cells cost money to maintain. And consolidation is a great way to save money. According to the article, if those six prisons are closed, taxpayers could save $142 million. Of course, there’s also money to be made in the prison industry. For profit prisons do exist, and there are companies that produce products for prisons, which then get sold to inmates for rip off prices. I’m sure some Republicans don’t want to see prisons closed for that reason. And let’s not forget that inmates also often work for pennies on the hour, which also is a money maker for some people.

Personally, I find it disturbing that so many people in the United States, the supposed “land of the free”, are locked up in jails and prisons. According to PrisonPolicy.org, which admittedly has an anti-mass incarceration agenda, one out of every five prisoners in the world is incarcerated in the United States. That same source reports that less than 5 percent of the world’s population live in the United States, but about 20 percent of the world’s incarcerated are in the United States.

I noticed a lot of people commenting that it’s wrong for New York to close the prisons because they think the crime rate with increase. More than one person compared closing the prisons to the decision to deinstitutionalize people with mental illnesses. But, the difference is, a lot of people who wind up incarcerated aren’t there because they’re a danger to themselves or society. They’re there for non violent offenses, as a means of filling the local coffers or allowing politicians to make names for themselves as being “tough on crime.”

Some politicians and elected law enforcement officials– Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona comes to mind— get off on being inhumane to prisoners to show how “tough” they are on crime. They save money by serving barely edible food, forcing prisoners to live in shitty or squalid conditions, and humiliating them by making them wear pink underwear. Then, when the person is inevitably released after having been abused and traumatized, that person is expected to function on the right side of the law and go out and get a job. But, as recidivism rates show us, a whole lot of people wind up back behind bars once they’ve been in the first time. Shouldn’t the goal in a decent society be to help people choose a life without committing crimes?

I’ve also noticed that a lot of people, especially in the United States, have this attitude that jail or prison is the only way to punish someone who has broken the law. I recall how so many people were calling for Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, rich, white actresses who committed mail fraud, to sit in prison for years. The actresses got short prison stints instead. So many people seemed disappointed about that. I guess it’s because they saw what the actresses did as the height of white privilege. But how does it serve society for two non violent offenders to sit in a prison cell for years on end? Huffman and Loughlin will surely recover from their time in the jug, but people of more average means have a harder time doing that. Locking people up doesn’t just affect the person who ends up in prison. It also affects their families, friends, employers, and anyone else who depends on them for any reason.

There’s something really grotesque about the idea of people whose livelihoods depend on locking up other people. I know prisons are necessary for those who commit violent offenses and are a real danger to others. I do think we should have prisons for people who can’t safely function in society. But we shouldn’t be wanting to lock people up simply so people in rural communities can continue to make a living. It’s a violation of human rights. And the fact that the United States is a wealthy, western country with so many people behind bars is concerning. We should want to do better than that. Besides, having a prison in a community isn’t exactly a draw for community growth, is it?

So… count me among those who is happy that Governor Hochul wishes to close six prisons in New York. I hope it happens, and she saves taxpayers money, and families anguish. Those who are working in the prisons can do what Republicans often tell people in trouble to do… They can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find another line of work. Seriously… that’s what they tell the down and out and disenfranchised, don’t they? Maybe Governor Hochul can find a way to repurpose those facilities so that they can be of a positive use to the communities they serve. And people who work in the prisons can find work in the repurposed facilities, which will hopefully focus more on rehabilitation and compassion, rather than warehousing human beings, mistreating them, and ripping them off through slave labor and their commissary accounts.

I think the United States criminal justice system needs a massive overhaul. From abusive and corrupt police officers who have tainted the reputations of all cops, to inhumane and unfair prisons that make people worse instead of correcting their behaviors, to locally run police departments that depend on ripping off people through issuing extortionate traffic tickets in order to pay salaries… The goal should be on fairness and creating a better society, not enslaving, abusing, and extorting money on citizens so that people will have work to do.

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healthcare, law

When a miscarriage during pregnancy leads to a miscarriage of justice…

Last night, as the evening was winding down, I noticed an op-ed in The New York Times about a young woman from Oklahoma named Brittney Poolaw. I have gifted the op-ed in the above link, so if you don’t have a subscription to the paper, you should be able to read it for free.

So who is Brittney Poolaw, and why should anyone care about her? According to Michelle Goldberg, author of the op-ed, Brittney Poolaw is a woman who is sitting in prison because she miscarried during her seventeenth week of pregnancy. At the time of her miscarriage, Poolaw was just 19 years old. She was at home when the miscarriage happened, and had presented herself for medical attention at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

A police detective interviewed Ms. Poolaw after she admitted to hospital staff that she had used methamphetamines and marijuana during her pregnancy. The medical examiner who examined Brittney Poolaw’s fetus cited her drug use as contributing factors in the miscarriage. Also cited were a congenital abnormality and placental abruption.

Poolaw was arrested on a charge of first degree manslaughter. She didn’t have the money for the $20,000 bond, so she spent a year and a half in jail, awaiting her trial. The trial finally occurred this month, and jurors spent less than three hours deciding Brittney Poolaw’s fate. She was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison, even though an expert witness explained that Poolaw’s drug use might not have been the direct cause of the miscarriage.

I recently mentioned that I’ve been watching a lot of videos by Jessica Kent, a YouTube personality who has a lot of experience with being in jail and prison. Jessica has done time in several states, mainly because she is a recovering drug addict. She also had the unfortunate experience of giving birth while incarcerated. I have been studying prison reform independently for years, but Jessica Kent’s videos have really opened my eyes to just how unjust and inhumane the U.S. prison system is, particularly for people with drug addictions.

Jessica Kent was pregnant in prison. She’s also a recovering drug addict.
One of Jessica Kent’s videos about her experiences with pregnancy…

I know a lot of people would say that the answer is simple; just don’t do drugs. And I think that advice is easy to follow if you are fortunate enough to come from a supportive family, live in an area where there are many opportunities for work and socializing, have access and the ability to pay for healthcare, and have the will and the drive not to succumb to temptation or peer pressure.

In Poolaw’s case, simply being able to get to a doctor and, perhaps, having an abortion available to her might have prevented her from being imprisoned. According to Goldberg’s opinion piece, Poolaw told the detective that “when she found out she was pregnant she didn’t know if she wanted the baby or not. She said she wasn’t familiar with how or where to get an abortion.” Seems to me that it would have been kinder and better if Brittney could have either had an abortion, or had access to a physician and, perhaps, a social worker or other advocate while she was pregnant.

When I was studying social work, I did part of my internship with what was then called Healthy Families South Carolina. It was a program that was affiliated with Prevent Child Abuse America, and it was designed to help people like Brittney Poolaw maintain healthy pregnancies and get very young children off to a healthier start. Those who were enrolled in the program got home visit services from workers who would help them access healthcare and teach them about making safe and healthy decisions for their babies. These families got coaching from trained parent educators and, in fact, that made a noticeable difference in the outcomes for a lot of the clients. That was something I noted in the massive paper I wrote and presented for my MPH/MSW degrees. Wow… it just occurred to me that the babies I saw when I was finishing my degree are now adults! Time really flies!

Why didn’t someone direct Brittney Poolaw to a program like that? My guess is because she couldn’t access the healthcare system and never got a referral. What would have happened if she could have gotten to a doctor early in her pregnancy? Maybe she would have chosen to have an abortion, or maybe she would have had her baby. And maybe she would have been able to access support from people who are trained to work with young people with big problems. I know nothing about Brittney Poolaw or her past, but experience tells me that a lot of people who end up in her situation have had some pretty terrible traumas in their lives and experienced abuse.

I know a lot of people think that Brittney Poolaw deserves to be in prison for taking drugs while she was pregnant. But having worked with young people who are poor, disenfranchised, and lacking meaningful mentorship, I can understand why she turned to drugs. It happens to so many people. And I think instead of prison, Brittney Poolaw should have gotten compassionate medical attention and real help from someone who might have shown her that she has worth. Having watched so many of Jessica Kent’s videos, I realize that Brittney Poolaw is probably facing even more abuse and degradation on a daily basis now. I don’t think that’s going to help her turn away from drugs when she is finally released from prison.

But, aside from the fact that I think Poolaw’s community really failed her, I also think that other women have much to fear from this ruling. It really is a slippery slope when pregnant women wind up in legal trouble for things they do while pregnant that lead to a loss of the pregnancy. In Poolaw’s case, the actions that contributed to her miscarriage were illegal, but what if she’d had one too many glasses or wine, or something? What if she’d been in a car without a seatbelt or was wearing it incorrectly? What if she tripped and fell down some stairs?

I think it’s very scary that any woman who gets pregnant might find herself being scrutinized by law enforcement after a miscarriage. Not only is it an invasion of privacy, but it also may cause women like Poolaw to avoid seeking medical care. That might be especially true if she’s doing something like drinking alcohol or using drugs. I know a lot of physicians would prefer not to have to deal with drug using pregnant women, but they are precisely the women who need the most attention from someone who has medical expertise. Moreover, it really is chilling to think that the developing fetuses in already born people are superseding the already born people’s civil rights.

The pro-life/anti-abortion movement has been working tirelessly to change laws so that developing embryos and fetuses are seen as “babies” and “children”. But if you take a close look at what happens during pregnancy, it actually takes a pretty long while before the developing embryos and fetuses turn into anything viable outside of the womb. Until then, they really are part of the mother, and it really does seem wrong to me that we should put pregnant women in a different class–with different rules and civil rights– than people who aren’t pregnant. It’s beyond creepy that some judges, particularly in the South, are using situations like Brittney Poolaw’s to chip away at Roe v. Wade and promote the whole “sanctity of life” movement. It seems to me that life is only sacred to these types of folks when it involves the unborn. Once a person has been born, they’re on their own… and God help them stay out of prison.

Should Brittney Poolaw have had an abortion? I suppose she should have, especially since she clearly wasn’t ready to be a mother and had no resources to help her maintain a healthy pregnancy. I’m not sure how open she would have been to receiving help from a social worker or someone else who works with at risk parents and children. But I do think she should have had the option presented to her. It sounds to me like she didn’t have anyone to go to for help when she got pregnant. Instead, she turned to drugs.

I admittedly haven’t looked at Oklahoma’s social welfare programs and I don’t what is available for young people like Brittney Poolaw, but my guess is that even if they are widely available, Poolaw didn’t know how to access them. That’s not really something that is taught in school, at least in my experience. In my first year of my MSW program, I did my internship at a multi-disciplinary rural physician’s practice associated with the University of South Carolina. My clients were referred to me by a family doctor in a rural community. But it sounds like Brittney didn’t have a doctor, and it looks like she was no longer in school… so where would she have gotten a referral to someone like I was when I was in graduate school?

Perhaps the police could have referred her, instead of arresting her and putting her in prison… Or… the medical staff, who should have advocated for her and helped her with her medical problems could have assisted her in finding someone to help her with her problems. Sadly, it sounds like instead of getting the help she obviously needs, Brittney Poolaw will be wasting four years in a prison cell… along with so many other Americans. I hope someday the United States gets over its obsession with incarcerating people. We’ve got to do better than this.

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healthcare, law, politics, rants, YouTube

Women behind bars are having a bloody awful time handling their periods…

Last week, I wrote a post about how adorable YouTuber, Mama Doctor Jones, who is an OB-GYN and mom to four, did a video about a woman who had a baby while she was incarcerated. I was really moved by Mama Doctor Jones’ reaction video to Jessica Kent’s story. Next thing I knew, I was on Jessica Kent’s YouTube channel, which is full of interesting videos about her time in prison. Jessica Kent is tiny, well-spoken, and apparently sober, having spent much of her youth in trouble with the law.

I haven’t yet familiarized myself with all of Jessica’s story, but I have watched a bunch of her videos. As I listen to how this fiery young woman wound up on the wrong side of the law, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d never gotten arrested. She’s very bright and articulate, and I think she’s determined to go far. Jessica has obviously embraced the power of the Internet, and has a presence all over social media. She’s pursuing a college degree, but I wonder if she’s already making a lot of money creating videos for YouTube.

Last night, I watched a video by Jessica Kent that made me very angry. It was about how she and her fellow female inmates in Arkansas were forced to make tampons out of the maxi pads doled out to them. Jessica explains that female prisoners in Arkansas are not given tampons and, in fact, can only get really poor quality maxi pads– and just two per day at that. Jessica says the pads are state issued, and she’s never seen the type of pads the state issues for sale outside of the prison walls. Because the pads are so poorly made, they have to be turned into tampons, which last longer than the pads do. So Jessica made a video to demonstrate how to make the tampons.

This is absolutely infuriating!

More than once, Jessica implores her viewers not to try to make these “tampons” at home, since the pad she’s using is not really the type she would have used in prison. Apparently, the pads we can get at the store are too “cottony” and “powdery”. In any case, I can’t imagine why someone would want to make a tampon like this if they weren’t incarcerated and forced to do so.

Jessica says that not all states have this draconian limit on feminine hygiene supplies in their prisons. For instance, when she was incarcerated in her home state of New York, Jessica had no problem getting all she needed for that little feminine monthly chore. New York, of course, is a blue state, and human rights are apparently more valued up north.

For some reason, the powers that be running the prisons in Arkansas think that two maxi pads per day are all a female prison inmate needs when she’s menstruating. I think about my own menstrual habits and realize how disgusting and unhygienic that is. As a woman, and a person with a public health educational background, it amazes me that prison officials in Arkansas are allowed to get away with this practice. At the very least, it seems like it would be a serious health risk to everyone who is incarcerated. Many diseases, some of which cannot be cured, are spread via blood exposure. Plus, it’s just so nasty!

I read in another article that, in some prisons, women who can’t get proper feminine hygiene supplies will pass up visits with family or their attorneys when they have their periods. They have to wait until they can get their laundry done, before they’re not sitting in their own blood. Kimberly Haven, the author of that article, writes that before and after each visit, inmates are strip searched, and have to squat and cough. The whole process is so demoralizing and horrifying that a lot of female inmates would prefer to skip it, even though attorneys and family members are powerful advocates for the inmates.

In another article, I read about how, in Connecticut, two female cellmates would have to share five state issued maxi pads among themselves. Every woman is different, of course, so there’s no way to tell how long a period is going to be and how often feminine hygiene products need to be changed. But the inmates in Connecticut also had to learn how to stretch their products out, sometimes by reusing them. The inmates in Connecticut could purchase supplies from the commissary, but for those who don’t have money, that $2.63 cost might mean one less phone call home or not being able to pay for a visit to the prison doctor. Also, realize that prison jobs often pay very little– like 20 or 30 cents an hour. It takes a long time to make enough money to buy the proper supplies if there’s no one on the outside helping.

I have stated before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of incarceration, but I especially dislike inhumane treatment toward people who are incarcerated. Yes, it’s true that the best thing for anyone to do is to avoid going to prison in the first place, but people who are locked up are not going to improve their behavior if they’re treated cruelly. Forcing women to handle their body functions in this way is demeaning and cruel, and it doesn’t deter crime. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant– it shouldn’t be dangerous and unhealthy.

According to my reading:

In 2017, then-Sen. Kamala Harris and her colleagues Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin introduced a bill to provide free menstrual products to incarcerated people in federal women’s prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a guidance memo, separate from Harris’ bill, mandating that menstrual products be available to all incarcerated people in federal correctional facilities at no cost shortly after. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a more general justice reform effort that included access to menstrual products. 

So… if you’re a woman who goes to a federal lockup, or a prison in a blue state, you’re more likely to be able to take care of these basic body function needs. But there’s no legislation in most states that require state prisons to accommodate menstrual periods. Frankly, I think that’s a sin, and I would love to see some high profile lawsuits happen that force states to do a better job in this area. In a wealthy country like the United States, this unsanitary practice should be outlawed. We’re supposed to be “better” than this… although I think many Americans are fooling themselves thinking that the United States is a civilized country. When we have female prisoners who are sitting in their own menstrual blood every month for want of adequate feminine hygiene supplies, we’ve lost the right to refer to ourselves as “civilized”.

It’s also unfair that prisons don’t automatically take care of this issue, since this is not a problem that male prisoners have to face. In fact, men don’t even need toilet paper as much as women do, but according to Jessica’s videos, women in Arkansas prisons only get two rolls a week. That’s really not much, especially when it’s that time of the month. But a lot of men involved with making laws don’t want to hear about this problem. It’s too “gross” for them. The first paragraph of an article in the Public Health Post opens with:

When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

Wow, Jay… you’ve shown us just who you are with your lack of compassion or comprehension of how necessary it is for you, and your male colleagues, to hear a bill about providing necessary supplies for women who menstruate. I wonder if Jay Lawrence can even fathom how humiliating and shaming it is for a woman to have to deal with this problem when she can’t get the supplies she needs. Does he have any women in his life that he loves? What an asshole.

Aside from how gross, messy, and unsanitary this problem is, the practice of turning pads into tampons could potentially be unsafe or even deadly. Consider that the inmates probably don’t have the cleanest surfaces for improvising these products and they may not be able to keep themselves optimally clean. Then they’re sticking the tampons into their body orifices, where the improvised tampon might abrade the skin or otherwise introduce pathogens into the body. An inmate could potentially get very sick or even wind up with toxic shock syndrome doing this. Toxic shock syndrome can lead to sepsis, which can cause a person to lose limbs or even their lives.

A tampon did this to Lauren Wasser.

Model Lauren Wasser, who was not incarcerated when she left a tampon in too long and got toxic shock syndrome, lost BOTH of her legs to the sickness. She very nearly died.

I know a lot of people don’t care about the plight of prisoners. Personally, I still see them as human beings who are entitled to decent, respectful, and humane care when they are incarcerated. And part of being humane is making it possible for people in custody to be able to take care of private, personal body functions like menstrual periods. I know I would support legislation requiring that clean and hygienic feminine hygiene products be made available to women in prisons. I hope others can see how important this is.

And… once again… I am so glad menopause is around the corner.

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