An inmate received a mail rejection slip from the mail clerk yesterday evening. The rejection slip stated that an item within the envelope contained an image that is prohibited as it displayed nudity. The husband of the aggrieved inmate was dumb founded, and taken aback trying to recall what he had enclosed in the offending envelope along which also contained a recent publication depicting the many names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Then it dawned on him, the picture that he had included was the Crucifixion from the Weingarten Missal, 13th century, showing the four evangelists’ symbols in the corners. It shows a very Old Germanic style, before the influence of the Italian Renaissance.
So, in accordance with Alabama Department Of Corrections policy, the inmate, not knowing what the image was of, or indeed the identity of the mail clerk who deemed this as an offensive image, is supposed to be able to have the offending item returned to sender, at the inmates expense of course, otherwise it is supposed to be held and then destroyed after 30 days.
Its a pity that ADOC employees and Officers aren’t as diligent in their duties of care and protection of inmates health and well being as they are at withholding images depicting “nudity”.
I have read with great eagerness the coverage given to exposing the conditions within Alabama Department Of Corrections and by exploring ways of improving conditions within Alabama’s prisons and reducing the prison population overall. But then I would, I have a biased view, my wife is currently incarcerated in ADOC and has been for 11 years. We know how the ADOC works, I can only speak of that which I know and have experienced first hand, so my focus lies with the female population incarcerated within Alabama Department Of Corrections.
Ironically it seems to matter not, how serious a crime you are charged with committing, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, unless you or your family are financially secure, or are well connected with the old boy network, you have little to no chance of a fair trial, and if you happen to be female, the problem is even more acute. The issues are very complex and multi faceted and a lot of people have a vested interest financially and politically to keep things ticking over just as they are. I will raise the negative aspects first and then follow on with our suggestions on how to fix ADOC, ADOJ and the prison over population problem.
Firstly, as in my wife’s case the District Attorney and prosecutors will seek the most severe charges, and therefor the maximum penalties. They will withhold evidence, prevent witnesses at trial in order to weaken your case and strengthen theirs against you. Instead of a manslaughter charge, they will push for a murder charge. Instead of 10-15 years, you’ll be looking at life, possibly without the possibility of parole.
District Attorney’s, prosecutors and even judges should not be above the law. They should not be allowed to blatantly manipulate the law. They should not present unreliable evidence nor should they be allowed to get away with professional misconduct. They should present all evidence; they should uphold the constitutional rights of the accused and treat them as innocent until proven guilty. They should lay charges as per the crime, not try to convict for murder for example in a blatant manslaughter case in an effort to get another “Murder Conviction” notch on a belt, or another political gong to show just how “tough on crime” they are.