March Ramblings

* I leave the housing unit each day at 7:00am for work, so I usually don't notice what happens at 7:45am, Monday-Thursday when the Camp Officer arrives. How should I describe her? If you're a Harry Potter fan, you know what a Death Eater is. It's a dark, ghostlike, evil creature which sucks the joy from its victims wherever it goes, replacing it with despair. That's an eerie, harsh, but accurate description of this officer. It's not uncommon to hear other officers say, "Let's do that Friday," which translates into "Let's do that when she's here or not here depending on how they want the situation to play out for us." I hardly ever interact with her, but still never make eye contact. Our Maintenance group recently went into work late on a Thursday, and at 7:45am I noticed inmates dancing in the hall. It quickly became apparent they had been watching the parking lot, noticed there was a replacement for the Death Eater, and begun the celebration. Within 2 minutes, everyone knew "She's not here." We've all known people who could suck the joy out of a small group, but sucking it from an entire building is quite an accomplishment.

* Within a two week period, three inmates here lost a mother, a brother, and an 18 year old son. Two of the inmates were within 60 days of their release, but were not approved for a furlough, even an escorted furlough, to attend the funeral.

* Based on data reported by the British daily newspaper, The Guardian, since 9/11, 32,200 Americans have been killed in police shootings. That's more than 5 times the combined soldiers (6,687) we've lost both in the Iraq war (4,491) and the war in Afghanistan (2,396). Native Americans have the highest chance of being killed at 10.13 per million people, following by African Americans at 6.66, Latinos at 3.23, Caucasians at 2.9 and Asians at 1.17. Being a policeman is dangerous work, and on average, there are 19 fatalities per 100,000 police officers annually. But that's not even in the Top Ten of America's most dangerous jobs. Logging tops that list at 116 per 100,000. Farming and ranching is more than twice as dangerous as being a police officer.

* JAB, a somewhat secretive European holding company, recently purchased Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. That means JAB now owns Peet's Coffee, Keurig, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and now Dr. Pepper. If they could only acquire the rights to distribute Ibuprofen, I could live comfortably and happily with only their products. Well, I guess I would still need a cheap rent house and a used Jeep...and a roommate...and a dog...and a lamp...and...

* President Trump, in his State of the Union Address, mentioned prison reform as a 2018 agenda item for his administration that should enjoy bi-partisan support. This differs from sentencing reform to which prior administrations have played lip service. If enacted, this would impact the current inmate population at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. It should particularly impact first time, non-violent offenders, inmates who have tried to take advantage of educational/vocational programming offered by the Bureau of Prisons, and perhaps inmates over age 60. The Senate Judiciary Committee last month passed by a 16-5 vote a combined sentencing and prison reform bill which seems destined to go nowhere in the Senate. Prison reform seems to be a no-brainer, while sentencing reform is more complex, less likely to move forward in a mid-term election year. Washington likes to create complexity but is not particularly adept at dealing with it. Obviously, prison reform is of great interest to me.

* George Elliot, the English writer who was really a woman named Mary Ann Evans, wrote, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." I realize it's too late to do certain things. That list is obvious and endless, but maybe it's not too late to be what I could have been. I'm going to assume Evans is correct, work with her theme, and see what happens. What do I have to lose?