Mar 21 2014
09:33 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Chris Irwin's letter to Metro Pulse this week:


I was horrified to discover that the Knox County Detention Facility (KCDF) is ending all face-to-face free visitation. Instead, they are going to a paid video service, which instead of being free will cost poor families $11 for 30 minutes.

Min's picture

Is this confirmed?

Because, if it is, that's just horrific. And cynical and cruel and greedy.

Average Guy's picture

"..that's just horrific. And

"..that's just horrific. And cynical and cruel and greedy."

Good assessment of our entire current incarceration structure.

michael kaplan's picture

metro pulse apparently

metro pulse apparently confirmed that it is true. rationale likely is that it is saving the system money (see below). privatization run amok ..

check this out

While the demands of your staff and facility continue to grow, budgets continue to shrink. As a result, correctional facilities have sought out ways to generate revenue to offset costs. Services such as inmate phones, commissary, and inmate deposits have helped to defray costs; but until now, there has not been an effective system to generate revenue from inmate visitation.

Stick's picture

Our society becomes more

Our society becomes more barbaric by the day...

rog's picture

decriminalizing criminal behavior

where there are nice profit margins is now stock and trade of "private sector effeciencys"
This is a form of extortion, plain and simple, calculated on the belief that no one really cares about the people in our jails. The monies extorted will go toward maintaining or expanding the compensations both monetary and political of the extortionists.
I know that sounds hysterical but I don't care.

michael kaplan's picture

belief that no one really

belief that no one really cares about the people in our jails

i remember jamie satterfield commenting (on wuot's dialogue - and i paraphrase) that if prisoners don't like jails, they shouldn't commit crimes. another reason why i'm glad i no longer read the news-sentinel ..

Jamie Satterfield's picture

Oversimplify much?

It's ironic that I see your post as I am writing a story on negligent care of an inmate in the Knox jail. There is a difference between housing inmates humanely and treating inmates with indifference, cruelty etc... I don't remember the context of that snippet from an hour-long Dialogue interview but I have written and, thereby, exposed, many tales of jail issues, whether it be overcrowding, abuse or exploitation.

michael kaplan's picture

On another, but related,

I'm glad to hear that you are now covering such incidents now that prison abuses and reforms seem to be subjects of increasing interest and concern.

On another, but related, topic, I was wondering whether you attended Angela Davis' recent lecture on slavery and the prison-industrial complex?

Jamie Satterfield's picture

Sir, I have been covering

Sir, I have been covering police brutality and jail abuses for 25 years so your snark is without factual basis. And no, I did not attend her lecture but I'm sure it was worth hearing. I mostly try to read up on various topics related to be my beat when I'm not working 12 and 14 hour days and raising my kids. I don't have much time to attend lectures.

michael kaplan's picture

As I have never read the

As I have never read the News-Sentinel on a daily basis, and rarely read the paper these days, it is entirely possible that I missed your articles on prison abuses and reforms. So my apologies for any inaccuracies in my comment. I would appreciate, however, a few links to articles you have written on those subjects.

Hildegard's picture

Why don't you find a way to

Why don't you find a way to prove your original assertion (that she made that callous remark you paraphrase) before suggesting she prove her defense of her record? I mean, why can you just blurt something out without being able to back it up, and then expect her to back up her response?

michael kaplan's picture

The aforementioned Dialogue

The aforementioned Dialogue show took place several years ago and I couldn't find any archive of the broadcast. However, I was the one who called in and asked the question, something to the effect of "why the journalist didn't write about prison conditions." I was somewhat surprised by her answer (approximately paraphrased above). If anyone can find a transcription of the broadcast, please post it ...

Getting back to the subject, I did a search for " video visitation" and this came up - from 2011. There's no mention of any charge or fee.

michael kaplan's picture

i'm not asking her to defend

i'm not asking her to defend her record, i'm asking to see her record. a google search doesn't turn up much, so i requested a few links ..

redmondkr's picture

I have a friend who visits a

I have a friend who visits a mutual friend over there pretty regularly and she was telling me about this new plan a couple of weeks ago although she wasn't aware of the cost involved. Our friend already has to pay thirty five cents to send an email and the length of it is limited. He has to pay $3 for an eight or 10 minute phone call.

And he is really lucky if he can lay hands on a paperback book.

Bbeanster's picture

Years ago, a buddy of

Years ago, a buddy of Hutchison got the pay phone contract for the KC jails. It was quite lucrative. Charge those convicts a dollar a minute (or something like that) for phone calls. Money for nuttin'.

fischbobber's picture

ACLU maybe.......

Perhaps it is time to ask questions of the Justice Department and establish a dialogue with the ACLU. Audits would appear to be in order.

michael kaplan's picture

"Prison Reform's in Vogue and

"Prison Reform's in Vogue and Other Strange Things"


With every successive call for ‘reform,’ the prison has remained stubbornly brutal, violent and inhumane.

KC's picture

With every successive call

With every successive call for ‘reform,’ the prison has remained stubbornly brutal, violent and inhumane.

And I'm sure that has nothing to do with the peaceful, non-violent inmates who reside there.

Stick's picture

And nothing to do with the

And nothing to do with the brutal society that produced them...

michael kaplan's picture

among the inmates there are,

among the inmates, there are also, unfortunately, peaceful, non-violent ones.

ben garlington's picture

angela davis transcript

is the most recent speech at ut available in any form?

michael kaplan's picture

If you're referring to the

If you're referring to the Angela Davis talk, I believe the Issues Committee records all of these. Versions of it are available on YouTube. This one's a bit academic, but worth watching as a kind of antidote to contemporary crime journalism:


UC Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis explores the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.

Bbeanster's picture

Friend of mine who wouldn't

Friend of mine who wouldn't feel comfortable posting made this observation:

it's worth mentioning something- many of the inmates
in the KCSDF are PRE-TRIAL. Last time I checked, in the American system of
justice, you are innocent until proven guilty, regardless of whether or not you
are being held in lieu of bail. Even those who are clearly odious, foul
criminals are, until conviction, until due process has been observed, innocent.

This is gulag stuff, folks.
Stack em like cordwood...

michael kaplan's picture

many of the inmates in the

many of the inmates in the KCSDF are PRE-TRIAL

good point. so they may not be criminals at all, just suspects ..

fischbobber's picture

And yet.....

They get to go to criminal college, for free and on the taxpayer dime, while awaiting trial. At least when they get out they will have some career options.

Hildegard's picture

I'm pretty sure most of them

I'm pretty sure most of them are pretrial. In fact I'm pretty sure most of them are pretrial charged with misdemeanors, although I may be conflating that with misdemeanor probation violators. Knox County locks up more (statistically) pretrial inmates accused of misdemeanors than Nashville or Memphis.

Not sure what "odious" and "foul" mean, or what it takes to be "clearly" so in a pretrial context, but if it means charged with really bad crimes where people got seriously hurt, those inmates are in a definite minority, and like you say, they haven't been convicted of anything.

Average Guy's picture

Are the police at war?

If so, with whom?

I've got problems with a lot of "new" police tactics, but one term I've heard recently from several cops is a reference to their "tour".

Am I just late to the game, or are cops looking at their job differently these days?

Stick's picture

The militarization of police

The militarization of police departments has been an on-going phenomenon for some time, much of it funded by the war on some people who use certain types of drugs. When you add in the kinds of exploitation that is the topic of this thread, it becomes increasingly clear that we're moving into the New Gilded Age with a full head of steam.

Bbeanster's picture

A cop friend of mine used to

A cop friend of mine used to point out the growing percentage of buzz cuts as a sign of the increased militarization of civilian law enforcement.

cwg's picture

There's a book about it

There's a book about it all.


Bird_dog's picture

not on their website yet

I was checking the KCSO site to see if they had updated with this information. BTW Face-to-face visits are by phone through plexiglass. Did notice a disturbing change in inmate mail - postcards only! No kids drawings or school work. No private family matters (except that all mail was subject to screening anyway).

We had a batch of mail to an inmate in California returned because we used address labels!

Good point about inmates waiting for trial - presumed innocent! And also remember the 20% who suffer from mental illness - they shouldn't even be in jail just because there is no community mental health treatment available anywhere else...

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