I have been thinking about prison a lot lately while the lyrics to Black Steel echo in my mind. If I were to be incarcerated how would I get by? I am a pretty small guy compared to all the big guys in there. I have always felt that I would be the Andy Dufresne of my cell block, keeping hope alive. Lately, in order to calm my prison fears, I have been reading up on how to make prison weapons. Ever since that 60 Minutes episode showed how to make a lethal crossbow using underwear and a plastic knife I haven’t been able to sleep. I bought a bunch of tighty whiteys and have been taking some of them apart to practice making the crossbow. Prison is tough. The LA Times and several others have been reporting on a lawsuit that the ACLU and ENSAAF filed against the Yuba County, CA Sheriff’s Department:
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of a Sikh asylum seeker who says his religious rights are being violated because jail officials refuse to let him wear a turban at all times.
Harpal Singh Cheema, 47, an Indian national, was detained by immigration authorities in 1997. He has been held at the Yuba County Jail since September 2002.
It’s troubling that he has been detained for as long as he has and, at the same time, that he is not being allowed to comply with the fundamental requirements of his religion,” said Robin Goldfaden, an ACLU staff attorney.
“He has been subjected to conditions that go against constitutional and statutory guidelines that are there to allow freedom to exercise one’s religion.”
Perhaps there is some way in which a turban can be used as a weapon? It has far more fabric than mere underwear.
Yuba County Counsel Dan Montgomery said head coverings were generally allowed as long as they were “consistent with safety and security and the orderly operation of the facility” and were not “perceived as posing a threat.”
He noted, however, that a turban could be used to conceal a weapon or contraband.
“Approaching a male Sikh and taking his turban off is a great affront, so the ability to search is impaired,” Montgomery said.
Now if I did end up in prison I’d want to go some place like Club-fed where Martha went. I bet you they wouldn’t make Cheema take off his turban there. Ennis points me to a new proposal out of Texas: A faith-based prison. The Houston Chronicle reports:
In the West Texas town of San Angelo, where Conrad Hilton built one of his first luxury hotels in 1929, a controversy is brewing over a different type of lodging, one that would accommodate more than 500 convicts.
Tom Green County commissioners have signed off on a proposal to build a privately operated “faith-based” prison, billed as the first of its kind in bringing institutionalized Christianity into the cellblock.
Proponents say the prison, run by employees with a “Christian world view,” would help criminals learn to be law-abiding citizens. They say it would help reduce the number of Texas inmates, thought to be as high as 40 percent, who eventually return to jail.
But there is a hitch: Texas prison officials say they do not want to join the venture.
This reminds me of the Shawshank Redemption once again. Wasn’t THAT essentially a “faith-based” prison? We all know what became of the righteous warden and his bible at the end.
He [Rob Boston, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State] was not swayed by promises that the private prison would not violate the Constitution. “It’s a state promotion of religion, even if it’s done through back-door channels,” Boston said.
However, another nonprofit organization, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, sees nothing wrong with the plan, even if public money blends with private contributions to pay for it.
As long as inmates with other religious beliefs are not discriminated against, a Christian jail “should not be forced to lose its identity simply because it’s receiving public funds for a public benefit,” said Jared Leland, spokesman for the Washington-based fund.
Ha. Just wait till they see a turban-wearer walking the halls of a Christian prison. He’s going to need a crossbow for sure.
[aside: I did have a pictorial demonstration of how to make a cross-bow from underwear but the first picture in the series was one of me in my underwear. I figured no one wanted to see that]
See ENSAAF complaint