Think Outside the Box

Stuff  I come across and decided  to share… meant to be thought provoking….I update this page occasionally

Two comments:
First, as some wise person has said in the past, “We should reserve prison for those we are afraid of, not for those we are just mad at” Secondly, using a health care analogy, why can we have a degree of empathy for a person who has terrible health that was self-inflicted and yet have no empathy for those who are in prison through their own choices?

I have worked with inmates for the past 10 years and I’ve learned at least two things: There are those who are so evil that they should never again be released to reign havoc on the community. There are those who can truly be said to be changed people and have come out of prison, started their own businesses and are now leaders within their communities.


© 1996 Songs of Iris ASCAP PLAY IT (1.8 MB .mp3)
(c) 1996 Songs of Iris ASCAP

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ’s disciples
but they don’t look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free
We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free
We got CEO’s making two hundred times the workers’ pay
but they’ll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don’t like it, mister, they’ll ship your job
to some third-world country ‘cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running ’round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on mTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he’s standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free



For those who forget that the incarcerated humans in this country are indeed
just that – HUMAN – I would like you to think on this the next time you talk
about “inmates, criminals, convicts, etc…”. These humans have families and
those who love them despite whatever they did. Look around you and wonder,
because this is who we are….

We take care of your children and grandchildren in nursery schools, we give
them shots in the doctor’s office, we are dental assistants, we are school
teachers and Sunday school teachers, we stand behind you in the grocery
store, we prepare your medicine in the drug store, we work in banks, we
approve your loans, we service your insurance claims, we work for newspapers
TV stations and radio stations, we read your electric meters and water
meters, we are your landlords, your neighbors, we take care of your elderly
parents in nursing homes, we are nurses, lab technicians, X-ray technicians,
we own beauty shops, flower shops, printing shops, we are welders, plumbers,
tree trimmers, we work for the IRS, the State Dept., in the courthouse,
schools, churches, drug stores and toy stores, we are legal secretaries,
lawyers, school board members, we are bus drivers, we prepare meals for your
kids in school, we are city council members, bank tellers, we process your
checking account, your saving account, we work at your Social Security
office, your insurance company, we take care of your IRA, stocks, bonds, we
sell your kids bikes, school supplies, clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, we repair
your cars, we are real estate agents, car dealers, college professors,
psychologists, administrative assistants, safety engineers and ranchers. We
work at Ralph’s, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, Macy’s,
Nordstrom and Saks 5th Avenue. We sell Avon and Tupperware. We are not all
on welfare”, no matter what the government would like you to think.

There are two million people in prison in America and twice that many on
parole and probation. Add in mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers,
aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends and about sixteen million people are
personally affected by the prison system in the United States.

We are tired of letting ourselves feel humiliated or embarrassed because our
loved one is in prison. WE did nothing wrong, and they are paying for their

We are tired of fearing the loss of our jobs or evictions from our housing
should anyone find out we have a loved one in prison.

We are tired of being made to feel inferior or unwelcome in churches, clubs,
organizations or society in general simply because we refuse to abandon our
loved ones.

We are ready to unite, to come out of hiding and openly support each other
and our loved ones. It’s a new day, America and we’re here to prove it!

We are ready to speak out against the “they deserve what they get” attitude
we hear you talk about in stores, theaters and restaurants.

We number in the millions, we are everywhere, every state, county, city and
town. We may even live next door to you.

Sixteen million & counting. We are everywhere.

Think about it.


Growth in Incarceration

Growth in Incarceration

Prisons and Prisoners Navigator

A list of resources from around the Web about Prisons and Prisoners as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.



13 thoughts on “Think Outside the Box

  1. I was arrested in 2005. Federal Trial in Alaska. I had a Public Defender, and was a Jury of 12 women, and 1 male alternate. 9 people during selection walked, saying it was Big Government. I had a court room full of Fed Agents. I asked why all the agents? I was only involved with one agent. She said They are in training, never saw a trial before. Well, I am just getting out now. Feds have mandatory min on many charges. Many Judges follow them guidelines.


  2. I truly understand that ppl or criminals have a will which means they made a choice 2 comitt their crime but the parole board is not lettn n e 1 out. We have the mandatory minimum sentences w/o rehabilitation programs so guess wut happens when the individual comes up 4 parole? He/she is denied parole b/c they r not compatible with society. So how do we fix that. Where is the will n who does the choice of rehabilitating inmates fall on? When u create no way 4 betterment u say u dont want an individual 2 do better.
    The board should stick 2 da guidelines they have let ppl out give them 2nd chances n allow them 2 b taxpayers. Its cheaper 4 an inmate 2 b on house arrest n workin than 4 them 2 b sittn n prison costing us more money.


  3. The Nevada case of Kristen Labato

    Reasonable Doubt – Part 1
    Bill Kephart, the lead prosecuting attorney in Kirstin Lobato’s case, is deceptive. Time and again in her trial, he used misdirection to support his theories, and used words of conviction to conceal faults in his logic. And he’s slick. So much so that I wonder if he would be willing get into a debate about what the meaning of the word “is” is.

    Or how about the word “has,” perhaps?

    Kirstin Lobato has said she was attacked and defended herself from a rapist in May, 2001. The prosecution has said her story is actually about the murder of Duran Bailey on July 8th, 2001. Furthermore, Kirstin Lobato had given a taped statement to the police 12 days after that murder and prior to being arrested, in which she stated that the attack happened over a month before. This was part of her defense, but watch how Kephart tries to twist it to fit it into his theory that Kirstin Lobato murdered Duran Bailey.

    This is Kephart’s closing argument, taken from the court transcripts and recorded verbatim (bold added by me):

    “Let me back up a little about Diann Parker again. What did we hear from the defendant? What did the defendant tell you in her statement to the police? She told you, it’s on the last page of her statement, they were questioning her about — she came back on and said I know about another woman that had been raped. And her statement was given on the 20th of July, 2001, the defendant’s statement. And they asked her about — and do you remember my cross examination about this? I asked her, is she telling us that a man that she cut his penis was out raping again? She said she didn’t know. Then the defense came up and said, well, you don’t know when that happened and when that statement was made or what — I mean, when that rape happened.
    When you read her statement, when you listen to it she says, and they:
    “Q And how soon was it that you talked to her before you were attacked?
    A It was afterwards already.
    Q After you had been attacked?
    A Yeah, this had already been over a month ago.”
    Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that Diann Parker’s rape that happened on the 1st of June, or July, was approximately a month from the time when the defendant spoke to the cops. It was over a month ago.”

    This convoluted argument tries to minimize the middle two lines in favor of emphasizing the last line. If you’re trying to think about how it makes sense, you’re trying too hard. The goal here is to make this statement – the one that is so damaging to the prosecution’s case – murky and incomprehensible. Just read it. It’s clear what it says. Kirstin Lobato is talking about the attack coming before the conversation, but Kephart tries to make it sound like she’s only saying that the conversation had happened about a month ago. Though of course he meant to say that the conversation has happened about a month ago. Because that’s what the taped transcript actually says:

    Q And how soon was it that you talked to her before you were attacked?
    A It was afterwards already.
    Q After you had been attacked?
    A Yeah, this has already been over a month ago.

    The difference is that “has,” in context, covers the subject of the taped statement in its entirety, whereas “had” can be used to target just that one thing Kephart wants to point out – in this case, the conversation. That is a subtle sign of deceptive presentation that many people wouldn’t catch, I think, or even find important. But in the context of his argument, that little substitution can mean more than “oops.” Then again, it could have just been an honest accident. But I don’t think so…the word “had” serves his next statement better than “has” would. It is part of the prosecution’s pattern of deception in this trial.

    Aside from that, however, even when Diann Parker was on the stand in the same courtroom as Kirstin Lobato, there was no evidence that they knew one another. They didn’t even ask her if she knew Kirstin Lobato, and you can be sure with a line in their closing argument like the one about Diann Parker, the prosecution would have tried to establish that Lobato and Parker had at least met once. But they did not. They came up with the concept afterwards, and tried to use it to bolster their case once the witness had gone.

    But that wasn’t even close to the only poorly proven idea they pressed hard in their arguments (the title of today’s blog is “Part 1” for a good reason).

    Douglas Twining, Kirstin Lobato’s ex-boyfriend, is a man who is a bit rough around the edges socially, I think. A stubborn guy. And no one is going to put words in his mouth that he didn’t mean. More from the court transcripts:

    Q Now, when you went and picked up Blaise on the 8th or early morning hours of the 9th, you were bringing her back to Las Vegas —
    A I was bringing what?
    Q — you were bringing her back to Las Vegas?
    A. Uh-huh.
    Q So that you guys could lay low?
    A Just kick back, yeah.
    Q Okay. So — but you told the police, your terminology was: You laid low between the 9th and the 13th?
    A I don’t recall if I said that or not.

    So the prosecutor (this time it is not Kephart, but his co-counsel, Ms. DiGiacomo) goes and gets his taped transcript, to prove that he did in fact say “lay low.” Now, everyone knows how that sounds. The prosecution uses that term repeatedly, in both closing and opening arguments, trying to hammer home the concept that they were laying low. So, Twining reads his statement to refresh his memory, and the prosecutor tries to verify that he did in fact say “lay low.” Twining ends up forcing her to put it into context, because it is obvious that Twining won’t drop the matter until it’s presented honestly.

    A (Witness reading) Okay. Yeah.
    Q Okay. That refreshes —
    A That was regard to Steve and Cathy’s —
    Q Wait, wait. Let me stop you, sir. After reviewing your voluntary —
    A Don’t take my statements out of context though.
    Q Well, I —
    A Okay.
    Q Let me —
    A Thank you.
    Q Let me ask the questions, please. After reviewing your statement, page 10, does that refresh your memory as to what you told the police regarding what you were doing the week between the 9th and the 13th?
    A Yes, ma’am.
    Q Okay. And your statement was you were laying low. And then you added: Because you didn’t want to have to deal with Steve and Cathy’s bullshit.
    A Correct. Thank you.

    I almost felt sorry for her. But he wasn’t talking about hiding out from the authorities for a murder, he was talking about avoiding people they didn’t want to associate with. And he wanted to make sure his words weren’t twisted in that courtroom. That was not the end of it, either. Much later, when the defense had come back to question him again, the following occurred. Watch the prosecution scramble to handle damage control. Ms. Navarro is co-counsel for the defense.

    MS. NAVARRO: If I may approach, Your Honor.
    THE COURT: You may.
    THE WITNESS: They twisted a lot of what I said around too.
    THE COURT: Wait for the next question, please.
    MS. NAVARRO: Just read this to yourself.
    MS. DIGIACOMO: Objection, Your Honor, move to strike what he just stated.
    THE COURT: Sustained. Motion granted. Stricken.
    THE WITNESS: They did twist a lot of stuff what I said.
    MS. NAVARRO: Shhh, just read this to yourself.
    MS. DIGIACOMO: Your Honor —
    THE COURT: You need to wait for a question and then answer a question.

    Obviously, the prosecution didn’t want people thinking they were twisting the truth. Which, is of course, exactly what they were doing. Twisting it to fit their theory. Twining just happened to be the kind of guy who wouldn’t let that just slide.

    MORE TO COME>>>>>>>


  4. Just wanted to let you know that the Utah Prison Watch page has been shut down as have most of the Prison Watch Project pages so those links are defunct now. If anyone cares to follow the hideous abuses in Utah, a new page has been constructed for those prisoners’ voices to be heard and can be found at
    Thank you for all of your hard work and for everything that you do!!


  5. One of the things that always made this country great was the relatively mild stigma attached to failure. It was recognized that people make mistakes. You do what you can to make it right, and go on. We now live in a society where nothing is tolerated, and nothing forgiven. The irony is that, the same lack of compassion exhibited by those “law-abiding” citizens is also at the root of a lot of criminal behavior.


  6. Please help our grass-roots activist group dedicated to rescinding the unjust and racist sentencing of 24-year old first-time Africa-American Ayana Johnigan. We have launched an innovative social media campaign to raise the $70,000 needed by April 19th to file a repeal.

    Read the facts and consider how you can help:

    In May 2008 my friend, Ayana Johnigan was involved in a crash that claimed the life of Laura Cleaves, a senior investigator with the Santa Barbara County District Attorneys Office.

    Ironically, Cleaves protected the rights of many victims of sexual assault like Ayana who suffered a brutal rape a few years prior to the accident. This was a major contributing factor to the tragedy that ensued.

    On the night of the crash Ayana had been drinking at a local San Ynez bar. She was prompted to leave after feeling threatened by a group of male patrons. Scared by their belligerent behavior, she went to find a place to park her car and sober up.

    She was parked on side of a dark highway, when a Highway Patrol car pulled up behind her. Ayana didn’t recognize them as law enforcement as the officers shone only their white lights. Not knowing who they were and believing she was in danger, she drove off in fear and caused the fatal wreck.

    In court, the officers at the scene stated they realized that she didn’t know they were police officers. Other officers volunteered to testify that the cause of the accident was her panic resulting from their lack of identification. But the jury was never allowed to hear this evidence, nor did they pay attention to the reality that the accident stemmed from her fear of being attacked.

    In this small, tight-knit, upper-to-middle class white enclave where Cleaves and her husband (a retired police Sergeant) were highly respected in the law enforcement community, the defendant’s lawyer felt it was unlikely that Ayana would receive a fair trial, but his request to move the trial to another vicinity was denied.

    The treatment Ayana Johnigan received is in striking contrast to the sentence meted out in the same court jurisdiction to Heather Hulsey, the drunk driver who killed one of the country’s most well known psychiatrists in a hit-and-run collision in 2008. Initially sentenced to six years and four months in state prison, her sentence was lowered to five years probation.

    To learn how to get involved, visit or send an email to And, please tweet using this short URL, Please put this on your facebook and everywhere there are people who may help.


  7. I have always had pitbulls I love them I had a blue nose and he was the best dog ever he was attacked by another pitbull and was so hurt that I had no choice but to put him down. I had him when my son was born and he was great with him and very pertective of my son I have moved and I am now looking to get another.. I live in Shawano WI and cant seam to find any. If anyone can help me find a rescue in the area that would be great…


  8. I apologize for my poor grammar. I should write my responses in a WORD format to ensure these minor deficiencies are addressed.


  9. In response to “We Are Everywhere”, you do not and should not feel guilty for a loved one being incarcerated unless you had something to do with the crime that put them there.

    As far as inmates being fathers, mothers, mothers, children, grandparents, brothers ans sisters so where their victims. Stop blaming society for the acts of individuals that were based on free will. A choice was made that negatively and possibly permanently impacted entire families and communities. No one forced inmates to commit their crimes and victims never begged to be victimized.


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