This morning, California officially became the first state in which the prison population exceeds the general population. At 9:45 am, prisoner ID number CA-121411N was processed at the Mule Creek State Penitentiary, becoming the 37,356,892d prisoner of the state of California. According to the 2010 US Census, the total population of California is 37,253,956.
California’s prison population has grown six-fold over the last ten years, pushing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation beyond international human-rights standards and legal limits.
Prison cells built for two inmates now house up to ten, and prisoners are speaking out.
“Yo, tings be so tight you can’t ever rape a motherfucker now witout waking somebody up,” complains Hooto Johnson, an inmate at Folsom State Prison. “It hard to be romantic wit your bitch wit eight guys watchin’, hootin’ and hollarin’. Even a raper needs privacy. I ain’t no Goddamned animal!”
Mule Creek Warden Jim Pillaster says that the prison population will continue to swell despite that fact that every prisoner is let go early.
“We let the career criminals out first. For the most part, they are incorrigible and keeping them caged up only makes them angrier,” explains Pillaster. “We keep the first-time offenders—pick-pockets, shoplifters, pot smokers—because they might actually learn a lesson by being locked up for five or ten years. Does anyone seriously believe that a serial killer is going to be rehabilitated by being kept here?”
With numbers comes power, a fact not overlooked by savvy lifers. In 2010, the combined revenues of illegal drug trades run from California prisons was estimated at 32 billion dollars, making it the number-two, for-profit business in the state.
In 2002, imprisoned gang leaders joined forces and formed the New California Business Cartel (NCBC). The NCBC has been in the Fortune 500 since it went public, and employs over two million incarcerated workers and has expanded to six states.
Six years ago, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to pass legislation that would ease the over-crowding in California’s prisons by releasing non-violent convicts. The governor gave up, succumbing to fierce opposition by the large prison population and their hired spokespersons in public office.
Santos “Locochico” Gabrielez, chief financial officer of NCBC’s Pelican Bay Prison operations, explained, “We better here in jail. Sending us back onto the street is bad for business, dog. Get it, right now we ain’t payin’ no rent, we ain’t payin’ health insurance and we ain’t payin’ no taxes. We gots all the infrastructure we need, and the state be payin’ for all it. Put us back on the street and it gonna fuck up our bottom line.”
Last month, California signed a construction deal with New California Real Estate Holdings, a subsidiary of NCBC, to build an oceanfront prison/resort in Santa Barbara. The deal is reportedly worth three billion dollars.
“This shit gunna be shakin’. Dis new facility be able to accommodate up to 25,000 prisoners,” said Gabrielez. “It gunna be an all-inclusive, six-star resort with spas, negative-horizon swimming pools, sports and tiki huts. Every room gunna have it own cable, Wifi, hot tub and 24-hour room service.”
Some people have questioned the wisdom of letting the prisoners build the prisons, but Gabrielez offers a different point of view.
“Who know better ’bout buildin’ a prison then the man who be settin’ here lookin’ at it day-in and day-out?”.