Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 01:07:24 -0800 (PST)
From: "Kevin Walsh" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: release debriefing
To: DIRECTOROFFICE@azcorrections.gov, email@example.com
22 January 2006
Dora Schriro, Director
Dear Ms. Schriro:
I have recently been released from the Rincon Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex Tucson, a level four or close custody yard, after having served a fairly short sentence (18 months for disorderly conduct, a class six dangerous felony). Although my stay was clearly a punishment, I was pleasantly surprised by the conditions. The food was good and nutritious. The guards were, with few exceptions, courteous and professional and respectful of the rights of the inmates. Although the prison was usually understaffed, the guards and other DOC employees did their best to see that our basic needs were met and that we were able to attend recreation, work, education, programs and religious services when we were scheduled to do so. I would particularly like to commend CO III A. Holler, director of the Programs Department of the Rincon Unit, for his great devotion to his duties and his genuine interest in the rehabilitation of the inmates. I was also pleased with the library. It was quite well stocked for a prison library.
Having given praise where it is due, I would like to make a few suggestions on how to improve prison conditions. It would be helpful if inmates had access to typewriters and word processors, as some of them like to publish poetry or literature or to write business letters or legal letters. Naturally a user fee could be charged to help cover the costs of this.
Several inmates were aspiring artists and would draw and send their drawings to people on the outside. Their efforts were, however, handicapped by a lack of art supplies. It would be most welcome to these inmates if colored pencils or colored pens were made available on the commissary list.
I had few problems with the telephone system, but there was one problem that several of the inmates had. Increasingly, people are abandonning land-line telephone service in favor of cellular phones, and several of the inmates were unable to telephone their relatives, because they had only cell phones, and it is impossible to call a cell phone collect. The telephone system should be redesigned to allow regular (non-collect) calls to be made, deducting the cost of the call from the inmate's account. That way inmates could telephone their relatives who only have cell phones, and those inmates who don't want to financially burden their relatives with the cost of their calls could pay for their own calls. Naturally collect calls should continue to be an option for indigent inmates who have relatives with land-line telephone service.
Finally, I would like to address a problem I had with the arrangements for transportation for me upon release. I was never debriefed prior to release on the proceess I would undergo and my options. My mother, who was arranging to pick me up, was given misinformation when she asked about her options. The first word I had confirming my release was when a guard came to my cell at 9:30 the night before my release and asked for my possessions. I should have been given more advance notice than that. It is not unreasonable to expect that an inmate should be debriefed by his CO III a few days beforehand. My mother had asked if she could send a pre-paid taxi to the prison to pick me up and was told that she could. When it came time for me to be released, however, the guard told me that a taxi would not be allowed to wait at the prison and that if I did not accept the ride to the Greyhound bus depot in downtown Tucson and a family member did not arrive at the prison very soon, I would be send to CDU and held there over the weekend (my release was on a friday) and then released the following monday. I accepted the ride to the Greyhound depot, despite it being distant from the planned rendezvous point, as I did not want to go to CDU. Although I eventually was able to reunite with my family, this was a needless inconvenience. It would be helpful if in future inmates were informed of their options for release transportation at least several days in advance and if DOC policies on prisoner release policies were sent in writing to people on the inmate's visitation list at least one week prior to release. Thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns.
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