Re: Captive Audience

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I forgot to add: I intend to write my Congressman and Senators with more or less what I wrote in the post. I'm not sure any good will come of doing so, but it's something.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 12:55 PM
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My dogs would be terrific sheep herders, if I had any sheep.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 1:35 PM
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If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 1:38 PM
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Are you sure TRULINCS and Corrlinks are separate programs? Your first link, the FAQ, refers to Corrlinks as if integral and without defining - maybe TRULINCS is the federal plan and Corrlinks is the contracted-out system implementing it?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 1:55 PM
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Or maybe Corrlinks can work on its own, but it can also implement TRULINCS where that exists (see).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:02 PM
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4: I found several forum postings from family members discussing the switch. Cf. But I guess they could be more related than I thought.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:03 PM
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Elaborating on 6, it looks like there was something called TRULINCS in place, and that people were then switched to Corrlinks, along with a promise not to charge the existing TRULINCS inmates. At or around the same time, Corrlinks seems to have entered federal prisons that hadn't previously been part of TRULINCS, and in those new prisons Corrlinks seems to be able to charge per message, though I can't figure out if they do so across the board or on a prison-by-prison basis.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:10 PM
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Hm. Farther along in that same thread (search for "F4L"), I found someone clarifying that TRULINCS is the system by which inmates use email, and that's staying, but whereas Corrlinks is the new system for non-inmates to send email into prisons (you need to register for an account and go through their site, whereas before you could just hit "reply").

It's conceivable that they only intend to charge non-inmates, not inmates, although that too could vary by prison. It does seem to be the case in Iowa; and federally, neither side is being charged.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:18 PM
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Or rather, TRULINCS is the system by which inmates of some federal prisons use email.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:20 PM
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8.2: Federally, I think inmates who had been using TRULINCS don't pay. I know for a fact of one federal inmate who wasn't using TRULINCS previously and who definitely pays per message sent or received through Corrlinks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:25 PM
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Stanley, could you link to the comments where this was discussed?

Generally speaking, I'm way more concerned about for-profit prisons than I am about for-profit services at prisons (not that I'm in favor of the latter).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:31 PM
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11.1: Sure. I mentioned it here.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:35 PM
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11.1: And earlier here. (Take that hoohole! I conquer you!)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:41 PM
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OK, I see. So it's only in federal prisons that use TRULINCS where it's definitely free to them, and that might not be very many.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 2:42 PM
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I was hoping someone might show up in comments with some more helpful resources.

I have got nothing useful to say to this, Stanley, excepting I will say it's symptomatic of a coupla things. First, the tendency for no one to care about prisons, such that sadists can eventually wrest control of the system back after a set of reforms, which requires another set of reforms. Second, the fact that we have built a massive gulag system, means we have an expensive gulag system. Just because we (effectively) intend the system to supply slave labor to businesses with access, doesn't mean it the system doesn't cost anything to run. It costs US lots to run, it's the businesses that employ the slave labor that collect the profits. As a consequence, there's a drive to make the system pay for itself, or at least reduce costs so we can build more prisons. So they dun the obvious targets, the prisoners, where and when ever they can. Lastly, it's back to the function of the system: to provide free money to the connected.

It's a racket that continuously ratchets up. One of the outputs of the black box is professional sadists. One way to attack would be to point out that most of those 'profits' are escaping the prison system and not paying for the institutions themselves. They're not just robbing the prisoners and making life harder for the warders, they're robbing the state.

max
['Man, it's cold.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 3:19 PM
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I don't know the first thing about any of this (thankfully), but thoughts come to mind:

- The cost per message may not be a way to "make money off prisoners" but a way to limit inmates to sending what they need to send.

- Unlimited communication in and out of prison is not a right, is it? I mean, see your lawyer, see your mom or SO every once in a while, but part of the idea behind incarceration is separating those who have committed crimes from society.

- There's the ability to abuse communication systems in prisons by inmates (cf Breakfast at Tiffany's, Pablo Escobar's prison mobile phones), so limiting them per se isn't a bad thing.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but thought those issues might color the discussion somewhat.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 3:37 PM
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If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.

Huh. This was a favorite adage of a friend of my dad's but I don't think I've ever seen it anywhere else before.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 3:49 PM
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Given that I got it from my dad, that's at least generationally consistent. Your dad's friend wasn't from Queens, was he?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:12 PM
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Take that hoohole!

But I don't want your hoohole, Stanley!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:26 PM
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18: No, about as far from Queens as one can get in the continental US.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:34 PM
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16: Yeah, I don't see any problem limiting access, and they are limited, as far as I can tell, by physical space. The inmates can't wander over to the computer lab whenever. There are designated times of day when they can get moved there and stay for a limited amount of time, and no doubt a prisoner who's been abusing the privilege or misbehaving elsewhere could no doubt have the privilege yanked altogether. This looks to me like a system designed to turn a profit, and that's bad.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:40 PM
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I don't think it's "designed" to turn a profit. I think it is designed to do other things (control prisoners interaction with the outside world), turning a profit is incidental (and I wonder whether it does).


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:54 PM
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If it's privatized, it's designed to turn a profit.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 4:56 PM
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I don't have any insights, but this is a topic I think about a lot too and 15 seems about right to me. My partner and I are trying to adopt a teen who's currently in a not-for-profit private residential treatment center and it's hard to foster a relationship with him in one of the two 10-minute calls he gets per week.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 5:54 PM
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Unlimited communication in and out of prison is not a right, is it? I mean, see your lawyer, see your mom or SO every once in a while, but part of the idea behind incarceration is separating those who have committed crimes from society.

And that brings us right back to the eternal issue of whether people are being sent to prison as punishment or for punishment. Most of the research I've read, as well as my indirect experience, is that since 98% of prisoners are not going to die in prison, it behooves us (as a society) to think about how they are being prepared to reintegrate into society when they leave.

At present, we've tipped very far towards "Who cares?" as the answer to that question. Hysteria about gangs led us to imprison people far from their family ties and hometowns. Hysteria about "superpredators" led us to imprison children at younger and younger ages, for longer and longer terms. Hysteria about people "taking advantage" of the system led us to more and more surcharges, with phone calls being one of the most egregious examples.

Look, if we want people to come out of prison with anywhere to go, much less any hope of getting back on their feet in the long term, we should be helping them keep their social ties, not throwing every possible barrier in the way.

But then we currently live in a system that sees nothing wrong with taking a seriously mentally ill person from supermax solitary confinement to the street in 24 hours. So I don't think my perspective is going to be widely represented anytime soon.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 5:55 PM
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16" - The cost per message may not be a way to "make money off prisoners" but a way to limit inmates to sending what they need to send.

It is always represented that way; and that's fine. Excepting the ginourmous profits. If inmates have to pay, then paying the same rates as everyone else seems good enough. Since we're not talking about people wih jobs, in general.

- Unlimited communication in and out of prison is not a right, is it? I mean, see your lawyer, see your mom or SO every once in a while, but part of the idea behind incarceration is separating those who have committed crimes from society.

Technically, mail can't really be limited - or so the Supreme court sayeth, a while ago. You cannot prevent someone from getting married, you cannot prevent their religious practice, and so on. Sometimes this winds up being abused, but in general, if there is any actual abuse going on, it's usually the other way around. Not that you're going to hear that from cable TV news.

22: I don't think it's "designed" to turn a profit. I think it is designed to do other things (control prisoners interaction with the outside world), turning a profit is incidental (and I wonder whether it does).

I believe the operative word here is 'bullshit'. Phone companies make profits on their low rates. 18-25x rates are, of course, profitable.

Anyways, what Witt said.

max
['Oy.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 6:54 PM
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If inmates have to pay

That gets a bit fuzzy, because the inmate could be working a "job" for a pittance, but most inmates, IME, are counting on remittances from their families. So, as heebie put it in comments yesterday, it's a shakedown of inmates' families, just like the collect phone call rates, just like, to give another example, getting a new pair of shoes ($120 for a pair of factory-reject tennis shoes; yes that's an actual price my grandmother quoted me today).

There's a story here, and very few people seem to care. I can't figure that last bit out.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 6-09 7:05 PM
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|| Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen, because the Saturday Griz game will be televised nationally. Probably go. Although maybe not, if it's too cold.

Today they are predicting wind chills in the minus 30s. Saturday shouldn't be that bad . . .

|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-09 1:21 AM
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Carp, I'm jealous. Go Grizz!


Posted by: Jammies | Link to this comment | 12- 7-09 8:04 AM
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18: No, about as far from Queens as one can get in the continental US.

So Greenwich, Connecticut, then.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 7-09 8:39 AM
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BOP


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 7-09 8:43 AM
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I have nothing to offer but sympathy either, Stanley, but I wonder if your relative could send one long-ass message to you (or whoever) with embedded messagettes in it; that is, you have a list of people he's trying to contact and when he tells you the next paragraph is a shout-out to particular people, you cut and paste that section and send it out to multiple recipients.

This would be a lot of work, I realize.


Posted by: esnetroh | Link to this comment | 12- 8-09 7:54 PM
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I wonder if your relative could send one long-ass message to you (or whoever) with embedded messagettes in it

This is the point at which one should start asking, why settle for simply embedding the shorter messages in a longer message? If Claude Shannon has taught us anything, it's that we should look to maximize the capacity of our channel.

On the other hand, it's probably unlikely that an inmate will have access to a computer on which he or she can just run gzip willy-nilly. Which gets me to wondering, I wonder if there's a method which could be executed by hand (perhaps with one or more simple props) -- something along the lines of a solitaire compression algorithm?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 3:43 PM
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I wonder if your relative could send one long-ass message to you (or whoever) with embedded messagettes in it

This is the point at which one should start asking, why settle for simply embedding the shorter messages in a longer message? If Claude Shannon has taught us anything, it's that we should look to maximize the capacity of our channel.

On the other hand, it's probably unlikely that an inmate will have access to a computer on which he or she can just run gzip willy-nilly. Which gets me to wondering, I wonder if there's a method which could be executed by hand (perhaps with one or more simple props) -- something along the lines of a solitaire compression algorithm?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 3:44 PM
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Goddamnit.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 3:45 PM
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That's okay, it'll compress down to one comment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 3:45 PM
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Huffman coding is pretty easy to run by hand.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 3:50 PM
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29 -- Tix still available.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-09 4:01 PM
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I wonder if your relative could send one long-ass message to you (or whoever) with embedded messagettes in it

While I appreciate the ingenuity, I'm not sure that would help with the cost (and really, it's not about the money for us; it's the principle, and the fact that inmates without family members able to send in money orders every month are hosed). Anyway, as to your suggestion, inmates pay by the minute for composing and reading messages.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-10-09 8:57 AM
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Huffman coding is pretty easy to run by hand.

Only if you consider tree-structured data and fractions easy to manipulate by hand.

What we need is something adaptive, that can be executed with a deck of cards.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 12-10-09 12:17 PM
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In MA State prisons, I don't believe that family members are allowed to send money to prisoners. I know that they're required to save all of their outside money in an account, and they can only buy stuff in prison with money earned in prison jobs.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-10-09 12:23 PM
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Anyway, as to your suggestion, inmates pay by the minute for composing and reading messages.
That is much worse than "per message".

Only if you consider tree-structured data and fractions easy to manipulate by hand.
They are, though. Definitely more so than anything else that actually compresses ordinary text, since you can do it in advance and don't have to keep track of a compression window. It could be adaptive too if you just renormalised every X characters. I suppose general arithmetic coding is doable by hand too, but I'd say it was harder. I don't think a deck of cards would give you enough states for meaningful compression.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-10-09 2:33 PM
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That is much worse than "per message".

I agree; I found out the per-minute part after the putting up the OP.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-10-09 2:43 PM
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