Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

California prison desegregation case riles Ingraham

Reported by Chrish - July 4, 2008 -

Last night 7/3/08 on Just In Laura Ingraham debated guest Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the CA Dept. of Corrections, on the recent implementation of mandated integration of California prisons. Thornton insisted that the integration would be done intelligently, with care taken not to house members of rival gangs together, but Ingraham was upset that the Court (activist judges) had ruled on this matter at all.

The Supreme Court ruling came down in December 2005. Thornton clarified that the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of California's policies but rather remanded the case, Garrison Johnson vs. California, back to the lower court (the hated-on-FOX Ninth Circuit), and the corrections department and the court arrived at a settlement. Ingraham charged that the "integrated housing program" sounded like a lot of bureaucracy, and worried that members of rival gangs could be forced now to live together.

Thornton objected, saying they are not stupid, and assured that care is taken when assigning cellmates. She claimed the prisons have always been desegregated, their programs, the yards, housing units, classrooms, but now race has been taken out as a factor entirely.

According to articles, race was a determinant in housing upon an inmates intake, for their initial incarceration up to 60 days.The lawsuit stemmed from a black inmate, incarcerated only with other blacks for years on end, being pressured to join one gang or another and feeling he was in danger when he refused. California is the only state that had that (albeit unwritten) policy; when Texas instituted the full integration policy in 1991 there was an initial upswing in violence but since then there's evidence that there is less violence among prisoners housed in integrated cells and less racial tension overall.

Ingraham read one comment from one inmate and championed segregation, noting the self-segregation that occurs. Thornton argued that it happens but the department should not be basing housing decisions solely on race; they will consider all factors and take race out of the equation.

Ingraham admitted she's by no means an expert on the CA penal system, but said that the five Supremes are not either.

Ingraham, attempting snarkasm but sounding silly, asked if incoming prisoners carried cards that told officials which gang they belonged to (so rivals would not be housed together). Of course by the time someone makes it as far as entering prison, the system has relevant information that allows an informed decision.

This segment forwarded two important "conservative" talking points: when judges interpret cases contrary to what the right-wing would have, they are activists, making law. Clearly no such thing happened here and Ingraham, if she's a real patriot, should applaud the justices for insisting the constitutionality of California practices be scrutinized by the lower court. Second, this whole segment reinforced the idea that segregation = security, and knocked the idea that integration can lead to better relations between formerly separate groups. The right favors divisiveness and infighting over unity; fragmented groups are easier to control.