DEATH RATES IN AMERICAN PRISONS

THE SKINNY ON DYING WHILE INCARCERATED

An inmate at Winn Correctional Center, in Louisiana, which until recently was run by the Corrections Corporation of America.

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Sign Outside the Infamous 193-Year-Old Prison Sing-Sing

About a dozen inmates die each day, according to the Justice Department. 4,400 jail and prison inmates die each year… a tally not including executions which are infrequent, numbering in the dozens each year and adding up to just a fraction of all other inmate deaths).

Most deaths occur in state prisons, where more than 3,300 died in 2012 alone. The Bureau of Justice Statistics outline that State prisons across the country have the largest populations, accounting for half of all inmates placed in custody each year.

In local jails, about a thousand more inmates die annually, however… the causes of  deaths were very different from those cited in state prisons. Suicide is reported to be the leading cause of death for inmates in local jails, accounting for a third of all deaths. Heart disease is the second-leading cause of death. Horrible prison food often found to contan mice droppings, roaches and bacteria cause a lot of illness and deaths. Perhaps because of the soy-rich menu, cancer is the leading cause of death. Heart disease and other illnesses are listed as the cause in most other deaths.

New York State’s Sing-Sing Penitentiary

California’s 166-year old San Quentin State Prison

Deaths in local jails tend to occur relatively quickly after the inmates arrive. About one in three suicides takes place within a week of the inmate’s arrival; more than half of these deaths occur the first month. More than 70-percent of inmates who died in local jails were not convicted at the time of death. Prisoners are much more likely to die in jail than to escape.

So, why does this happen? In 2010, the National Institute of Corrections released a report on jail suicides, outlining possible explanations for the problem. In short, they said, jails tended to exacerbate suicidal behavior: Experts theorize that two causes for jail suicide exist: (1) jail environments are conducive to suicidal behavior and (2) the inmate is facing a crisis situation. From the inmate’s perspective, certain features of the jail environment enhance suicidal behavior: fear of the unknown, distrust of an authoritarian environment, perceived lack of control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and perceived dehumanizing aspects of incarceration. In addition, certain factors are prevalent among inmates facing a crisis situation that could predispose them to suicide: recent excessive drinking and/or drug use, recent loss of stabilizing resources, severe guilt or shame over the alleged offense, current mental illness, prior history of suicidal behavior, and an approaching court date. In addition, some iprisoners simply are (or become) ill equipped to handle the common stresses of confinement.

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A Convict locked inside a 6X9 foot cell. He is writing on a see-through tpewiter which lays upon his steel bed. Some men languish away for decades in this walk-in-closet sized prison cell. Studies have shown that the Unites State’s wide use of solitary confinement causes severe mental damage.

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Stateville Penitentiary is a maximum security state prison for men located in Crest Hill, Illinois, not far from the city of Chicago. It is part of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Bland had attempted suicide before, confusion that a Waller County assistant district attorney said likely explained the decision not to place her on suicide watch. The World Health Organization says that communication among different staff members is crucial, adding that additional screening and observation are needed.

Thousands of people are dying behind bars each year as the prison population has exploded over the last few decades.

There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in America’s jails and prisons, a number that is four times the population in 1980. Harsh sentences of the 1980s and 1990s helped foster a situation where an increasingly large number of inmates are older than 50, and state health-care spending on inmates has skyrocketed. The federal prison population has similarly climbed. In state prisons, a little more than half of inmates were sentenced for violent crimes; one in five is there for property crimes like burglary, while about one in six is being held for drug crimes.

All told, one of every 108 adults in the United States was incarcerated in a prison or jail in 2012, according to the Justice Department. That same year, one in 50 adults were on probation or parole.

 

PROJECTS YOU MAY LOVE

Monsters In The Woods


Friends, Fans and everyone on the world-wide web. After more than five years recuperating from all my surgeries, my new novel, Monsters in the Woods will be released in Hardcover, Paperback and E-book. Right now, exclusively on Amazon for the next 90-days, you can pre-order your e-copy for just $3.99. On June 19th, the paperback and hardcover will be available at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon and hundreds of other retailers.

Monsters tells of creatures who stalk the darknesss and snatch the flesh from the living. This is an unrelenting and ferocious tale of a reptilian race of beings attempting to annihilate humanity. A chilling novel for fans of adult Contemporary Horror, Y.A. SCI-FY, Fantasy or General Fiction, this EPIC story is Harry Potter meets Swamp Thing, yet is an entirely original and facinating tale. It’s for those with enormous imaginations of a wonderful frightfest! That being said, this tale also has roots in reality. It sprouts from real reports of green and scaly creatures documented throughout humanity’s historical records.

Not long ago, I happened across a Hopi Legend that warned of reptilian beings said to be living in a series of tunnels and caves hundreds of feet under the Nevada and Arizona deserts. Many argue it’s the stuff of science fiction. But, when I first heard of the lizard people and their existence during my annual pilgrimage to the UFO Congress’ Annual Symposium in the state of Arizona, I had to wonder… could there really be something to this tale? With at least 200 billion galaxies in space (and possibly even more), we’re very likely talking about a Universe filled with trillions of planets in billions of universes! Couldn’t there be melevolent alien life out there somewhere?

And, If so, why is it so fundamentally insane to suppose they’ve come to Earth to live among Earthlings? Maybe they’re planning to wipe us out. A true story reported In 1955 Indiana tells of an encounter with something residents called The Green Clawed Beast. The story went… that two friends were swimming in the Ohio River and unexpectantly came upon a creature that pulled one of the girls underwater. With her friend Miss Darwin Johnson looking on, she struggled back to the surface kicking and thrashing for dear life. Claiming to have escaped a reptilian’s green hairy claw, sure enough… when back on land, everyone noticed a jade-colored hand-print on her leg that couldn’t be washed off for days, but the story didn’t end there. Within days, both girls were visited by peculiar looking men dressed in black suits who ordered them to renounce any and all knowledge of the incident!

Monsters in the Woods is a novel about… what if? It follows a group of parentless young boys from a Children’s Home who come into contact with creatures who appear through a wormhole in the woods behind their institution. With Humanity on the edge of extinction, there is only one special and reincarnated boy alive on Earth who can save the Universe from being destroyed by the beasts. With world governments under attack and most of the world’s major cities falling to the monsters, the President of the United States must work with all of humanity to stave off the beings until prophesy is revealed.

JUST CHECKING IN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Good monring everyone! Been a long time since I’ve checked in here on Social Media. I’ve been distracted TRYING to work on Beach Bodies, Book #2 FBI Serial Killer Task Force and my biography, Destiny, adapted from my script by the same name. I am doing better, still have some lumbar pain, but thank God all 10 surgeries and titanium implants in my right shoulder, cervical and lumbar spines have been successful. Over the last three months, I’ve been walking more but still see a psychiatrist to deal with what I’m told is PTSD in the form of horrible nightmares every night where I see myself falling off my bicycle and dying. . Anyway, I live by the saying, A person has to always pick themselves up off the ground and keep moving through life, right? That’s what I’m doing. So, to my friends and fans on Instagram, Facebook, Stage 32, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Google Plus, I’ll be coming back every so often to talk to you guys. LOVE LOVE. — in Belleair Beach, Florida.

Monsters In The Woods

Greetings From The Sunshine State

Hey guys, just a short message this  month touting my new upcoming ADULT and YOUNG ADULT novel. Yet, I suppose, Monsters In The Woods isn’t exactly a new project, right? It’s been a long time coming at just under five-years because of circumstances out of my control. As most of you may recall, a few years back I spent a week wandering a home for children. You see, when orphaned by my mother Harriet “Tish” Smith in December 1973, I grew up on the streets of Times Square until New York Child Services snatched me up from a street-corner and ferried me off to what was then called The McQuade Foundation for Boys.  I ran away numerous times looking for my birth-mother,. Thankfully, a houseparent, the late Clifford Webb, finally got me to stop looking. “She is long gone” he said hugging me tight, “we’re your family now.” Finally calming down, and dealing with my circumstances, I spent a few years at McQuade from the ages of 12 to 15. When I visited the old McQuade Foundation Campus while researching this novel, I knew it had been taken over by Saint Christopher’s Inc. Growing up  in the small Hudson Valley village of New Windsor, New York, life was certainly much different. Roller Rinks and Drive In Theater’s were the fad of the time and me and my friends spent a lot of time at both. Remember, the modern cellphone, iPhone and others were not invented yet. The MacBook wouldn’t be imagined by Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak until April 1, 1976… the 200th anniversary our country’s independence from the British in 1776.

Back then, our country was suffering through The 1973 oil crisis that began when  members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries proclaimed an oil embargo. It was targeted at countries supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur WarThe initial nations targeted were CanadaJapan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. By the end of the embargo in ’74, the price of oil had risen from US$3 per barrel to nearly $12 globally. US prices were significantly higher. The embargo caused an oil crisis that left our countrymen and women standing in mile long lines for rationed gasoline. Today that same barrel of oil cost more than $63.00 a barrel.

I remember all that. The times, the orphanage, the people… so, I wanted to imagine a novel that took place at The McQuade Foundation for Boys. With a simple idea of creatures from outer space invading Earth and devouring humanity, I outlined a pretty twisted manuscript with Reptilian extraterrestrials, Grey aliens and Giants fighting for control of our planet. The story would be epic, in the vein of Harry Potter but absolutely nothing like it. Below is a FREE PDF copy of the manuscript, this is an exclusive for my fans. Enjoy!

MONSTERS FINAL JULY 2017

Added by the author: March 26th, 2018

 

 

THE DISCOVERY OF SELF

Since the release of The Santa Claus Killer (Authors Boutique(Hellnotes Review) (Novel Ideas) (People’s Choice Book Awards) (YouTube) (Audible) in May 2013, t’s been some time since I’ve sat here in my study and written anything of value. One thing I’ve learned over the last five years while dealing with the reprecussions of that bike accident in 2013… is that you can die at any moment. Like most of you, in my youth, I thought I was indestructable, just like most kids. The problem with me is… it took thirty-years to realize the way I was living would only lead back to the streets, prison or a graveyard.

In my work in progress… the shocking tell-all biography, DESTINY, I’ve had to face down some pretty ugly facts about my past. Back then I was nothing but a common criminal with prison sentences under his belt, I was not just heading nowhere fast… I was there. Rock bottom… a 42 year old nothing. I’m not sure what woke me, perhaps it was the last incarceration, the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve suffered thorugh. Some of you know I grew up on the streets and became addicted to street drugs at a very early age and well… growing up on the streets, one doesn’t learn the right way to live. It’s a mentality of US against THEM… and by them, it’s meant anyone who didn’t live on the streets, grow up in boys homes, live through foster care or have the scent of the filthy streets woven into the very fabric of who they were. I regret most of my past decisons throuhout life, the drugs, crime, penetentiary… it was a road of Hell that led nowhere fast. I could have laid the blame of my screwed-up life at my birth-mother’s feet. But the fact remains, at some point we all have to grow a pair of balls and grow up.

I know that better than most. I lived the life, saw the consequences and was almost sent away for LIFE (Under California’s Three Strike Law) by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and a feared female African American hanging judge.

Originally enacted in 1994. The Three Strike law required that a defendant convicted of any new felony … and having committed one prior seious felony and one non-violent felony was to be automatically sentenced to state prison for a term twice the otherwise sentence provided for the same crime by a first offender. But if a defendant had two prior felonies … no matter what state those conviction happened in, just like my circumsances, that defendand was eliglible for a 25-years to LIFE Three Strike entence.

Today, I’m a case study why three-strikes legislation doesn’t work. People do change and sometimes it’s not on the 2nd, 3rd or 10th attempt. Had a now retired California Criminal Defense attorney by the name of Denise Lee not fought hard for me, I would now be a 52-year old convict waitng to die at San Quentin State Prison for the crime of shoplisting and possession of cocaine residue. But Denise did fight for me and she believed in humanity’s ability to change… she saved my life after my judge went on vacation turning over her cases to a much fairer judge who didn’t believe someone should spend the rest of their life in prison because of a minor shoplifting charge.

The rest is history, you all know my amazing story, how I climbed out of the gutter and broke away from the badboy lifestyle jumping into the entertainment business in 2010 with my first bio screenplay, DESTINY which did pretty well in The Francis Ford Coppola American Zoetrope Screenwriting competition, The Page International Screenwriting Awards and Sundance’s Table Read Competition and The Script Pipeline screenwriting competitions. They led to three agents that began representing my work. Then, the Emmy Swag entrant came along thanks to Hollywood Director and Producer Carol Hovsepian. That opportunity led to a few book awards for The Santa Claus Killer while rising to the #2 breakout Amazon bestselliing novel. Now, being an Amazon best-seller does NOT mean the money is rolling in…. Amazon considers free book give-a-ways, promotions, sales and KDP sales in evaluating a book’s status. Had I went out on my Barnes & Noble and Horror festival tours, the money would have come. It all happened and fell-apart so fast it seems like a nightmare now.

You’re all going to love the biography adapted for the screenplay, DESTINY. If and when the book publshed, you’ll cry, laugh and cheer on the lead character. It’s sad, happy and frightful. But it’s real; it’s the truth. Reading just like an RJ Smith thriller, something happens in every chapter. Just like in life, each day brought new adventures… though I hope

 

yours were better than mine. I’ve long ago made peace with my sordid past, it really doesn’t matter anymore, I’ve done the time, learned from my mistakes and moved on with an amazing career as a novelist. Sure, there have been rough things to deal with, real-life challenges, like the biking accident and the subsequent ACDF Surgical Fusion & Lumbar Disc Replacement with Fusion & Fractured Shoulder Injury and Torn Bicept surgeries to fix those injuries. As you know, all that resulted in the spiraling of my writing career because the five years of injury repair and rehab prevented me from committing to book tours and appearances that were being set up here in America and the United Kingdom. Yes, it is true I’ve lost every cent I had, borrowed or invested for advertising and promotion for both novels, The Santa Claus Killer and Cataclysm. Because of all this, I could be an angry depressed despot angrily pointing fingers. Instead, I’ve chosen to live my life, enjoy every second I have on this planet, because as the kids say today… “YOLO” … You Only Live Once!

I am writing this to the youth and disenfranchised of our society:. Sometmes being “cool” or wanting to “fit in” leads to disaster and sometimes worse. If you want to be cool, join the Boy Scouts, Young Marines or football, basketball or baseball programs at your school. To those who are homeless or growing up on the mean lonely streets and have stumbled upon this post online at your local library…  please go to the police and tell them you need their help. They are not all bad guys, in fact… if I am to be honest, I have to admit most officers I’ve dealt with were kind and were only doing thier jobs. Most departments will help people get into residential substance abuse programs. If you’re a kid, they’ll call Children’s Services, or for adults, they’ll contact a shelter that’ll change your circumstances. Trust me, gangs, crime and drugs aren’t cool, and they definitely lead to jail, prison or a casket – it’s no secret, just look at the more than 115 Americans who die every day after overdosing on opioids. Heroin, Meth and Cocaine are deadly because of thier very nature… but more so when drug dealers cut the drugs with harmful substances.

One of my favorite authors, William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897-1962) is one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Faulkner once wrote “the past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose providence dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of images and events, but some of us feel it always.

He also wrote: “Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

I became a novice writer years ago after digesting Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury which tells the tale of the disintegration of a family while exposing the doomed citizens of a mythical place dubbed Yoknapatawpha County. The book was and is regarded as Faulkner’s greatest work. I won’t give anymore away, go read it yourself. I also think highly of Sidney Sheldon (1917-2007), the American novelist and producer who became poplular in the 1930s while working on Broadway stageplays before moving into motion pictures while writng The Bachelor. I’m also a huge fan and student of Harold Robbins (1916-1997)  the American novelist and best-selling writer of his time. Penning over twenty-five best-selling novels by hand, he sold more than seven-hundred and fifty million booksthat were printed in thirty-tw0 languages.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the above with you all. Here is my own message: No matter what you face in life, no matter how hard you work or play, always remember that today will become yesterday and the past is only a reflection of who you WERE, not who you are today. A lot of people try to use my criminal record against me, my upbringing, both in my personal and professional life, they try to degrade my accomplishments, ridicule my circumstances and skirt their own flaws. But it doesn’t bother me, I’m not that person they talk about anymore. I changed on my own clock, when I was ready, when I was sick-and-tired of being sick and tired. So, I say, never hide who you are, where you’ve been or what you went through. It all adds up to the whole of who you are today. For better or worse, you have to live with yourself in the dead of night.

Posted by RJ Smith on March 22nd 2018

HYSTERICAL POV ON GUNS

Share with an American friend and let comedy destroy stupidity.

Posted by Democratic Socialists on Monday, October 2, 2017

YEAR OF THE FILM FESTIVALS

I HAVE BEEN invited to three film festivals this year. Perhaps the best FLORIDA film fests are The Sunscreen Film Festival in Saint Petersburgh & The Gasparillo Film Festival in Tampa, Florida. I have been a regular at Sunscreen for multiple years, but this will be my first Meet & Greet at Gasparillo. Maybe fans can come out and say hello.