The Billings Outpost

Women’s prison problems

Don’t be fooled by the good press you read. Or write. The Montana Women’s Prison is a rotten apple dipped in gold paint.

The population of prisoners is NOT down 25 percent as reported in the news media. Department of Corrections apparently counts differently from regular people. Their method of counting amounts to hiding the true recidivism rate.

Programming is ineffective. Kim Gillan now has another grant. Her last grant, “New Path/New Life,” was a bust. Maybe this one will have better results. Nevertheless, grant money is flowing into Montana Women’s Prison from many sources.

The programs funded by the grant monies are ridiculous and ineffective. For example, women are not treated equal to men. CP&R is for male sex offenders and Tamar is for sexually abused women. However, staff commonly uses these two obviously different programs for all the inmates. And participating in the programs is required for release.

In Tamar, women learn coping skills like “take a bubble bath, walk in the park, drink hot cocoa with whipped cream, and light candles.” None applies, obviously.

All this affects the recidivism rate Gillan is chasing. She should spend more time helping inmates be protected from felony crimes and victimization by inmates and, unfortunately, staff as well.

The good she hopes to accomplish is overshadowed by targeting, harassment, bullying and gender/sexual orientation discrimination.

Big Jay was 100 percent on-target last year. He highlighted the abuse. Eventually Manny Zuniga was removed from MWP. However, media contact was punished by warden action. Really good people do work here, but are overshadowed by a few scumbags. Such scumbags should be the subject of an inquiry by a federal grand jury.

An emerging scandal is drug smuggling into MWP. Inmates, highly placed in the therapeutic community, have been smuggling dope via visiting and the dog yard. Of the many involved, one committed felony forgery last year on MWP computers. She was never charged.

I doubt MWP will do much about the alleged felony forgery – the prison covers everything up. The dogs are well-attended to, but the rest means nothing. If it did, this letter wouldn’t be necessary.

May Simmons


Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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