Thursday, April 25, 2013

In bed with the inmates

A men's prison in Baltimore hired an unusually large number of female guards. This didn't work out so well (hat tip: Laura Wood):
More than a dozen Maryland state prison guards helped a dangerous national gang operate a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme from behind bars that involved cash payments, sex and access to fancy cars, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Thirteen female corrections officers essentially handed over control of a Baltimore jail to gang leaders, prosecutors said. The officers were charged Tuesday in a federal racketeering indictment.

The indictment described a jailhouse seemingly out of control. Four corrections officers became pregnant by one inmate. Two of them got tattoos of the inmate’s first name, Tavon — one on her neck, the other on a wrist.

The guards allegedly helped leaders of the Black Guerilla Family run their criminal enterprise in jail by smuggling cellphones, prescription pills and other contraband in their underwear, shoes and hair. One gang leader allegedly used proceeds to buy luxury cars, including a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW, which he allowed some of the officers to drive.

“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt, using shorthand for the prison gang’s name.

At the center of the investigation was an alleged leader of the Black Guerilla Family, Tavon White, who prosecutors said fathered five children with four of the corrections officers since his incarceration on attempted murder charges in 2009.

...the scope of corruption in the current case, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, was stunning.

“Correctional officers were in bed with BGF inmates,” he said. “We need to be able to rely on people within law enforcement — to make sure they are on our side.”

Common sense might suggest that it would be better to put female guards in charge of female prisoners. Not only are female officers at risk of violence from male prisoners, but some will be attracted to the men they are suppose to be guarding.

But it's not likely that such considerations will have much effect on hiring policy. In a liberal society, our sex is not supposed to matter.

Why? First, our sex is a predetermined quality that we don't get to choose. We are simply born male or female. Liberalism, though, aims at an 'equal freedom' to be a self-determining individual. Given that we can't self-determine our sex, this then becomes an impediment to be overcome. It is thought progressive to make it not matter.

Second, this is especially true when it comes to careers. Careers fit in well with a liberal model of society as they are a deliberate, individual choice, and are pursued at an individual, independent level, and so give rise to the idea of a self-made individual. They become, for liberals, the key to self-realisation. Careers become a substantive good in a liberal system and so there will be particular sensitivities about any sex based impediments to careers, especially with groups considered to be historically disadvantaged in this sphere.

Third, sex is considered by the liberal political class too "opaque" a quality to base social organisation on. It is also a quality that connects people and forms understandings of social life prior to the existence of the state. For both these reasons, those liberals who are attempting to create a centralised administrative state to regulate society according to formal principles aren't likely to want to recognise distinctions of sex.

Liberals often talk about empowering individuals, but the real effect of a liberal understanding of society is to replace the more informal patterns of social life created within a community and to replace them with formal principles administered by a centralised state.

The role of the individual within a society becomes less important, the more that social functions are defined in formal terms and administered by the state. Some people like this, as without such a significant role you no longer have significant duties or responsibilities. You are left free for hedonistic pursuits or individual career ambitions.

But it can also be an alienating experience to have less of a serious social role within society. In particular, our relationships lose their social significance. They still exist at a personal level, but they have less meaning in terms of how a society functions and is ordered. For instance, as a father I can still love my children - the personal relationship can still be there. But in an advanced liberal society, there is no connection between being a man, masculinity, fatherhood, and family role. Parental roles are considered interchangeable in a liberal society and the traditional functions of fatherhood (and motherhood) are increasingly being socialised - taken over by the state.

Is that a liberation? Or is it something that diminishes individuals and undermines the larger traditions we belong to?

If you think it's the former, you're likely to accept liberal modernity. If you think it's the latter, welcome to the traditionalist club.


  1. Interesting. I also wouldn't be surprised (considering that it took place in that part of the USA) if most of the people involved in this story were black.

    It's almost a cliche that right-wingers believe that the left believes in "big government". Cliches are often true to some extent, for what it's worth.

    I would agree that massive state control in individuals' personal lives is not a liberation.

  2. You will note that none of these female guards have been fired or lost pay.

  3. This event is just a microcosm of the west.
    Put women in charge and the whole of society falls apart.

  4. This occurrence is actually quite common around male prisons when females become guards. Women, in their natural state, are somewhat (I emphasize somewhat because for a couple there is a limit) attracted to criminals and all sorts of dark male characters. Only a fool who doesn't understand feminine/female language, nor read general female psychology would put female guards around male prisoners.

  5. The antics of prison guard, Lynndie England in Abu Graib prison, under the command of General Janis Karpinski, are but a distant memory.

  6. I may have dated one of these girls. Too afraid to look at the names. I could tell during her relationship she wanted to get raped by her inmates.

  7. Women are attracted to violent dangerous men because the rest of the male gender had been emasculated by feminism. Women simply aren't attracted to wimpy creepy male feminists.