Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Factory Prisons and the Creation of a Sociopath Society Pt. IV

By Karla Fetrow

Conditioned Brutality
Police brutality… We hear about it all the time.  It has become the great expectation; if you are confronted by the police, surrender your rights because he does not recognize them.  Of all the domestic violence offenders, the police place first on the list.  According to a report on The Impact of Police-Perpetrated Domestic Violence, “The characteristics and skills developed in training to produce competent officers are those that, when used in an intimate relationship, make police officers the most dangerous abusers.

Police officers use professional skills, police equipment, and the mobility of the job to keep their partners under surveillance. They run license plates of her friends and have access to information about anyone with whom she associates. They follow in their squad cars, park their squads or unmarked cars outside the victim’s home for hours on end. They install recording devices in the victim’s home or on her telephone. They use binoculars to observe the victim’s activities from a distance. These methods serve as a constant reminder to the victim that she is always within the abuser’s reach. He comes to be seen as omniscient and omnipotent, almost god-like.”

Many carry this sense of omniscience beyond the victims of partner relationships.  They choose their victims from those who are vulnerable; people who frequent bars, teenagers hanging out in malls, those too poor to legally fight back, women without partners, minorities and people they just don’t like.  Because they are well acquainted with the courts and documentation of evidence, an abusive policeman can commit his crimes against citizens with impunity.

The two most common charges attached to the revolving door system are, “resisting arrest” and “assault on a police officer”.  The curious part of this is that in seven out of ten cases, there are no other charges involved.  In other words, if a policeman walks up and says, “let’s go, buddy,” it’s best to just comply because to question his motives is to resist arrest.  If you become belligerent, it’s an assault on an officer.  It makes no difference whether or not you struck out at him.  The abusive policeman doesn’t need a reason for accosting you.  He only needs for you to show some form of hostility or resistance and you will land in jail.

What Isn’t Talked About

It gets scarier.  There is another type of police brutality that generally stays under wraps for a very long time before it ever begins to surface; if it does.  This brutality remains so secretive only the combined efforts of the victims lend it any credibility at all.  This is the policeman who rapes.  Most women will not report her attacker.  She has already been humiliated, undressed, forced behind bars and subjected to the whims and caprice of her captors.  She has no reason to believe anyone will come to her defense.

On the day I stood before a judge to plead guilty to one account of misconduct with a controlled substance, a far more spectacular case was rocking the courtroom.  Anthony Rollins, an ex-police officer, entered a plea of “not guilty” to fourteen felony counts, most of them involving rape or assault, and to six misdemeanor charges of official misconduct.  The investigation began in April 2009, when the victims’ agency, “Standing Together Against Rape”, filed a report that Rollins had sexually assaulted a woman while on duty.  Rollins was placed on paid leave, while five other victims came forth to say they had been raped.  On July 15, 2009, Rollins was indicted, arrested and suspended without pay.

In a telephone interview later, Sgt. Derek Hsieh, president of the Anchorage police union, said fellow officers are disappointed and worried that Rollins’ indictment will affect the way they are perceived by the people they serve.

The problem is, this group mentality of standing up for their own allows police misconduct to become commonplace.  It isn’t an isolated incident.  It is a behavior that hides itself behind bars, behind the protective uniform of the badge, and only occasionally receives attention.  It is a part of the ongoing machinery diligently churning out the sociopath society.

The Subtle Sociopath

While it’s true my vacation land did not contain such blatant misuse of power, its undercurrents of false accusations, assumptions of guilt and categorizing without examining mitigating circumstances, still contribute to sociopath behavior.  A sociopath might be very pleasant on the outside, but will lie and manipulate for his own self-serving purposes.  He might not actually break the law, but will use it to serve his own ends.

While I was incarcerated, I became very fond of our house mouse, our little orderly mother who kept the pod running smoothly.  Janice had that type of soft, open face and studious expression you would expect from a teacher or a counselor.  She rarely exercised her authority, allowing the other girls the run of the television and their choice of obligatory chores, but when she did, her word was law.  You did not clam the door or stand in your room and shout.  To do so would mean the entire house would lose its privileges to the microwave and television.  She was determined this was not going to happen.

Only once did she try to exercise her authority with me.  She wanted me to attend church with the other girls on Easter morning.  I told her no.  When she asked me why not, I told her, “I take my spirituality very seriously.  In Mexico, I saw people die for their moral convictions.  They were people of God.  I am not so impressed with someone who stands at a pulpit and lectures simply because it feels good.”

“Oh,” she said, and that was the end of that, but the beginning of our friendship.  I finally asked her one day how she ended up in jail.  “I stole,” she admitted honestly, then added, “but I didn’t steal from people’s houses.  I didn’t steal from regular folk.  I stole from big chain stores.  They have the insurance to cover it.”

I laughed.  “You’re a revolutionary!”

I found it odd that she continued to remain in the hole while other long-term inmates had moved into houses with greater liberties.  I finally asked her about it.  “They hate me,” she said at first.  Finding her a very difficult person to hate, I told her maybe it was because she did her job as the house mouse so well.  “No,” she said firmly.  “They hate me.”

She paused a bit as though debating whether or not to trust me, then said, “In February, I pushed a girl into a snowbank.  I don’t know why I did it.  She was making fun of me and I got irritated.  She was carrying her property box at the time, going to one of the better houses.  She stumbled backward into the snowbank, but she wasn’t hurt, and I didn’t hit her.  Still, she told an officer about it.

Two days later, I was charged with a major infraction, a B6, which is assault on a prisoner by another prisoner.”  The following week, Janice was brought before the disciplinary board, which even the officers call the kangaroo court.  Without allowing her to give her side, they found her guilty of the assault, and gave her thirty days of segregation in the hole, suspending it for 180 days, provided she was not given another write-up.

Janice planned to appeal the write-up, but the next day, she was once again called before the board.  “I heard from three different inmates that you were having relationships with a female officer,” said Lieutenant Johnson, the board director.  “I need to know who this officer is.”

“I had no idea what she was talking about,” said Janice, “and told her so.”

The lieutenant persisted.  “Whether the allegations can be proven or not, we can still house you in the hole for the remainder of your sentence, so you might just as well make things easier on yourself.”

Again Janice told her she had no idea what the lieutenant was talking about.  After returning to her room, she filed an appeal, stating the allegations had no basis in fact.  The next day, the paperwork was returned to her with “denied” stamped on it.  In the denial, it was claimed they had a video clip and a recorded phone call as evidence that Janice had been with a female officer.  When Janice asked to see the evidence, she was denied.

Once Janice had been designated to the hole, she was denied her furlough, admission to the half-way house, or an ankle bracelet monitor so she could be released to work.  She has been refused all visitors, including her husband, and refuse to allow him to put money on her books.  They have decided not to drop the assault charge, and still have not shown evidence of her misconduct.

I don’t believe Janice was lying.  She was candid about her theft and about pushing the girl.  She was a victim of the sociopath society.

When We’ve All Gone Through the Door

The sociopath feels no guilt, no remorse, has no conscience.  Two very tragic homicides followed closely on each other this last winter.  One was a young barrister of a drive through coffee shop, the other involved a young airman on leave.  The barrister was abducted from her place of work; the video cameras proved this, while the airman’s where about’s were uncertain for several days.  In both cases, it was weeks before their bodies were found.

The fathers of the barrister and the airman recently went out to drink together.  Understandably, they were inconsolable.  Late in the evening, an employee of the bar, noticing  the barrister’s father was about to get into his truck inebriated, offered to call a cab.  The bereaved man told the employee to get away from his truck or meet his 1911, which was assumed to refer to a family of .45 caliber pistols.  The bar employee called the police stating the two men had left drunk, but that he could not stop them because he feared for his life.  This was in compliance with a law that states those serving alcohol must not allow a person to leave their premises and drive drunk unless they fear for their lives.

The police entered the premises of the barrister’s father, where they found both men.  The barrister’s father was charged with a DUI, even though he was home by then and there had been no mishaps on the highway.  He was charged with assault on an officer for refusing to take a breath test.  He was charged with misconduct with a firearm after a search of his vehicle uncovered a 1911 Ruger in his console that he had not pulled out and had not used.  His 2012 truck was impounded and he was placed under $4,000 bail, along with a $2,000 appearance bond and a $2,000 performance bond.  In a kinder era, there would have been more understanding for the grieving man, but this is the year of the letter of the law and the law is carried out without guilt, remorse or conscience.

The sociopath has a limited range of emotions.  A person in prison learns to behave pleasantly, regardless of personal feelings.  She must show no anger, no disappointment, no impatience, no tears.  She learns strict obedience to the rules no matter how unfair they might seem.  She learns not to anticipate.  You do not anticipate your phone call or a visit because they can be taken away from you.  You learn not to anticipate your release date as it can fill you with too much longing, which invites other strong emotions.  The jails have their own time schedule, separate from the courts.  Some girls were kept as many as three days after their release was ordered, while the jails went through their own system of paperwork.  During that time period, they did not dare to appear anything except pleasant and co-operative, or they could be charged with another infraction.  It was several weeks after I was released before I was able to deal with the full flood of normal emotions again.  Someone who has been incarcerated for months or years is completely overwhelmed by her initial release.

I asked myself many times what the purpose was in this revolving door justice, which rarely gave a great deal of formal time behind bars but that usually gave long months and even years of probation or parole.  Obviously, there is a high profit making mechanism involved.  Your taxes pay for the burgeoning police force, justified by the number of “necessary” arrests, and for the administration of the court system.  The inmate never gets out of jail free.  Even if she has paid no bail or bonds, she must pay for court costs, the $250 an hour public defender and filing fees.  Nearly every inmate is ordered to take anger management classes, drug counseling or both.  These also come out of the inmate’s pockets.

There is also the conditioning to obedience, to compliance without question.  This too became obvious during my stay, yet it wasn’t until I read the standard terms of probation and parole, applied to all released inmates that I began to see a far more sinister reason for the revolving door.  While you are serving your probation or parole, you may not vote, take part in elections or serve on a jury.  For as long as you have a felony record, this part remains.  While you are on probation or parole, you may not own a firearm or any blade over three inches long, with the exception of kitchen knives.  You may not even own a machete for cutting down brush.  While you are on probation or parole, you may not spend more than 24 hours away from your home.  Your travel is restricted to a one hundred mile radius of your home.  You may not consort with others convicted of a felon, not even family members.  The police may come at any time to your home without a warrant and search it, or search your person at any time without cause.  If you are in the company of someone who is arrested, you will be arrested, too.  By creating a revolving door of a populace charged with felonies, every single one of our rights can be removed without ever once tampering with any aspect of the Constitutional amendments.  The United States places more people behind bars than any country in the world, and this is why.  It’s not so much that we are apathetic.  It’s that we are learning to become sociopaths, with no strong connections to each other, no normal emotional range, no self-determination as to right and wrong and complete acceptance that brutality is okay as long as exercised within the legal confines of the law.





By karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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9 thoughts on “Factory Prisons and the Creation of a Sociopath Society Pt. IV”
  1. What you are describing here is not exactly a Sociopath. A true Sociopath has no ability to blend with society. While yes, they do have no feelings of remorse or drive beyond their own wants, they also cannot keep this from other people. A Sociopath in effect, is a 2-3 year old in a grown up’s body. They are very noticable.

    A Psychopath on the other hand does have the ability to blend in, form plans for their needs/enjoyment and carry them out. A Psychopath will control others and manipulate them at whim.

    The thing is, this state-run excercise called prison while it certainly has Psychopaths hiding in its midst is not creating Psychopaths or we would already be a lot more brutal, calculating and fewer in numbers.

    Most Psychopaths and Sociopaths begin their existance from birth, it is very unlikely that one can be changed into either as an adult.

    The sad truth is this behavior you are describing falls within the “normal” range of behavior for humans. We mostly like rules and like to be within boxes (the human species) it’s why we create so many, religions, laws, governments. And we adhere to them unquestionably. Prison and the rules of the game for the “justice” system is just another box for those within the “normal” range.

    Think of a Bell curve with Psychopaths and Sociopaths on the left and Visionaries on the right. Now, most of humans are somewhere in the bell, mostly trying to be as good as the rules they have accepted allow them to be.

    While very few people are actual Psychopaths or Sociopaths, very few too are visonaries and leaders. In fact those that are on the other end of the spectrum, the visionaries tend to want quiet lives and only come out at times when they can no longer keep quiet about injustice.

  2. A long time back I swore to myself that I would swallow a bullet before being sent to prison – nothing in this series of articles has made me change my mind about this decision. Besides, if I were arrested right now I think my experience would be closer to that of Charles Dyer than yours (a position that’s not to be envied…).

  3. Grainne, you are making references to individuals, whereas i was trying to illustrate that as a whole, the policies being used are creating sociopath behavior (as opposed to being diagnosed as a sociopath) For my argument i used the widespread acceptance of police brutality as a norm, the suppression of emotional context and conditioned isolation. You cannot say that individually, the people of Nazi Germany were sociopaths, but the conditioned behavior of the country as a whole was that of a sociopath society. It was anti-social in that the socialization was only among a select few.

    As a whole, America is already exhibiting a great many anti-social tendencies. It spends more time in self-entertainment than in public entertainment. Its interests gravitate more around self or instant gratification than around neighborly concerns. It spends a great deal of time watching violent movies and violent video games. It harbors animosity toward those who do not have the same outlooks or viewpoints. The conditioning of our revolving door jails and prisons only heighten these isolationist views and do not contribute to an integrated society.

    Azazel, i think the only real reason i was able to tolerate the conditions as i did was simply because i don’t hear and because i don’t talk much. Since i don’t hear, a person has to go quite a bit out of his way to make me angry and because i don’t talk much, there’s not much that i would say that would goad anyone. I spent most of my time reading and since that definitely was not a main interest of most of the crowd, only the more peaceful inmates gravitated toward me.

  4. Karla, Antii-social makes more sense. Also, it is completely different from calling a group “Sociopaths”. “The creation of an Anti-Social society” I can understand in this context.

  5. @ Karlsie,

    I hear you – but consider that you were jut an elderly woman busted for dealing weed (allegedly…). A guy like me, however, would have a lot more “dirt” on him: people like myself would not get the kid glove treatment that you and your fellow cellmates got.

    As I pointed out in my last post, my experiece would be more like Charles Dyer – the “law” would likely use the charges of my arrest (whatever those would be…) to “investigate” me and my associates, “discover” (read: plant) phony evidence against me in my domicile (a 40mm grenade launcher in Dyer’s case…) and, if they failed to convit me on the trumpped up charges with false evidence, they would go after me with a brand new set of charges (child abuse in Dyer’s case…) and then try to revisit the charges that didn’t stick before!

    Note that the state did all the aforementioned things to an ex-marine and loyal patriot as punishment for his involvement in the Oak Keepers militia movement – just imagine what the state would do to some one who considers it an enemy…

  6. One of my favorite writers (now deceased) put it best: “Most of us exercise our rights lightly, if at all. Remember – you never know you’re in prison until you try the door.”

    When we’re all ‘inside’, we’ll know. Something tells me that unless we either find the exits or a way to make ourselves invisible, that time’s not far off….

  7. Grainne, i don’t think anti-social is a strong enough term. I agree, the US is currently experiencing some very anti-social behavior, which probably began when “social” became a dirty word, meant only for parties and teaching kids how to make friends in school. However, “creating” is an active tense, implying as yet, an unfinished product.

    Would you agree the federal government is currently sociopath in its behavior? I point to various branches; the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, TSA… that have committed open, hostile acts against citizens of this country and blatantly hideous acts against the citizens on foreign soil. They commit these acts without feelings of remorse, guilt or moral conscience. Have they apologized for Guantanamo, for depleted uranium weapons, for the brutal confinement of Bradly Manning? I point to officers of the law who get away with openly brutal acts through the sanctions of the courts and the support of fellow officers.

    Are these hostile acts the subjects of candidates running for office, and are they the priority of eligible voters? No. The issues are fair tax, legal discrimination and gun control. The very fact that Americans could entertain the thought that discrimination against anyone is okay proves how close we are stepping to the creation of a sociopath society. That they have not put legalized brutality on the top of the agenda shows how much they have accepted that our legal system has the right to be brutal.

    Will, that is exactly the point i am trying to make. It is entirely too easy for law enforcement to arrest anyone they please; especially for assault on an officer, which is a felony charge. One illusion i really hate to point out is that a person can be “invisible”. Actually, the fewer means they have of tracking you, i.e., taking a bus instead of driving, self-employed or working for a small business, not receiving any government subsidies, loans, grants or social services, the more you fall under their radar. Even intelligence is suspect. I have heard more than once by people with absolutely clean records that a policeman had informed them, “I don’t believe you’re not breaking the law. You’re just too smart to get caught.” This is the atmosphere we have to deal with today. We are all guilty in the eyes of the law. It’s just a matter of when they want to deal with us. Not if- but when.

  8. No I would not agree the current government is Sociopathic in its behavior. One of my pet peeves is the misuse of psychological terms and diagnosis’ in popular culture and terms. It sounds great and scary but it also sways public opinion in a direction that is unrealistic and unreal. What our government is,is militaristic, diabolic, controlling and has delusions of granduer. Really, it is delusional they way as a whole the government thinks it can sustain this unreality. But Sociopathic, no. Definately not, because it would not be sustainable. Probably the closest a government has come to being Sociopathic is in the overthrow of Liberia in the 80″s. The difference is the crazy, unsustainable behavior displayed by the overthrowing gangs of the government there was truly unsustainable. They tore that country down.

    Yes our government officials are hostile and mean, but they are not uncaring of outcomes, they care about outcomes greatly, therefore, they are not Sociopathic.

    Yes it is easy to arrest anyone. But, to an extent everyone is complicit in this. We allow it because of our own fears. We voted for it in many cases and we do not stand up and go to jail in support of our beliefs. We still want desperately to believe we as an individual can make a difference. After all isn’t that what we were brainwashed in school to believe?

  9. This had a big impact on me in high scoohl when my world history teacher had us watch it as a class. My teacher had us promise not to talk about things that happened in the class while watching the movie. What I can say is that no one was tearless. We all understood that what is happening in Uganda is wrong and needed to stop. We decided to join the invisible children club and have pen pals with kids in or near Uganda. My friends name was Derek and we mailed each other for quite a while until one of the kid soldiers took him from his mother and killed her. I only know this because a scoohl girl wrote back to my last letter to him. I always think about what I could do to help and if he is ok. I haven’t gotten anything back so that means Kony still has him or he was killed for not listening to orders. The government doesn’t realize that Kony is another Adolf Hitler. He needs to be stopped so that African children can be safe. I really don’t like knowing that Derek could be alive and doing what someone did to him. I can just imagine how bad he is feeling. I join the 2012 movement to help bring notice to this problem but yet the government still just sits back. Sure Jason went crazy but that doesn’t mean that these kids don’t need us.

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