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Prisoners Get Squeezed

The massive New York state budget crisis is starting to hit the prisons. Governor Cuomo, like other politicians, plans to squeeze pennies from those who have nothing, while leaving the fat cats sacrosanct. The main cuts are slated for Medicaid and schools. Also they plan to take 20% of prisoners' pay (the average pay is about $4 per week), raise commissary prices 10%, and charge $5 fines for misbehavior. I don't yet have a reading on what the response will be. I think one way or the other things will get worse for us.

This situation is just one aspect of broader problems with the economy, which seems to be headed into something deeper and more protracted than a typical recession. This will mean a lot more hardship on top of the already criminally skewed priorities of the society. Politically it should be bad for Bush, but I still find it scary because the main and most virulent voices out there are promoting scape-goating - anger toward people of color, welfare, prisoners, etc. - and deflecting anger away from the rich and powerful.

D.G., Comstock, N.Y.

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